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Conspiracy and Terrorism


Conspiracy and Terrorism
Strange symmetries
Exploitation of crisis and commitment

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Part 6 of 911+ Questions in Seeking UnCommon Ground and protecting the Middle Way from Binary Thinking (2001)

Dangerous factoids and conspiracy theories

In a world of secret terrorist organizations, and secret counter-intelligence operations, is there not great danger that "facts" will be systematically presented, fabricated and spun according to need by all parties -- and especially those who benefit from conspiracy theories? How are genuine facts to be recognized and who is to be trusted to present them?

Who promoted the internet rumour concerning the use by CNN of video footage, supposedly from another context, of Palestinians dancing for joy at the attack? Who promoted the internet rumour that no Israelis died in the WTC attack -- because they had been warned not to go to work that morning? Who promoted the internet rumour that a group of 5 Israelis were arrested for "peculiar behaviour" -- dancing with glee -- whilst filming the burning WTC from a neighbouring building?

Why is there a widespread belief in the Middle East of Mossad involvement in the WTC attack?

Why the routine anti-Semitism of the much repeated Islamic slander that "the Jews" arranged the hits on the WTC and the Pentagon -- arguing that Muslims could not have the technological knowhow or organizational sophistication to do so? (Salman Rushdie, Guardian, 3 November 2001)

To what extent does biased media coverage, excluding alternative perspectives, inhibit balanced response to any crisis, encourage rumours and conspiracy theorists, and augment the credibility of dangerous factoids?

According to Tony Blair's spokesperson regarding successful communications from Kabul: "I think you have to treat evrything with scepticism as there can be no independent verification of anything that comes out of there. It is important that everybody is alive to the propaganda techniques that they will use. You can't trust them in any way, shape or form" (Independent, 14 October 2001). How much "independent verification" is there of the news managed pronouncements of the coalition? With how much scepticism is it appropriate to appreciate the declarations of the UK and US spokespersons -- given their concern that they are losing the propaganda war?

It is being reported that the key "Islamic" hijacker was drinking vodka before boarding the aeroplane. Another highjacker was frequenting nightclubs in Hamburg? Is this not rather unusual behaviour for "Islamic fundamentalists"?

Tracking the Put Options on United Airlines and American Airlines stock on the days preceding Sept. 11, shows an abnormal situation. Did some some U.S. intelligence agencies profit by selling these stocks short? (Mark Elsis, Questioning September 11th)

It is reported (CNN, 25 Sept 2001) that investigators in the USA have grounded all crop duster planes because of indications that they might be used for dissemination of bio-chemical products by terrorists. How are people to distinguish between genuine facts and those planted in order to reinforce public anxiety in support of restrictive governmental measures -- as has always been a tendency of military and other agencies seeking budget enlargement?

Through widespread dissemination of such factoids, to what extent is the crisis also characterized by what amounts to a massive attack of "conceptual viruses"? Combined with "spin", what does this imply for future relations between governance and public opinion?

What is the probability that CIA-trained Osama bin Laden is being used a propaganda device to polarize society and justify a military response? In whose interests? What irrefutable evidence is there that claims purporting to come from him do in fact do so -- especially given the media clampdown on his declarations?

When the psy-ops forces beam down Afghan music from overflying planes, is that to disguise the infra-sound beamed with it -- to terrorize them?

After the fall of the Taliban, what about all the evidence filmed in houses in Kabul -- just lying around -- passports, manuals and organization charts of "no interest" to the security services? Remember the criteria for proof of criminal activity : motivation, opportunity, means! It may indeed be evidence -- but how is the world to know it had indeed been planted, if it served the interests of a coalition that has claimed it is prepared to use "any means"?

If the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is seen by the Islamic world as a proxy war, fought by the west through Israel, does it not become difficult for the US-coalition to claim that its operation against Afghanistan is not against Islam -- and that it is merely another front in the war between the west and Islam? (Justin Cartwright, Guardian, 3 November 2001)

NORAD had almost an hour and half to scramble F-16 jets from Langley AFB to protect Washington DC and the Pentagon, but incredibly failed to do so. Their excuse was that they didn't have enough time. Isn't 90 minutes enough time to protect Washington D.C.? Isn't 30 minutes enough time to protect New York City? Why did they then flying at less than 1/3 of their top speed? (Mark Elsis, Questioning September 11th)

An acrimonious argument reportedly erupted during an Israeli cabinet weekly session between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. Sharon is alleged to have turned toward Peres, saying "every time we do something you tell me Americans will do this and will do that. I want to tell you something very clear, don't worry about American pressure on Israel, we, the Jewish people control America, and the Americans know it." (Independent Palestinian Information Network News, 3 October 2001; also reported on Israeli radio Kol Yisrael) Do they -- and who else?

Who was responsible for the attack? Islamic radicals? Or a home-grown Dr Strangelove -- for whom the collateral damage in New York was as acceptable as that in Afghanistan?

Is it the case that some European intelligence experts (such as Eckehardt Werthebach, former president of Germany's domestic intelligence service, Verfassungsschutz)are now dismissing the Bush "war on terrorism" as deception and revealing the Realpolitik behind the aggression against Afghanistan? How does this relate to the arguments of Andreas von Bülow (who served on the parliamentary commission which oversees the three branches of the German secret service while a member of the Bundestag from 1969 to 1994), and wrote a book titled Im Namen des Staates on the criminal activities of secret services, including the CIA? Do those at the "planning level" within the intelligence agencies use corrupt "guns for hire" to organize terror attacks using dedicated people, for example Palestinian and Arab "freedom fighters"? Are the "working level" terrorists who actually commit the crimes, such as the 19 Arabs who allegedly hijacked the planes on September 11, simply part of the deception? (Christopher Bollyn, American Free Press)

The 'conspiracy theories' Bush is referring to similarly have three basic premises and many divergent subsets. The first is that the attack was known about (and possibly, planned) by various elements of the U.S. government before 9/11 and was allowed to take place in order to bring about certain conditions, including the suspension of our guaranteed civil liberties. The second premise is that even if bin Laden and the al Queda network based in Afghanistan were immediately responsible for the attack that those supporting, funding and protecting them are not for the most part based in Afghanistan but are in fact closely connected to the Bush administration and to the allies President Bush has taken such efforts to rally to our side. The third premise is that a U.S. built oil pipeline through Afghanistan which has been in the planning stages for more than a decade is the real goal of the war and that a U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was in the works long before September 11th. (Robert Lederman, 23 November 2001) What makes these alternative viewpoints, 'conspiracy theories' -- if it certainly is not for lack of evidence?

The combined passenger lists for the 4 flights on September 11 totals 264 dead. Yet when you count the passenger names on their own published lists, the flights are missing 6, 8, 9 and 12 passengers. Somehow, 35 people are mysteriously missing, including every one of the 19 alleged hijackers. How could this possibly be? (Mark Elsis, Questioning September 11th)

[For more links on unresolved questions, see for example: A]

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