At 9:50 p.m. on June 25, 1996, a powerful blast collapsed buildings and shattered windows in our compound at Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. That terrorist bomb claimed the lives of 18 men under my command and wounded me.
Fifteen years later, I was working in the Pentagon when a commercial airliner under control of terrorists slammed into our building a few hundred meters away from me, killing 184 innocent people.
I’ve lived through the pain and sorrow associated with the indiscriminate acts perpetrated by amorphous groups and faceless cowards who believe they can achieve their objectives by using fear, intimidation, and murder of innocent people.
On Thursday, April 2, I watched as television reporters unveiled another terrorist event at Garissa University College. Al-Shabaab gunmen shot their way into a quiet university campus, killing students in dormitories where many were still sleeping. In the end, 147 innocent people were gunned down and 79 were wounded in a cowardly effort to terrorize East Africans over Kenya’s support to the African Union’s fight against al-Shabaab in Somalia. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those who lost family and friends and those who were injured and traumatized by this heinous act of terrorism.