Congresswoman includes terrorists in 9/11 death toll tweet again, faces backlash

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., talks to The Associated Press at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., took an opportunity on Sunday to mourn the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001, but included the planes' hijackers in her death toll.

Today we remember the 2,996 people who were killed on 9/11 and all those who lost their lives while serving our country in the forever wars that followed," Rep. Jayapal's now-deleted tweet read.

While the exact number of victims who lost their lives on 9/11 isn't known, the official death toll sits at 2,977. On the day of the attacks, 2,753 people died at the site of the World Trade Center in New York City, 184 died at the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and 40 people died just outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, according to the official count.

If the 19 terrorists who also died as a result of their suicidal attack are included, the number jumps to 2,996. It's unclear why Rep. Jayapal used that number in her tweet.

Outrage erupted over Rep. Jayapal using the death tally that includes the terrorists and, as an apparent response to the backlash, Rep. Jayapal deleted her tweet.

It's not the first time Rep. Jayapal used the 2,996 number in a 9/11 remembrance tweet. She tweeted the same words and photograph exactly one year ago, and that tweet remains online.

Critics were quick to point to the past instance of Rep. Jayapal including terrorists in the 9/11 death toll. Radio host Jason Rantz asked his followers to "never forget" Rep. Jayapal's repeated use of the number.

Congressional candidate Matthew Foldo wondered to his Twitter followers "Why on EARTH" Rep. Jayapal included "the 19 radical Islamic terrorist hijackers" in her 9/11 death toll. Some suggested it could have been a mistake, as Googling for the answer to how many died on 9/11 sometimes returns the number 2,996. Foldi disagreed with that presumption.

This is NOT a mistake—Pramila Jayapal, leading @HouseDemocrats, regularly mourns the 19 radical Islamic terrorists who declared war on civilization," Foldi said in a follow-up tweet, linking to Rep. Jayapal's 2021 9/11 remembrance tweet which also used the 2,996 number.

However, Rep. Jayapal was not the only American lawmaker to use the 2,996 death toll in a tweet. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy used the number in a now-deleted tweet, many Twitter users pointed out. The Trump Organization also used the number in a 2021 tweet, going as far as to call all 2,996 lives lost "innocent."

Joining Rep. Jayapal and Rep. McCarthy, Twitter accounts that used the 2,996 number include the City of Lubbock, Texas, the London Police Service ON Twitter account, conservative editorial cartoonist Gary Varvel, Connecticut Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, leader of the Belarusian democratic movement Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, sports columnist Justin Allen, New York State lawmaker Jessica González-Rojas, GOP congresswoman Kat Cammack, U.S. Commander of Air Combat Command Mark Kelly and many more.

Again, it's unclear exactly why the 2,996 number is so prevalent in 9/11 remembrance posts on social media, but the supposition that it stems from lazily Googling for an answer and taking the first result as gospel seems plausible to many online.

Still, to others, mourning the deaths of the terrorists who took so many lives on that tragic day is disrespectful to the victims and their families, if not just distasteful.

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