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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Emerson Vermaat : The 9/11 conspiracy theorists: Why they are dead wrong

Emerson Vermaat : The 9/11 conspiracy theorists: Why they are dead wrong

Dutch investigative journalist Emerson Vermaat debunks post 9/11 conspiracy theories and explains their origins
September 11, 2006

The 9/11 Conspiracists – Why they are deadly wrong

By Emerson Vermaat

Here follows a brief summary of increasingly popular conspiracy theories about 9/11 ("Time" of 11 September 2006 says 36% percent of Americans consider them very likely):

"It was an inside-job," "9/11 was a self-inflicted wound," "Bush caused 9/11," ‘"Bush did it to justify his plans to invade Afghanistan and Iraq," "it was the American military-industrial complex,", "the Mossad and the CIA were behind the attacks, not Al-Qaida," "Al-Qaida does not exist," "Al-Qaida is a Myth," "the Twin Towers collapsed after a series of pre-planned explosions, and not because of the impact of the Boeing 767s." And what about this one: "The Pentagon was not hit by a hijacked plane." "What can blow a 16 foot hole in the outer ring of the Pentagon, smashed through 9 feet of steel reinforced concrete and leave another 16 feet hole? A cruise missile!" "Reopen the 9-11 Investigation!" "America has been hijacked, not by Al-Qaida, not by Osama bin Laden, but by a group of tyrants ready and willing to do whatever it takes to keep their strangled hold on this country."[1

If it wasn't a Boeing 757 which hit the Pentagon, and instead a cruise missile, what happened to the passengers Flight 77? Well, there is a rumor about that, says Dutch author Robin de Ruiter in his bestseller George W. Bush en de Mythe van Al-Qaeda ("George Bush and the Myth of Al-Qaeda," Frontier Award Winner, 2005). The plane landed on a military base in Ohio, both the crew and the passengers were then taken to a secret location and subsquently killed.[2]De Ruiter's book contains quite a few factual errors such as his claim that Mohammed Atta never had a beard.[3 But he did have a beard, though not always . In May 2004, the German magazine "Der Spiegel" published a picture showing Mohammed Atta with a beard.[4 Atta's German professor in Hamburg, Dittmar Machule, also noticed that his Egyptian student had grown a beard after he (Atta) had been away for a long time.[5

But this is a minor error I can live with. Much worse is the fact that De Ruiter is heaping praise on former Yugoslav dictator Slobodan Milosevic. "He and his government were the greatest obstacle to achieving the New World Order in the Balkans."[6In 2003 De Ruiter published a 224-page book in defense of Slobodan Milosevic claiming that he did not die a natural death in his Dutch prison cell.[7 In a new book De Ruiter claims that the conspiracy theory described in the anti-Semitic "Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion" (a secret Jewish world government) is true, it is not a forgery. But it has nothing to do with the Jews, it is all related to the "Illuminati."[8

This reminds me of similar conspiracy theories of the right extremist John Birch Society describing a "secret world government" and a "hidden hand." In the 1970s and early 1980s a friendly Dutchman tried to win me over and gave me issues of the Society's monthly publication "American Opinion" containing articles on Henry Kissinger, David Rockefeller, the Bilderberg Conference and the mysterious "Illuminati" (some kind of freemasons) all of whom were involved in a worldwide conspiracy to create a world government. I told my Dutch friend my father and grandfather were Freemasons. (I and my brothers never followed their example, though.)

A conspiracy theory can become an obsession, forcing young men to do something, to act against the wrongs of this evil world. The very conviction that the US government represents something utterly evil or that Jews and Zionists are secretly running the show or that there is some sort of "world government" in the making – such views can easily incite the extremists to commit acts of terrorism. It was this kind of thinking that inspired Timothy McVeigh to blow up The Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April 1995 (168 people were killed). The building contained regional offices for the Social Security Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

In December 2002, I had a television interview with Willem Oltmans, a highly controversial Dutch journalist who portrayed Osama bin Laden as a "freedom fighter" and suggested that the Mossad and Bush were behind the September 11 attacks.[9 Oltmans told me that President Roosevelt wanted the Japanese to attack the Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor so that America would be drawn into the war with Germany and Japan. And this exactly what Bush did on 9/11, Oltmans claimed. Bush needed 9/11 to launch his "War on Terror." Conspiracy theories about Pearl Harbor are not new. Thomas Fleming claims that Roosevelt "tricked the American people into the war."[10 American historian Joseph E. Persico makes the following observation in his authoritative study "Roosevelt's Secret War": "The thesis of a Roosevelt-engineered attack on Pearl Harbor joins the perennially recycled conspiracy theories about the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, which will go on and on."[11Another authority on Pearl Harbor, Henry, C. Clausen, concludes: "There is no evidence that would have linked Roosevelt to a conspiracy to force Japan to attack Pearl Harbor."[12

"The Big Lie" and the French fascists

The first to launch a sensational 9/11 conspiracy theory was the French author Thierry Meyssan, the national secretary of the "Radical Leftist Party" (Parti Radical de Gauche). His 2002 book "L'Effroyable Imposture" ("The Big Lie") immediately became a national bestseller and was quickly translated into many languages. (In the U.S.A, Meyssan's book "The Big Lie" was published in January 2003).[13 Meyssan claims that the Twin Towers and part of the Pentagon were not destroyed by foreign kamikazes, no, it was coup by some key people in the American government, a conspiracy to change public opinion of in favor of waging wars. The "war on terrorism" is nothing but Bush's "crusade against Islam" which is directly related to the "clash of civilizations." Osama bin Laden is a CIA fabrication. Indeed, "he never ceased to work for the American secret services." The Twin Towers were brought down by explosives, it was a controlled demolition. And the Pentagon was hit by a cruise missile, not by a Boeing 757. The holes in the Pentagon were simply not wide enough, and photos show it, Meyssan claims.

The assertion that Osama bin Laden is a "CIA fabrication" is demagogical rubbish. Meyssan points to alleged close links between the Bush and the Bin Laden families, ignoring the fact that most members of the Bin Laden family do not at all agree with the path that Osama has chosen for himself. It as absurd as calling Hitler a friend of Churchill. I remember a TV program in the Netherlands about the killing of Theo van Gogh. The makers of that program suggested that Van Gogh's killer Mohammed Bouyeri was in fact an agent of the Dutch security and intelligence service AIVD. That is turning things upside down, it is highly sensational, it draws a lot of publicity, but it is not based on facts or thorough research, it is fiction. Wild claims like these only serve to fill the bank accounts of bestselling authors and their publishers.

Meyssan's assertion that the Twin Towers were not destroyed by "foreign kamikazes" is also demagogical rubbish. There are reports from two flight attendants aboard the hijacked Boeing 767 which would crash into the WTC's northern tower. Via an AT&T airphone the flight attendants managed to get through to Michael Woodward, the manager of the American Flight Services Office in Boston. Betty Ong and Madeline "Amy" Sweeney passed on some of the seat numbers of those who had gained unauthorized access to the cockpit. Sweeney said that the plane had been hijacked; a man in the first class had his throat slashed; two flight attendants had been stabbed. Sweeney said the hijackers were "Middle Easterners, naming three of their seat numbers, one spoke very little English and one spoke excellent English. The hijackers had gained entry to the cockpit, and she did not know how. The aircraft was in rapid descent."[14 Flying over Manhattan, Sweeney said: "Something is wrong. We are in a rapid descent... we are all over the place. We are flying very, very low. We are flying way too low." Seconds later she said: "Oh my God we are way too low."[15

It was not an American missile that hit the Pentagon. In two National Geographic Channel (NGC) documentaries witnesses were interviewed who saw a Boeing 757 hit the Pentagon. Some of those who were inside the Pentagon noticed a strong smell of kerosine.[16 There is a witness named Penny Elgas, a civilian. She was in her car when she saw how a huge plane glided straight into the Pentagon. Later, as she came home, she noticed that a small fragment of the plane had entered her car through the open car roof.[17]There is little room for fantasy or speculation here. Finally, on May 16, 2006, the Defense Department released two videos clearly showing a plane – American Airlines Flight 77 – striking the Pentagon.[18

The holes were not wide enough? Suffice it to quote from an article in Time: "The plane lost its wings when one hit the ground and the other slammed into the building's west wall before the Boeing's fuselage tore a 23-m hole in the outermost Ring E. The jet's landing gear caused the 3.5-m hole in inner Ring C. But to question Flight 77's demise is to question the fate of the 64 people onboard; the remains of all but one have been identified."[19

On the final page of his book, Meyssan expresses gratitude to a number of people who assisted him in his research. One of them was "P.-H. B." This refers to Pierre-Henri Bunel, a former French major who – in December 2001 – was found guilty of treason for tipping off the Serbs about NATO military plans before the Kosovo conflict.[20 Bunel, a French military intelligence officer, had passed classified documents that identified potential NATO bombing targets in Serbia to a Serbian agent during the Kosovo war in 1998. Moreover, Meyssan's advisor Bunel published articles in "Jeune Résistance," a review which is both anti-globalist and right extremist. Fabrice Robert, the editor of "Jeune Résistance," is a convicted Holocaust denier.[21The review is linked to the right extremist group "Unité Radicale" (Radical Union, UR) which expressed support for Hamas and the German Neo-Nazi Horst Mahler, a former member of the Red Army Faction (RAF), an extremely violent marxist and terrorist organization. Another interesting member of the "Unité Radicale" is Maxime Brunerie. He tried to assassinate French President Jacques Chirac in July 2002.[22 One month later, the UR was banned by the French authorities.

It is not the first time in history that leftist and rightist conspiracists are making conmmon cause. These enemies of freedom all share their deep aversion of the West, NATO, America, Israel and "Zionism." Why was Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, a self-proclaimed Castro admirer, recently making a very friendly visit to the Iranian president Ahmadinejad, a Holocaust denier? When is this Mr. Chavez – who now courts Latin American drug barons and other criminals[23 – going to visit Osama bin Laden? Why was one of Meyssan's advisors helping Slobodan Milosevic? I am not surprised.

It is not so strange either that Meyssan's conspiration theories are very well received in the Arab world. Some 250,000 copies of the Arab translation of his book were sold in the Middle East. Meyssan, a very rich man now, is a frequent guest in Arab TV shows and discussion programs. "Is is a consolation to people in the Muslim world when I tell them that Arabs did not cause 9/11," Meyssan said in TV documentary on Belgian TV.[24The same documentary refers to a recent poll which finds that 62 percent of the people in Syria, Egypt and Morocco do not believe that Al-Qaida was behind 9/11.

Hezbollah TV: "The Jews did it"

If Al-Qaida "did not do it", then who did? The Jews and the Israeli Mossad, of course! (Apart from Bush, the U.S. military-industrial complex and the CIA.) The first to "reveal" Jewish involvement in the 9/11 attacks was the Hezbollah Television Channel "Al-Manar." On 17 September 2001 Hezbollah TV made the assertion that some 4000 Jews who worked in the Twin Towers had not shown up for work on the morning of September 11, 2001.[25 Two days later the story was picked up by the popular Arabic News Channel Al-Jazeera, adding that those 4000 Jews had been warned by their government.[26Mohammed Bakri, a journalist from Al-Manar TV, admitted in 2006 that there no was proof for these allegations, yet he still considered it very likely.[27The rumor about the 4000 Jews was quickly accepted by the Arab media as incontrovertible fact. Syrian ambassador to Tehran Turky Muhammad Saqr said at a conference at the Iranian Foreign Ministry: "Syria has documented proof of the Zionist regime's involvement in the September 11 terror attacks on the U.S.," and that "4000 Jews employed at the WTC did not show up for work before the attack clearly attests to Zionist involvement in these attacks."[28]Note that Syria and Iran are Hezbollah's main sponsors. Dr. Gamal Ali Zahran, head of the political science faculty at Suez Canal University, Egypt, wrote in the Egyptian government daily "Al-Ahram": "At the WTC, thousands of Jews worked in finance and the stock market, but non of them were there on the day of the incident. Out of 6,000 killed, of 65 nationalities from 60 countries, not one was a Jew!!"[29

This is another outrageous claim. In fact, about 400 Jews died in the attacks on the WTC on 9/11 and they are remembered by Jewish communities in New York and elsewhere.[30 Others are still missing: you will find a lot of Jewish names in the official New York City "Missing Persons List."

The same Dr. Zahran claimed that the CIA and the Mossad were behind the attacks: "The scope and nature of the attacks attest to planning and execution by an intelligence apparatus close to the CIA. No intelligence apparatus in the world is as close to the CIA as the Israeli Mossad."[31]Lebanese Druse leader Walid Jumblatt told the Palestinian newspaper "Al-Ayyam": "It was a large intelligence operation, behind which might be the Mossad and American intelligence, with the aim of bringing about a new war in the region so as to impoverish and conquer it."[32

The Egyptian Sheikh Muhammad Al-Gamei'a, the Al-Azhar University representative in the U.S. and Imam of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, was interviewed by an unofficial Al-Azhar University website on October 4, 2001. He said: "If we take these things into account and look closely at the incident, we will find that only the Jews are capable of planning such an incident, because it was planned with great precision of which Osama bin Laden or any other Islamic organization or intelligence apparatus is incapable."[33In the same interview he said: "Hitler annihilated them because they betrayed him and violated a contract with him."

Orkhan Muhammad Ali wrote in the Israeli Arab weekly "Saut Al-Haqq Wa-Al-Hurriyya" (December 2001) that the planes had not been hijacked – rather they had been directed by remote control using a system developed by a Jewish company: "Airplanes can be remotely controlled using a modern system called GPLS (GPS?). The U.S. invested some $ 3.2 billion in developing this system. Additionally, the Department of Defense collaborated with a group of companies called Raytheon that specialize in developing aerial missile defense and air traffic control systems. The air traffic control system can be activated remotely by satellite. (...) According to the unfolding of events in the attacks on New York and Washington, and according to the evidence (...) the planes were not hijacked; they were remotely controlled and forced to fly towards the targets fed into the system by the planners. Therefore, the FBI will investigate the president of this group of companies, whose name is Daniel Burnham, and the head of the engineers responsible for the GPLS (GPS?) system whose name, Bruce Solomon, attests that he is Jewish."[34

Again, the suggestion is clear: the whole remote control operation was led or inspired by Jews.

Von Bülow and the Neo-Nazis

These absurd claims about the involvement of Jews, the role of the Mossad and the CIA, about planes being directed by remote control were taken seriously by the German lawyer and politician Dr. Andreas von Bülow, author of the book "Die CIA und der 11. September" ("The CIA and September 11") published in 2003. Between 1980 and 1982 von Bülow had a cabinet post as Research and Technology Minister under Helmut Schmidt, before that he was a Member of Parliament and a Deputy Defense Minister. He was also a member of the parliamentary intelligence oversight committee. Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, a moderate social democrat, never really liked von Bülow who enjoyed the support of the leftist faction within the Social Democratic Party (SPD). Helmut Schmidt very much liked Gerald Ford and Henry Kissinger. To some extent the German chancellor even liked Ronald Reagan ("a man who listens to a European," Schmidt wrote in his memoirs), but he did not like the "idealist" Jimmy Carter whose foreign policy he considered a failure.[35 This was not quite von Bülow's line of thinking. In 1980, Schmidt accepted von Bülow as Research and Technology Minister, not because of the latter's qualifications (von Bülow was a lawyer), but probably because such cabinet post was relatively harmless.[36

In 1998 von Bülow published the book "Im Namen des Staates. CIA, BND und die Kriminellen Machenschaften der Geheimdiensten" ("In the Name of the State: CIA, BND and the Criminal Machinations of the Secret Services"). This book was also highly critical of the national intelligence service BND. Von Bülow had now become a principled and fanatical opponent of western intelligence services, a man who saw conspiracies everywhere, and not everyone in the SPD – first of all Helmut Schmidt – agrees with this position. Of course, serious mistakes have been made by western intelligence services, including the BND, but that is not the point. At least one review of von Bülow's book accuses the author making unfounded speculations – "haltlose Spekulationen" and Bodenlose Konstruktionen."[37 The succesful operations resulting in stopping major terrorist attacks should not be overlooked by the critics of western intelligence services. And those who want to know what is really going on inside the CIA should read Ron Suskind's "The One Percent Doctrine" (2006). The 9/11 conspiracists, including von Bülow, believe, however, that western intelligence services are the real terrorists who must be stopped. Bin Laden is a myth, a fiction, a CIA agent or whatever– but he and his folks are not dangerous. I don't believe it.

In his book on the CIA and 9/11 von Bülow suggests that the attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon were not an Al-Qaida operation. They were a covert operation ("Verdeckter Operation") of the CIA and possibly the Israeli Mossad.[38Previous terrorist attacks on the WTC – in 1993 –, US embassies in Africa and an American warship have also been attributed to to "former CIA partner Osama bin Laden," although there was not sufficient evidence. Muslims have always been blamed for these attacks, says von Bülow, but in most cases these groups (of Muslims) had previously been directly or covertly recruited by the CIA. The fact that the blame fell on Muslims must be seen in the context of Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations" theory. Huntington was a former CIA advisor.

Von Bülow does not deny that there were four planes but these planes were probably operated by remote control ("Aussensteurerung"). Those who flew the planes simply lacked the flying practice of experienced pilots, they were "hobby pilots."[39 The remote control theory was first launched by an Arab newspaper in October 2001 and von Bülow may have been inspired by sources in the Middle East. It is a highly controversial theory and there is no conclusive evidence. All the available evidence points to a real hijacking by kamikazes who knew exactly what they were doing. "FAA records show that four of the 19 hijackers – one aboard each flight – possessed FAA certificates as qualified pilots. FAA certification required that a candidate complete a requisite amount of flight training and pass both a written exam and practical skill tests. Each of the four pilots received flight training in the United States, which is recognized as one of the world's most advanced pilot training education and certification systems, and trains many pilots from many nations."[40

Referring to Thierry Meyssan's book von Bülov says that he does not believe that the Pentagon was hit by a Boeing 757. He claims that videos have been manipulated or withheld. No fragments of the plane have been found (this is not true). What really happened to the plane, passengers and crew of Flight AA 77 is a mystery ("Rätsel"), further research is needed, von Bülov writes.[41

Von Bülow then poses another question: "What does the Israeli secret service know?"[42 Now he is really fishing in troubled waters, and he knows it. (The risk of being accused of anti-Semitism should not prevent one from gathering evidence that is disagreeable or even unthinkable, he writes.)[43 Virtually the whole Arab world believes that the Israelis and the Jews were behind the 9/11 attacks. There are virulent and influential anti-Semites like Sheikh Muhammad Al-Gamei'a who praises Hitler for annihilating the Jews. Yet, von Bülow claims that 9/11 was a covert secret service operation and that there are indications that point to the role of the Israeli Mossad. There is the Israeli firm Odigo which "supposedly" (angeblich) warned its employees two hours before the attacks to leave the area near the WTC. A few weeks before the attacks an Israeli shipping company decided to move to another office (in Virginia). Transport companies are often linked to secret services, argues von Bülow. In a television interview he lamely said he could not prove these things.[44 Then there were five mysterious Israelis who had some kind of observation post on the roof of a warehouse. They had been filming the attacks on the World Trade Center. A woman who saw them claimed that they were happy.

Rumors, premature and hastily drawn conclusions, wild accusations, half-truths, speculations based on press clippings or the internet, that is what von Bülow's book is basically about. In the German TV program " Frontal 21" the former research and technology minister was asked: "Why do you raise the question of possible Mossad involvement when you don't any proof?" Bülow hesitates and says: "No, I have no proof. I have indications, and these must be examined. Nothing else." Question: "What does the firm Odigo have to do with the Mossad?" Von Bülow: "I don't know. But it is possible that an electrical firm which is active in America, a firm dealing with telephone traffic bills, and the bugging techniques..." The reporter interrupts von Bülow and asks: "Do you have evidence of the Mossad being involved?" Von Bülow: "No, but it's very probable that the Mossad is clever enough to take advantage of such things."[45 Not a strong very case for a lawyer really.

Von Bulow's views on the role of the Jews, the Israelis or the Mossad in the September 11 attacks must be seen in the context of wider anti-Semitic conspiration theories which are popular both in leftist and Neo-Nazi circles. Similar views could very well have been expressed in, say, the Neo-Nazi "National-Zeitung."[46 Nazis and Neo-Nazis traditionally embrace conspiration theories on the Jews, "Wallstreet" and the Americans. It was no coincidence that NPD-member Horst Mahler showed up at a conference on "The Big Lie" in Berlin's prestigious Humboldt University in July 2003. One of the speakers was Dr. Andreas von Bülow, the leftist social democrat.[47 Von Bülow, of course, does not like Horst Mahler, and he was embarassed by his presence. But when you are openly wondering how many Jews really died in the World Trade Center and suggest that the Israelis were behind those attacks, you are making common cause with people like Horst Mahler – a man, by the way, with a lot of friends in France, in circles not so far away from Thierry Meyssan.

In 2003, I was preparing a television report on "Hizb-ut-Tahrir" (HUT), a radical Islamist organization calling for the killing of Jews and Israelis "whereever you meet them." In my television report I showed film footage of a HUT-conference on "The West and Islam" in the equally prestigious University of Frankfurt in December 2002. Guess who was there? Our friend Horst Mahler accompanied by NPD Chairman Udo Voigt. (In my TV program I showed how Udo Voigt took the microphone and made a few remarks about the common bond between the Neo-Nazis and their new Muslim friends.) In February 2003, the official NPD-organ "Deutsche Stimme" published an interview with Shaker Azzem, the publisher of "Explizit," an important HUT outlet.[48]Neo-Nazis are making common cause with 9/11 conspirationalists and anti-Semitic organizations like Hamas (Hamas leaders have also been interviewed in the Neo-Nazi press) and Hizb-ut-Tahrir. Should we be surprised?

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: "Yes, we did it."

While the 9/11 conspiracists deny Al-Qaida involvement, Al-Qaida does not. The real 9/11 perpetrators – Al-Qaida – did claim responsibility for the attacks, and they did so more than once.

In April 2002, some eight months after 9/11, Al-Jazeera reporter Yosri Fouda had an exclusive interview with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), the mastermind of the September 11 attacks. He looked Khalid in the eye and asked: "Did you do it?" Khalid didn't flinch. "No filming today," he declared. Then, with little fanfare, Khalid got down to business by making an announcement that hit Fouda like a sucker punch. "I am the head of the Al-Qaida Military Committee, and Ramzi is the coordinator of the Holy Tuesday operation. And yes, we did it."[49 KSM was referring to Ramzi Binalshibh, his close associate and trusted operational assistant, who was also present and equally claimed responsibility for 9/11. The Yemeni born Binalshibh was a prominent member of the terrorist cell in Hamburg formed in the Summer of 1999 and headed by 9/11 suicide pilot Mohammed Atta ("Abu Abdul Rahman"). Following Al-Qaida instructions Binalshibh fled to Afghanistan shortly before September 11 hijackings. There he was personally welcomed by Osama bin Laden. On September 7, 2006 Al-Qaida released a video of Osama bin Laden meeting Ramzi Binalshibh, and both of them were smiling.[50

KSM told Fouda that "the planning for a martyrdom operation inside America" started "about two and a half years prior to the holy raids on Washington and New York." "As we were discussing targets, we first thought of striking at a couple of nuclear facilities but decided against it for fear it would go out of control." "It was eventually decided to leave out nuclear targets – for now." "The attacks were designed to cause as many deaths as possible and havoc and to be a big slap for America on American soil."[51 Ramzi Binalshibh showed Fouda his Hamburg souvenirs: planning materials used by Mohammed Atta and the other hijack pilots as they plotted their attacks: flight manuals, an air navigation map of the American eastern seaboard, flight simulator CD-ROMS, a series of sophisticated illustrations on "How to perform sudden manoeuvres," a page with paragraphs underlined and appended with handwritten notes. Binalshibh explained that it was Atta's handwriting. Fouda: "Ramzi now spoke of how he had himself been eager to take part in the attacks. He had applied three times for a visa to enter America for flight training, but he had been turned down on security grounds."[52 While the visa applications of Atta and the other Hamburg suicide pilots Mohammed Al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah were not turned down, Ramzi Binalshibh had to stay behind to assist Atta and his team in any way possible. "As for the question of coordination," he told Fouda, "it is, in short, a process of linking the cells to one another, establishing a communication hub between these cells on the one hand and the General Command in Afghanistan on the other hand, and defining the priorities of action for these cells." He explained that the targets were referred to in coded communication between the hijackers and their Al-Qaida contacts as "The Faculty of Fine Arts" (Pentagon), "The Faculty of Town Planning" (Twin Towers) and "the Faculty of Law" (Capitol Hill). This part of the interview was broadcast by Al-Jazeera on 11 September 2002 and summarized in The Sunday Times.[53 Binalshibh said: "These are very apprehensive moments. You are going into an unconventional battle against the most powerful force on earth. You are facing them on their land, among their forces, and soldiers, you fight with a small group of 19 (hijackers)."[54]Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said the so-called muscle hijackers knew they were in for a martyrdom operation. "But to prevent any leakage of information, they were not informed of many details. We told that brother Abu Abdul Rahman (the lead hijacker Mohammed Atta) would provide them with details at a later stage." Binalshibh said that Al-Qaida never doubted the hijackers' loyalty. "They were never influenced by corrupt America... or temptations." (This is not true: two of the hijackers visited a striptease club – the "Olympic Garden Topless Cabaret" – in Las Vegas[55, and on the night of September 10, they watched a pay perview porn film in their motel room; no doubt they were already longing for the "virgins' in paradise.[56)

In 2002, The German Federal Criminal Office (Bundeskriminalamt or BKA) and the Public Prosecutor (Generalbundesanwalt or GBA) thoroughly investigated Mohammed Atta's terror network in Hamburg. (I summarized the BKA and GBA documents in my Dutch book on "Al-Qaida's Deadly Planning".) Flight manuals and flight simulation programs were discovered. And then there was something quite interesting about Marwan Al-Shehhi, one of the September 11 suicide pilots. In April 2000, Al-Shehhi was seen in a German public library. Between 6 December 1999 and 5 January 2000 Al-Shehhi had been in Afghanistan where he and the other Hamburg suicide pilots had been personally instructed by Osama bin Laden to prepare terrorist attacks on America. A female staff member of the library heard how Al-Shehhi was lashing out against America, saying: "You are going to see it, there will be thousands of deaths. And then you will think about me." He explicitly mentioned the World Trade Center in New York.[57]

Osama bin Laden: "I was responsible."

Al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden repeatedly claimed responsibility for the September 11 attacks, most recently on May 23, 2006: "I was responsible for entrusting the 19 brothers – Allah have mercy upon them – with those raids."[58

In his first interview after 9/11 Osama bin Laden said "that the events that happened on Tuesday September 11 in New York and Washington are truly great events by any measure." They were "successful and blessed attacks." "We implore God to accept those brothers (who carried them out) within the ranks of the martyrs, and to admit them to the highest levels of Paradise."[59 Bin Laden was interviewed on October 20, 2001 by Al-Jazeera Bureauchief Taysir Alluni (Kabul). Alluni himself, who also had a Spanish passport, has been linked by Spanish prosecutors to Al-Qaida. (I saw some of the Spanish documents and they looked pretty convincing, but Alluni strongly denied these accusations in court.) At the end of December 2001 bin Laden sent his "Christmas message" to the world. It was about "nineteen post-secondary students who shook America's throne" – the 9/11 hijackers, most of whom were from Saudi Arabia. "Those young men," bin Laden continued, "did a very great deed. God rewarded them and we pray that their parents will be proud of them, because they raised Muslims' heads high and taught America a lesson it won't forget, with God's will." He also warned: "What is yet to come will be even greater."[60 "From Saudi Arabia fifteen young men set out – we pray to God to accept them as martyrs. They set out from the land of faith, where lies the Muslims' greatest treasure, where faith returns, as our prophet rightly said, to Medina, just as the snake returns to its hole. Another two came from the Eastern Peninsula, from the Emirates (Marwan Al-Shehhi, V.), another from the Levant, Ziad Al-Jarrah, and another from the land of Egypt, Mohammed Atta, may God accept all of them as martyrs." "God opened the way for these young men to tell America, the head of global unbelief, and its allies, that they are living in falsehood. They sacrificed themselves for ‘There is no god bur God'."[61

Three years later, in October, 2004, Al-Jazeera received a videotape from the "Al-Sahab Institute of Media Production," Al-Qaida's propaganda department. Bin Laden's new message was broadcast by Al-Jazeera on October 29, 2004, four days before the presidential elections in the United States. And again, bin Laden heaped praise on his 9/11 operative Mohammed Atta: "For your information, we agreed with the general commander Muhammed Atta, may God bless his soul, to carry out all operations within twenty minutes, before Bush and his administration could be aware of them, and it did not occur to us that the Commander-in-Chief of the American armed forces would leave fifty thousand of his citizens in the two towers to face this great horror on their own, just when they needed him most. It seems that a little girl's story about a goat and its butting was more important than dealing with aeroplanes and their butting into skyscrapers. This gave us three times the amount of required time to carry out the operations, praise be to God."[62

In mid-November 2001, Osama bin Laden spoke to a room of supporters in Afghanistan and his comments were taped with the knowledge of bin Laden and all present. The video tape was later obtained by U.S. forces in Jalalabad, Afghanistan in late November and subsequently released by the Defense Department on December 13, 2001. Among his close friends bin Laden freely discussed the 9/11 attacks: "We calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy, who would be killed based on the position of the tower. We calculated that the floors that would be hit would be three or four floors. I was the most optimistic of them all. Due to my experience in this field, I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit and all the floors above it only. This is all that we had hoped for."[63 Bin Laden then explained that he heard on the radio that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. "After a little while, they announced that another plane had hit the World Trade Center. The brothers who heard the news were overjoyed by it."

A number of 9/11 conspiracists have argued that this Bin Laden tape is a fraud. It is of very poor quality. The man the Defense Department claims is Osama bin Laden is barely audible, so the translations must have been manipulated. "The man in the video looks and acts nothing like bin Laden," says a commentator in the documentary Loose Change.[64There is a small problem, however. The translations have been thoroughly checked, the tape was broadcast on CNN in Arabic and subtitled in English. Any Arabist could check what was being said and very few if any argued that the translations fully contradicted what bin Laden was saying. I myself am in possession of a high quality television tape. Opinions may differ on details, the essential parts of the translations have not really been contested. In addition, bin Laden himself never distanced himself from the tape. To my knowledge (if I am wrong, please correct me) he never denied it was him who was saying all these things while meeting friends and close associates in Kandahar or Jalalabad. So, there no conclusive proof that the tape was a fraud or that it has been manipulated.

The first time I saw bin Laden's name in the Arab press was in May/June 1995 when he was trying establish a major media institution in London. In the Summer and Autumn of 1995 I was too busy with reporting on other things and I could not concentrate. Between February and April 1996 I began to write a book in Dutch on "Islamic Fundamentalism and Terrorism." I heard more about bin Laden and did some additional research on him and in March 1997 my book was finally published. Ten years later I am happy that I proceeded with this project and paid attention to bin Laden's role in international terrorism in my book. Five or four years before 9/11 few western journalists and terrorism experts were aware of the existence of a man named Osama bin Laden. I know about one journalist who tried to trace him in Sudan. Now, ten years after I did my first researches on bin Laden, I am, of course, much more worried about him. The fact that he has never been caught, worries me tremendously. It was a grave error that the Americans let him escape from Tora Bora.

September 7-11, 2006


Emerson Vermaat, M.A. (law), is an investigative reporter specialized in terrorism and crime. Already in March 1997 he wrote about Osama bin Laden's role in international terrorism. As a reporter for Dutch television he traveled widely, making television reports in war zones and crisis areas (Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Asia and the former Soviet Union).

[1 Loose Change (2nd Edition), The Truth Behind September 11 (www.truth.provostdesign.com). See also: Terzake Zomer (Canvas Belgian TV), 21 August 2006 (part one).

[2Robin de Ruiter, Goerge Bush en de Mythe van Al-Qaeda. De Verborgen Macht Achter de Terroristische Aanslagen van 11 September 2001 (Enschedé: Mayra Publications the Netherlands, 2005), p. 75.

[3 Ibid., p. 87

[4 Der Spiegel, 29 May 2004, p. 136 ("2 Hochzeiten und 3000 Todesfälle").

[5 Das Leben der Terrorpiloten, ARD TV (Germany), 23 November 2001.

[6 This chapter was reprinted in Frontier, April/May 2005, p. 42-47, a Dutch magazine about Nostradamus, UFO's, crop circles and the like.

[7Robin de Ruiter, Het Joegoslavië Tribunaal. De Vermoorde Onschuld van Slobodan Milosevic. Wie Vermoordde Milosevic en Waarom? (Enschedé: Mayra Publications, 2005).

[8 www.mayrapublications.nl.

[9 Author's interview with Willem Oltmans, in Twee Vandaag (Dutch TV), 16 December 2002. The unedited version was available on the internet in 2003/2004.

[10 Thomas Fleming, The New Dealer's War. F.D.R. and the War Within World War II (New York: Basic Books, 2001), p. 48.

[11 Joseph E. Persico, Roosevelt's Secret War. FDR and World War II Espionage (New York: Random House, 2001), p. 156.

[12 Henry C. Clausen and Bruce Lee, Pearl Harbor. Final Judgment (Cambridge, Mass.: Da Capo Press, 1992, reprint: 2001), p. 309.

[13 Thierry Meyssan, L'Effroyable Imposture (Paris: Edition Carnot, March 2002). American edition: The Big Lie (Carnot USA Book, January 2003). Internet version: www.fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%27Effroyable_imposture#R.C3.A9sum.C3.A9.

[14The 9/11 Commission Report (New York/London: W.W. Norton & Company, 2004), p. 6.

[15 Ibid.

[16 One of these documentaries, Inside the Pentagon, was shown on 26 August 2006 (National Geographic Channel, 23:00 hours Dutch time). The other NGC documentary was about September 11.

[17Der Spiegel, 8 September 2003, p. 76 ("Panoptikum des Absurden"). Penny Elgas.

[18 www.defenselink.mil/pubs/foi/index.html.

[19 Time, September 11, 2006, p. 31 ("Why the 9/11 Conspiracies Won't Go Away").

[20 This week in Bosnia-Hercegovina, March 14, 2002.

[21 Stephen Roth Institute Tel Aviv University, Antisemitism and Racism: France (internet).

[22 Fabier Tillon, Unité Radicale (UR), www.lexicon.idgr.de; Terzake Zomer (Canvas, Belgian TV), 23 August 2006.

[23 Andy Webb-Vidal, South American Cocaine Trafficking Operations Shift Towards Venezuela, in: Jane's Intelligence Review, May 2006, p. 36-39 ("Some Colombian cartel bosses who are still at large moved to Venezuela since 2004, from where they continue to manage their networks.")

[24 Terzake Zomer (Belgian TV), 22 August 2006 (part two).

[25 Al-Manar TV (Hezbollah, Lebanon), 17 September 2001.

[26Al-Jazeera, 19 September 2001. See also: Terzake Zomer (Belgian TV), 23 August 2006.

[27Terzake Zomer (Belgian TV), 22 August 2006.

[28 IRNA (Iran), 24 October 2001, quoted in: A New Antisemitic Myth in the Middle East Media: The September 11 Attacks Were Perpetrated by the Jews (MEMRI, 2002), p. 9. Quoted hereafter as: A New Antisemitic Myth (MEMRI, 2002).

[29 Al-Ahram (Egypt), 7 October 2001, quoted in A New Antisemitic Myth (MEMRI, 2002), p. 10.

[30 The Jewish Week, 5 September 2002 ("The Mitzvah To Remember").

[31 Al-Ahram, 7 October 2001, quoted in A New Antisemitic Myth (MEMRI, 2002).

[32 Al-Ayyam, 16 September 2001, quoted in A New Myth in the Middle East (MEMRI, 2002).

[33MEMRI Special Dispatch Series, 17 October 2001, No. 288.

[34 Saut Al-Haqq Wa Al-Hurriyya, 14 December 2001, quoted in A New Antisemitic Myth (MEMRI, 2002), p. 12, 14.

[35 Helmut Schmidt, Mensche und Mächte (Berlin: Siedler Verlag, 1987), p. 202-229, 243-264, 288-315 (For example on p. 293: "Er – Reagan – hat auch die Fähigkeit, einem Europäer zuzuhören.") Von Bülow is mentioned nowhere in Schmidt's 475-page memoirs.

[36 Between 1979 and 1990 the author, who greatly admires Helmut Schmidt, closely followed German politics, making frequent trips to Bonn, Cologne, Frankfurt, Munich and (East and West) Berlin.

[37Michael Eggert, Die Seltsame Welt des Andreas von Bülow: Geheimdienste, Grossfinanz und Israelische Umtriebe, in Magazin Info3, September 2002 (internet).

[38 Andreas von Bülow, Die CIA und der 11. September. Internationale Terror und die Rolle der Geheimdienste (Munich: Piper Verlag, 2004, first published in 2003), p. 178-188.

[39Ibid., p. 188-196.

[40Steven Strasser (Ed.), The 9/11 Investigations (New York: Public Affairs, 2004), p. 52.

[41 Von Bülow, op.cit., p. 196-200.

[42 Ibid., p. 214-222.

[43Ibid., p. 214.

[44 Terzake Zomer (Belgian TV), 22 August 2006.

[45 ZDF Frontal 21 (German TV), 10 September 2005 ("Konjunktur der Verschwörer").

[46Tobias Jaecker, Antisemitische Verschwörungstheorien im Deutschen Mediendiskurs nach dem 11. September, in Kommunikationswissenschaft, 2005, No. 1, p. 11 (internet).

[47Stefan Wirner, Verschwörung und Horst Mahler, de.wikpedia.org/wiki/andreas_von_B%C3%Bclow.

[48 Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, Verfassungsschutzbericht 2003, p. 183.

[49Yosri Fouda and Nick Fielding, Masterminds of Terror. The Truth Behind the Most Devastating Terrorist Attack the World Has Ever Seen (Edinburgh and London: Mainstream Publishing, 2003), p. 38.

[50As-Sahab (internet message Al-Qaida), 7 September 2006. See also: BBC News (TV), 7 September 2006 (23:15, Dutch time), Al-Jazeera, 7 September 2006, NOS Journaal (20:12, Dutch time), 8 September 2006.

[51Yosri Fouda, op.cit., p. 114.

[52 Ibid., p. 115.

[53Ibid. p. 157, 158. The first part of the KSM/Binalshibh interviews was broadcast on 5 September 2002 ("The Road to 11 September"), there was an additional broadcast on 9 September 2002. See also Nick Fielding, Al-Qaeda Leaders Reveal 9/11 Secrets, in: The Sunday Times, 8 September 2002. Binalshibh's quote on decadent America is from the Al-Jazeera documentary, September 11, 2002.

[54 Peter L. Bergen, The Osama bin Laden I Know. An Oral History of Al-Qaeda's Leader (New York: Free Press, 2006), p. 304, 305 (excerpts Fouda's Al-Jazeera documentary "The Road to September 11th").

[55 Der Spiegel, 3 December 2001, p. 136 ("Das Protokoll des Irrsinns"), Zembla (Dutch VPRO TV), 7 December 2001 ("Dubbelleven van een Terrorist: Ziad Jarrah").

[56 Gilles Kepel, The War for Muslim Minds (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004), p. 107.

[57Der Generalbundesanwalt beim Bundesgerichtshof, Anklageschrift: Den Studenten Mounir El Motassadeq (Karlsruhe, 23 August 2002; 2BJs 88/01-5 2 StE 4/02-5), p. 63: "Ihr werdet noch sehen, es wird tausende von Toten geben. Ihr werdet noch an mir denken." Dabei erwähnte er ausdrücklich das World Trade Center. See also: Emerson Vermaat, De Dodelijke Planning van Al-Qaida (Al-Qaida's Deadly Planning") (Soesterberg, the Netherlands: Aspekt Publishers, March 2005), p. 118, 125.

[58 Usinfo.state.gov, 14 January 2005 (updated 25 May 2006) ("Al Qaeda Says It Carried Out September 11th Attacks'").

[59 Bruce Lawrence (Ed.), Messages to the World. The Statements of Osama bin Laden (London/New York: Verso, 2005), p. 111, 112. The interview was broadcast by Al-Jazeera on October 21, 2001.

[60Ibid., p. 153.

[61 Ibid., p. 155

[62 Ibid., p. 242

[63 Transcript of Usama Bin Ladin Video Tape, 13 December 2001, also broadcast by CNN on 13 December 2001 (a Betacam SP copy is in the author's archives.)

[64 Loose Change II (Ter Zake Zomer, Belgian TV, 21 August 2006).

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