He Lost His Brother

Mehmet Ibis speaks of his desperation in the morning of September 11 with these words, “I got to work at an early hour that morning. My friend called and asked about my elder brother who was working in the World Trade Center. He told me he saw on TV that there had been a small accident at the Towers.
I called home immediately. My sister answered in tears and put my father on the phone. My father said, ‘Leave your work and immediately come home, my son.’ When I reached home, I saw all my family before the television trying to learn what was going on. My mother begged me to go and find my brother. I went out. I tried different ways to reach New York, but I couldn’t find one. Every road was blocked…” 

Mehmet Ibis, Zuhtu's brother.

His brother Zuhtu Ibis was working as a computer programmer in the World Trade Center at that time. Without knowing what had happened to him, Mehmet Ibis started looking for him.

“I went to the Hoboken PATH Station in New Jersey. I heard that people from the Twin Towers had been brought there. It was like doomsday. People coming from Manhattan were all covered with dust. Fire fighters were washing people randomly. There was a tent for the wounded. I was walking in the crowd, searching for my brother. I thought I saw him once, but then I realized it was not him…”

That day Mehmet Ibis, looks at the faces of everyone he sees in the station with the hope of spotting his brother. At 9 PM, authorities declared the transportation would be suspended until the next morning.

“I went home but couldn’t stay there. I felt like I had to go to the Hoboken train station again. But the station was empty. I spoke to a policeman and told him my situation. He said, ‘It’s no use waiting here, please go home and come back when they start running the trains, tomorrow morning.’ I and my three friends went to buy coffee but I couldn’t pull away. We went back to the train station. We parked our car in a place where we could see the World Trade Center. We fell asleep because we were so tired. I don’t know how long it was. I woke up with a knock on the window. Policemen came and we opened the window. They asked us what we were doing there. I told them that my brother was lost and we were waiting for him. Then they asked us to get out of the car, because they wanted to search the car.”

When he got out of the car, he felt he was a foreigner in the USA. It was the first time he felt that way in 11 years of living in this country.

“When they saw our IDs, their manners changed. I guess it was because of our names. After a short time, we were surrounded by police and FBI. They brought the dogs and searched everywhere. They put handcuffs on me and told me I was under arrest.”

At that moment the old policeman to whom Ibis talked previously approaches. “He looked me in the face and asked, ‘Didn’t I tell you to go home?’ I said, ‘You did but I couldn’t.’ He intervened in the arrest, telling the other officers there was not enough evidence. He said, ‘If you arrest him for no legitimate cause, you will get into trouble.’ After that, the other policemen apologized and told us it was not an ordinary day and they were having a tough time mentally. We accepted their apologies.”

In the following days, the whole family searches the hospitals of New York in an attempt to find Zuhtu Ibis, but his name was not found in any hospital record. Authorities ask for his possessions, such as a tooth brush or shaving razor, in order to get his DNA samples.

 “The whole family was in a terrible state, but no one believed my brother was dead. Unfortunately we couldn’t get any news for four or five months. Then they told us some of the parts of his body had been found. They left some documents relating to that. It was a day of total devastation for us.”

The hardest times start when the family learns Zuhtu Ibis never managed to go down from his office, which was on the 103rd floor.

 “First the whole family learned that, and then they felt the sharpest pain hearing that. Because it was the time when all hopes died. They placed his scattered body parts in deep freezers. I asked permission from my parents and my sister-in-law before going there. After that, I wouldn’t inform them about other findings. I didn’t want them suffer again and again. I told them I would inform them about further news and we would do what we had to do together. They said OK. Afterwards, the authorities contacted me three more times. I called them back several times. They told me that there was no hope of finding more parts of his body. I informed my family and we decided to conduct a religious ceremony. We wanted him to have a grave. We collected the body parts with the help of a New York funeral agency. We finished the necessary procedure and held his funeral in our village in Turkey. There we built him a proper grave…”

It was Sari Yaprak Village in Yozgat.

But the suffering does not end. People around the family gossip constantly about Zuhtu Ibis, claiming even that he is still alive. There are rumors about the compensation that the family will get from US government and what the family will do with that money.

 “After that painful process, we had to face the sorrow of gossip as well. My family isolated itself; we were forced to do that. For instance, once we went to a dinner with close acquaintances. I was alone with one of them. He said, ‘Mehmet, I want to tell you something.’ I said, ‘Tell me, brother.’ He said, ‘Zuhtu was a clever guy. His work place, the World Trade Center, was full of precious gold and money. I think he didn’t die, he took some precious things and hid himself.’”

 “I took him to the living room. Everyone was in tears. I told him, ‘You never knew my brother. You could give him the world but he would never accept it knowing we were in this situation. He would come back to us…’”

After all the hard times he lived through, Mehmet Ibis, who is in his thirties, plans to go back to Turkey, the same as his late brother’s wife Leyla and son Mert. One of the leftovesr of September 11 for him is a feeling of great insecurity.

“I don’t believe September 11 was a terrorist attack. I did a lot of research on the Internet. Some communities have made thorough investigations about this event and proved their information with documents. I think that this was planned several decades ago with a reason everyone knows nowadays. On the 11th of September, I lost my brother; three thousand people lost their lives. Now as a consequence hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq, in Afghanistan have lost their lives and many more are suffering. I want to learn who did this and why. I want to know who killed my brother!”

Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07