NEW YORK (Reuters) - A museum dedicated to the September 11 attacks will display written quotations drawn from “martyrdom” videos made by the hijackers, along with witness testimonials that will be screened to prevent sympathizers from praising the perpetrators, museum officials said on Thursday.
Previous attempts to put into context the motivation of the men who used hijacked passenger planes to attack the United States on September 11, 2001, have been met with emotional public opposition, with politicians canceling plans for an “International Freedom Center” in 2005.
But the president of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum said photographs of the 19 hijackers would be displayed along with the quotes as part of the “witness testimony” in the museum.
The memorial and museum are planned for the World Trade Center site undergoing reconstruction in lower Manhattan. The underground museum should open by 2013.
Museum president Joe Daniels told reporters the exhibit would present the facts, focusing on “what happened on that day, why it happened, what does it mean to live in a 9/11 world.”
“Let the perpetrators speak for themselves,” Daniels said.
The museum has possession of videotapes the hijackers made in preparation for the suicide attacks and Reuters previously reported that visitors could play back the tapes, citing Daniels.
“That’s a powerful and important thing that visitors to this museum need to hear — bearing witness to the actual testimonials of those who committed the atrocities,” Daniels told a news conference.
However, Daniels later told Reuters by telephone that the exhibit would be limited to photos and written text from the martyrdom tapes.
The museum is inviting people around the world to send in pictures and recorded recollections about the attacks that will be displayed on its website after being screened for sentiments lionizing the hijackers. (http://911history.org)
“No one will come to this museum and leave with a feeling of heroism for the people who committed the crimes that we bear witness to today,” Daniels told reporters.
Museum officials are treading carefully. Initial plans for rebuilding the World Trade Center included the International Freedom Center, which would have covered subjects unrelated to the 2001 attacks and discussed themes such as tolerance and diversity.
But Former New York Governor George Pataki canceled the Freedom Center after critics, including survivors and relatives of the nearly 3,000 who died, said the museum should instead be dedicated exclusively to the day known as 9/11 and the 1993 truck bombing of the World Trade Center.
As an example of what will be included, Daniels said the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union was vital in understanding “the roots of Al Qaeda.”
The most horrific pictures, such as those of people who jumped from the top floors of the Twin Towers to escape the heat and flames, will be segregated.
Editing by Daniel Trotta and Frances Kerry