Of course, the 9/11 Truther movement probably has its most receptive fan base in the Middle East.
About six days ago, Iranian leader Ahmadinejad made Truther claims before the UN General Assembly:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said he believes – as an engineer – the World Trade Center towers could not have been brought down by aircraft.
Interviewed after his address to the UN General Assembly sparked a walkout, he told the AP news agency some kind of planned explosion must have occurred.
But he stopped short of saying the US staged the disaster 10 years ago.
He had been widely condemned for using his UN address to brand the US killing of Osama Bin Laden a 9/11 cover-up.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Ahmadinejad has pushed 9/11 conspiracy theories. Following his speech last year to the UN General Assembly, ALLAHPUNDIT makes the point:
Today’s journey into Trutherism is new, though, I think. To be sure, he’s been pushing conspiracy theories about 9/11 (and not just 9/11) in interviews for years as a modern-day complement to his Holocaust denial, but as far as I know this is the first time he’s broached the subject from the podium at the UN.
It seems like a great number of people in the Middle East prefer to entertain the tantalizing notion that the U.S. government staged 9/11, framing innocent Muslims as an excuse to make war.
“Many Pakistanis I spoke to in the six years that I’ve been a correspondent here say they have no idea who carried out the 9/11 attacks,” she said.
In a 2008 World Public Opinion poll, 72 percent of the Pakistani respondents said they didn’t know who were behind the attacks. As many people believed Israel was behind it as al-Qaida (4 percent), and 19 percent thought the United States itself carried out the attacks.
“This is an argument that I have heard over and over again,” said Koster. “In this conspiracy theory, the U.S. staged the attacks to have a reason for invading Afghanistan.”
The conspiracy-minded think the United States wanted to enter Afghanistan to be closer to oil sources in Central Asia, closer to China to thwart its growing economy and power, or to wipe out the Muslim community, she said.
Many voicing these perspectives were well-educated Pakistanis, she added. “For instance, a wealthy English-speaking Pakistani from an area beleaguered by the Pakistani Taliban firmly believed the U.S. wanted to extinguish Muslims.”
According to the New Republic:
the unpopularity of the United States in the Arab world continues to be fueled by the belief that Islamist terrorists had nothing to do with 9/11, with many claiming the attacks were an American, Israeli, or joint American-Israeli conspiracy. In this sense, overcoming 9/11 revisionism is, perhaps, the greatest challenge facing American public diplomacy in the coming decade: So long as such conspiracy theories persist, Arabs will continue to view American policies aimed at preventing “another 9/11” as thoroughly illegitimate since, as they see it, 9/11 is just a big American lie.
In a report on Muslim-Western relations released on July 21 of this year, the Pew Research Center asked Muslim respondents in eight countries—including Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, and Pakistan—whether they thought groups of Arabs carried out the 9/11 attacks on the United States. In every country, less than 30 percent of respondents professed their belief for the idea, and in Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey the level of acceptance is lower today than it was in 2006. Indeed, the same revolutionary Arab Street that toppled Mubarak in Egypt also registered the highest level of denial among all the countries surveyed, with a full 75 percent of respondents recording their disbelief.
To use a badly over-abused pun, Egyptians especially are living in “da Nile”:
Pew’s poll numbers from Egypt track closely with my own experience in the country, where I lived and conducted doctoral research during parts of its tumultuous spring. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I found that 9/ll revisionism was particularly prominent among Islamists, for whom rewriting history is necessary for deflecting the accusation that their ideology motivates mass murder. “There is no Al Qaeda,” former Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mehdi Akef told me in complete seriousness. “It’s an American expression. It’s just an ideology, Al Qaeda. This ideology comes from America and their coalitions.” In Akef’s inversion of reality, 9/11 constituted an American attack on the Middle East, followed by an Islamist policy of self-defense. “When they fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, Al Qaeda thinks it’s a jihad because the fight is against occupation,” he said. “And it is jihad to fight occupation. And when Americans kill civilians everywhere, it’s a big crime against humanity.”
Younger generations of Muslim Brothers echo Akef’s distortions without fail. “America did [9/11] for some business interests,” Alexandria Brotherhood leader Ali Abdelfattah said to me. Abdel Monem Abouel Fetouh, a former Brotherhood leader whom The New York Times touts as a “liberal Islamist,” agrees: “I don’t believe it was jihadists—it was too big an operation,” he told me. “This was done by a country, not individuals. It’s not a conspiracy theory—it’s just logical. They didn’t bring crimes before the U.S. justice system until now. Why? Because it’s part of the conspiracy.” Even Islam Lotfy, who recently left the Brotherhood to establish his own political party and works as a contractor for USAID in Egypt, finds American complicity in 9/11 plausible. “I can’t imagine someone flying for twenty minutes and nobody realizes it, and then another plane goes and crashes and then another in Pennsylvania,” he said. Sobhi Saleh, a former parliamentarian who is considered among the Brotherhood’s top legal thinkers, had a slightly different theory. “The Jews and the Zionist lobby [did it],” he said, referencing a book that a Lebanese Christian cleric gave him. “And this study is well known in America and it’s on the Internet. … It was a scientific research.”
Yet Islamists were hardly the only group I encountered in Egyptian society that denied Al Qaeda’s complicity in 9/11. Revolutionary socialists, who comprise an important segment of the youth activists that catalyzed the January anti-Mubarak revolt, see the machinations of global domination at work. “Personally, I think the imperial interests needed something like this,” Mustafa Shawqi, a leader in the Coalition of Revolutionary Youth, told me. “Gas tycoons—blocking any attempt for democratic change in the Arab world and serving the security of Israel.” And a number of self-proclaimed liberals sounded awfully like the Islamists when asked who was responsible for 9/11. “The CIA knows who did it. I don’t know,” said liberal Wafd party youth activist Mohamed Fouad. “It will remain a question mark. Al Qaeda is part of the theories, but it was organized with others. And let’s not forget that Al Qaeda is made and supported by the Americans.
Eric Trager concludes his piece by stating how difficult it will be to curb anti-American sentiment and resentment in the war on terror so long as Arab 9/11 conspiracy theories are the prevalent beliefs being spun and propagandized. One major problem of course, is the refusal on the part of Muslims to take ownership and responsibility that violent brethren of their religion were indeed responsible for “waking the sleeping/paper tiger” from its slumber. It is far easier to scapegoat the dysfunctions of their society upon the Jews or the U.S. Living in denial. And of course, when Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda claimed the charges of responsibility were true, that they brought the Towers down, some Arabs secretly (and openly) showed anything from admiration, sympathy, or support for their romanticized version of “Robin Hood” to claims that Osama must be an agent working for the CIA. No amount of evidence to the contrary will ever be enough to convince those who want to believe in conspiracies rather than face the real causes for their miserable states.
When Ahmadinejad suggested that 9/11 wasn’t caused by al Qaeda but by the U.S. government, who else other than We the People of the United States took offense? Why, al Qaeda in Yemen, no less, in the 7th issue of Inspire Magazine for Jihadis:
“The Iranian government has professed on the tongue of its president Ahmadinejad that it does not believe that al Qaeda was behind 9/11 but rather, the U.S. government. So we may ask the question: why would Iran ascribe to such a ridiculous belief that stands in the face of all logic and evidence?” opinion writer Abu Suhail asks.
Last week, Ahmadinejad appeared before the United Nations General Assembly and blasted the U.S. for disposing of al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden.
“Last year, when the need to form a fact-finding team to undertake a thorough investigation concerning the hidden elements involved in September 11 incident was brought up; an idea also endorsed by all independent governments and nations as well as by the majority in the United States, my country and myself came under pressure and threat by the government of the United States,” Ahmadinejad said, referring to the United States.
“Instead of assigning a fact-finding team, they killed the main perpetrator and threw his body into the sea. Would it not have been reasonable to bring to justice and openly bring to trial the main perpetrator of the incident in order to identify the elements behind the safe space provided for the invading aircraft to attack the twin world trade towers?”
Several diplomatic delegations walked out of Ahmadinejad’s speech.
“If Iran was genuine in its animosity towards the U.S., it would be pleased to see another
entity striking a blow at the Great Satan but that’s not the case. For Iran, anti-Americanism is merely a game of politics,” reads Inspire’s article. “Iran and the Shi’a in general do not want to give al Qaeda credit for the greatest and biggest operation ever committed against America because this would expose their lip-service jihad against the Great Satan.”
“For them, al Qaeda was a competitor for the hearts and minds of the disenfranchised Muslims around the world,” the article says. “Al Qaeda… succeeded in what Iran couldn’t. Therefore it was necessary for the Iranians to discredit 9/11 and what better way to do so? Conspiracy theories.”
That’s super, but AQ’s relationship with Iran is a lot more complicated than their propaganda would have you believe. I wonder if the tool who wrote that article realizes that and is simply pushing out standard anti-Shiite Wahhabist yammering or if he’s so low on the totem pole that he actually doesn’t know about the collusion at the top.