9/11: the anniversary and the conspiracy theories

This week is the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, if anyone hasn’t been listening to the news or watching the calendar. It’s fair to say that the day was a watershed; it has been said that the sixties ended not on the first day of 1970 but on the day in August 1969 Charles Manson’s “family” carried out their mass murders, and brought a bad reputation onto the counterculture of San Fransisco where they were based. Similarly the nineties could be said to have ended, if not with the election of George W Bush, then certainly with 9/11. The incident legitimised one of the most unpopular presidents in US political history and led to the tearing-up of post-Cold War foreign policies, notably the policy of “containment” in Iraq.

Tariq Nelson, blogging last Sunday, called Sept 10 the “the last day of normal life”:

The economy, though slowing down, was pretty good and life was (relatively speaking) pretty care free. At the very least much more light hearted. Many Muslims and Muslim organizations even supported Bush in the 2000 elections.

We went from little to no major news to so many people being killed on a daily basis that it is not even ‘news’ worthy anymore. I mean, over 1,500 people were killed in Iraq last month alone. This report says that over 62,000 people have been killed since 9/11/01.

The 1990s were a bit of a rollercoaster for me personally - the first three and a half years dominated by a miserable experience of boarding school, the middle period (1993 to 1998) at college and then university, enjoying the freedom but also battling chronic fatigue and depression, and then my conversion to Islam in July 1998 which opened up a lot of new avenues for me. They were also the years when the bitterly divided politics of the 1980s began to fade into the past, with New Labour gaining control of the Labour party and then the Government - I was at the conference in Blackpool in 1996 when New Labour’s student organisation “persuaded” the National Union of Students to drop its unrealistic demand for a return to pre-Thatcher levels of support for degree students; Labour announced days later that they intended not only not to bring back grants, but to introduce tuition fees.

Still, those of us who came of age in the 1990s and remember it as the time of “Madchester”, Blur versus Oasis, Automatic for the People and all the rest should remember that in some parts of the world the foreign policies of the 1990s were causing misery, notably in Iraq. Don’t we all remember the sanctions, which did nothing to weaken the Iraqi dictatorship but instead impoverished the people, destroying its near First World health and education systems and leaving it ill-equipped to deal with the horrific cancers and birth defects our governments insist weren’t caused by the depleted uranium munitions they’d used in the first Gulf War. It was also the age of the terrible Algerian civil war and the stop-start Palestinian peace process, as well as escalating violence from Arab “Afghans” outraged at the US presence in Saudi Arabia. People may look back fondly on that period as the “golden age” when we no longer had to worry about a Soviet threat and before the “War on Terror” made the world dangerous again, but for a lot of people the world really was a dangerous place.

A lot of Muslims out there now have grown rather impatient with people who believe conspiracy theories about 9/11, as we have seen on various blogs (like this one) and on DeenPort. This is something of a change from the climate in the years following the incident, during which a lot of the Muslims I met censured me for believing that the towers really were rammed with hijacked airliners and not sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic while remote-controlled planes were sent to do the dirty work. I had someone tell me that it’s “part of iman (faith) not to believe what the kuffar say about Muslims”. To be honest, I’ve always believed I know western civilisation better than some of them, who grew up in Egypt, and I have a more nuanced view of it. I have never believed that people would have continued to believe that the Holocaust was real, with nobody without an axe to grind challenging it, if it really had been a hoax. And I was never receptive to the “controlled explosions” or “remote-controlled planes” theories.

Fareena Alam posted a link to an article by Alexander Cockburn at Counterpunch about how the “Conspiracy Nuts” let the real culprits off the hook. The chief arguments are that the “no-planers” give the notoriously incompetent officials they implicate too much credit, and that such a conspiracy would require the collaboration of an awful lot of people who would have had to keep their mouths shut for all this time since. The fact about demolition with controlled explosions is that, before the buildings are brought down, they are gutted of all their fixtures and fittings; only the bare shell remains to be brought down by the explosive. It’s unimaginable that people would have been found willing to plant explosive charges before all this had been done. There may well be those willing to hatch such a plan, but they would surely not have the knowledge necessary to bring the building down cleanly. And stories would have circulated about people who sought knowledge about demolition but were only interested in the bit about explosives - much as the stories came out about people wanting to know how to fly, but not how to take off or land a plane.

I was more receptive to the theory that the hijackers were dupes, thinking they were working for al-Qa’ida but actually working for someone else, who may or may not have been an intelligence agency. That would have required the participation, and silence, of far fewer people. While I am less convinced of that now, the fact remains that we were under a lot of pressure to simply believe the government story - that it was Muslim terrorists working for Osama bin Laden - before much proof had emerged. I saw one blog article, posted to DeenPort and touted as an “equally brilliant piece” (to Cockburn’s), which includes this bit of circular reasoning:

That the White House balked at any inquiry into the events of 9/11, then starved it of funds and stonewalled it, was unfortunate, but since the commission didn’t find for conspiracy it’s all a non issue anyway.

OK, so the commission which may not have got to the bottom of the matter “didn’t find for conspiracy” after having been stonewalled and starved of funds … so that makes it a non-issue. This smacks of the same mentality of many of those Muslims who refuse to believe that their fellow Muslims might do such a thing. “This is the United States we’re talking about,” he reassures us. BCCI, the P2 Masonic scandal and Iran-Contra were a long time ago. Everything is just coincidence. While this may be true (and remember, agglomerations of may-have-beens don’t amount to positive proof), I suspect that there are a lot of Bush fanboys who would believe this even if the evidence for a conspiracy were stronger than it actually is. It reflects badly on their leader (and the author takes the word of these politicians at face value), much as the involvement of some Muslims involvement in terrorism reflects badly on us and is used to justify violence against us in some places. Pardon us for not believing your version of events until we actually see some proof.

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  • Whatever the case there is no doubt that the world has changed for the worse and some people have benefitted

    • Several people who otherwise would have been somewhat obscure have improved their status and made lots of money since 9/11 (Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, etc)

    • Other previously unknown people have gained prominence bashing Islam and Muslims as bloggers.

    • “Dhimnitude” has become part of the jargon.

    • Those silly cartoons were made

    Of course it is all Allah’s decree…but something to reflect on…

  • George Carty

    The only 9/11 conspiracy theory which I view as a possibility is the idea that Mossad sabotaged the FBI’s investigation into the hijackers before the attacks, in order to ensure that the attacks would succeed (and thus rally the American people behind the pro-Israel cause).

  • Haroon

    “Pardon us for not believing your version of events until we actually see some proof.”

    Remember the lies about Saddam having missiles that could hit Cyprus? Lies about mobile weapons labs. Lies about collusion between al-Qaida and the Ba’athists.

    Who has the right to dictate what specific details in the information spectrum are more credible than others?

  • Thersites

    A friend of mine had a much better conspiracy theory: on September 11th 2001 Tony Blair was supposed to be addressing the horny-handed sons of toil at the T.U.C. comference in Brighton. The proles were expected to be beastly to Our Beloved Leader. If Tony was faced with the choice of listening to a bunch of Very Old Labour has-beens booing or slow-clapping him or killing a few thousand people and setting off world-wide panic, which do you think he would choose?

  • UMAR ALI

    I STILL DONT THINK MUSLIMS OR ANYONE WHO EVER READ THE QURAAN, READ A HADITH, READ SEERAH OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD(PBUH) OR PRAYED DID THIS ATTACK. i THINK THE US GOV WAS BEHIND IT THE SAME WAY THEY WERE BEHIND THING SIMILAR TO IT IN THE PAST..THE USA GOV IS AS DIRTY AS DIRTY CAN BE..IN 2006 BUSH STILL SIGNED A BILL THAT WOULD GIVE BLACKS THE RIGHT TO VOTE UNTIL IT COMES UP FOR DISCUSSION AGAIN…WHY IN THE HELL IS THIS EVEN AN ISSUE IN 2006 IN AMERICA WHERE BLACKS HAVE PAID WITH BLOOD TO LIVE HERE? SHOWES HOW SICK THIS COUNTRY IS…AND YOU THOUGHT THINGS WERE EQUAL…THIS COUNTRY WILL DO WHATEVER IT CAN TO STAY ON TOP OR TO HAVE THEIR FOOT ACROSS THE NECK OF OTHERS….mUSLIMS COULD NOT HAVE DONE 911 AND WHAT WOULD BE THE PLAN AFTERWards? nothing good happened for muslims after 911……..and they had no leader or plan but BUSH and BLAIR sure had a plan and we been watching it for the last 5 years…who did 911? bush blair sharon and a few cia /fbi type people…they the only ones who could gain from such an attack Gas/oli twice the cost it was prior to 911 and we all know that war makes money and the usa loves to sell weapons…they give isreal weapons to kill kids and they support isreal no matter what. as long as people are fighting, the usa is happy….usa and brittan start fights all over the globe…divide and conqure thats the plan…. They did 911 just like they were in and behind pearl harbor….told lies about their role but now the truth finally comming out. american man speak with forked tounge! big liers

  • Old Pickler

    The word “dhimmi” has been around a lot longer than the last five years. It describes the humiliating and unjust status of non-Muslims under Muslim rule.

    The difference is that more non-Muslims know about it, and that is a good thing.

  • George Carty

    “Dhimmi” used by Islamophobes is like “Fascist” used by left-wing extremists - it means “anyone who disagrees with me”…

  • Umar

    But what about thsoe Jews who didn’t go to work on that day??? How can that be wrong?? ;-)

  • Old Pickler

    George, it’s not that use that bothers me; it’s the real meaning of “dhimmi”. You know as well as I do what this is.

  • Any discussion around conspiracy theories tends to spiral downwards into a big mess of obstinate ignorance very quickly, so I just disabled comments altogether when I wrote about all this.

    I reject the official story almost entirely, while accepting only parts of the alternate theories. At the very least, I think people should consider the evidence around the Pentagon suggesting that there was no plane, as well as the collapse of WTC Tower 7. The insider-trading aspect of it is also one of those key items that just can’t be co-incidental. Unfortunately, anyone who dare question the official story is immediately dubbed as a nut, so the important questions never get the serious consideration they require.

    Either way, it’s a terrible crime regardless, and the perpetrators will undoubtedly pay for them eventually.

  • Thersites

    “Dhimmi” used by Islamophobes is like “Fascist” used by left-wing extremists - it means “anyone who disagrees with me” …and “islamophobe” used by muslims.

  • thabe

    assalamu alaykum

    The lies about Iraq ought to prove that conspiracies and cover-ups always leak out.

  • What I don’t understand about the various alternative stories is how they reconcile the thousands of eyewitness accounts of people who were in and around the buildings.

    And I don’t understand why people feel that Muslims are either to imcompetent or too saintly to commit a crime like 9/11.

  • Haroon

    The official account of 9/11 has become like the Holocaust -an unquestionable truth. Any debate with respect to ANY of its details is viewed as an insult to the memory of those who perished.

    Together let us help to erect another great shining white edifice on which the skulls of muslim peasants can be smashed against in the name of promoting freedom, democracy and modernity.

  • Shamil

    …and “islamophobe” used by muslims.

    No.

    Shi’ites don’t call Sunnis islamophobes despite their disagreement. Whereas different factions of left-wingers do accuse eachother and others of being fascists and anti-semites.

    Though I still dislike the term islamophobia.

  • The point is regardless of all the conspiracy theories and all the “evidence” that points to other than the official story, (conspiracy theorist) Muslims need to face up to the fact that they’re not going to change world opinion on the issue. As far as the world is concerned Muslims were responsible for what happened that day, and in all our work as Muslims we should keep that in mind. Just as the brother said earlier, spreading these theories just makes us look nuts.

  • haroon

    I honestly cannot believe that I am the only muslim who raised an eyebrow when a Qur’an and “learn how to fly an aeroplane” book was found hours after the attack in Mr Atta’s rental car. Or one who suffered from a momentary dry cough when passports of the main suspects floated to the ground intact. But stuff like this should be viewed as abstract anomalies that in no way should detract from the central story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/1559151.stm Free-thinking is now haram. Iron-out the doubts in your head and believe that the Libyans were solely responsible for taking out PanAm flight 103 and not the PFLP-GC and everyone should sleep easier at night.

  • Thersites

    ” Shias don’t call Sunnis islamophobes despite their disagreement.” …because they agree about much more. ‘Though there are allegations that they are controlled by other forces too. In fact, I’d guess that it is sunni-influenced or dominated organisations that use the term islamophobe more often.

    “Whereas different factions of left-wingers do accuse eachother and others of being fascists and anti-semites.” Well, “left-wingers” is a pretty inexact term, and- much as they dislike being reminded- many fascist policies were similar to “left-wing” policies. In fact, many self-announced left-wingers now are anti-zionist and aren’t at all fussy if that includes anti-semitism too. Certainly, islamophobia is an imbecilic word.

  • Shamil

    Well, “left-wingers” is a pretty inexact term,

    That’s why I said diferent factions.

    as they dislike being reminded- many fascist policies were similar to “left-wing” policies. In fact, many self-announced left-wingers now are anti-zionist and aren’t at all fussy if that includes anti-semitism too.

    What are you talking about?

    From what I can tell anti-zionist left-wingers (if Lenin’s Tomb is a fair representation of them) don’t tolerate anti-semitism.Plus classical marxism is anti-nationalist by nature so of course they’re going to be anti-zionist.

    More to the point where did you get the idea that fascism was anti-zionist or anti-semitic?

    Mussolini was supportive of zionism and he had a jewish mistress. There’s nothing ideologically anti-semitic about fascism and that’s getting a really tiresome thing to repeat.

  • Thersites

    But it’s been suggested that there is something intrinsically and ideologically left-wing about anti-semitism: “the socialism of fools”, if you recall. Classical marxism is also anti-religious by nature, so it’s anti-jewish as a self-definition too. It’s also worth remembering that zionism was a product of anti-semitism. Early zionists accepted the accepted the accusations of anti-semites- rootless cosmopolitans, as Stalinists later put it- and thought that it was only by returning to their native country that they could lose these stigmata. Anti-zionist “left-wingers” may say they don’t tolerate anti-semitism. Their definitions of zionism and zionists, however, are pretty encompassing. I don’t know about Lenin’s Tomb, but, as I said, the real Lenin’s successor was anti-semitic. As for Mussolini having a jewish mistress, the fact that many slave-owners had slave mistresses doesn’t mean they were opposed to slavery.

  • Shamil

    But it’s been suggested that there is something intrinsically and ideologically left-wing about anti-semitism: “the socialism of fools”, if you recall.

    It’s also been suggested that the “Left” is intrinsically jewish. By Hitler for example. It’s also been suggested that gentiles are intrinsically anti-semitic. A lot of theories have been suggested.

    It’s also worth remembering that zionism was a product of anti-semitism. Early zionists accepted the accepted the accusations of anti-semites- rootless cosmopolitans, as Stalinists later put it- and thought that it was only by returning to their native country that they could lose these stigmata.

    So now even zionists are anti-semitic.

    Their definitions of zionism and zionists, however, are pretty encompassing.

    What are their definitions?

    I don’t know about Lenin’s Tomb, but, as I said, the real Lenin’s successor was anti-semitic.

    So nothing to say about the original Bolsheviks?

    As for Mussolini having a jewish mistress, the fact that many slave-owners had slave mistresses doesn’t mean they were opposed to slavery.

    Slave owners didn’t necessarily have to hate their slaves. Whereas anti-semites generally do hate jews. I just used that as an example. Fascism was not ideologically anti-semitic the way Nazism was. Of course you’re not intending to use fascism in it’s real sense but rather in the pukka leftist sense which basically comes down to “someone who isn’t nice”.

  • Thersites

    “It’s also been suggested that the “Left” is intrinsically jewish. By Hitler for example. It’s also been suggested that gentiles are intrinsically anti-semitic. A lot of theories have been suggested. “

    Some have more evidence than others, however. There is no reason to think that radicals- a better term than “the left”- after all, there were no jews in “the left” when the word originated and had meaning- are “intrinsically jewish”. However, in countries where jews are persecuted or considered inferior then those jews who become involved in politics will tend to be intrinsically radical and either opposed to the existing system of government or government or wish to change its attitudes.

    “So now even zionists are anti-semitic.”

    Not “even zionists”, particularly zionists. It depends on the reasons people are zionists of course.

    “What are their definitions?”

    Anything up to and including people who don’t think killing all Israelis is a good idea or anyone with relatives in Israel.

    “So nothing to say about the original Bolsheviks?”

    Well, the Bund was a strong jewish democratic socialist organisation that the bolsheviks hated and there were a higher proportion of jews in the mensheviks than the bolsheviks. Certainly the bolshevik hatred of both nationality and religion and national and religious self-definition meant that jews would be hated under both definitions- epitomised by ex-jews such as Trotsky.

    “Slave owners didn’t necessarily have to hate their slaves. Whereas anti-semites generally do hate jews. I just used that as an example. Fascism was not ideologically anti-semitic the way Nazism was. Of course you’re not intending to use fascism in it’s real sense but rather in the pukka leftist sense which basically comes down to “someone who isn’t nice”.”

    Many anti-semites also tend to admire jews. They think jews have all the virtues non-jews ought to have- intelligence, clannishness, racial and religious unity, family loyalty, for example. All that’s wrong with them is that they’re jews. If I had meant fascism “in the pukka leftist sense which basically comes down to “someone who isn’t nice”.” I’d have called Stalin a fascist, surely? Actually, I’m neither pukka nor leftist, so you are doubly mistaken there. I use fascism in the common sense of a centralised dictatorship with strong emphasis on political, cultural and national unity and the importance of the state and the nation and centralised corporatist economic policies. How do you use it?

  • Abdullah

    I’m convinced that 9/11 was the Reichstag Fire of our time.

    If you don’t think that the government is capable of carrying out attacks like that on their own people, then you only need to look at Operation Northwoods, which is a decalssified document available on Wikipedia.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Northwoods

    The parallels are startling.

    Do your own research. It doesn’t matter if “these theories just makes us look nuts” because we should only accept the truth, whether people like it or not, whether people think we are crazy or not.

    There is so much evidence of complicity, and books have been written about this topic.

    And if you think that 7/7 was an open and shut simple case too, then you need to do your research on that too:

    http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/july2005/090705bombingexercises.htm

  • Abdullah