Email sent to  Dr. Daniel Griffith's colleagues at the University of Texas, January 29, 2008, explaining that they have a unique responsibility to correct the disinformation that Griffith has been feeding the public about the Mecca orientation of the crescent.

From: Alec Rawls []
Sent: Tuesday, January 29, 2008 12:05 PM
Subject: GIS expertise needed to stop al Qaeda plot

To the UT Dallas GIS department:

Your help is urgently needed to help expose and stop an enemy plot against the United States. You may or may not be aware of the controversy over the Crescent of Embrace memorial to Flight 93, to be built in the shape of a gigantic Islamic crescent and star flag:

Crescent of Embrace publicity photo (left). Wikipedia’s “typical” Islamic crescent and star (right), colored red and viewed from a similar angle. The copse of trees that sits roughly in the position of the star on an Islamic flag marks the Flight 93 crash site.

Where do you come in? It turns out that a person standing between the crescent tips and facing into the center of the crescent will be facing almost exactly at Mecca:

The green circle in this graphic was generated by the Mecca-direction calculator at, which uses the great circle direction to calculate the direction to Mecca (the Muslim “qibla,” or prayer direction), for any American city. Crescent bisector (red arrow) points 1.8° north of Mecca, ± 0.1°. (Full Crescent of Embrace site plan here.)

A crescent or an arch shape giving the direction to Mecca is a well known construct in the Islamic world. It is called a mihrab, and is the central feature around which every mosque is built:

The mihrab of the Great Mosque in Codoba Spain. Face into the crescent to face Mecca.

You can also think of the Crescent of Embrace as a giant Muslim prayer rug (called a “musalla,” which translates into English as “small mosque”).

It should have been an easy matter to expose this explosive information. The problem is that one of your colleagues, Dr. Daniel Griffith, has been covering up this Islamic symbolism by making erroneous statements to the Memorial Project and the press about the direction to Mecca. He told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that there is no such thing as the direction to Mecca:

Daniel Griffith, a geospatial information sciences professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, said anything can point toward Mecca, because the earth is round.

Neither was Griffith misquoted. Kirk Swauger of the Johnstown Tribune Democrat also talked to Griffith. “He said you can face anywhere to face Mecca,” Swauger told me over the phone.

Is this the position of the UT GIS department? That there is no such thing as a direction on planet earth? Other obviously errant statements were made to other newspapers. According to the Tribune Democrat:

Griffith studied Rawls’ assertions for Families of Flight 93. [He] said the geometry used for a sphere such as the earth is different than the geometry for a two-dimension surface, which Rawls is using as the foundation for his arguments.

Griffith knows full well that I calculated the direction to Mecca by the great circle method, which is a spherical concept of direction. Griffith even calculated the direction to Mecca himself and got the same answer I did. This from an unpublished report Griffith wrote in 2006:

I computed an azimuth value from the Flight 93 crater site to Mecca of roughly 55.20°.

(Available on my website:

I get 55.19° clockwise from north. (My calculations at the bottom here.)

I have no idea why Professor Griffith is propagating this disinformation. Does he have some personal connection to architect Paul Murdoch? Does he think he is helping the grieving families of Flight 93 by telling them what he thinks they want to hear? Whatever his motivation, he is covering up the truth and protecting an enemy plot.

I see from Griffith’s web-page that he is actually an economist (my own background) rather than a GIS person. Unfortunately, he has that GIS credential by his name, and there are very few GIS professors in the country who can be appealed to for equally credentialed counter-expertise. As far as I can tell, the only GIS departments in the country are at UT and Oklahoma State. I am sending this appeal to professors in both departments. Professor Griffith’s deceptions must be publicly corrected by your departments.

It sounds crazy that a professor could tell the press that there is no such thing as the direction to Mecca and be believed, but this is in fact the state of affairs. Griffith is also deceiving the Park Service, and the Flight 93 family group.

There are a host of geometric claims about the crescent design that need to be fact checked and publicized. Griffith’s deceptions have stopped all of this from proceeding.

Here is a second Mecca orientation that needs expert verification. A line across the tips of the vast array of crescents of trees that surround the crescent shaped Tower of Voices part of the planned memorial also points 1.8° north of Mecca, the same as the giant central crescent, proving that neither orientation is a coincidence:

The Tower crescents are turned exactly 90° to the central crescent (where it is the bisector that points just north of Mecca).

To see that this Tower orientation matches the orientation of the central crescent, just overlay the two:

Red and blue make purple. The two orientations are identical, as closely as can be determined given the pixel resolution of the graphics. The design included numerous other proofs of intent as well, including repeated exact Mecca orientations.

Another Islamic element of the design might be a little out of the GIS field, but a GIS person would certainly have the skills to verify that the center of the Tower array turns out to be a year round accurate Islamic prayer-time sundial:

In the photo of the traditional Islamic sundial (left) the gnomon shadow is just reaching the outer curved vertical, indicating time for afternoon prayers. Same for the Tower of Voices (right). Shadow calculations confirm that, on any day of the year, when the tower shadow reaches the inner arc of trees, it will be time for Islamic afternoon prayers. (South at the top in both images.)

The design is also replete with terrorist memorializing features. We hosted an open design competition in time of war. Of course we should have expected that the enemy would enter and try to win a memorial to their heroes instead of ours, which is exactly what happened. The Crescent of Embrace is a terrorist memorial mosque. Initial uproar over the bare naked crescent and star flag forced the Memorial Project to disguise the crescent with a few irrelevant trees, but every particle of the original crescent design remains completely intact in the so called redesign.

This al Qaeda sympathizing plot is succeeding, largely due to the efforts of your colleague Daniel Griffith, and you are some of the only people in the country who can overcome his malign influence.

Please fact check my information, and help me stop this enemy attack on our country.

Any of you who are willing to fact check any of my claims about the memorial, please contact me. 


Alec Rawls

Palo Alto, CA


Updates here:

Full expose here:


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