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U.S. Relatives of Sept. 11 Victims Travel to Afghanistan

Interview by Scott Harris. | 05.02.2002 18:43

* Derrill Bodley, whose daughter was killed
in the Sept. 11 attack, describes his experience
meeting with relatives of Afghan victims of the
U.S. bombing campaign there.

U.S. Relatives of Sept. 11 Victims Travel
to Afghanistan to Learn About the Other "Ground Zero"
Interview by Scott Harris.

* Derrill Bodley, whose daughter was killed
in the Sept. 11 attack, describes his experience
meeting with relatives of Afghan victims of the
U.S. bombing campaign there.

Across the country, relatives of people killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist
attacks mostly grieve in private, isolated from the U.S. war in
Afghanistan intended to capture and punish those responsible for the
carnage. But a unique group of U.S. citizens who lost loved ones during
September's attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania expressed
their grief publicly when they recently traveled to Afghanistan to visit
the "other ground zero."

Global Exchange, a San Francisco-based social justice advocacy group,
organized this "victim to victim" delegation, which brought four
Americans who lost family members in the terror assault to Afghanistan,
where they met Afghans whose own relatives were killed or injured in the
U.S. bombing campaign there.

While in Afghanistan, Global Exchange delegates delivered compensation
claims to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul on behalf of Afghans they met who
lost loved ones or homes as a result of American bombs. Estimates of
civilian deaths in Afghanistan resulting from U.S. air strikes range
from 1,000 to 4,000.

Derrill Bodley, whose daughter was killed in the Sept. 11 attack, was
among those who recently traveled to Afghanistan with Global Exchange.
Deora, Bodley's 20-year-old daughter, boarded United Airlines Flight 93
on the morning of Sept. 11th. Her plane was hijacked and later crashed
in Pennsylvania, killing all on board. Between The Lines' Scott Harris
spoke with Derrill Bodley, a professor of music in California, who talks
about his late daughter, his experience in Afghanistan and his desire
that aid reach the victims of violence wherever they are.

Derrill Bodley: Well, she seemed to be developing into quite the adult
person. She was 20 years old and went to Santa Clara University, and was
majoring in psychology with a little bit of French. Along the way, she
did work for an elementary school, which was just down the street from
her university, teaching second grade kids to read. She was a helping
person. Her friends found her the person they could go and talk to, just
to work things out. That was the kind of person she was.

Between The Lines: What are some of the experiences you had in meeting
Afghan victims of violence incurred during the U.S. bombing there? Could
you describe some of your encounters?

Derrill Bodley: Well, there were two in particular. I think we went and
saw five families. One of them, a man had lost his daughter, five years
old, to a bomb. So he was in quite a similar situation to me. And
there's a picture or two in the press of me and him consoling each
other. I felt his grief, he felt mine. He was also telling us about the
other kinds of difficulties that were going on with his family as a
result of the bombing. Because unlike us, the bombs that were dropped on
homes, were dropped on where people were living. The World Trade Center
-- while it's a tragic devastation -- it's a little different. I'm not
saying it's any less than sitting in your home and a bomb dropping on

Another family was a woman who had a 20-year-old son. I believe her
husband had been lost in the mujahideen wars earlier. And so the
20-year-old son was the breadwinner of the family. It's very difficult
for a family without a male breadwinner to survive in Afghanistan. It's
just the culture. So she was bereft, she had no possibility in the near
future of being able to earn any income and her house was destroyed. Her
20-year-old son had been sitting in the second floor where the bomb
dropped on his head.

Between The Lines: Professor Bodley, as you yourself I'm sure have
noticed, neither the U.S. government or the U.S. press has talked much
about the civilian casualties in Afghanistan resulting from the U.S.
bombing campaign there. I'm wondering how do you feel about that in
terms of having visited there yourself and seen it up close.

Derrill Bodley: I think it's probably typical of what happens after
bombing campaigns. It's time for the information to be brought out, time
for the discussion to begin and I think that it's one of the issues that
should be brought out in the international discussions that came out of
Tokyo where the two kinds of damage in Afghanistan are the systemic
damage that's occurred over 23 years of war. In addition to that, or on
top of that, is what I call the last chapter, which is the damage which
has been inflicted as a result of the bombing campaign. It's not just
people who've lost family members. There's also people who have been
displaced by the violence over the 23 years and also by the bombing
within Afghanistan. We saw internally a displaced people's camp, where
people had come, because they couldn't live where they were living
anymore; their houses have been destroyed by violence over 23 years or
bombed; their farms were all mined and they couldn't farm there anymore
and they had no place to go and the food they've been given by the aid
organizations so far is going to run out, and the places they've been
staying are going to have be given back to those people who let them use
them temporarily. So I think the situation is dire there.

Between The Lines: Do you think the U.S. policy in terms of aiding
Afghanistan to rebuild after the devastation of the bombing in all these
decades of war is going in the right direction or, what's your view of

Derrill Bodley: We started off with very low numbers. I'm afraid that we
do have to talk about numbers. I call them the "M" money and the "B"
money. The "M" money we've now offered up is something over $200
million, but that does not compare to the "B" money, the billions of
dollars that have been spent on the war campaign. And so, I think that
ultimately, we need to keep pressing the focus now on developing systems
of caring and assisting people, just as well-developed as the systems
that was have for making war and military action.

Between The Lines: A question about your own view of how to prevent
terrorist acts that claim innocent lives as we saw on Sept. 11 and
countless other incidents through the decades. How do you think our
country should approach that issue of preventing future acts of

Derrill Bodley: I have a little mantra that I developed and it came to
me probably within the week after Sept. 11. And that is, we need to
search for the root causes of the problem, and the first of those is the
lack of respect and love for all human beings by all human beings. The
second is the lack of peacefulness within human beings which would lead
to the peace among human beings. Third, is the lack of sharing equitably
the resources of the world among all people of the world, all life on
the world and the world itself. So that's my take on it.

Contact Global Exchange by calling 1-800-497-1994 or visit their Web
site at

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for the week ending 2/8/02.


Scott Harris is the executive producer of Between The Lines. This
interview excerpt was featured on the award-winning, syndicated weekly
radio newsmagazine, Between The Lines, for the week ending Feb. 8, 2002.

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Interview by Scott Harris.