SOMERSET COUNTY, Pa. – Authorities in rural Pennsylvania are asking the public for help in identifying a pair of men believed to be responsible for a recent spate of attacks on historical monuments throughout the Keystone State, including the dynamiting of a $200 million memorial near the crash site of United Flight 93 on September 11, 2001.
Commissioned in 2011 by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the eleven-foot-tall marble statue memorializes the moment the four hijackers –three Saudis and one Lebanese national– passed through security at Newark International Airport before boarding the ill-fated United Airlines Flight 93 bound for San Francisco.
Christopher Platts, the memorial’s curator, told NBC 10 Philadelphia that while some may find the statue repugnant, most visitors have expressed a deep recognition of its historical significance. “You don’t have to be an al-Qaeda sympathizer to recognize the importance of preserving this critical moment in our nation’s history,” the forty-nine year-old former high school basketball coach told NBC 10.
Fox News host Laura Ingraham weighed in on the memorial’s desecration Monday night, comparing the unidentified suspects to Islamic extremists. “Think about ISIS, what they did, they pillaged and they wiped away irreplaceable historical and religious monuments,” Mrs. Ingraham told her audience. “This happened, okay? 9/11 happened, and we owe it to the future to leave history as it existed undisturbed, continue to debate it, [and] have conversations about it.”
In a letter released by the White House on Tuesday, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman expressed his “deepest sympathies” for the loss of the multi-million dollar sculpture, calling its desecration a “national tragedy.” The Saudi prince has vowed to replace the sculpture with a larger, more structurally sound monument in time for President Trump’s second term in January 2021.