Posted 7/11/13 – We have received word that occasional Sierra Madre News Net contributor John Napolitano, NYPD retired and father of FDNY Lt. John Napolitano, who was killed in the North Tower following the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11, has been asked to testify at the military commission hearings of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four other alleged terrorists taking place at Guantanamo Bay. Napolitano has been a vocal advocate for the heroes of 9/11 since the attack took place. He described his role at the hearings as an “Impact Witness.”
Longtime readers may recall that I visited the IAFF Fallen Heroes ceremony in 2002, honoring the fallen firefighters from 2000 and 2001 (planes were grounded in Sept. of 2001, preventing families from attending, so the IAFF honored the 2000 fallen a second time). At that ceremony, I saw a photo from Ground Zero and a pencil sketch with a letter that Mr. Napolitano had written to his son posthumously. I wrote about that experience on this site, and about two years later, I was contacted by Mr. Napolitano, who had found the site by Googling his son’s name. That was the beginning of a pen pal relationship that is now approaching ten years. John has been kind enough to allow me to use some of those communications, along with letters he has written and posted at other places on the internet. In 2006, for the five year anniversary of 9/11, I posted on this site and published in the San Gabriel Valley Weekly, a seven part series about John’s experiences, thoughts and memories during the five years since the terrorist attack. The final installment was John’s first person report on the Ground Zero memorial held for the five year anniversary. In 2011, for the ten year anniversary, John gave us an update, and then again in 2012 another installment was added.
Federal Prosecutors Ask John to Testify
Yesterday, John announced on his Facebook wall that he had called his boyhood friend Lenny Crisci, who had spent days with John searching in vain through the rubble at Ground Zero for their sons, to tell him “about a call I received about a half hour ago from Captain Karen, USN Retired, Special Liaison to the Federal Prosecutors who are Prosecuting Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Terrorist Mastermind behind the Terrorist Attack on 9/11, as well as other al Quaeda terrorists that participated in that Attack. Captain Karen said that I was selected out of a great many individuals to be an Impact Witness at the trial, to narrate the events of that day and the days after, as to what were my Son John’s actions and what I saw as I participated in the Search and Rescue.
They will focus on the photograph taken by a Firefighter of the message I wrote to my Son in the ash of the World Trade Center at what was then called Ground Zero. They
will need me for a week, and the options presented to me were either August 17 to 24, or September 14 to 21, the September week for me I am more comfortable with, plus it is not so near the beginning of School where all the little bumps in the Road has to be worked out (John now works at a school in South Florida)…anyway my Family doesn’t know yet, I will speak to them tonight..still hasn’t completely sunk in yet for me, out of all the Firefighters, Police Officers and others that participated in that Search, some of them also searching for Family Members, Sons, Daughters, Husbands, and Wives, Brothers, and Sisters, and knowing that the list to be a Witness to those events would be short, I was very surprised to be selected. I think that when they did all their research and investigating, it wasn’t me that they selected, but my Son.”
Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four others are at Guantanamo being tried by a military commission. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, which would require a unanimous decision by the commission. Mohammed has reportedly confessed to involvement in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center as well as the 2001 jet attacks, the failed 2001 shoe bombing that has led to all plane travelers removing their shoes before boarding, the beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Danny Pearl, the 2007 bombing of a Bali nightclub that killed 202 and injured more than 200 others, and many unsuccessful planned bombings and assassinations.
Nearly nine years ago, John wrote to me that at the 2004 memorial at Ground Zero, “I was approached by a New York TV News Team, I was asked if I have any anger.. without hesitation I said that “My anger is that, in this day and age, with all the spectacular things that Humankind can do, with
all the goodness that is in us, that there are people that are filled with so much hate and rage at those that don’t think the way they do,
or don’t pray the way they do, that they are willing to sacrifice themselves just to know that they killed and made them suffer.. them and their families.” To those people who would commit, or condone, acts of hatred, I say this.. that although the world saw on September 11, 2001 such an act of hate.. they also saw acts of Compassion, Professionalism, and Profound Courage, and it is these acts that the World at large will forever remember and embrace.”
In an interview with NBC in 2012, John had this to say: “They were murdered. There is no sanitizing it. The Taliban, al-Qaeda, terrorists, they’re thugs. They’re thugs and murderers….Looking at them face to face with them, for me, is not the important issue. The important issue is that justice be done,” Napolitano said.
As these hearings continue and folks like John have to testify about the loss of their loved ones, let’s all try to remember the acts of compassion, professionalism and profound courage, and hope that justice is done.