6th October 2001
At 8.00 am a Citroen car packed with Semtex plastic explosive, was driven hard into the entrance of the Beth Chabad Synagogue on rue Roi, Brussels and detonated on impact by the driver killing seventeen and injuring forty two Jewish worshipers celebrating Yom Kippur and causing massive destruction to the building.
In Paris, at 8.37 an explosive laden ambulance detonated beside the packed Synagogue de Nazareth on rue Notre Dame de Nazereth taking twenty three lives and leaving thirty nine injured.
At 8.43 in Berlin, a suicide bomber drove a truck through the gates of The Holocaust Memorial detonating the vehicle among a crowd of visitors killing sixteen and injuring fifty two. Simultaneously, a Semtex packed van detonated outside The Jewish Museum causing massive structural damage, but with no casualties.
In Amsterdam at 9.15, a Honda van exploded outside the Beth Shalom Home for Aged on Kastelenstraat killing nine and injuring seventeen residents.
At 10.30 am local time, the United States guided missile destroyer, USS Dauntless was attacked by suicide bombers while undergoing routine refueling in the French Mediterranean port of Marseilles . Nineteen sailors lost their lives with forty six injured, the vessel being severely damaged. The two terrorists had aimed a small boat into its starboard bow and detonated six hundred pounds of Semtex packed into its bows. Seconds before the moment of impact one called out through a megaphone, "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger."
And in London, at 8.43 local time, the Hashmonean High School for Jewish Boys was attacked when a suicide bomber drove a van through the open gates and detonated on the crowded campus, killing twenty three boys and injuring many more. At 8.52 a similar atrocity was perpetrated against the Hashmonean High School for girls killing thirteen students and four teachers with many injured. But one bomb laden truck paused beside its target, an undisclosed school. Police found the driver, a young Arab boy shaking with fear and unable to carry through his assigned mission. He was taken into custody to undergo interrogation.
In Buenos Aries, at 7.30 am local time, a suicide squad of eight used rocket launchers in a attack on the Israeli Embassy. The attack was preceded by the detonation of an explosive packed truck outside the embassy gates. The squad penetrated the perimeter wall but were repulsed by Israeli security armed with M16 rifles. All, but one of the terrorists were killed. The survivor is now in hospital under guard.
As the news from Europe came in, Israeli embassies and consulates in North America went onto full alert as did most Jewish institutions.
In a Beirut gym in the heart of the city, Abbas al Suleiman performed his morning workout, diligently following the path laid out by his physiotherapist. After stretching, he worked with light weights, moving slowly under the guidance of a young instructor,. As he moved through the session, he wore earphones and listened to the news in English on the World Service of the BBC and learned of the attacks as they happened. And hearing that the death toll was expected to rise as many of those severely injured succumbed, he smiled.
Pausing for refreshments, he addressed the instructor. "Today is a special day for Jews, Aman. Did you know that?"
"No," the young man smiled and shook his head.
"Well, it is. It's called Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. On this day, Jews atone for their sins."