As with the 9/11 attacks, conspiracy theories concerning the January 2015 terror attacks in Paris, at the offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and at a Jewish supermarket, spread throughout the Arab world and Iran; they claim variously that the attacks were the work of France, the French right, the Jews, and/or Israel.
Among the conspiracy theories - which were published alongside numerous articles condemning the attacks - were those that claimed that France was behind the attacks, with the aim of justifying a military invasion of Libya, just as the U.S. had carried out 9/11 to provide a pretext to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. Some propagators of this conspiracy theory urged Muslims not to apologize for the attacks because they were in no way responsible for them.
Others stated that the French right had carried them out, seeking to embarrass the French government and increase its own power in parliament. Articles blaming the Jews and Israel, which included anti-Semitic themes, argued that the attacks were intended to undermine Arab/Muslim-Europe relations, rein in Europe's current pro-Arab drift, and, most of all, block official European institutions' support for a Palestinian state.
These conspiracy theories were harshly criticized by some Arab writers, who argued that they disregarded reality and called on Arabs and Muslims to recognize that some Muslims had indeed committed and were still committing terror operations and that this was rooted in economic, social and cultural factors that needed to be addressed.
This report reviews the conspiracy theories and the responses to them.
The Attacks Were A French Plot To Justify An Upcoming French Invasion Of Libya; Muslims Should Not Condemn The Attacks
Several articles and social media posts called the attacks a French conspiracy aimed at justifying an upcoming invasion of Libya, just as, so they said, the U.S. carried out 9/11 to create a pretext to invade Afghanistan and Iraq.
Arab Writers: The Paris Attacks Are A Reprise Of 9/11, Aimed At Justifying France's Upcoming Invasion Of Islamic Countries
The press in Algeria, the native land of the family of Sa├»d and Ch├®rif Kouachi, the perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo attack, published a number of articles claiming that France itself had carried out the Paris attacks. Jallal Naili, a columnist for the Algerian news website algeriaworld.net, wrote: "A preliminary examination of the Paris attacks on the newspaper Charlie Hebdo... shows that this time the superpowers want to manage the game from France, after it was managed from the U.S. following 9/11... which sparked Islamophobia and fostered unprecedented public apprehension in America...
"The same scenario is being implemented today, but in a new guise, given the differences in time, place and tools [used]. [To this end] a new organization, known as ISIS, was set up... The Paris attack is nothing but a movie [whose plot is] very much like that of the 9/11 explosions... with the same aim: intervention and occupation of countries - this time North Africa - under the pretext of the fight against ISIS... The attack on Charlie Hebdo has the same aim as 9/11, by means of which the U.S. justified its invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and beat the drums of the war on terror."
In the Algerian daily Al-Maw'id, journalist Hakim M. raised questions about the Charlie Hebdo attack and about ISIS's claim of responsibility, noting that France, which he claimed has close ties to ISIS elements, had planned the attack. The ransom that France has paid to the terrorist organizations in Libya for the release of its nationals, he said, proved these ties. He also warned that damage to mosques in France and harm to the Muslim community there following the attacks would have damaging repercussions for French national security.
Ahmed 'Ezz Al-Arab, deputy chairman of the nationalist Egyptian Wafd party, stated that just as the U.S. had carried out the 9/11 attacks to justify the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq so that it could take over the oil and gas reserves there, so Israel and France were behind the Charlie Hebdo attack - the Mossad to promote Jewish immigration to Israel, and France to justify its plan to invade Libya and steal its oil reserves. He wrote: "France's direct interest in this crime is to justify the implementation of its imperialist plans in Africa, and, first and foremost, to plunder eastern Libya's oil and actualize its agreement with the U.S. to partition Libya. Likewise, [the crime is aimed at] justifying the re-occupation of several Francophone countries in Africa, such as Mali and its neighbors, using the war on terror as a pretext..."
Journalists On Social Media: The Muslims Do Not Need To Apologize For The Attacks Because They Were Not Responsible
'Abdallah Al-Athbah, editor of the Qatari daily Al-Arab, likewise spread the conspiracy theory and called upon Muslims not to apologize for the attack. He wrote on his Twitter account (A_ALAthbah): "It seems that France wants to invade Libya under the pretext of 'fighting terrorism.' This, after occupying Mali under the same pretext. This operation [i.e., the attack] is a fitting excuse to murder Muslims."
Al-Athbah also retweeted a tweet by user 'Abdallah Al-Mutairi, who wrote: "France searched for justification to establish a military base to support [General Khalifa] Haftar and his militias against the Libyan revolutionaries. [They] said: Let's carry out a [terrorist] operation to support our position on the war on 'terror.'"
In other tweets, Al-Athbah called on Muslims to "man up" and not apologize for actions for which they were not responsible - just as the Christians and Jews do not apologize for the actions of their countries.
'Amer Al-Kubaisi, an anchor for the Qatari Al-Jazeera TV channel, also claimed that the attack was the result of a conspiracy and was completely unconnected to Muslims. He tweeted: "What do Muslims have to do with the French magazine incident[?]!!! How do you know they are Muslims!! These are all stories [propagated] by international intelligence apparatuses. Do not condemn [the attacks]!!"
Al-Kubaisi also lamented that the attack would harm the status of the Muslims in France: "Muslims in France have social power and associations, and their mosques are packed. This attack damaged all that. Millions of Muslims have nothing to do with it - but it is they who will be blamed for it."
Yousuf Al-Quait tweeted under the Arabic #CharlieHebdo hashtag that was launched immediately after the attack: "I knew Europe wouldn't sit idly by in the face of Islam's rapid growth in its territory, and that it would manufacture another September 11 to create a pretext to end the spread of Islam."
Columnists: The Jews And The French Radical Right Are Responsible For The Charlie Hebdo Attack
Some columnists accused the Jews and the French radical right of carrying out the attacks. Palestinian Jordanian writer As'ad Al-'Azouni, known for his anti-Semitic articles, wrote, in an article titled "The Tragedy of the Satirical [Weekly] Charlie Hebdo - Look For The Jews And The French Extreme Right," on the Jordanian website All Of Jordan, accusations that the Jews and France's extreme right wing were behind the attack, and also behind the cartoons insulting the Prophet Muhammad. He noted that the Jews' motive in the attacks was their desire to harm Islam and stop the wave of support among official European circles for the establishment of a Palestinian state. He claimed further that the Jews were also behind 9/11, and had thus dragged the U.S. into the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and into the War on Terror, to ease pressure on Israel over the Palestinian issue. As for the radical right, Al-'Azouni claimed that it sought to use the attacks to embarrass the French government and strengthen its own political standing in parliament.
Al-'Azouni wrote: "...The perpetrators of this terrorist attack are the Jews and France's right wing... The Jews have targeted all of Europe, and they are beginning with France. I'm certain that this year the West will see massive waves of terrorism that will, without any investigation, be attributed to Muslims." Al-'Azouni claimed that the attacks were intended to foster an anti-Islamic climate, in light of "the clear bias of the Western public, the establishment, and the media towards the Palestinian issue following the recent criminal Israeli aggression against Gaza," and "Western parliaments' support for recognizing a Palestinian state."
He said further: "The right wing in France is the Jews' accomplice in this sort of crime, as it seeks gains without regard to the means or to the outcome. As is well known, France's right wing wants more parliamentary seats, and also seeks to embarrass the government. Likewise, its interests are aligned with the Jews' interests, just as in [other] Western countries, and in the U.S. itself. It has not escaped our notice that the Jews and right wing in the U.S. carried out the attacks on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, in order to ward off American pressure on Israel to formulate a reasonable solution to the Palestinian issue. They dragged [the U.S.] into three wars: Afghanistan, Iraq, and, later, the War on Terror...
"[The Paris attack] has a double goal. First, [it is intended] to divert the new Western turning point on the Palestinian issue and to keep the West supporting only Israel. [Its] second, and more dangerous, [goal is] to persecute Islam in the West in general, since [this religion] it is still attracting people in the West, despite the repercussions of 9/11..."
Cartoon in Omani Paper: Israel controls both the terrorist organizations and the Western media, pitting them against each other (Source: Al-Watan, Oman, January 13, 2015)
Daria Khaled, a Sudanese columnist in the London-based Qatari daily Al-Arabi Al-Jadid, also claimed that the attacks in Paris were a Jewish and Zionist plot aimed at harming the Islamic ummah, as, she claimed, Theodor Herzl and the Elders of Zion had planned in 1897: "When all of Paris was grief-stricken because of the attacks carried out by the Kouachi brothers against the newspaper Charlie Hebdo... it was unaware of the deception calmly being formulated outside France's borders. Since all the evidence on the ground points to the fact that we are dealing with a Jewish deception, I can say that the perpetrators of the attack were offered lavish enticements to carry it out... This is a complete deception, and if as a result Parisians adopt the slogan 'We are all Charlie,' as is happening now, the Jews see it as a success and a victory that gladdens them..."
She said that the attacks would achieve their purpose when European countries marginalize the Muslims within their borders, and establish a large U.S.-led international coalition to "eliminate the Muslims on the pretext of purging the globe of terrorists..." She then called on the Muslims not to be fooled by the slogans aimed at harming the Islamic ummah, and to pay attention to the "stratagems of the Zionists and their numerous lackeys in the Arab region, because the Jews' plan was set long ago, when their greatest Satan, Herzl, met in 1897 in Basel, Switzerland with 300 of the cruelest Elders of Zion."
Hamas: The Jews Are Responsible For The Attacks; Every French Jew Immigrating To Israel Will Be A Target For The Resistance
Hamas too claimed that the Jews and Israel were responsible for the Paris attacks. Faiz Abu Shamala, a columnist for Hamas websites, blamed it on what he called the Jews' hatred of Islam since the days of the Prophet Muhammad, and on Israel's desire to distract from its own crimes. He wrote: "...All the Hebrew state media outlets had failed to whitewash the Israeli terrorists in public opinion - until the attack on the French newspaper and, later, the scenario of the killing of the attackers at the Jewish store and the death of four Jews. These events were a lifeline for the Jews, [absolving them of responsibility] for the crime, [and] the sequence of events indicates that it was all for show...
"Was the perverse Jewish mind behind the events in France? Did Israeli intelligence plan the show of explosions? [I ask this] especially in light of the fact that the Mossad director, and the entire Shin Bet team are currently in Paris. This presence raises difficult questions; the answer to them is the miserable sight of the great protest organized by the Jew Hollande, the French president..."
Faiz Abu Shamala (image: Alarab.net)
Abu Shamala added: "History shows that harming Islam is nothing new for the Jews, and that insulting the Prophet Muhammad is not a product of this era. The Jews' hatred [of Islam] was revealed when they demanded compensation for the harm done to the Jews of the Banu Qurayza [tribe] and the Jews of the Arabian Peninsula during the days of the Prophet [Muhammad]. It was again revealed when German-Jewish model Claudia Schiffer made a public appearance 30 years ago dressed in an evening gown embroidered with Koranic versesÔÇª"
The Hamas Refugee Affairs Department issued a communiqu├® blaming Israel for the Paris attacks, particularly the kosher market attack, claiming that it was meant to encourage French Jews to immigrate to Israel. The department threatened that any French Jewish immigrant arriving in Israel would become a target of the resistance, stating: "Zionist propaganda exploits every event to encourage world Jewry to immigrate to Israel. Moreover, Jewish gangs were involved during various periods in attacks meant to encourage Jews to immigrate... Therefore, the hands of the occupation state led by [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu are not far from the events in France, especially the hostage situation at the Jewish restaurant [sic]..."
Hamas Refugee Affairs Department logo
The communiqu├® also warned that "any Jewish immigrant that agrees to immigrate to occupied Palestine will become a target for the Palestinian resistance..."
Iranian Regime Official: Israel, France Behind Paris Attacks
Iran also pointed the finger at France and Israel. Basij commander Mohammad Reza Naqdi said that the Charlie Hebdo attack was a Western-French conspiracy aimed at halting the spread of Islam in Europe: "The Arrogance [i.e., the West], and especially France, were alarmed by the sympathy for Islam in Europe, and all these stories [that the attackers were Muslim]... are in fact their response to this wave of sympathy. These Western plots are intended to prove that Islam is brutal and [that Muslims] must be killed. France is also taking these steps to legitimize its crimes..."
In a speech in Qom, regime official and deputy head of the Assembly of Experts, Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, blamed Israel, saying: "The Zionist regime is the chief director behind the Paris events. Clerics in the Islamic world should beware the fitna plotted by the enemies. Islam is a religion of mercy and compassion, and such extreme steps have no place in Islam.
Cartoons on website close to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps: Israel, ISIS behind Paris attacks (Source: Tasnim, Iran, January 17, 2015)
Saudi Columnist: Attacks Planned By Elements And Regimes Hostile To Muslims
Jasser Al-Jasser, a columnist for the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, also doubted the identity of the perpetrators of the Paris attacks, wondering why France was targeted, rather than other European countries like Denmark and the Netherlands, which also published cartoons and a movie insulting the Prophet Muhammad and Islam. He added that Muslims and Arabs had no interest to harm France, considering its sympathetic policy regarding the Palestinians, which "angered the Israelis and their allies." In light of all this, he asked: "[Were the attacks] intended to embarrass Muslims, have accusatory fingers pointed at them, and place them under surveillance? These actions could not have been planned by Muslims, who want the best for Islam and Muslims. [They] were planned by elements and regimes hostile to Muslims, who work to get them involved in such affairs..."
Arab Writers Oppose Conspiracy Theories: Adopting Them Will Not Improve Our Situation
In response to claims of a Western, Jewish, Israeli and/or French conspiracy responsible for the Paris attacks, several articles were published stating that such theories only make matters worse for Arabs and Muslims and prevent finding a solution to the problem.
Mashari Al-Zaydi, a columnist for the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, rejected the conspiracy theories, calling those who promoted them "guardians of illusions" and "custodians of illusions." He wrote: "As expected with prevailing Arab and Islamic culture, the guardians of illusion have begun brandishing their swords and pikes to defend the sacred calf - the calf of illusion. Here are the latest inventions by the custodians: The crime in France where innocent people were targeted by killers belonging to Islam is nothing but a plot and a deception. Why [else] did the French police kill the two young Algerians instead of arresting them? Answer me - why?!...
"The aim [of the conspiracy-theory mongers] is to vindicate themselves, insulate [themselves from] criticism, spread skepticism, [and claim] that our culture, our behavior, and our actions are blameless. [They claim that] those among us who carried out these crimes were inserted by various intelligence apparatuses, or were motivated by justifiable anger, carrying out the operation to avenge harm to Muslims.
"This response, which moves from claiming responsibility to denying it, is contradictory, and does not even display the slightest shame about this inconsistency..."
'Amru Al-Shubaki, a columnist for the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm, claimed that belief in a conspiracy weakens Arabs and Muslims, and called on them to admit that there are terrorists among them and to work to deal with the problem. He wrote: "The truth is that the deep-seated belief in conspiracy theories will not improve our situation one bit... There are those among Muslims who have adopted takfiri philosophy, and there is a minority who carried out and continues to carry out terrorism in the name of Islam. This is what we should be occupied with, not the question of whether various intelligence apparatuses infiltrated these groups or not... If we dealt with the reasons these two youths were involved in this terrorist attack, and with the cultural, political, and economic problems, and acknowledged that there is deviancy in our religious thought, our situation would have been immeasurably better. This, instead of primitive talk about how the Mossad carried out 9/11 in the U.S. or January 8 in Paris, and instead of talking about the police plotting conspiracies while ignoring the fact that the professional [French] police force determined the identities of the suspects within hours and arrested nine of them, instead of hundreds or thousands, as often happens in our countries...
"We require a fundamental change in our thought process regarding a plot made in 'dark rooms' that we see as a plan by the superpowers to serve their interests..."
'Amru Al-Shubaki( Image: Al-Masri Al-Yawm)
 Algeriaworld.net, January 11, 2015.
 In actual fact, it was Al-Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen, rather than ISIS, that claimed responsibility for the attack on Charlie Hebdo.
 Al-Maw'id (Algeria), January 9, 2015.
 Al-Wafd (Egypt), January 16, 2015.
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No.5923 Editor Of Qatari 'Al-Arab' Daily: Muslims Don't Need To Apologize For 'Charlie Hebdo' Shooting, January 8, 2015.
 See, among other reports, MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 4704, Jordanian Writer: The Jews Use Christian Blood To Make Matzas, May 7, 2012; MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5727, Jordanian Journalist: Israel Sends Boars And Mice To Jordan In Order To Ruin The Agriculture, May 2, 2014; Special Dispatch No. 5278, "Jordanian Journalist: The Jews And The American Right Are Behind Boston Bombing, Just As They Were Behind 9/11," April 18, 2013.
 Allofjo.net, January 8, 2015.
 Al-Arabi Al-Jadid, (London), January 12, 2015.
 According to Islamic tradition, in 628 CE, Muhammad expelled the Jewish tribes of Banu Qaynuqa and Banu Nadir from the city of Medina. The Banu Qurayza tribe was entirely exterminated - the men executed, and the women, children, and property divided among Muslims. Muhammad also subdued the Jews of Khaybar (including the Banu Nadir Jews who had moved there), but allowed them to stay and continue working the land provided that they gave the Muslims of Medina half of their crops. During the days of the second Caliph, 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the Jews were banished from Khaybar and their lands were divided among Muslims.
 Paltimes.net, January 13, 2015.
 Drah.ps, January 12, 2015
 Mehr (Iran), January 14, 2015.
 Iribnews.ir, January 17, 2015.
 Al-Jazirah (Saudi Arabia), January 14, 2015.
 Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), January 11, 2015.
 Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), January 14, 2015.