On the 65th Floor of the 1st Tower During the Terrorist Attack

Five years later, the Turkish people living in and around New York, in response to the unfair treatment against the Muslims and the change of attitude against the immigrants by the U.S. as well as other countries of the world say with reproach “We were there on September 11 and we also suffer from material and spritual losses.”
When I first started my research for the documentary everyone I contacted gave me his name and told me to talk to him: He not only lived through the attacks of September 11, but he was also in the World Trade Center when the bombs went off in the basement in 1993.
Turan Ayaz.

Five years after the collapse of the Twin Towers he was on his way to the same spot for the construction of Freedom Tower. His name is Turan Ayaz. He works as an engineer at the Port Authority, a government organization, which operates the bridges, tunnels, airlines and transit passes in the states of New York and New Jersey.

“I had to go to a meeting at JFK Airport in the morning of September 11 but some of my files were missing. So I stopped by the office. I mean, I was not supposed to be there that day, but you know, that was my destiny. When I stood up at ten to nine to go to the meeting at JFK, the building moved with a sudden jolt. My office faced Brooklyn so it looked east and I was sitting by the window. I immediately looked out the window. Furniture and corpses were falling down before my eyes. At first, we thought there was an explosion inside the building. I gestured to my secretary to leave the building. We gathered our friends and slowly started to walk to the staircase. We were on the 65th floor!”

Turan Ayaz’s voice trembles as he tells the story. He can’t help thinking, “What if I had been working at my previous office on 84th floor?” Because the plane that hit the first tower struck between the 94th and 98th floors at 1790 km/h and the plane that hit the second tower struck between the 78th and 84th floors at 950 km/h...    

“While I was going down the stairs, drops of something started to fall. Since I used to work at the airport before, I was familiar with that smell. I knew it was the fuel used in planes. I didn’t tell anybody in order not to make them scared. Of course, I didn’t know that the plane was so huge; however when we were climbing down the stairs, everyone noticed something terrible had happened. Neither telephones nor computers were working, but fortunately my cell phone was connecting so that I could contact my folks at home. My wife and my parents were watching the incident on television already. I told them I had been in that building but I had managed to get out of my office and I would reach home in the evening. After that, time didn’t flow, for me.”

Turan Ayaz bends his head from time to time while talking. “I cannot do that, I cannot tell anything, can’t you see?” says Ayaz. After that, I stop asking, but I know the time which stopped for him while he was going down the stairs started flowing again after he reached his home, after 13 hours.

“My friends, relatives, neighbors came to ask about me. But when I reached home, my wife was offering tea to the guests and entertaining them, while others were crying with sorrow and worries. That night, I asked her at a late hour, ‘What happened? Everyone came here to ask about me but you were offering tea to them as if nothing had happened. Didn’t you worry about me?” Her answer was conclusive: “You told me you would definitely come home, and I didn’t doubt that.” Turan Ayaz finds it hard to talk, as if there is something in his throat. He just says, “I was quite a lucky man”.

As he has been living in the USA for 28 years, Turan Ayaz knew that he wouldn’t be very comfortable in his company after September 11.

“The next day, I went to the central office of the company where I worked in New Jersey. There were people from the police department, FBI and CIA. There I heard that they were making a list of the employees whose houses would be searched. After I heard that, I guessed my name was on the list too and in time my family would be bothered also. Since I was a Muslim and I was working in critical jobs concerning the government, especially related to the airport, I made a decision without asking my family. There is a central office of the FBI in New Jersey, Morristown. One day, I took all my files and ID cards and went there directly. At first, they didn’t accept the meeting. But when they heard I was a Muslim and worked in such a job, four people took me inside. I was invited to the meeting room. I delivered all my ID cards to them. One of them took my ID and went to investigate. After a short time, he came back and told me my records were clean. Their first question was, “Why did you come here?” I said, “Before you knocked on my door, I wanted to knock on yours.”

After the legal procedures for the construction of Freedom Tower, which is planned to replace the Twin Towers, were completed in April 2006, Turan Ayaz was offered a job in the new structure project because he was one of the most experienced engineers of the Port Authority. “I accepted the proposal without hesitation,” says Ayaz. “If this evil was really done by Muslims, there will be other Muslims to compensate for that.”

Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07