I have two pen pals. One is named Linette Ramos. She works as the assistant news editor at a newspaper in Cebu City, the second largest city in the Philippines. Linette also covers city hall meetings.

Here is a conversation we had about the September 11 attacks:

Do you think 9/11 changed the American news media? What about in the Philippines?


I think it’s not just the American media that changed after 9/11, and I guess you can say that it’s all the media in all countries that changed after US was attacked, although it was more evident in American media.

For one, personally I noticed that news magazines and other print media were giving more space and prominence to intelligence reports and correct me if I am wrong, stereotyping seemed to show in some news stories, and some are quick to identify bearded, Arab-looking individuals with ties to Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran as terrorist.

In the Philippines, journalists were also on the look out for materials on the JI, Abu Sayyaf and other breakaway groups of the Al Qaeda and were quick to report any threat to peace and order. Media organizations are also more conscious of their journalists’ safety, especially after a prominent and high-caliber broadcast journalist was kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf.

On defining terrorism and labeling a person or a group as terrorist:

I would define terrorism as any activity(or ideology) that results in loss of lives or undermines security and safety of the public, and sows fear among the people.

We leave it to the authorities–police, Department of National Defense, Armed Froces–to identify whether a certain group or individual is a terrorist because labeling one as such on our own initiative would definitely invite a lawsuit, right? Usually, they are identified in intelligence reports, and these include the local groups with ties to Al Qaeda.

I have another pen pal since Linette is so busy with her job at the newspaper. My second pen pals name is Emily Flanigan. Emily is a neighbor and good friend of mine. She has been in El Salvador since February 2010 as a member of the Peace Corps. Emily works with citizens of her village to teach them about health and sanitation. She went to NAU and graduated in 2009. She majored in International Relations and Spanish.

Here is a conversation I recently had with her:

What role did Mossad (Israel’s CIA) play? Recently, Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman declined to confirm or deny whether the Mossad was involved in the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhou in Dubai. What do you think the role of the state (whether Israeli, U.S. or any government) to counter terrorism and at what cost to the nation’s values and notion of civilization?

Emily: I think that the state should always approach things in a legal matter. They have the responsibility to the people and other countries to go about things in a diplomatic way, if not they are acting in terrorism as well. In the case of Munich people felt that the violence and actions against the terrorist were justified but if each government took matters into their own hands and didn’t go about things in the correct manner countries would constantly be attacking each other. There would be no notion of civilization since the government would be secretly deciding the will of the people without going through the correct democratic channels. The values of the nation would also go down significantly.