Saudi King marks 9/11 anniversary: 'We lost many good pilots'
“Sure, we didn’t expect them to return, but I knew some of them quite well."
RIYADH — As in most countries around the world on September 11, a moment of silence was held in the Middle Eastern country of Saudi Arabia on Sunday. Theirs was 15 seconds long, one second for each Saudi national lost in the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001.
“21 years ago, we lost a lot of good pilots,” King Salman reflected during a remembrance ceremony carried live on all major networks from Riyadh. “Sure, we didn’t expect them to return, but I knew some of them quite well. Though Egyptian, Mohammed Atta’s dedication to the cause isn’t to be overlooked, and we grant him the title of ‘Honorary Saudi.’ The man was razor-focused, and I think his body of work speaks for itself.”
The King reflected on sending some of his dear friends to pilot training in San Diego.
“We all thought my brother, the late King Abdullah, would buy us all new Gulfstreams and needed more pilots. It wasn’t until later we learned that a friend of the family was cashing in some favors over construction contracts.” King Salman then chuckled lightly and exclaimed, “Imagine our surprise when a month after 9/11, it was Afghanistan that was being invaded! We really dodged a bullet there.”
The Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal, was quick to point out that many nations lost citizens on 9/11.
“Today, the King shares the world’s grief. Be it a firefighter going back up the stairs to save one more person, a traffic cop shielding innocent bystanders from debris, or the pilot who cost thousands of dollars and hundreds of man-hours to qualify as a pilot on the 737. From Mecca to Medina, we remember these heroes today.”