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My previous posting regarding Al-Qaeda seems to have attracted a fair amount of interest, some of it for the wrong reasons. Some commentators seemed to think that I was positioning myself with the 9/11 conspiracy theorists who believe that the atrocities committed on that day were an inside job. Of those who seemed to think I was advocating this, some were outraged by my promoting this position – even though I wasn’t – and some seemed to be happy that I was advocating this position – even though I wasn’t.
For the record, I most certainly do not believe that 9/11 was an “inside job” and I am as convinced as I could ever be that it was the work of Islamists. The more pertinent questions, though, are who were these Islamists, what were their goals and in what way have western governments either misunderstood or ignored these questions?
There appears to me to be a whole lot more to 9/11 than the media have generally allowed. This is not a conspiracy theory – it is just media bias which is often incapable of seeing the most of important parts of a story, whilst raising lesser elements to great heights. That version of events then quickly becomes the generally accepted and received wisdom of the day, and those who question it are often treated with a good deal of suspicion.
The standard version of events surrounding 9/11, according to Wikipedia, is that it was “a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks launched by the Islamic terrorist group Al-Qaeda.” 1 And what is Al-Qaeda? Wikipedia tells us that it is “a global militant Islamist organization founded by Osama bin Laden at some point between August 1988 and late 1989, with its origins being traceable to the Soviet War in Afghanistan.” 2
The “Al-Qaeda”/Afghan connection is of course significant because the main response of the US government to the 9/11 attacks was to launch their “War on Terror” by invading Afghanistan.
This was, however, quite an odd response for a number of reasons. Firstly, although some of those responsible for the atrocities may well have trained in Afghanistan, there were mostly Saudis, not Afghans. Secondly, some of the report into 9/11 by the US Congress was supressed for fear that it would endanger the US government’s relationship with the Saudi government. Thirdly, a film showing Palestinians celebrating in the streets shortly after news was received of the attacks was quickly supressed by the Palestinian authorities. To this day I’m not entirely sure whether many people are even aware of its existence. Fourthly, in the weeks that followed the killings, along with invading Afghanistan, George W Bush’s other significant policy decision was to come out in favor of a Palestinian state – something he had not hinted at before 9/11 and something even Bill Clinton had shied away from endorsing.
In other words, whilst much of the world’s post-9/11 attention was diverted to “Al-Qaeda” and Afghanistan, the far more obvious Saudi/Palestinian connections were largely buried. However, in the aftermath the demands of the terrorists were all granted by the US government. For example, a pre-9/11 video shown on Al Jazeera in 2002 had one of the terrorists, Abdulaziz Al-Omari, saying, “This is a message to all the infidels and to America. Leave the Arabian Peninsula defeated and stop supporting the coward Jews in Palestine or you will suffer the bitterness of defeat in the world and afterworld.” 3 What did the US government do in response to the attacks? They endorsed a Palestinian state, withdrew troops from Saudi Arabia two years later, and ordered the invasion of Afghanistan. The first two out of these three things were directly connected to the men responsible and to their demands; the third was largely unconnected, and yet to this day is still held up as the main connection to the attacks.
Let me reiterate, this is not a conspiracy theory – it is just that some inconvenient facts end up being ignored by the media, and so this becomes the story. I don’t believe that the whole truth has yet been revealed about 9/11, but it seems to me that if it ever does, it may well have far more to say about Ramallah and Riyadh than about Kabul and Kandahar.
But all this begs a much wider question about conspiracy theories in general and to what degree Christians should or shouldn’t listen to them. Here, then, are seven brief points to bear in mind when considering this issue: