Kareem's Memoir & Bio

2001

Auroras in California
In April of 2001, I was listening to a late night radio talk show called Coast to Coast with Art Bell. It was a few minutes after 10pm. Art usually opened his show by highlighting some of the bizarre and paranormal events of the week prior. But tonight, his show was interrupted by his wife Ramona. She was excited about what she had been watching in the nightsky. That year, the suCalifornia Aurorasn was undergoing unusual solar activity and that night the activity peaked when the sun experienced a major solar eruption which triggered the northern lights (aurora borealis). Auroras are generally seen in the extreme northernmost parts of our globe. But tonight, people were seeing them as far south as Texas! As I listened to the show on the radio, Ramona ran into the studio and told Art that he needed to leave the microphone to take a look outside. When I heard that, I got very excited and ran outdoors. I looked toward the northeast and saw something strange. I repositioned myself to confirm what I was seeing. Nearly a quarter of the night sky was covered by a very dark red hue. I was astonished and so I contacted a friend who lived in the apartments. I told Robert the news; he stopped eating and accompanied me as I drove to a better location that was free of city lights. We arrived at a nearby park. We gazed up. As our eyes adjusted, both of us noticed a maroon, amoebic blob slowly shifting around the sky. I also saw a smaller greenish glow in the northern area of the sky. This dissipated quickly. But the red glow hung around much longer, all the while slowly moving and waving. We were seeing the aurora borealis in live view and in California!

Terrorist Attacks in New York
During the planning of a college tour for a group of high school students, the students and I were planning to stay in New York and visit several universities such as NYU, Columbia, Wellesley and Fordham. We were booked to stay at the World Trade Center Marriott Hotel (Building 3) during the week of September 10. Weeks before our departure, an unexpected problem prompted us to push back the college tour another week. Fortunately, the delay kept the students and me from being a part of the nation’s worst terrorist attack. So, I was at home that Tuesday morning of the attacks. My alarm clock awakened me at 5:30 a.m.. I turned on the radio and heard Lee Rogers speaking in an unusually troubled manner. I listened for a bit before I heard the words, “...this is a major fire in one of the towers of the World Trade Center...”. I was surprised to hear that and so I 911 Terrorist Attacksflipped on the television to see if there was any "live" video. When I saw the live footage of the burning WTC tower, I instantly grabbed a blank VHS tape and threw it into the VCR. I would record over 50 hours of wall-to-wall news coverage of our nation's worse terrorist attack. As I continued to watch the news coverage, I flipped through several other TV channels to see how the story was being covered on other networks. Just as I turned to KGO, Channel 7, out of the corner of the screen, I saw an object moving into the picture. Then there was an explosion. Another jet! Watching this seemed very much like a special effects movie. I telephoned a friend of mine who was already at work to tell him that another plane had crashed into the other tower. He didn’t believe me and eventually hung up. I continued to watch the news coverage as things seem to get progressively worse. Now, word was coming that a plane had crashed onto the U.S. Pentagon. Terrorism was now in America, I thought.  Then word started circulating that the city of San Francisco was asking people to stay home and not report to work due to a threat against the city. My boss telephoned me and we made decisions to start calling managers and telling them to not report to work. I called the office and advised our accounting department which usually arrived early to leave the office and go home. Everyone

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stayed glued to th e TV and radio trying to get the latest news on the terrorist attacks and threats.

We returned to work after a few days. But things were different. Since all commercial airlines were grounded by the federal government, anytime we heard aircraft, everyone became concerned. The city seemed to be in a daze for several weeks but people seemed calmer than normal. Then as though we needed a way to wake us up, we had a bomb scare in the Bank of America building which was right next door to our building. It occurred right after lunch. People suddenly started pouring out of that 52-story high-rise and into the streets. We evacuated our building and were met by the hundreds of people from the Band of America building. At one point, there were rumors that there was another bomb threat in another nearby building. We were not sure which way to go. Eventually things settled down and we returned to work. As for the college tours that year, we decided to send the students to southern California and visit the college campuses there.

Nation’s threat
It started becoming clear that the United States was now under the threat of terrorism like we have never faced America under Attack - NBCbefore. Yes, we have been dealing with this since the 1970s but the 911 attacks marked a new era of Islamic Jihad Terrorism. Our nation faces this threat continually. The major attack on September 11 seems to have opened the door for the Jihadists to make more of an effort in causing terror against the West, the U.S. We experienced several events that indicated this. We’ve had several attempts for Jihadists to bring down commercial airliners by use of explosives, we’ve had an individual launch a shooting spree which killed several of his US Army comrades at an army base in Texas, and still continue to find groups of Islamic Jihadist rings within the country. The threat nowadays increases as the federal government allows our borders to be too

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accessible. The government wants the U.S. to be more open and tolerant of foreign cultures but unfortunately, Islamic extremism takes advantage of this laxed security and leaves us more vulnerable. Our openness to culture has now compromised the security of our nation.

Something changed inside me at Hilltop
I had been attending Hilltop Community Church for nearly 11 years, singing in the choir from time to time but remaining in the pews and not getting involved in anything else. The choir was all I knew. I attended an adult ministries event and met another church member named Jill. She casually and pleasantly asked me a very simple, but stirring question. She said, “so what do you do for the Lord?” And I had to stop and think about the answer to her question. No one had ever asked me such a question. And worse, my answer was, “well, I don’t know… Uh, I don’t know”.  From that moment on, I was convicted that I was ignoring God and just doing my own thing. That had to change. I prayed for wisdom and direction. It was as if a light had been turned on inside me. Suddenly things started happening at Hilltop. I met someone named Michael who was in charge of the different adult ministries at the chirch. He asked me to help them with the church website. I volunteered and created a new website for the church. They were very intrigued by my design.

 
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