Was 9/11 an inside job?
Most of us would think it strange if the impact of a passenger plane wasn’t sufficient to cause a skyscraper to collapse. So there were few who doubted what it was that hit the Twin Towers on the 11 September 2001 or the identities of the perpetrators. However, in the intervening years, several individuals and groups, both in North America and in Europe, began to doubt whether this necessarily constitutes accuracy. For them, a set of contradictory circumstances surrounding the attacks do not correspond with the explanations of the American authorities and the Congress-appointed 9/11 Commission.1
A key reason for this doubt could be that there are witnesses of 9/11 who describe events that do not tally with events in the official story.2 An example is provided by onlookers who heard and saw what they believed to be explosions around the Twin Towers before they were struck by the planes. Policemen thought it looked like “planned implosion”.3 Fireman Richard Banaciski reported that: “It seemed like on television when they blow up these buildings. It seemed like it was going all the way around like a belt, all these explosions.” Assistant Fire Commissioner Stephen Gregory claimed: “I saw a flash flash flash [at] the lower level of the building. You know, like when they demolish a building.”4
Another controversial witness statement came from maintenance worker, William Rodriguez who was working in the North Tower on 9/11. In an interview with New York Magazine,5 he claimed that he first heard a huge explosion when he was in one of the sub-basements of the skyscraper and witnessed the appearance of victims, the skin burnt off their arms by fires in the lift shaft. After the explosion in the sub-basement he heard another one from above. It was a Boeing 767. Williams was the last survivor to be rescued from the World Trade Center’s Ground Zero. He was hailed as a hero and invited to visit George Bush and the White House. Later, when he attempted to publicise his story about the sub-basement explosion, it was rejected by the American authorities. He has now filed a lawsuit against these same authorities under the RICO Statute, a legal ruling originally designed to prosecute Mafia families.
Besides witness statements describing a controlled demolition of the Twin Towers with explosives, critics of the Bush administration believe there are several sets of circumstances around 9/11 that give good reason to suspect the official story is incorrect. It is a fact that none of the four hijacked planes were intercepted by fighter planes. That this did not happen, combined with the fact that the majority of the air force was engaged in military exercises, has given weight to suspicion that the American air defence force gave the order to “stand down” so that the terrorist attacks could proceed unhindered. Another suspicious circumstance is that WTC 7 – also known as Building 7 – a 47-storey skyscraper, collapsed without having been hit by any of the planes. Conversely, the buildings that stood adjacent are still intact.
When it comes to any forewarning of the attacks, claims that the National Security Agency (NSA) monitored fully translated conversations in the summer of 2001 – in real-time –between Mohammed Atta and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed have raised concern. In one of the conversations, Atta purportedly gave Mohammed the green light for the attacks; NSA therefore should have been forewarned.
In relation to investigation that could have led to the apprehension of the hijackers, FBI agent Colleen Rowley claims that the FBI’s directors intentionally obstructed her investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui – at the time he was attending flight school in Minneapolis. They did this despite having received warnings from French intelligence. Rowley believes that, had the FBI approved the investigation, they could have uncovered Moussaoui’s plans as well as those of several other hijackers enrolled in flight schools.6 That Pakistani intelligence (ISI) transferred significant sums of money to Mohammed Atta in the days leading up to 9/11 is, some believe, evidence of cooperation between the ISI, CIA, and Al-Qaida.7
It may also seem suspicious that George Bush has maintained that American authorities have stepped down the hunt for Osama bin Laden, the main suspect behind September 11th. General Richard Myers also stated that the war in Afghanistan was not about finding bin Laden.8 A former CIA agent, Gary Berntsen, has furthermore claimed that the Bush administration let bin Laden escape when he was cornered in a pocket of the Tora Bora mountains in Afghanistan in 2001.9 It is also known that American intelligence were fully aware of bin Laden’s whereabouts as early as July 2001 when he was treated for a kidney condition at an American hospital in Dubai, The United Arab Emirates.10 A few months later, in September, he also received treatment in a military hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, under the surveillance of Pakistani intelligence.11
The existence of circumstances and witness accounts that contradict aspects of the official story has led some individuals and groups to search for alternative explanations for what happened on 9/11. A veritable jungle of theories about what really happened in the US five years ago has sprung up. The theories unfurl in several, interconnected directions. A comparison of different opinions is presented in the book The New Pearl Harbor – Disturbing Questions about the Bush-Administration and 9/11 (2004), by David Ray Griffin, Professor of Theology and the Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, California. A key premise he presents in the book is that the responsibility for the attacks of 9/11 can, to a large extent, be attributed to former members of the neo-conservative think tank Project for a New American Century (PNAC), who are now key players in the Bush administration. In the document “Rebuilding America’s defences: strategies, forces and resources for a New American Century” (2000),12 written by PNACs members, it is claimed that: “The process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, lacking a catastrophic and catalyzing event like a new Pearl Harbour”.
The title of Griffin’s book refers to PNAC’s statement the transformation of the American military necessitated “a new Pearl Harbour”. Griffin looks at this quotation in the light of the legal principle of cui bono? and concludes that 9/11 was precisely the catalyst the Bush administration needed. For Griffin, it is therefore probable that the US orchestrated an incident of this type in order to justify the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the curtailment of civil liberties in the US through the introduction of the Patriot Act. That they have chosen to invade countries in the Middle East he regards as simply an extension of the cooperation the US already had with the power elite in Saudi Arabia, the Pakistani intelligence (ISI), the Taliban regime, and regimes in Central Asia. And for Griffin, the agenda in the Middle East and Central Asia is quite clear: it is about controlling both the production and transportation of oil via pipes and tankers. Griffin does not point to any specific figures responsible for arranging the 9/11 attacks. He states only that there are different opinions about this issue.
For some, speculation about the identity of those responsible surrounds intelligence agencies such as the NSA, FBI, and CIA. Others believe it was the White House. A third group believe that is was individual figures like Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Jed Bush, George Tenet, and Donald Rumsfeld who were the real architects of the attacks. Alternatively, other possible combinations of perpetrators and organisations may have worked together. In his paper, “What is your ‘HOP’ level?”13 Nicholas Levis categorises opinions on the attacks under four main headings:
– The Official Story: That Osama bin Laden was responsible, that the planes were hijacked by nineteen Muslim fundamentalists and that the White House did not receive any warning.
– Incompetence Theory: Accepts the official history but blames the White House, FBI, CIA, NSA and others for not following up the many warnings. This was the line taken, with a great deal of cover-up and spin, in the 9/11 Commission’s report.
– LIHOP (“Letting It Happen on Purpose”): There are a number of variations on this one. Is mainly about how factions within the American authorities and the private sector were aware of the hijackers’ plans but did nothing to stop them, since 9/11 was in line with political objectives.
– MIHOP (“Making It Happen on Purpose”): US authorities or private forces planned and carried out the attacks.
For the sceptics, the common denominator is their belief that at least one of the elements of the official presentation of 9/11 is inaccurate. For those who subscribe to the radical MIHOP hypothesis, a key premise is that the Twin Towers – including Building 7 – collapsed as a result of controlled demolition with explosives: that it was an inside job. The technical/construction part of this claim has been directly refuted in a report of approximately 10 000 pages written by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), who claim that it was fuel from the passenger planes that disturbed the structure of the towers and that it was this that eventually caused them to collapse.14 NIST is unable to offer a satisfactory explanation as to why the third building, WTC 7, collapsed without having been struck by a plane.15 Steven E. Jones, professor of physics at Brigham Young University in Utah, rejects NIST’s claims about the Twin Towers. He tells, for example, how eyewitnesses observed that steel from all three skyscrapers had melted (in some cases, the steel was found glowing three weeks after the attack) and was twisted in a way that can only have been caused by what he describes as pre-positioned “cutter charges”. According to Jones, these charges consisted of thermate, HMX, or RDX, substances used in explosives used only in controlled demolitions. Another important point for Jones is that the fires in the buildings and the fuel from the passenger planes (the maximum temperature for airplane fuel is 1000 degrees Celsius) did not produce sufficient heat to melt the steel – which would require temperatures of between 1550-1990 degrees Celsius – within the one to one-and-a-half hours it took for the Twin Towers to collapse.16 Jones’s claims are supported by the data engineer Jim Hoffman. After video and photo analysis of the events, Hoffman concludes that all three buildings fell almost symmetrically, at close to freefall speed, and directly downwards onto their own foundations. According to Hoffman, the speed of the collapse, the pulverisation of the concrete to a “milky” powder, and the presence of horizontal dust clouds observed alongside WTC 7, are associated with the use of pre-positioned explosives in buildings.17
Many no longer believe the official explanation, but are convinced that the Towers’ collapse was an inside job – either that the authorities “let it happen” or “made it happen”.
Many who put their trust in other hypotheses have joined forces with the umbrella organisation 9/11Truth18 – an ad hoc organisation formed to exist until the last unanswered question about 9/11 has been answered. 9/11Truth has brought together a cross-section of society; members with different political allegiances manage the same organisations and lobby groups. This cooperation is mainly concentrated on meetings, demonstrations, the production of documentary films, Internet forums, online publications, and conferences. In the UK, a local branch of 9/11Truth has been set up called JulySeventhTruth,19 so-called because it seeks to piece together what happened during the terrorist attacks in London on the 7 July 2005.
The media spokesman for NY9/11Truth, Les Jamieson, every Sunday helps to arrange demonstrations at Ground Zero or seminars in St. Mark’s Church, made available by priest, Frank Morales. Jamieson talked to Le Monde diplomatique:
LMd: Does 9/11 represent further justification for war?
LJ: No. It has recently emerged that, here in the USA, the authorities planned a similarly staged operation, Operation Northwoods: A plan was devised in 1962 by the most senior-ranking military leader in the US. The plan was to arrange a terrorist attack inland, on the coast of Florida where Americans would be killed, a passenger plane shot down, a ship sunk – and all the blame would be laid on the Cubans. So this is nothing new, it’s been done before.
LMd: How cynical can a government become?
LJ: A lie precipitated the Vietnam War too – the events in the Tonkin Gulf. It was reported that Vietnamese torpedo boats had shot at American ships in the Tonkin Gulf. But these reports were fictitious. President Lyndon B. Johnson and foreign minister Robert McNamara exploited these reports to pass the Tonkin Gulf Resolution in Congress – which was really a declaration of war. 50 000 Americans ended up dead, hundreds of thousands tragically affected. The herbicide Agent Orange was used to poison farms and land use. This is what happens when governments and the power elite orchestrate wars. There really is a level of evil, a loathing of humanity. That’s why Henry Kissinger said once about the war between Iraq and Iran: “I hope they kill each other,” or: “Oil is much too important a commodity to be left in the hands of the Arabs.”
LMd: Is it similarly possible to suggest that there could have been a secret group connected to the government, a “state within a state”, that planned and brought about September 11?
LJ: Yes. One has to remember that there are private groups of agents, private armies that exist outside Congress’ field of vision. They carry out covert operations deep inside the CIA, and have severed all contact with the American government, who for their part, have no knowledge about what is going on. This has been happening since the 1950s. When Dwight Eisenhower left his presidency he said that one should be vigilant over the overarching control of the military-industrial complex. To this day, we still have a shadow government, an invisible government and we believe this one works together with elements within the intelligence agencies MI5, MI6, and perhaps Mossad. MI5 and the CIA definitely work together in translating the agenda for the international power elite.
LMd: Are you not afraid of being labelled a conspiracy theorist?
LJ: The term “Conspiracy Theory” must also be understood as a strategy of the mass media and individuals within the power elite to sew seeds of doubt about this kind of information. The fact is that, on the contrary, there are a range of examples of real conspiracies by the authorities. For example, the Iran-Contras affair was a result of a huge conspiracy that enabled the sale of narcotics to buy weapons for the Contras. And we have the BCCI scandal in 1991 – a massive banking scandal. There’s also the vote in Florida in 2000 and in Ohio in 2004. If one studies these things, mammoth conspiracies can be uncovered. What about all the lies that led to the invasion of Iraq? We were told that weapons of mass destruction definitely existed and that Saddam tried to buy “yellow cake” from Nigeria. It was all lies and deception. These kinds of events need a conspiracy! The American government’s official version of what happened on 9/11 is a scandalous conspiracy theory; it’s not to be believed! In our organisation we are detectives and investigators. We put together a theory and are actually extremely stringent in finding the best possible analysis.
Jamieson is not the only one subscribing to such theories. The participation of many community groups and service personnel connected to 9/11Truth has generated a trail of research and articles. A group called “Scholars for 9/11Truth” describes itself as “…a non-partisan association of faculty, students, and scholars, in fields as diverse as history, science, military affairs, psychology, and philosophy, dedicated to exposing falsehoods and to revealing truths behind 9/11.”20 It was established by philosophy professor James H. Fetzer and professor of physics Steven E. Jones – the movement’s foremost expert on the collapse of the Twin Towers. The latter’s work will be published in September, a contribution to the anthology 9/11 & American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out (eds. David Ray Griffin and Peter Dale Scott, 2006).
Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed21 wrote one of the first books published to question the official version of 9/11: The War on Freedom: How and Why America was Attacked, September 11th, 2001 (2002). It expresses profound criticism of American foreign policy, both leading up to and subsequent to 9/11. Paul Thompson, from Scholars for 9/11Truth, is the author of The Terror Timeline. A Comprehensive Chronicle of the Road to 9/11 and America’s Response. This is a comprehensive collection of news articles about 9/11. Thompson works at the Centre for Cooperative Research. Another much-talked about member of Scholars for 9/11Truth is David Ray Griffin (see above). Griffin is also a dynamic force behind the organisation MUJCA-net – a discussion forum for Christians, Jews, Muslims and other believers who are sceptical of the official explanation for 9/11. The head of the organisation is the intellectual, doctor and imam Faiz Khan, who works at a Jewish hospital in New York. In the essay “The Paralysis of Discourse; The Incompetence of Academia, and The Need for an Accurate Diagnosis”,22 he argues that 9/11 precipitated a simplification of language and ideas about what it means to be Muslim and Arab – especially when Muslims the world over are to be held responsible for actions a small minority of terrorists have carried out. Khan believes the hijackers were most probably “fake” Muslims, i.e. that they were not Muslim in their beliefs in the way that American foreign policy is American. That the blame for the terrorist attacks is attributed to something as diffuse as a “military Islamic network”, he believes, is tantamount to an abdication of responsibility by the US, since the latter worked in tandem with the ISI (Pakistani intelligence) and Saudi-Arabia to build those networks up.
This article is made on the initiative of the Norwegian edition of Le Monde diplomatique only.
- The Commission's full title is: The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. Their report can be downloaded from: http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/index.htm
- Read a variety of similar witness accounts in transcripts of recordings made by New York's Fire Department: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/html/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/met_WTC_histories_full_01.html
- See article: "Everyone was screaming, crying, running. It's like a war zone", The Guardian 12 September 2001. http://www.guardian.co.uk/september11/story/0,11209,600839,00.html
- Witness accounts from both firemen are presented on this site: http://www.911truth.org/article.php?story=20060118104223192
- Jakobson, Mark, "The Ground Zero Grassy Knoll" in New York Magazine 27 March 2006. http://www.newyorkmetro.com/news/features/16464/index.html
- See article, "Why Didn't the FBI Fully Investigate Moussaoui?" in Time Magazine, 23 May 2002. http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,249500,00.html
- Griffin, David Ray (2004): The New Pearl Harbour -- Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11, Ariss Publishing, 109-110.
- Ibid. 107.
- See article, "Eksagent saksøker CIA", Aftenposten, 29 July 2005. http://www.aftenposten.no/nyheter/uriks/terror/article1087864.ece
- Sampson, Anthony: "CIA agent alleged to have met Bin Laden in July", The Guardian, 1 November 2001, http://www.guardian.co.uk/waronterror/story/0,1361,584444,00.html
- See article, "Overt assistance from Pakistan may bring dire consequences" in Jane's Intelligence Digest, published 20 September 2001. http://www.janes.com/security/international_security/news/jid/jid010920_1_n.shtml
- Fra Kap.V, "Creating Tomorrow's Dominant Force in the Document Rebuilding Amercia's defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New American Century", published September 2000 by Project for a New American Century, 50-51. http://newamericancentury.org/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf
- Nicholas Levis, "What is your 'HOP'-level?", cited by Jakobson, Mark: "The Ground Zero Grassy Knoll" in New York Magazine 27 March 2006.
- See: http://fire.nist.gov/bfrlpubs/fire05/art119.html
- This is claimed by Dr. Sunder who headed the investigation into Building 7 for NIST, in the article "The Ground Zero Grassy Knoll" in New York Magazine, 27 March 2006.
- See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_E._Jones
- See: http://www.911truth.org/
- See: http://julyseventh.co.uk/
- See: www.scholarsfor911truth.org
- Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Research and Development (IPRD), also connected to 9/11Truth, media critic and human rights activist in London. He was previously a researcher for the London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC).
- See: http://www.mujca.com/muslims.htm