International Papers

The Wall Street Crash

In the hours following the aero-bomb attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., dispatches rolled in from papers’ bureau reporters on the scenes. The most horrific of these comes from a Sydney Morning Herald writer, who quotes a woman who was inside the World Trade Center during the blast: “The lift door exploded open. There was a man inside half burnt. His skin was hanging off. I dragged him out of the lift and somebody helped me get him out for the building. The explosion hit the building at about level 80. I counted at least 17 people jumping from that height. What choice did they have? It was either be burnt alive or jump.” The Guardian of London also runs several eyewitness accounts from the two cities.

The Times of London says that “followers of Osama bin Laden, the suspected Saudi terrorist, gave warning three weeks ago that they would carry out a ‘huge and unprecedented attack’ on American interests.” The warning was issued to a London-based Arab journalist, who says he “did not take the warnings seriously as they had happened several times in the past and nothing happened.”

Several papers immediately speculate on what effect the attacks might have on the world economy. The Moscow Times quotes a Russian economics expert who says, “Since the US economy has no large gold and foreign currency reserves, a mobilization of such reserves will be inevitable. This will mean strengthening of bonds. State borrowings will be increased, which in its turn, will ‘tie up’ the panic. This situation will have no effect on the long-term exchange rate trends, but will certainly affect the stock market.” Meanwhile, the Times of London says that “by the close of trading in London, the FTSE 100 had suffered its largest one-day percentage fall since 1987, closing 287.7 points, or 5.7 per cent, down at 4,746.0. … British Airways, which cancelled all remaining flights to America today, was the heaviest faller on the London market, down 21 per cent” and “a further 17 blue-chip stocks registered double-digit percentage drops—a list dominated by financial stocks and others with exposure in the US. Meanwhile, the price of oil, gold and the Swiss franc surged as investors rushed to put their money into safe havens following the attack on the World Trade Centre.”

The Times also reports that “thousands of Palestinians celebrated today’s terror attacks in the United States, chanting ‘God is Great’ and distributing sweets to passers-by, even as their leader, Yassir Arafat, said he was horrified.” The Tehran Times headline on the story: “Paying the Price for Its Blind Support of Racist Regime (Horror in the White House)”; the opening sentence: “Yesterday the United States of America woke up to living terror when the landmarks of the capitalist world were rocked by a series of huge explosions.”

ConcludesGermany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, “After this Tuesday, nothing will ever be the same again, very much like after Pearl Harbor almost 60 years ago. The United States’ vulnerability to terrorism is now plain for all to see.”