Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My private Al-Qaeda plane...

It is a little freaky - especially on a day like September 11th. But I have my own Al-Qaeda plane.

I found this wooden, handmade, airliner in an Al-Qaeda compound, in December 2001, in Eastern Afghanistan. The village was called Hada, a couple of kilometers outside the town of Jalalabad.

In December 2001, the Al-Qaeda/Taliban regime had just been overthrown. Al-Qaeda militants (basically Arab-, Chechen- and Uzbek militants) were on the run. Local people informed me and some colleagues that Al-Qaeda families (the fighters lived in Afghanistan with their wives and children) stayed in one of the compounds.

As I entered the abandoned place, I could see rubble everywhere. Documents, papers, pillows, books, blankets. The place was a mess.

Then, my eye caught this wooden plane, laying somewhere in the rubble. It measured about 40 cm by 40 cm. The person that made the plane painted it half white, half blue. He put as well little windows on the side.

Wow, I thought, this is bizarre.

I don't know why this plane was made. To me, it looks like a children's toy, maybe made by one of the militants. But was it made before 9/11 so that the children could play with it and say: "Look, here goes daddy next week!". Or was it made after 9/11 so that the children could say: "Look, here went daddy!"

I don't know. But I remember that it freaked me out the moment I found it. I decided to take the plane with me and it now sits on a bookshelf in my study. A souvenir of the longest war the world will ever experience...

Harald Doornbos

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