Almost 12 years and many a million deaths later, the US and its NATO allies have made public their plan to start withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014. The war in Afghanistan has been an abject failure, orphaned both on the military and the public relations fronts, with the loss of life, property, and infrastructure being colossal.
More importantly, contrary to initial claims, the global war on terror has not made the world a safer place. Instances of terrorism have continuously been on a rise, engulfing one after another the countries neighboring Afghanistan. Lest we forget, almost all subsequent wars waged by US and NATO have had their genesis in the war that was thrust onto Afghanistan after 9/11.
Much of America’s foreign policy since 9/11 has been based on the assumption that it was attacked by Muslims on that day. This assumption was used, most prominently, to justify the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In fact every war fought by US and its allies during the first decade of the third millennium has been founded in the post-9/11 doctrine of preemption.
It is now widely agreed that the use of 9/11 as a basis for attacking Iraq was illegitimate: none of the hijackers were Iraqis, there was no working relation between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, and Iraq was not behind the anthrax attacks. But it is still widely believed that the US attack on Afghanistan was justified. For more than a decade now, the corporate media around the world has consistently been forcing this fantastic narrative as an undisputable fact. It seems likely that the indoctrination will increase to new levels as spin-doctors try to justify the Afghanistan withdrawal plan and prove that the ‘war on terror’ has been a success unmatched in human history.
The stage has been set for a massive ploy of psychological and media war to be unleashed on the unsuspecting minds of the masses. For example, as recently as in 2011, the New York Times while referring to the US attack on Iraq as a “war of choice,” called the battle in Afghanistan a “war of necessity.” Time magazine dubbed it “the right war.” And in 2009, Barack Obama was reported to have said ‘one reason to wind down our involvement in Iraq is to have the troops and resources to “go after the people in Afghanistan who actually attacked us on 9/11.”
In 2012, after his reelection, Barack Obama was reported to have said ‘The war against terror has been won, with the main perpetrators, including Osama Bin Laden, brought to justice.’ ‘We will continue to fight Al-Qaeda on all fronts and support the cause of freedom and human rights around the world’, he added, giving us a glimpse of what the US and its NATO allies have in store for the world in general and for the Middle East in particular, in time to come.
The assumption that America was attacked by Muslims on 9/11 lies behind the widespread perception of Islam as an inherently violent religion and therefore of Muslims as guilty until proven innocent. This perception surely contributed to attempts to portray Obama as a Muslim, which was lampooned by a controversial cartoon on the July 21, 2008, cover of The New Yorker. There has also been a steady increase in reported incidents of Islamophobia, ranging from hate speech against Muslim communities to incidents of insulting the Qur’an and the prophet of Islam.
As could be illustrated by reference to many other post-9/11 developments, including spying, torture, extraordinary rendition, military tribunals, America’s new doctrine of preemptive war, and its enormous increase in military spending, the assumption that the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked by Muslim hijackers has had enormous negative consequences for both international and US domestic issues. In light of the unfolding events it becomes essential to recap the real ‘facts’ about 9/11, which served as the pretext for the whole campaign named ‘war on terror’.
Is it conceivable that 9/11 was not done by Muslims? Insofar as Americans and Europeans would say “No,” they would express their belief that this assumption is not merely an “assumption” but is instead based on strong evidence. When actually examined, however, the proffered evidence turns out to be remarkably weak. This can be illustrated by means of 12 questions.
1. Were Mohamed Atta and the other hijackers devout Muslims?
The picture of the hijackers conveyed by the 9/11 Commission is that they were devout Muslims. But this portrayal is contradicted by various newspaper stories. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Atta and other hijackers had made “at least six trips” to Las Vegas, where they had “engaged in some decidedly un-Islamic sampling of prohibited pleasures.” These activities were “un-Islamic” because, as the head of the Islamic Foundation of Nevada pointed out: “True Muslims don’t drink, don’t gamble and don’t go to strip clubs.”
2. Do Authorities Have Hard Evidence of Osama bin Laden’s Responsibility for 9/11?
Mystery shrouds the character of Osama bin Laden even after his alleged death. Whatever be the truth about the devoutness of the hijackers, one might reply, there is certainly no doubt about the fact that they were acting under the guidance of Osama bin Laden. The attack on Afghanistan was based on the claim that bin Laden was behind the attacks, and the 9/11 Commission’s report was written as if there were no question about this claim. But neither the Bush administration nor the Commission provided any proof for it.
Two weeks after 9/11, Secretary of State Colin Powell, speaking to Tim Russert on “Meet the Press,” said he expected “in the near future . . . to put out . . . a document that will describe quite clearly the evidence that we have linking [bin Laden] to this attack.” But at a press conference with President Bush the next morning, Powell reversed himself, saying that although the government had information that left no question of bin Laden’s responsibility, “most of it is classified.” According to Seymour Hersh, citing officials from both the CIA and the Department of Justice, the real reason for the reversal was a “lack of solid information.”
It is often claimed that bin Laden’s guilt is proved by a video, reportedly found by US intelligence officers in Afghanistan in November 2001, in which bin Laden appears to accept responsibility for planning the attacks. But critics, pointing out various problems with this “confession video,” have called it a fake. General Hamid Gul, a former head of Pakistan’s ISI, said: “I think there is an Osama Bin Laden look-alike.” Actually, the man in the video is not even much of a look-alike, being heavier and darker than bin Laden, having a broader nose, wearing jewelry, and writing with his right hand. The FBI, in any case, obviously does not consider this video hard evidence of bin Laden’s responsibility for 9/11.
Therefore, the White House, the British government, the FBI or the 9/11 Commission have not provided solid evidence that Osama bin Laden was behind 9/11.
3. Was evidence of Muslim hijackers provided by phone calls from the airliners?
Many readers may think that there can be no doubt that the airplanes were taken over by al-Qaeda hijackers, because their presence and actions on the planes were reported on phone calls by passengers and flight attendants, with cell phone calls playing an especially prominent role.
The most famous of the reported calls were from CNN commentator Barbara Olson to her husband, US Solicitor General Ted Olson. According to CNN, he reported that his wife had “called him twice on a cell phone from American Airlines Flight 77,” saying that “all passengers and flight personnel, including the pilots, were herded to the back of the plane by . . . hijackers [armed with] knives and cardboard cutters.”
Although these reported calls, as summarized by Ted Olson, did not describe the hijackers so as to suggest that they were members of al-Qaeda, such descriptions were supplied by calls from other flights which stated the hijackers to be ‘Middle Eastern-looking men’ and ‘Having an Islamic look’. From these calls, therefore, the public was informed that the hijackers looked Middle Eastern and even Islamic.
There was, however, a big problem with these reported calls: Given the technology available in 2001, cell phone calls from airliners at altitudes of more than a few thousand feet, especially calls lasting more than a few seconds, were not possible, and yet these calls, some of which reportedly lasted a minute or more, reportedly occurred when the planes were above 30,000 or even 40,000 feet. This problem was explained by some credible people, including scientist A.K. Dewdney, who for many years had written a column for Scientific American.
Multiple lines of evidence, therefore, imply that the cell phone calls were faked. This fact has vast implications, because it implies that all the reported calls from the planes, including those from onboard phones, were faked. Why? Because if the planes had really been taken over in surprise hijackings, no one would have been ready to make fake cell phone calls.
4. Was the presence of hijackers proved by a radio transmission “from American 11?
It might be objected, in reply, that this is not true, because we know that American Flight 11, at least, was hijacked, thanks to a radio transmission in which the voice of one of its hijackers is heard. According to the 9/11 Commission, the air traffic controller for this flight heard a radio transmission in which someone told the passengers: “We have some planes. Just stay quiet, and you’ll be okay. We are returning to the airport.” After quoting this transmission, the Commission wrote: “The controller told us that he then knew it was a hijacking.” Was this transmission not indeed proof that Flight 11 had been hijacked?
It might provide such proof if we knew that, as the Commission claimed, the “transmission came from American 11.” But we do not. According to the FAA’s “Summary of Air Traffic Hijack Events,” published September 17, 2001, the transmission was “from an unknown origin.” The Commission’s claim that it came from American 11 was merely an inference. The transmission could have come from the same room from which the passenger calls originated.
Therefore, the alleged radio transmission from Flight 11, like the alleged phone calls from the planes, provides no evidence that the planes were taken over by al-Qaeda hijackers.
5. Did passports and a headband provide evidence that al-Qaeda operatives were on the flights?
However, the government’s case for al-Qaeda hijackers also rested in part on claims that passports and a headband belonging to al-Qaeda operatives were found at the crash sites. But these claims are patently absurd.
A week after the attacks, the FBI reported that a search of the streets after the destruction of the World Trade Center had discovered the passport of one of the Flight 11 hijackers, Satam al-Suqami. But this claim did not pass the giggle test. ‘The idea that this passport had escaped from that inferno unscathed,’ wrote one British reporter, ‘would test the credulity of the staunchest supporter of the FBI’s crackdown on terrorism.’
Also found on the ground, according to the government’s evidence presented, was a red headband. This was considered evidence that al-Qaeda hijackers were on Flight 93 because they were, according to some of the phone calls, wearing red headbands. But besides being absurd for the same reason as was the claim about the passport, this claim about the headband was problematic for another reason. Former CIA agent Milt Bearden, who helped train the Mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan, has pointed out that it would have been very unlikely that members of al-Qaeda would have worn such headbands:
The red headband is a uniquely Shi’a Muslim adornment. It is something that dates back to the formation of the Shi’a sect. . . . It represents the preparation of he who wears this red headband to sacrifice his life, to murder himself for the cause. Sunnis are by and large most of the people following Osama bin Laden and they do not do this.
We learned shortly after the invasion of Iraq that some people in the US government did not know the difference between Shi’a and Sunni Muslims. Did such people decide that the hijackers would be described as wearing red headbands?
6. Did the information in Atta’s luggage prove the responsibility of al-Qaeda operatives?
The evidence that is said to provide the strongest proof that the planes had been hijacked by Mohamed Atta and other members of al-Qaeda is the two pieces of Atta’s luggage that were discovered inside the Boston airport after the attacks. The luggage was there, we were told, because although Atta was already in Boston on September 10, he and another al-Qaeda operative, Abdul al-Omari, rented a blue Nissan and drove up to Portland, Maine, and stayed overnight. They caught a commuter flight back to Boston early the next morning in time to get on American Flight 11, but Atta’s luggage did not make it.
This luggage is said to have contained much incriminating material, including a handheld flight computer, flight simulator manuals, two videotapes about Boeing aircraft, a slide-rule flight calculator, a copy of the Koran, and Atta’s last will and testament. This material was widely taken as proof that al-Qaeda and hence Osama bin Laden were behind the 9/11 attacks. When closely examined, however, the Atta-to-Portland story loses all credibility.
One problem is the very idea that Atta would have planned to take all these things in baggage that was to be transferred to Flight 11. What good would a flight computer and other flying aids do inside a suitcase in the plane’s luggage compartment? Why would he have planned to take his will on a plane he planned to crash into the World Trade Center?
The biggest problem with the story, however, is that it did not appear until September 16, five days after 9/11, following the collapse of an earlier story. According to news reports immediately after 9/11, the incriminating materials, rather than being found in Atta’s luggage inside the airport, were found in a white Mitsubishi, which Atta had left in the Boston airport parking lot. Two hijackers did drive a blue Nissan to Portland and then take the commuter flight back to Boston the next morning, but their names were Adnan and Ameer Bukhari. This story fell apart on the afternoon of September 13, when it was discovered that the Bukharis, to whom authorities had reportedly been led by material in the Nissan at the Portland Jetport, had not died on 9/11: Adnan was still alive and Ameer had died the year before.
Given this history of the Atta-to-Portland story, how can we avoid the conclusion that it was a fabrication?
7. Were al-Qaeda operatives captured on airport security videos?
Still another type of evidence for the claim that al-Qaeda operatives were on the planes consisted of frames from videos, purportedly taken by airport security cameras, said to show hijackers checking into airports. Shortly after the attacks, for example, photos showing Atta and al-Omari at an airport “were flashed round the world.” However, although it was widely assumed that these photos were from the airport at Boston, they were really from the airport at Portland. No photos showing Atta or any of the other alleged hijackers at Boston’s Logan Airport were ever produced. We at best have photographic evidence that Atta and al-Omari were at the Portland airport.
Therefore, video proof that the named hijackers checked into airports on 9/11 is nonexistent.
8. Were the names of the “hijackers” on the passenger manifests?
What about the passenger manifests, which list all the passengers on the flights? If the alleged hijackers purchased tickets and boarded the flights, their names would have been on the manifests for these flights. The passenger manifests that were released to the public included no names of any of the 19 alleged hijackers and, in fact, no Middle Eastern names whatsoever. These manifests, therefore, support the suspicion that there were no al-Qaeda hijackers on the planes.
9. Did DNA test identify five hijackers among the victims at the Pentagon?
If a Boeing 757 could have traveled at 500 mph at ground level, it would have caused enormous damage to the grass and the ground, including producing substantial furrows from the low hanging engines, yet photos taken immediately after the alleged impact show the grass surface as smooth and unblemished as a putting green. The purported debris began showing up later and may have been dropped from a C-130 that was observed circling the building.
Moreover, the lack of positive identification of the alleged hijackers in DNA tests is consistent with the autopsy report, which was released to Dr. Thomas Olmsted, who had made a FOIA request for it. Like the flight manifest for Flight 77, he revealed, this report also contains no Arab names.
10. Has the claim that some of the “hijackers” are still alive been debunked?
Another problem with the claim that the 19 hijackers were correctly identified on 9/11, or at least a few days later, is that some of the men on the FBI’s final list reportedly turned up alive after 9/11. On September 22, 2001, the BBC published an article by David Bamford entitled “Hijack ‘Suspect’ Alive in Morocco.” It showed that the Waleed al-Shehri identified by the FBI as one of the hijackers was still alive. The following day, September 23, the BBC published another story, “Hijack ‘Suspects’ Alive and Well.”
11. Were bin Laden and al-Qaeda capable of orchestrating the attacks?
For prosecutors to prove that defendants committed a crime, they must show that they had the ability (as well as the motive and opportunity) to do so. But several political and military leaders from other countries have stated that bin Laden and al-Qaeda simply could not have carried out the attacks. General Leonid Ivashov, who in 2001 was the chief of staff for the Russian armed forces, wrote:
Only secret services and their current chiefs-or those retired but still having influence inside the state organizations-have the ability to plan, organize and conduct an operation of such magnitude . . . Osama bin Laden and “Al Qaeda” cannot be the organizers nor the performers of the September 11 attacks. They do not have the necessary organization, resources or leaders.
Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, the former foreign minister of Egypt, wrote:
Bin Laden does not have the capabilities for an operation of this magnitude. When I hear Bush talking about al-Qaida as if it was Nazi Germany or the communist party of the Soviet Union, I laugh because I know what is there.
Similar statements have been made by Andreas von Bülow, the former state secretary of West Germany’s ministry of defense, by General Mirza Aslam Beg, former chief of staff of Pakistan’s army, and even General Musharraf, the president of Pakistan until recently.
12. WTC 7: The Smoking Gun of 9/11
Given the fact that WTC 7 was not even hit by a plane its vertical collapse at virtually free-fall speed, which was preceded by explosions and involved the melting of steel, was still more obviously an example of controlled demolition. For example, Jack Keller, emeritus professor of engineering at Utah State University, who has been given special recognition by Scientific American, said: “Obviously it was the result of controlled demolition.” Likewise, when Danny Jowenko-a controlled demolition expert in the Netherlands who had not known that WTC 7 had collapsed on 9/11-was asked to comment on a video of its collapse, he said: “They simply blew up columns, and the rest caved in afterwards. . . . It’s been imploded. . . . A team of experts did this.”
The destruction of Building 7 of the World Trade Center had to have been an inside job.
As a decade-long phase of the war imposed on false pretenses begins to come to an end in Afghanistan, starting 2014, the question of who benefitted from 9/11 is no longer unsolved. In the last 12 years or so, the world has witnessed rich dividends reaped by USA, Western Europe and Israel on the political, diplomatic, territorial and economic fronts as a result of these wars. Afghanistan, Iraq and their Muslim neighbors have, on the other hand, been victims of violence, bloodshed and atrocities committed by the US and its NATO allies. The Western military machine has been stampeding all around the globe with its feet stained with the blood of millions of innocent Muslims.
The official version with all its proffered evidence that America was attacked by Muslims on 9/11, when subjected to critical scrutiny, appears to have been fabricated. If that is determined indeed to be the case, the implications would be frightening. Discovering and prosecuting the true perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks would obviously be important. People’s confidence in the moral integrity and political correctness of the West would crumble. The most immediate consequence, however, would be a reversal in those attitudes and policies that have been based on the assumption that America was attacked by Muslims on 9/11.