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Profiteering from the Grim Legacy of 9/11

In his address last week, President Biden said that he and many Americans understand the shock and suffering which Israel feels at this time, comparing the atrocities of Hamas’ invasion with the terror of 9/11. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives on that fateful day, which remains close to the hearts of all those in the aviation industry.

To even think of negligently profiteering off an atrocity of this sort – one felt so deeply by so many Americans – is an unthinkable insult to all the world, but most importantly to the victims whom we continue to honour.

Before 11 September 2001, Donato Tramuto was nothing more than a mid-level pharmaceutical marketer and consultant. Since that tragic day, he has ascended the corporate and political ladders of the US, piggy-backing off a crafted image of philanthropy.

Only a few months after 9/11, Tramuto set-up the Tramuto Foundation in honour of his friends who lost their lives in the attacks. Central to the foundation’s origins is his own 9/11 narrative, which has recently come under scrutiny for the truth of its facts – or lack thereof.

President Biden has compared the recent terrorist attacks in Israel to the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington DC.

To this day, the TramutoFoundation website describes Tramuto’s 9/11 “experience” central to its identity. It spins the story that Tramuto was scheduled to board United Airlines Flight 175 – “a weekly flight he made most Monday mornings” – when he “got off” because of a “toothache.”

You only need to look at a calendar to see that 9/11/2001 was a Tuesday, to begin questioning the veracity of Tramuto’s claim and the Foundation website’s lack of clarity.

For two decades now, the Foundation has claimed its founder was meant to be on Flight UA175, the second flight to hit the world trade centre. However, official FBI records released under the Freedom of Information Act evidently contradict Tramuto’s story. The records clearly show that Tramuto was not among those who had tickets or bookings for the flight which they missed or re-arranged.

Furthermore, Tramuto's statement about being greeted by hundreds at Logan airport in 2001 post 9/11 seems hugely exaggerated when compared to contemporary reports.

After Tramuto’s story was increasingly questioned, he released a 20-page document in 2022, detailing what apparently happened. He now claims that joining his friends on UA175 was “only a consideration.” He says that he did not buy a ticket because there were no First Class tickets available on Tuesday 11 September 2001 (a toothache apparently necessitated the comfort of First Class, not coach). However, a seating plan for flight UA175 visibly shows an empty seat in First Class.

It seems Tramuto made a first class lie.

These claims, backed up by lie-upon-lie, would be no different from someone pretending today that they nearly went to visit Be’eri Kibbutz, the scene of Hammas’ massacre, but were saved from doing so by an ear-ache, then using this to generate wealth and political power for their own acquisitive gain.

The shame would be unforgiving – let alone if the pretence were levied to gain political ascension, power, and wealth at the expense of others who suffered, died, or lost someone dear, for the next 20 years.

Much of the money the Tramuto Foundation raised for victims of 9/11 was not actually given to the families of those affected.

Despite widely published reports disputing Tramuto’s story, he has continued to make his 9/11 “near-miss” a central part of his narrative. This shameless profiting from tragedy is not only an insult to 9/11, its victims, and the aviation community, but also to those suffering today from terrorism in the Middle East and beyond.

Worse still, much of the money Tramuto raised for his foundation seems not even to aid the families of 9/11 victims, nor even those of his late friends. Instead, $50,000 was given to Christ the King Seminary, which not long after was shut down when its president, Father Joe Gatto, was accused of child molestation.

A subsequent, perhaps calculated, donation of $1 million to the RFK Human Rights Foundation resulted in the bestowment of Tramuto with public honours. These included a seat on the RFK’s board and the Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award for “generosity.” Tramuto was further awarded the RFK Children’s Action Corps’ Embracing the Legacy Award, along with a myriad of honorary doctoral degrees.

All these awards rest on the Tramuto’s ability to swindle others through a singularly false claim of 9/11 valour, which has ultimately tarnished the reputation of all the prestigious awards and organizations he’s been involved in and will continue to do so as long as he remains in these positions.

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