A Family In Anguish

Lebanese Joseph Moussa, lights a candle for his son Jude, at his home in the northern Lebanese town of Kousba, Sept. 6, 2004. It has been three years since Jude, a trader at a bond brokerage firm, died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York. AP

Still dressed in mourning black, Yvette Moussa stares at a photograph of her eldest son and cries silently. It's what she does almost every day, remembering the young man who left a civil war in Lebanon to live a calmer, better life and ended up dead in the World Trade Center.

Jude Moussa was 35, a trader at a bond brokerage firm, working on the 105th floor of the north tower when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into it on Sept. 11, 2001.

He was one of four Lebanese men killed in the attacks on New York and Washington. A fifth Lebanese man, Ziad Jarrah, was identified by U.S. authorities as one of the 19 hijackers.

The family says no amount of compensation and no war against terror will bring them relief. In fact, the world is a more dangerous place now, says Jude Moussa's father, Joseph.

"I've lost everything, including my faith," said his mother, sitting in her large stone house in northern Lebanon. The family, like about 35 percent of Lebanese, is Christian.

"There is nothing left for me in this world," the 58-year-old adds in a soft, low voice full of pent-up anguish. Framed photos show her son in college graduation dress, and in a tuxedo.

In the Arab world, 9/11 three years later is still a subject that arouses some anguish, recrimination and soul-searching. The Moussas, however, simply prefer not to talk politics or point fingers.

"What difference does it make who or what is to blame?" Joseph Moussa said.

Cantor Fitzgerald, his son's employer, suffered 658 deaths - the most by any company hit in the attacks. It has filed a $7 billion lawsuit against Saudi Arabia, birthplace of al Qaeda network leader Osama bin Laden and home to 15 of the hijackers.

The Moussas say they don't care. "We are unconcerned in all of this. No amount of compensation will ever give me back what was taken away from me," Joseph Moussa, 60, said.

Is he satisfied with the war on terror?

"No. If anything, the world is now an even more dangerous place," he said. "The world is going from bad to worse."

Yvette Moussa agreed, pointing to the Chechen attackers who struck in southern Russia this month.

"Look at what happened to those schoolchildren in that Russian school. What do children have to do with anything?" she said.

"And what about that latest fad, the killings and beheadings in Iraq? What kind of human being would do that in the name of religion?"

Jude Moussa left Lebanon in 1984 at the height of the civil war to pursue his studies in the United States. A few years later, the entire family left and settled in Guadeloupe in the Caribbean.

The son had worked for Cantor Fitzgerald for about three years, and would call his mother every morning when he got to his office.

His mother recalled the moments before the attacks.

Jude called as usual, spoke to her and to his niece, Sophie - now 5 - and sent the little girl kisses over the phone.

Fifteen minutes later news broke that a plane had plunged into the World Trade Center.

"I can't even remember what he said to me that day in particular," Yvette Moussa said. "He would call us two, three times a day to check on us. He was that kind of son."

A small woman with blonde hair and green eyes, she suffered a nervous breakdown the day her son died and has been hospitalized several times for depression, ulcers and hypertension.

Because of her health problems, she and her husband returned to Lebanon last year, to be among family and familiar places. One of their sons stayed on in Guadeloupe while the other lives in Paris.

"Nights are the most difficult," she says. "I cannot stand the darkness, when the images and memories get to be too much."
  • Brian Bernbaum

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