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Oscar Nomination News Hits Home During Visit To Saudi Arabia

Sometimes life is just ironic. That was certainly the case for Carie Lemack today. She's the founder of , an organization for families who have lost loved ones in terror attacks.

Lemack was in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to speak at a conference on the use of the Internet to counter extremist violence. Here's where the irony comes in: Lemack's sister called her in Riyadh to tell her that her documentary film, Killing In The Name, had been nominated for an Oscar.

Lemack's mother, Judy Larocque, was murdered on September 11, 2001. She was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 11. Many of the terrorists in the 9/11 attack were Saudi citizens.

Of course, it was surreal to be in Saudi Arabia, said Lemack, when she got the Oscar news.

"We just know that my mom is so proud," said Lemack. "It's a victory for all victims of terrorism that we are finally going to get to take a stage that the terrorists will never take."

She was invited to the Kingdom to give voice to the suffering of terror victims. She spoke eloquently on the Saudi stage, not just about American victims, but those in Jordan, which she featured in her film.

She hopes the documentary film will be screened all over the Middle East, more likely now with an Oscar nomination.

She related her experience of talking to young people in the Middle East about the death of her mother. Many did not know that there were passengers on the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11.

"I'm just so thrilled," she said. "It was so painful and so awful ... We are going to make something positive so the whole world can see."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Deborah Amos covers the Middle East for NPR News. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.