IN MEMORIAN: RIPPLES FROM THE TERROR ATTACKS ON THE USA

14 September 2001

Top Story

IN MEMORIAN: This issue is dedicated to the memory of all those who lost their lives, particularly those on the fourth plane who fought their attackers to ensure that this plane did not reach its intended target.

The week has been dominated by the horror and grief from the attacks on the USA. Much has already been said and does not need repeating by this e-letter. This issue’s top story picks up how the ripples have reached the tiny part of the ocean we cover: the ways in which this tragedy has touched Africa and its ICT community.

The attack destroyed a vital link in the connection to South Africa. Stuart Hardy, General Manager, Access Division of South Africa’s Internet Solutions informed his customers:" Yesterday afternoon, at roughly 16:00 SAST (South African Standard Time), Internet Solutions lost connectivity to a 45Mbps satellite circuit that runs between Johannesburg and New York. This satellite circuit, that lands at an earth station in San Antonio and is back hauled using fibre optic cabling through to the most southerly tip of Manhattan, has suffered failure due to the fibre service running in close proximity of the World Trade Centre towers in New York".

"After initial thoughts that the loss of service was caused by the satellite component of the service, AT&T and Telkom informed Internet Solutions that the loss of the service is due to the failure of the fibre circuit that is used to back haul the satellite data from the earth station in San Antonio to the Internet port in New York. It has been communicated that the fibre service has been affected by the tragedy that resulted in the collapse of the twin towers buildings of the World Trade Centre yesterday".

"Internet Solutions has worked through the night to ensure that this segment of the connection is re-established in as fast a time as possible. Due to the severity of the incident, the evacuation of many staff in the locations that IS house their facilities, and the non-ability of fibre repair and maintenance personal to get access to the possible effected area, IS has decided to seek alternative options to ensure reconnection".

"This has resulted in IS contracting with another satellite telecommunications provider. With the help of AT&T, IS will land or redirect its 45Mbps of satellite bandwidth in New Jersey, and from there back haul the service along a separate infrastructure to Telehouse in New York (IS POP). The contracting party has communicated to IS that the reconfigurations and changes required for them to Integrate into the AT&T satellite services will take a period of approximately 24 hours. The decision to make use of this option was taken at 02:00 SAST this morning".

In the meantime IS will still endeavor to have the fibre reconnected, or the San Antonio satellite bandwidth to be back hauled to the closest Internet Port other than New York". It promised that it would take only 20 hours to overcome these difficulties.

The launch of the UN’s ICT Task Force which was to have taken place this week has been postponed because of the tragic events of the week. Pekka Tarjanne, head of the Task Force is hoping to be able to set a new date next week.

The tragedy brought the usual crop of "crazies" out of the woodwork. The eCommonwealth site was hacked by someone describing themselves as Philo-Bunny whose message was "We’re Coming for you Oslahmamama". This was followed by a rant against religion and a critique of US foreign policy. The South African government has called a hoax e-mail claiming it was involved in the attacks in New York and Washington a "piece of psychological and financial terrorism". The e-mail purported to carry CNN news claiming SA citizens and the SA government have been identified as suspects in the attacks.

The volunteers and initiator of the e-letter Echoes (produced in Uganda) produced a swift response that gave information on how to provide help.(see http://LifeInAfrica.com ). The message opened:"As the morning after dawns in America, we all must get busy doing our share to help, wherever we are. In Uganda we have sorted through yesterday’s email, and compiled an early list of internet-based initiatives below, which we would like the rest of the world to have". These included: ways to donote money, ways to donate blood, support resources and discussion groups and other ways to show solidarity. Check out their site if you want any of these.

E-mail was used by Ochoro Otunno, Executive Director of the Africa AIDS Initiative in New York to organise a procession of Africans (including ambassadors and people living in the diaspora) to show "solidarity with the people of America and particularly with those families that have lost loved ones.... The people of the United States have stood by Africa through many crises, including the present HIV/AIDS epidemic. This will be Africa’s way of showing solidarity and joining in the national mourning".

New York is a world city and the roll call of victims includes people from all over the world, including (according to the Pan African News Agency) four Ghanaians. For those wanting to check for loved ones there is a database of survivors that is updated every 15 minutes and may be helpful: http://www.ny.com/wtclist.html.