It is unclear whether conspiracy theorists develop their ideas and arguments out of curiosity and imagination, or out of a need or need to draw attention away from reality. However, it is clear that catastrophic attacks, such as the 9/11 incident in September 2001, draw a lot of conspiracy theories. A conspiracy is an alliance involving people who typically have common motivations to partake in illegal or heinous crimes, and are often referred to as conspiracies. Conspiracy theories are therefore beliefs that incidents occur as a result of a conspiracy by interested parties (Sáfrány 10). Although conspiracy theories are usually thought to be fictitious, they are do not just represent imagination or lies from the theorists. The arguments draw their power from their ability to support the ideas with evidence (Swami, Chamorro‐Premuzic & Furnha 550). The evidence usually comes from the facts given from the primary accounts of the events they seek to explain. The theories often critically analyze the facts and develop theories that offer alternative explanations from the mainstream or official statements. Regarding the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, which brought down the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre, the theories claimed that the attack was not terrorist at all. Instead, it was a carefully orchestrated attack but the Bush administration to gain reason and power to enter the Middle East. The theorists also claimed that Osama bin Laden has never been an enemy of the USA. The government planned and controlled a missile hit the demolition of the WTC and Pentagon. The theorists give several reasons and pieces of evidence to support the theory. To understand the truth, it is essential to analyze the claims and arguments of the theories and compare them with official reports as well as expert witnesses.
The first argument that theorists have presented to dispute the official account of the event is that Bin Laden was not part of the attack. The theorists also claimed that Al Qaeda is not existent. In an interview an opposer of Saudi, Al Qaeda was equated to a guestbook. According to the scholar, Saas Al-Fagih, the Saudi dissident said that the organization had an office for recruitment in Pakistan in the 80’s and it recruited young men. However, when people started asking about their sons, Bin Laden created a record of dates and names of the recruits (Sáfrány 10). Apart from the interview, the theorists also believe that the empty caves in Tora Bora mountains of Pakistan, the place where it was thought that the militants were hiding shows that the organization was just a phantom. Therefore, the primary argument of the theorists was that if Al Qaeda does not exist, then their leader does not exist because there can not be a leader without followers. So, they posed the question of who Bin Laden was if he was not the leader of Al Queda (Sáfrány 12). The theorists questioned the idea of whether Osama bin Laden was even a terrorist as the Bush administration had portrayed him. They relied on further evidence to prove that Osama was not guilty or at least not for the attack on September 2001.
The many videotapes aired by Qatar’s Aljazeera satellite TV have further fuelled the doubts of the guilt of Osama. Since the attack on American soil, the television has aired many tapes from the militant group. Many of the videotapes feature Osama bin Laden (Sáfrány 13). The appearance of Bin Laden in the videos have cast doubt of whether he is the one who arranged the attack on America. The theorists claim that the appearance of the suspected terrorist was not consistent with the official account offered by the American government. The alleged Al Qaeda leader did not seem as Islamic as the American security forces portrayed him and Al Qaeda. The presence of a ring in his hand in one of the videos was used to prove that he was not very religious and therefore is not likely to have taken part in the said religious war against Americans. The Islamic religion forbids the adorning of jewelry. Accordingly, the theorists said that the man in the videos was either not an extremist Muslim or not Bin Laden at all.
The idea that Al Qaeda is just a fallacy is also supported by the alleged connection between Osama bin Laden and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the US. According to Sáfrány, bin Laden had been an operative of the CIA during the time of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. The CIA is believed to have funded the Mujahidin and even given them weapons to fight the Russians. Bin Laden is said to have worked under the code name Tim Osman. The link between Osama bin Laden and the intelligence agency of the USA supported the idea that Osama may have been working under the instruction of the CIA or President Bush.
The findings concerning the existence of Al Qaeda and Bin Laden show that the two indeed existed at the time of the Bombing. Sáfrány says that based on the findings of the 9/11 Commission Report, Bin Laden was a Muslim terrorist who had declared war on America because he believed that the country had gone against the will of Allah. Therefore, after the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan in 1988, the terror suspect created Al Qaeda as the headquarters for future Jihad against the USA (Sáfrány 12). The official account also denies the claim that Bin Laden had been an operative of the CIA during the cold war period in the Afghan war. Based on the two accounts, it is safe to say that the name of the group not being Al Qaeda does not prove that it does not exist. Besides, Saas Al-Fagih, the same man who described Al Qaeda as a guestbook for volunteers of Mujahidin said that Osama bin Laden was followed by a group of people who idolized him and asked for his moral guidance. Therefore, the idea that Al Qaeda was a phantom enemy was not true. Osama existed and he also led a group. Therefore, he may as well have planned the 9/11 attack on the twin towers.
Apart from the argument of the existence of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, conspiracy theorists also used evidence from the scene to support the idea that the attack was planned by the government rather than terrorists. According to the theorists, Osama was just a fabricated enemy created to cover the truth. The theorists argued against the report offered in 2005 by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). According to the institute, the collapse of the towers resulted from fires that were fueled by thousands of Jets fuel and the loss of the structural integrity of the steel supports. Conspiracy theorists believe that the destruction of the buildings resulted from controlled demolition. The theorists supported their claim with the fact that jet fuel burns at between 1000 °C, a temperature below the 1500 °C necessary for steel to liquify. The theorists believe that the presence of molten metal at ground zero show that explosives were involved in the destruction of the building. Professor Steven Jones claimed that a substance called thermite burns at 2500 degrees Celsius and may have been used to destroy the building (Jones). The professor suggested that the explosives may have been triggered from a distance allowing it to melt the metals and therefore collapse the buildings intelligently as the jets went through them.
Facts countered the claim that the jet fuel could not have melted the steel. According to experts, even though steel melts at 1500 degrees Celsius, it loses its structural strength at 600 degrees Celsius (Sáfrány 12). Therefore, it was not necessary for the steel to melt for the building to collapse. About the molten metal that conspiracists talked about, authorities said that it was most likely aluminum rather than steel. Aluminium melts at lower temperatures. Also about thermite residues, it is possible that they were there as professor jones suggested because of the presence of Aluminium which reacts to give the thermite reaction. There was aluminum on the windows of the plane and the building. Therefore, the points do not prove that the building was exploded.
In conclusion, the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers of the WTC fuelled a lot of speculations (Sáfrány 12). Conspiracists theorized that the attack was an inside job rather than a terrorist attack. Two of the main reasons for supporting their claims was the fact that there were doubts about the existence of Al Qaeda and that evidence at the site showed the building might have been exploded rather than imploded. However, there are more rational reasons for the observations that the theorists used to support their claims. Scientific evidence shows that the attack was as a result of a terrorist attack by Al Qaeda under the leadership of Osama bin Laden rather than an inside job by the government against its people.
Jones, Steven E. “Why Indeed Did the WTC Buildings Collapse?” Physics 9/11. Web. 18 Jan. 2011.
Sáfrány, Beáta. “9/11 Conspiracy Theories.” Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies 19.2013 (2013).
Swami, Viren, Tomas Chamorro‐Premuzic, and Adrian Furnham. “Unanswered questions: A preliminary investigation of personality and individual difference predictors of 9/11 conspiracist beliefs.” Applied Cognitive Psychology 24.6 (2010): 749-761.