September 23, 2009 No.

'Al-Sharq Al-Awsat' Columnist on Arab 9/11 Conspiracy Theories: 'They Feed Our Illusions'

In a September 9, 2009 op-ed in the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, titled "They Feed Our Illusions," Mshari Al-Zaydi offered his thoughts on Arab 9/11 conspiracy theories and the reasoning behind the phenomenon of these theories.

Following is the op-ed, in the original English: [1]

"The Reality... Is That Those Who Carried Out the September 11 Attacks Were Muslim Youths"

"Those who carried out the 11 September 2001 attacks - were they extremist Serbian nationalists? No it was the Israeli Mossad - no, pardon me, it was a U.S. group of Seventh Day Adventists! Not at all, the one who carried out the terrible attacks was the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency [CIA]!

"The suggestions and imaginary illusions continue to pour in the direction of evading the real consequences of the reality - which is that those who carried out the September 11 attacks were Muslim youths who believed in a hard-line interpretation of Islam, who are led by Osama bin Laden, and who are encouraged, and were then encouraged, by millions of Muslims.

"The idea that the Serbs were the ones who carried out the September 11 attacks in revenge for U.S. interference in the Serbs' war against Bosnia and the Croats was pronounced by Hasanayn Haykal, the symbol of Arab political journalists who follow the pan-Arab direction. He said this days after the explosions took place (in the Lebanese Al-Safir newspaper, October 1, 2001).

"The idea that the attacks were carried out by the Israeli Mossad (the source of all evils and of mysterious events that some do not have the stamina to investigate and scrutinize) was suggested by Islamist writer Fahmi Huwaydi, who believed that Al-Qaeda could not carry out such an operation, but that the Mossad could (Kuwaiti Al-Watan newspaper, September 25, 2001).

"As for the idea that the explosions were carried out by a U.S. group called the Seventh Day Adventists, this was pronounced by Mustafa Mahmud, host of the 'Science and Belief' program (Al-Ahram, Egypt, September 22, 2001).

"All these suggestions and scenarios indicate the extent of the control that wishful thinking has over us. This is because the common factor among all these ideas is to put the responsibility on the shoulders of a party other than the Arab and Muslim party - i.e., a party that is not us. I remember that there were some who spoke of the involvement of the Colombian drug cartels in these attacks. What is important is that the involved side is someone other than us, even if it's a blue jinn. Those who make these suggestions do not burden themselves with thinking about and analyzing the events in order to reach the closest possible point to the truth - as researcher Saqr Abu-Fakhr says in his book 'Religion and the Mob.'

"From this, we can understand the enthusiastic celebrations with which our Arab media, and our semi- and even quarter-intellectuals greeted the delusions of the French journalist Thierry Meyssan - that what took place on September 11 was merely a 'terrifying deception' carried out by the United States itself, and hence it killed 5,000 people, and bombed the Defense Department building and the World Trade Center's twin towers!"

"The Main Purpose of All These Contorted Ideas Is to Kill the Questions and to Exonerate the Cultural Self from Responsibility"

"The main purpose of all these contorted ideas is to kill the questions and to exonerate the cultural self from responsibility. If the ones who carried out these explosions were Serbs, the Mossad, Seventh Day Adventists, Colombian gangs, or the CIA, it would be meaningless to question us about extremism, the culture of fanaticism and religious excess, the need to revise the concepts that establish religious violence, and all this continuous headache of questions that keep hammering at the mind of the society. The matter is easy with these conspiratorial illusions, and presenting critical questions becomes meaningless 'intellectual luxury' and verbosity.

"With these images, the entire issue is reduced to saying that there are conspiracies that no one knows about except those in the know - but we [ourselves] are a perfect nation with a healthy society, culture, and civilization (where are all these now?!). But we are targeted and warred upon. We are the main preoccupation of the world. The world wants to oppress us, prevent us from rising, and rob us of our wealth.

"Conspiracy is neither an illusion nor an abstract idea; it is part of the world of politics, and it has happened, and still is happening. The aim is not to deny its existence or to ridicule the fact that it takes place at certain periods and in specific cases, and that it will take place again - because conspiracy is a part of the practice of political war. Many people in the world are obsessed with conspiracy theories, and there are films and novels about these people, who cannot see anything in front of them besides conspiracy or potential conspiracy."

"Societies Free of Injured Pride, Historic-Role Complex, And Regrets... Do Not Allow [Conspiracy Theorists] to Make Decisions on Important and Sensitive Issues... [But] We Continuously Enable These People "

"However, societies that are free of injured pride, historic-role complex, and regrets of being backward in civilization do not allow such people to make decisions on important and sensitive issues. In these societies, such issues are studied with complete, or as close as possible to complete, objectivity - so as to protect the state and decision-making from the impact of fleeting emotional. Even if some hysterical people, such as the journalist Thierry Meyssan, were to emerge at certain times, as a fleeting fit of hysteria, they soon would fade away in the sea of the ruling rationalism.

"But our situation is the opposite of their situation. We continuously enable these people, listen to them, and rely on anything anyone says that will tickle our sentiments and inflame our imagination with sensational conspiracies. The defeat of 1967 was a foreign conspiracy; so were the 1956 aggression and the 1948 catastrophe. The appointment of Anwar al-Sadat as president of Egypt was a conspiracy. Saddam's invasion of Kuwait was a conspiracy, and the west deliberately enticed Saddam into it. Osama bin Laden is a conspiracy. All the religious fanaticism, and the dozens, even hundreds, of suicide bombers who flood our land with blood and torn bodies are nothing but tools of a conspiracy that is managed from abroad (the nature and type of this abroad vary according to the prevailing circumstances and enemies).

"This type of thinking reflects a deep-rooted perplexity, and a continuous fear of facing up to the naked truth. While facing up to the truth is bitter and painful, it is temporary bitterness and pain that will soon go away - and putting up with that is better and more beneficial than resorting to intellectual drugs and evasion tricks."

"If Our Problem with Our Prevailing Way of Thinking Were Restricted to the September 11 Explosions - The Situation Would Be Easy"

"Does [facing up to the truth] mean self-hatred and shedding one's identity and culture? This question is meaningless, because man cannot shed his skin; if he did he would turn into an appalling freak, or perhaps he would die, because the skin is what protects the body, and hence the soul that uses the parts of the body."

"Therefore, this question, which is presented always whenever the idea of self-criticism is put forward, is meaningless. If our problem with our prevailing way of thinking were restricted to the September 11 explosions, the situation would be easy, and we would believe the conspiracy theories, be they the Serbian scenario, the Mossad scenario, the Colombian scenario, or even the blue jinn scenario.

"But our problem is not limited to the story of September 11. Prior to, and following, the September 11 events, we went through dozens of crises that have led us to this reality, which I do not think pleases any rational Muslim or Arab."

"If We Do Not Change Our Way of Thinking - We Wil Continue To Repeat These Saddening Distractions

"In a nutshell: The solution, before we go through any talk or sidelines, is that if we do not change our way of thinking, we will continue to repeat these saddening distractions in an absurd and tragic way. We repeat the same words at every problem. It is said that you will not get a different result if you are using the same method!

"I say these words as in a few days we will mark the eighth anniversary of September 11, 2001. We will remember that many of us celebrated it and its deeds, while at the same time the ideas of the conspiracy and the foreign side became widespread. I do not know how we can take pride in a deed - yet at the same time be pleased when someone tells us that foreign elements carried out that deed, and that [the perpetrator] was not us!

"[The famous Arab poet] Abu-Al-Ala Al-Maarri (973-1057) was right when he said: 'In every generation, there are falsehoods to condemn it; has any generation ever been uniquely well-guided?'"


[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), September 9, 2009. The text has been lightly edited for clarity; subheadings added by MEMRI.