Muhammad Saleh Bashir|
It was Tuesday night, the 8th, of last month, when no sooner the pilot radioed "Low on fuel" to the control tower and both engines caught their last breathe, sending the doomed cargo aircraft to ground. The pilot panicked. His life, the co-pilot's and possibly the lives of others flashed in front of him. Muhammad, sitting in the co-pilot seat, also noticed the flashing, but levelheaded that he was, concerned with bigger picture and with much more worries than just his own life. Oh No! He tells himself. What if we die and we take our innocence with us? He asks ... Dense and populated area, buildings and bridges, the gateway arch of St. Louis is in sight, the war in full swing, the eve of Saddam's fall, and, to butter it all up, names like Saleem Iqbal and Muhammad Saleh (a Pakistani and a Libyan), both are Muslims, both are pilots...and...Ka-Boom, "the heartland of America gets it too" is on the headlands of all TV's and on the front pages of every newspaper and gazette. What an appetizer for hungry media that specializes and dwells on this kind of tragedies, a frenzy God only knows to what extend its speculations will go...Quick thinking armed with little luck; Muhammad takes the controls off the panicked pilot and immediately scans for areas to avoid or at least minimize human loss on the ground. Mississippi river was the only choice for the airplane to crash. Muhammad knew the airplane and the two lives in the cockpit are likely to vanish but if he has little control left to save innocent lives and avoid any damages this is the time to act and must be done quick. He veers the airplane to his selected water spot and declares sha-hada. Dancing lights reflected by the water few feet below were last to see for Muhammad.
"The airplane missed the electrical poles and the antennas on that bridge by few inches" An eyewitness tells local TV station.
Many news media outlets carried the accident including CNN. You may search for more but here is a sample:
Aside from walking very slow and turning like a hyena does, and dressed in Roman soldier gear made of rigid plastic that braces and supports his back to prevent any further complication to his injury, Muhammad is expected to get well and back to normal within months if not weeks.
Muhammad, in all of this, never lost his sense of humor. In response to a: " the plane crashed in three pieces and you are still alive?" ...."sheg-fat al-kasad ma tun-kaser" was his reply...."my greatest loss is my 13 year-old daughter's hand-written letter to me that I have always kept in my pocket" he adds.
Once again, my friends, brush with death was real and very close for Muhammad Saleh Bashir; the first was by outrunning the bloodhounds of the Gaddafi's regime in ‘93 that resulted into what's known by October uprising and the second by walking away on April 8th, '03 from an airplane crash he was co-piloting with minor injuries. Some may say he is one lucky pilot and others, who know him well, will argue and say: no, it's his good deeds are paying off... I say there is much more to it than that, it is the writer to his fate, Almighty Allah, had much better explanation and plan for Muhammad; His plans are to bring joy into the eyes of his waiting children by awarding them the presence of their father again.
No doubt that people who know Muhammad are pleased and are very grateful to Allah for his safety. What his safety, if nothing else, meant is for his five children and his wife and after ten long and hard years that started with their separation to the demolishing of their only home and with continuous and endless harassments by Gaddafi's thugs is to hug and to be with him again...May Allah soon unite them.
- It will be very appreciated and many thanks in advance if any of you can write about this topic in Arabic or even translate this piece so Muhammad's family can feel proud of their son and father again.