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Cairo - NY Times Drumming up 9-11 Conspiracy Theories

Published on: September 9, 2008 08:41 AM
By: NY Times
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The planning and execution of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are a continuing topic of conversation all over Cairo. Cairo — Seven years later, it remains conventional wisdom here that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda could not have been solely responsible for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and that the United States and Israel had to have been involved in their planning, if not their execution, too.

This is not the conclusion of a scientific survey, but it is what routinely comes up in conversations around the region — in a shopping mall in Dubai, in a park in Algiers, in a cafe in Riyadh and all over Cairo.

“Look, I don’t believe what your governments and press say. It just can’t be true,” said Ahmed Issab, 26, a Syrian engineer who lives and works in the United Arab Emirates. “Why would they tell the truth? I think the U.S. organized this so that they had an excuse to invade Iraq for the oil.”

It is easy for Americans to dismiss such thinking as bizarre. But that would miss a point that people in this part of the world think Western leaders, especially in Washington, need to understand: That such ideas persist represents the first failure in the fight against terrorism — the inability to convince people here that the United States is, indeed, waging a campaign against terrorism, not a crusade against Muslims.

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“The United States should be concerned because in order to tell people that there is a real evil, they too have to believe it in order to help you,” said Mushairy al-Thaidy, a columnist in the Saudi-owned regional newspaper Asharq al Awsat. “Otherwise, it will diminish your ability to fight terrorism. It is not the kind of battle you can fight on your own; it is a collective battle.”

There were many reasons people here said they believed that the attacks of 9/11 were part of a conspiracy against Muslims. Some had nothing to do with Western actions, and some had everything to do with Western policies.

Again and again, people said they simply did not believe that a group of Arabs — like themselves — could possibly have waged such a successful operation against a superpower like the United States. But they also said that Washington’s post-9/11 foreign policy proved that the United States and Israel were behind the attacks, especially with the invasion of Iraq.

“Maybe people who executed the operation were Arabs, but the brains? No way,” said Mohammed Ibrahim, 36, a clothing-store owner in the Bulaq neighborhood of Cairo. “It was organized by other people, the United States or the Israelis.”

The rumors that spread shortly after 9/11 have been passed on so often that people no longer know where or when they first heard them. At this point, they have heard them so often, even on television, that they think they must be true.

First among these is that Jews did not go to work at the World Trade Center on that day. Asked how Jews might have been notified to stay home, or how they kept it a secret from co-workers, people here wave off the questions because they clash with their bedrock conviction that Jews are behind many of their troubles and that Western Jews will go to any length to protect Israel.

“Why is it that on 9/11, the Jews didn’t go to work in the building,” said Ahmed Saied, 25, who works in Cairo as a driver for a lawyer. “Everybody knows this. I saw it on TV, and a lot of people talk about this.”

Zein al-Abdin, 42, an electrician, who was drinking tea and chain-smoking cheap Cleopatra cigarettes in Al Shahat, a cafe in Bulaq, grew more and more animated as he laid out his thinking about what happened on Sept. 11.

“What matters is we think it was an attack against Arabs,” he said of the passenger planes crashing into American targets. “Why is it that they never caught him, bin Laden? How can they not know where he is when they know everything? They don’t catch him because he hasn’t done it. What happened in Iraq confirms that it has nothing to do with bin Laden or Qaeda. They went against Arabs and against Islam to serve Israel, that’s why.”

There is a reason so many people here talk with casual certainty — and no embarrassment — about the United States attacking itself to have a reason to go after Arabs and help Israel. It is a reflection of how they view government leaders, not just in Washington, but here in Egypt and throughout the Middle East. They do not believe them. The state-owned media are also distrusted. Therefore, they think that if the government is insisting that bin Laden was behind it, he must not have been.

“Mubarak says whatever the Americans want him to say, and he’s lying for them, of course,” Mr. Ibrahim said of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s president.

Americans might better understand the region, experts here said, if they simply listen to what people are saying — and try to understand why — rather than taking offense. The broad view here is that even before Sept. 11, the United States was not a fair broker in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and that it then capitalized on the attacks to buttress Israel and undermine the Muslim Arab world.

The single greatest proof, in most people’s eyes, was the invasion of Iraq. Trying to convince people here that it was not a quest for oil or a war on Muslims is like convincing many Americans that it was, and that the 9/11 attacks were the first step.

“It is the result of widespread mistrust, and the belief among Arabs and Muslims that the United States has a prejudice against them,” said Wahid Abdel Meguid, deputy director of the government-financed Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, the nation’s premier research center. “So they never think the United States is well intentioned, and they always feel that whatever it does has something behind it.”

Hisham Abbas, 22, studies tourism at Cairo University and hopes one day to work with foreigners for a living. But he does not give it a second thought when asked about Sept. 11. He said it made no sense at all that Mr. bin Laden could have carried out such an attack from Afghanistan. And like everyone else interviewed, he saw the events of the last seven years as proof positive that it was all a United States plan to go after Muslims.

“There are Arabs who hate America, a lot of them, but this is too much,” Mr. Abbas said as he fidgeted with his cellphone. “And look at what happened after this — the Americans invaded two Muslim countries. They used 9/11 as an excuse and went to Iraq. They killed Saddam, tortured people. How can you trust them?



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Read Comments (19)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Sep 09, 2008 at 09:11 AM Shalom Says:

I wouldn’t agree with them of course, but their is more to it than what meets the eyes, and the numerous conspiracy theories are not just in Cairo and all over the world but even here in this country maybe or maybe not one day will know more.

2

 Sep 09, 2008 at 11:28 AM r u serious Says:

Yea I find it hard to believe that a plane hit the pentagon and was able to make a huge hole on the other end. Only missles do that. The fact that the government won't release the many videos what hit the pentagon smells of a cover up. And the fact that they were able to recover bodies in tact but very little plane parts is also odd.
For the record this has nothing to do with being democract or republican so please nobody do a shawn hannity rant that asking about 911 is unpartiotic. Its not. Not asking about what happened is unpatriotic.

3

 Sep 09, 2008 at 11:43 AM nebech Says:

how stupid people could become. people wake up and smell the coffie. vote for mccain if you know whats good for you. musiachs times.

4

 Sep 09, 2008 at 11:32 AM Andrew Says:

What the West needs to understand better is that the Arab world doesn't care about facts, logic or historical proof.

They have a blind hatred with all sorts of invented stories.

If it weren't tragic, it would be amusing.

5

 Sep 09, 2008 at 12:36 PM anon for this Says:

If the US gov't really orchestrated 9/11 to have an excuse to attack Iraq, you'd think they'd have invented attackers who actually had a stronger connection to Iraq than, say, Saudi Arabia. Or do they think the US did it so they could have an excuse to invade Afghanistan, since that country is so rich in resources (obviously not true, unless you count poppies?)

6

 Sep 09, 2008 at 12:35 PM gabriel Says:

Andrew, fact: the israelis kicked out the arabs from israel and made the homeless, logic: you will never win against 100 million muslims hating you, historic proof: what when where, do you mean …ומפני חטאינו גלינו

7

 Sep 09, 2008 at 12:34 PM Anonymous Says:

Why is it that the idea that 19 young guys who only knew how to fly commuter planes at a Florida flight school but could commandeer huge passenger jets and fly them precisely is NOT some conspiracy theory? I think that's a pretty big one!

But let's ask some practical questions and try to answer them straight without ANSWERING a question with another question:

1)Why did no Arab names on the United Airlines manifests that appeared the next day?

2) Why does the Fireman's video show at best a tiny plane crash into the first tower?

3) Why do news reports of the crash in Shanksville show no remains of any airplane in that hole?

4) Why did Tower 7 collapse when it wasn't even hit?

5) Why is there no sign of a passenger jet sticking out of the Pentagon? And why does the Pentagon's own security film show only an explosion and nothing else?

6)Why has no one explained how a fire could cause the inside of the towers to collapse when they were built to be resistant up to several thousand degrees?

7) Why were there witnesses who heard explosions in the towers before the planes hit?

8) Why did the towers collapse in a pattern that shows a controlled demolition?

9) Who prevented NORAD from sending airforce planes up for almost 20 minutes AFTER the first plane hit?

10) Why did Bush claim to have seen the first plane (and not react) when there was no footage available anywhere at that time of the first tower being hit?

11) How did the White House know that the school where Bush was located in Florida was not a target, and how was it that when he left Florida he was not accompanied by Air Force jets?

8

 Sep 09, 2008 at 01:10 PM bigwheeel Says:

Typical arabic mindset! They believe in their own fantasies! There is a famous story about an arab watchman who had trouble keeping young vandals away from a fruit stand in the market. So he told them that on top of the hill there is someone giving out Silver coins. After they all ran to check out the story, he (the watchman) started thinking "Maybe, there IS someone on the hill dishing out [Silver] coins! The thought bothered him so much that he left his position and went to the top of the hill...!!!

9

 Sep 09, 2008 at 01:59 PM Anonymous Says:

Only unproven theories by the establishment are not "conspiracies". Every challenge to them is called a "conspiracy theory." Not very scholarly. If you ask how one bullet could have zigzagged through President Kennedy and then down into Gov. Connally in 1963 and then out on to the floor, (as argued by Senator Specter) they say you are offering a conspiracy theory. If you question why President Roosevelt did not have adequate protection for the US forces in Hawaii in 1941 out in the middle of the ocean, they say you are proposing a "conspiracy theory." If you ask how Sirhan could have shot point blank Robert Kennedy from behind when he was standing in front of him, they say you are a "conspiracy theory nut case."
No end....no end......

10

 Sep 09, 2008 at 01:30 PM Anonymous Says:

Andrew Says:
comments - arrow What the West needs to understand better is that the Arab world doesn't care about facts, logic or historical proof.

They have a blind hatred with all sorts of invented stories.

If it weren't tragic, it would be amusing.

______________________________________________

Interesting comment, when I was reading this story it seemed oddly familiar, but did not know why.

But then it hit ma like a ton of bricks, it reminder of many readers commenter on this blog and the frum community. Its all lies about Rubashlkin, and child molestation does happen in our community. And even if maybe it hapen once in 20 years the robonim quickly and quietly take care of it. And all the stories we hear about molestation lately in the news it is all lies to shame our holy yeshivas and rabbis.

What we need to understand better is that the frum world doesn't care about facts, logic or historical proof.

11

 Sep 09, 2008 at 02:53 PM Conservative One Says:

The NY Times isn't good enough to wrap fish in because fish, even dead ones, are better than that poor excuse for a newspaper.

12

 Sep 09, 2008 at 03:45 PM Anonymous Says:

To all of you doubters and especially to Anonymous 09-09-2008 - 12:34 PM, you think that if you ask a question and repeat your lies it will become fact!!

Let me tell about facts that some I saw with my own eyes on that faithful day.
I was walking two blocks from the towers when I heard a loud rumbling and instinctively looked up to see a clearly distinct passenger jet crashing into the tower and simply disappearing into the building. Yes I clearly saw that it was a jet and not a small plane as some are claiming.

To your second question where you ask “Why does the Fireman's video show at best a tiny plane crash into the first tower?” I am not sure what footage you are referring to, but the video I saw from the first plane one could clearly see that it is a jet and a small plane.

To your fourth question where you ask, “Why did Tower 7 collapse when it wasn't even hit?” Do you know that a big portion of the building was consumed by fires burning out of control for several hours before the building collapsed, which eventually weekend the structure and ultimately collapsed. Which only collapsed at 5:20PM nearly seven hours after the second of the twin towers came down. Do you know about the fuel storage tanks under tower 7? How about the heavy damage to the building from falling debris of the first 2 towers collapse? I am not claiming to be an expert but you have to look at facts clearly visible to the naked eye before listing to theories and for that matter the what the government says.

To you sixth question “Why has no one explained how a fire could cause the inside of the towers to collapse when they were built to be resistant up to several thousand degrees?” the fire resistant material can only resist so much, but you don’t take into account the fires caused by the jet fuel, which burns very hot, and ultimately the fires consumed all the inside of the office furniture, carpeting etc. This would have weakened the structure and caused to at least one floor to collapse on top of the floor below which would cause a tremendous amount of pressure on the floor below. Once one floor collapsed all floors above would have begun to fall. The huge mass of falling structure would gain momentum, crushing the structurally intact floors below, resulting in catastrophic failure of the entire structure. And this would answer your 8th question of “Why did the towers collapse in a pattern that shows a controlled demolition? Again I am no expert, but we have to look at facts.

To your 9th question, “Who prevented NORAD from sending airforce planes up for almost 20 minutes AFTER the first plane hit?” I don’t know about being prevented to respond, but did you take into account that there was a lot of confusion all this was happening especially nobody in the United States ever dreamed of being attacked like this.

To your tenth question, “Why did Bush claim to have seen the first plane (and not react) when there was no footage available anywhere at that time of the first tower being hit? This is a first, I have never heard Bush claiming that he saw the first crash. And if he had seen something it must have been after the fact when Bush and the rest of the government had already reacted. Besides this question doesn’t even make sense. Can you also please point to where you heard or seen this? if you cant then this statement comes from thin air. (conspiracy theories comes to mind!!!)

13

 Sep 09, 2008 at 03:48 PM Anonymous Says:

I forgot to write this.
It was the first plane that i saw.

14

 Sep 09, 2008 at 07:22 PM yankel Says:

Say a lie many times and the Olem Golem will believe it. What do you expect the Muslims to say ??? That Muslims kill indiscriminatly civilians and children ? Of course we did it ourselves.. to make the muslims look bad ?

15

 Sep 09, 2008 at 08:24 PM abi gezunt Says:

the nytimes is loosing circlation bigtime so my advise to them is change name to the cairo times

16

 Sep 09, 2008 at 11:17 PM Anonymous Says:

8) Why did the towers collapse in a pattern that shows a controlled demolition?

in one would look at the original building engineering reports when they built the towers, one would notice that they where build to collapse that way instead of toppling over and demolishing many building.

Oh you guys forgot to mention there was no man on the moon, Elvis is still alive, and really the government and scientist know the world is younger than 6,000 years keep the conspiracies flowing. And the big Aliens have visited us many times.

17

 Sep 10, 2008 at 01:43 AM a gita mentch Says:

To all those who even doubt that there is truth in conspiracies

all you have is a bunch of question's
I can ask a question on anything
how was your shul built?
Do the satmar brothers really fight?
was you grandfather really your sandek?


its stupid to ask questions

try this:
let's believe the concpiracy theory
Q:why is the oil prices still high?
Q;Who were those arabs seen in the airport video?
Q;What exactly did the collapsing of tower 7 do? we would have gone to the war even if it didn't.
Q:why did we put the fault on Bin Ladin? he doesn't have any oil.
Q:why didn't we put the fault on Saddam Hussein? it would've made much more sense because he was known to be our enemy, and we would not have the whole position against the Iraqi war

I cannot stop thinking of questions too many to write

there are a million more questions then there is on the real story

so I guess we will just stick to the known facts
that it really happened

18

 Sep 10, 2008 at 08:11 AM Anonymous Says:

Re: Why NORAD was unable to protect New York and D.C. on 9/11 (conspiracy nuts say that Bush deliberately somehow ordered NORAD to stand down and let it happen):

By the time 9/11 happened, NORAD (i.e., North American Air Defense Command), which had been set up at the height of the Cold War to track and defend America against incoming Russian bombers and later missiles (and was built to look for that, NOT domestic jetliners suddenly going off-course), was essentially an obsolete shell of its former self.

With the Cold War supposedly won following the demise of the USSR, hundreds of military and naval installations, including many that provided air defense for major cities like New York, were shut down to save money as the military downsized in several waves of base closures (particularly during the Clinton years, when cutting the military budget was the key to Clinton's claims to have "reinvented" a smaller government -- he converted Pentagon money into a so-called "peace dividend" he could spend on popular social programs aimed at key Democratic constituencies).

Look at how many formerly active air bases in our area alone were closed during the wave of base closures in the 1980s and the 1990s, including Floyd Bennett Naval Air Station in Brooklyn, Roslyn Air National Guard Station and Westhampton Air Force base on Long Island and air bases in Newburgh and Plattsburgh, upstate, to name just a couple. Multiply that by dozens, even hundreds of facilities all over the country. With the Soviet threat ended, NORAD itself was radically downsized and unable to cope with the sudden emergency presented by multiple airline hijackings occurring simultaneously (no one knew at the time that only four jets had been seized -- at some points, officials thought more than a dozen planes either off-course or out of communication were thought to have been comandeered.

And until the first planes went into the WTC, nobody in his right mind thought the hijackers would be criminally irresponsible enough to fly civilian jetliners into crowded buildings, kamikaze-style, to deliberately destroy them and cause maximum casualties -- it was widely assumed that hijackers took planes in order to fly them somewhere and hold passengers hostage, the way Arab hijackers in the 1970s and 1980s did -- like the Air France plane that was flown to Entebbe). 9/11 represented a failure of imagination on the part of our defense officials to "think outside the box" and assume that this is what the hijackers would do.

19

 Sep 11, 2008 at 03:58 PM Jimmy Says:

Also in response to Anonymous above:
1)Why did no Arab names on the United Airlines manifests that appeared the next day?
A) For the same reason you didn't post your name here.

2) Why does the Fireman's video show at best a tiny plane crash into the first tower?
A) You believe one video out of how many? What about all those people that saw the planes? You won't believe them, but you will believe the people that heard explosions?

3) Why do news reports of the crash in Shanksville show no remains of any airplane in that hole?
A) Are you or anyone else such an expert that they can tell us exactly what will be left from an airplane loaded with jet fuel traveling vertically at over 500mph?

5) Why is there no sign of a passenger jet sticking out of the Pentagon? And why does the Pentagon's own security film show only an explosion and nothing else?
A) One film out of how many films? The Pentagon is a series of nested buildings, so the airplane crashed through at least 4 reinforced concrete walls, not glass, and disintegrated.

8) Why did the towers collapse in a pattern that shows a controlled demolition?
A) The weight of 20 floors collapsed from the inside. There was no force to make the floors move sideways.

10) Why did Bush claim to have seen the first plane (and not react) when there was no footage available anywhere at that time of the first tower being hit?
A) Bush was busy reading a story to children at the school you mention below. It was impossible for him to see anything.

11) How did the White House know that the school where Bush was located in Florida was not a target, and how was it that when he left Florida he was not accompanied by Air Force jets?
A) Where did that story come from?

20

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