It might have been a college administration building in 1969: desks and book cases stacked up to block windows; office and construction equipment dumped down stariwells to block access; paint and plaster spilled and hurled about to cause damage. A classic trashing.
Then there were the pools of dried blood; two dinner plate-size spots on the seventh floor carpeting at the spot where Alton Kriland was brutally stabbed in the chest and back; and the large, bloody puddle on the second floor, and abstract spatters on the wall where Wesley Hymes took a bullet in the shoulder and a machete across the hand.
It was not a campus building, it was the B'nai B'rith headquarters at 17th Street and Rhode Island Avenue NW. It was not 1969, but yesterday, and the mess and blood were not the work of student radicals, but of seven Hanafi Muslim gunmen, soldiers in a "holy war."
B'nai B'rith officials said yesterday they were initially estimating the damage to the building and its furnishings as $250,000. They said they did not know how much would be covered by insurance.
Voices echoed in the large, concrete, shell of a room on the eighth floor. An accidentally kicked soda bottle clattered loudly across the bare floor. The harsh wail of an ambulance speeding through the intersection eight stories below seemed to fill the chamber.
Even with newsmen and television technicians milling about the room yesterday, it was easy to imagine how loud a gunman's harsh command, the sound of a hand striking a face, or the constant comings and goings of police vehicles must have sounded to the 108 hostages held in the room for 38 hours by the machete wielding gunmen.
When eventually will be the conference room in the new wing of the B'nai B'rith building did not look all that different from any construction site. Some of the wall board used to block the police view in the windows was still in place, as was the rat's nest of newpaper sheets on which the women hostages slept.
Television cameramen crouched down close to the floor as they zoomed in on the half-eaten tunas on pumpernicle and spilled cups of soda. The debris looked like it was left by a construction crew returning to work in a hurry, rather than the innocent victims of a Muslim holy war.
Bernie Simon, B'nai B'rith press officer, yesterday's tour guide and who had been a hostage and Thursday, was present to remind the tourists that they were not simply visiting a messy construction site.
"When we were first bought here we were required to paint out the windows or cover them with sheet rock," said Simon. "Some of us did that. Some of the younger men were compelled to move furniture and materual from the construction and throw it down the stairwell to barricade the eighth floor where the group held us.
"We were lying in two to three rows, the women on this side" - he pointed to the north wall - "the women were not bound, as ypu know, and the men, with I believe eight exceptions, were bound the entire time. The gunmen sat at that end" - he pointed west - "and that end" - he pointed east. Who were the eight exceptions, he was asked. Who wasn't tied?
"About an hour after we were in this room they tried to take a count. They had us lying on the floor, each person touching the toes of the person in front of them. They tried two or three times and ultimately had us count off.
"Then, (Hamaas Abdul) Khaalis, (leader of the Hanafis), came in and began his harangue. When he finished he indicated the first to go would be the older men, the old men. And at that time," said Simon, "eight of us were unbound. Then he left and began using the telephone in the next room."
What went through your mind then? Simon was asked.
"I'd rather not go into that," he said.
The gunmen were "alternating between cruetly and some civil behavior," said Simon, whose wrists bear the red, raw marks left by the neck tie that bound him.
"They provided the women with some comfort," he said, "newspapers to sleep on and a painting tarp to cover themselves. We gave the women our jackets . . . It was very cold here Wednesday night."
Hank Siegel a B'nai B'rith public relations official who also helped guide uesterday's tour, told how he was released at 2 p.m. Thursday.
Siegel, who has a bad heart said he was having some difficulty breathing, said one of the gunmen came into the room and said "where's the heart victim? Come over here front and center.
"Somebody had gun pointed at me and he said. 'There's an elevator coming up; if there's a cop on top of it he's dead and you're dead. 'At that point I figured I was dead, ye' know? But when it came up he said, 'You're lucky.' They unloaded the food and then he said, 'OK, come on in here and I went into elevator" said Siegel, who added he was made to thank Allah before being releases.
After the tour, B'nai B'rith president David Blumberg held a press conference standing before the table in the ground floor museum at which three Moslem nation ambassadors negotiated the release of the hostages with Khaalis.
"We are deeply indebted to these people (the negotiators) for having put themselves on the line," said Blumberg. "Of course to us, the heroes of this whole picture are our employees, Jews, Christians, black and white, men and women . . . They've come out to us, and we hope to the rest of the world, as ideal heroes . . .
"We hope that this particular event will serve as a means for the world to become aware of the dangers of terrorism . . . Unless the people of the world are ready to move in the direction of climinating terrorism from our midst, things like this are gong to occur."
Even as Blumberg was telling reporters that B'nai B'rith was arranging to have security experts study their building in order to improve security, a woman identified as Khaals's "No. 1 wife" was being quoted in news reports as warning there will be "more trouble" unless all showings of the movie "Mohammad, Messenges of God" are stopped.
Part of the agreement that led to the end of the sieges in Washington was that the movie, being shown in New York and Los Angeles, he withdrawn from circulation. Yesterday, however, it was being shown again.
Security was reported to be tight at Manhattan's Rivoli theater, where the film was being shown. City police patrolled the street outside the theater and private security guards were stationed inside the threater. In addition, moviegeors were searched before entering the theater.
When the film was withdrawn Wednesday, halfway through its three hour showing, there were about 425 persons in the theater.
Yesterday, despite a havy rain, theater manager Morris Rochelle reported about 1,000 persons attended the afternoon showing.
There were no incidents yesterday, said Rochelle, who added. "we will see what happens. We are playing it by ear."