September 13, 2002 Special Reports No. 9

The Events of September 11 and the Arab Media: The New Antisemitic Myth

September 13, 2002
Special Reports No. 9

In March 2002, MEMRI released a study of the Arab media's response to the events of September 11, titled, "A New Antisemitic Myth in the Middle East Media: The September 11 Attacks Were Perpetrated by the Jews." The study, with a foreword by Congressman Tom Lantos, is available online at and as a PDF file at: .

Since the release of MEMRI's study - and regardless of the information accumulated about the identities of the perpetrators - officials, journalists, and religious leaders throughout the Arab and Muslim world have continued to claim that the perpetrators of the attacks were not Arabs or Muslims. The claim that American and or Jewish/Israeli elements carried out the attacks has become an accepted, albeit false, and common myth in the Arab world, to the point that U.S. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell have been accused of masterminding the attacks.

This updated report, which is based on research compiled over the past five months, reveals another trend that has emerged in the Arab media whereby Arab writers have begun to base their fictitious allegations on the widely discredited "research" of Western sources such as former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy. The apparent intent of the Arab writers is to add credibility to their false allegations by relying on Western sources whose claims they erroneously believe will be readily accepted by a Western audience.

Senior Arab Sources

A. Israel/ Mossad/ the Jews are Involved in the Attacks
The Iraqi daily newspaper Babil - owned and edited by Saddam Hussein's son, Uday - raised the assumption that "it is possible that the Zionist entity will seek an opportunity to carry out a terror attack inside the U.S. in order to push it to begin a war against Baghdad… the Zionist entity has elements which allow it to penetrate there [into the U.S.]." According to the newspaper, media sources accept fabricated stories which are intended to cover up Israeli involvement, "similar to what occurred during the first hours following the events of September 11th [2001] [1]…" A similar idea was also raised in an article in the Saudi daily Al-Watan and in the Palestinian daily Al-Quds. [2]

In an interview with the Egyptian Islamist website, Egyptian Mufti Dr. Ahmad Al-Tayyeb mentioned, a television report which, according to him, documented a group of Israelis who were deported from the U.S. because they videotaped the attack, "meaning they knew that it was about to happen. I am not saying that the Jews, the Muslims, or others carried out the attack; these are things that we don't know… [in the past] the U.S. has used these events as an excuse to destroy the Muslim world and to blame Islam for being the religion of terror and radicalism." [3]

Deputy Chairman of the Egyptian People's Council Dr. Abdallah Omar Nassif also speculated that the attacks were planned by Jews: "It is possible that September 11th was planned by the Jews, who needed an excuse to do whatever they wish so no one could compete with, check, or stop them." [4]

Meanwhile, the Saudi Ambassador in Kuwait claims that Jews were trying to distort the positive image of the Muslim religion and to push away suspicions regarding their own involvement in the events of September 11. [5]

B. The U.S. Was Involved in the Attacks
The senior Palestinian diplomat in Dubai, Salim Abu Sultan, said in an exclusive interview with the Gulf News daily: "America is always planning ahead [what it wants], as it planned the recent attacks on September 11th, and blamed bin Laden and the Muslims. But not a single Muslim was involved in this… if they [the Americans] will go on with such behavior, they will suffer terribly in the future." [6]

In his article in the United Arab Emirates daily Al-Bayan [7], columnist Tal'at Shahin asserted that President Bush and Israel profit from the events of September 11. Shahin notes three potential American suspects who he claims would have profited:

First, the military clique surrounding President George Bush Jr., which as a result of the attacks would gain an increase in the military budget from Congress. Second, the owners of the large economic corporations who would profit from military contracts likely to be signed with the U.S. government. Third, the oil and energy corporations, which are likely to transport oil of the Caspian Sea through Afghanistan into the Indian Ocean, and as a result of such projects, the columnist claims, Bush's own family will be the main profiteer, along with Israel or the entire Zionist project, which could then destroy the Palestinian Authority.

An article appearing in Egyptian government newspaper Al Ahram Al-masai that was authored by Morsi Attallah, stated: "Evidence indicates that the executors of the attacks on New York's World Trade Centre on September 11 obtained logistical support from ground back-up teams who operated remote detonators and sounded the alarm in the twin-towers so as to reduce human losses to a minimum. Moreover, three buildings were blasted by using dynamite in full view of the CIA without it lifting a finger. The fact is known that the CIA occupied offices on the seventh and ninth floors of the twin-towers. Given that the alarm was sounded, with the purpose of reducing human losses, it would be obvious that the target of the attack was the offices of the CIA on the seventh and ninth floors. There might also have been other targets but not among them the random killing of thousands of innocent people. The question now is: can an operation of such magnitude have been planned and managed so accurately from a cave in Afghanistan? And can it have been actually mounted by an Islamist group?" [8]

'Reliable' Western Sources

A. Former German Minister Andreas Von Bülow
The views of former German state minister Andreas von Bülow, who authored a book on German and American intelligence and security agencies, were reported by the Saudi daily Al-Watan. [9] Von-Bülow expanded on his opinions in a January 13, 2002 interview with the German daily der Tagesspiegel. In the interview, von Bülow raised several questions: why the identities of the perpetrators were revealed immediately, as if prepared in advance; why seven of the men whose names were announced as perpetrators were later found to be alive; why an anonymous British flight engineer maintained that the airplanes were crashed into the WTC by remote control [a claim that von Bülow said should be examined]; why prior to the attack, insurance deals totaling some $15 billion were carried out, from which someone had to have profited [von Bülow indicated that this point too needed to be clarified].

In general, von Bülow, like others before him, claimed that the attack was in line with the ideological-political framework of the East-West conflict cultivated by the likes of former U.S. national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski and Professor Samuel Huntington, so that the U.S. would be able to seize military bases in the area [of Afghanistan] and control its natural gas and oil reserves as well as the drug trade. Von Bülow added that from his experience in service of the country he had learned, among other things, that such an attack could not have been carried out without the help of security apparatuses and a country's backing.

B. Western Media Report on Alleged Israeli Spy Ring
Many reports and articles in the Arab media relied on one report of an alleged "arrest" of an Israeli spy ring in the U.S. [10]

The Saudi daily Al-Watan claimed that Fox News' anchor reported that 60 of the arrested Israelis who are suspected of belonging to the espionage ring were investigated with regards to the September 11 attacks, and that American investigators suspect that some of these Israelis had prior knowledge of the planning of the attacks and did not report it to the American authorities. [11]

According to many articles in the Arab media, "Israeli espionage in the U.S." has become central evidence pointing to Israel's involvement in the September 11 attacks. For example, Hassan Suweilim, a retired Egyptian general known for his antisemitic writings, wrote in the Emirates' daily Al-Bayan: "The American investigative apparatuses announced that the spy ring [which was arrested] - meaning the Israeli intelligence apparatus - has concrete information that a large attack against vital American strategic targets between [the dates of] September 9-11 was imminent. Furthermore, eighteen hours prior to the occurrence of the attacks [they had information] that New York's Twin Towers would be that attack's main target. However, in accordance with the orders of the intelligence commanders in Israel, they kept silent and did not tell their American colleagues. The only thing they did was to warn the Jewish community about what was going to happen - which explains the absence of 1,478 Jews from work at the World Trade Center on the day of the attack… the [female] reporter [sic] Carl Cameron from the television network Fox News noted that: 'a number of Israelis knew that the date of the attack was September 11 [but] didn't warn the American authorities' and that 'a group of Israelis who are espionage experts in the Western world were [also] uncovered in North Carolina…'" [12]

Muhammad Bakri, a columnist for the Egyptian opposition paper Al-Usbu', claimed that the U.S.'s deportation of more than 120 Israelis charged with espionage indicates "the direct involvement of these Israelis in the September 11 events." The goal of the [espionage] ring was, he said, to direct the American reaction to Iraq, Libya, and the Sudan. Later, it could utilize this opportunity to strike at the Arab countries and to expel the rest of the Palestinians. Bakri added, "The Israeli ring intended to carry out its plan by means of 68 people working in American airports, from whom it would obtain sensitive information about the secret codes of the Pentagon computer, and by means of 22 American Jews who believe that suicide was the basic way to be rid of the torment of this world." [13]

The PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reported what the Washington-based Arab strategic expert Mundhir Suleiman said at a press conference held at the Arab League's think tank the Zayid Center for Coordination and Follow-Up in Abu Dhabi. Suleiman based his talk on the "facts" about the Israeli espionage ring in the U.S. and its connection to September 11, referring to alleged American intelligence reports of espionage activity by Israeli art students in the U.S., including, over 130 separate incidents. Suleiman claimed that spies who had been arrested drew up detailed maps of federal buildings and had in their possession pictures of top federal officials. He added that there could be a connection between Israeli intelligence and the events of September 11 because a third of the Israeli students who belonged to the spy ring lived in the same neighborhood as Muhammad Atta and three of his assistants. [14]

Fringe Western Media Sources

A. Thierry Meyssan
The Arab papers reported broadly on the theory of French journalist Thierry Meyssan. Meyssan is the author of L'effroyable Imposture ["The Frightening Deceit"], a book about the September 11 attacks. Meyssan claims that the attacks were a ruse planned by the American government. Meyssan's theory was based primarily on photos of the damaged Pentagon, where, he said, no fragments of the crashed plane were found.

Like Mundhir Suleiman, Meyssan also spoke at the Zayid Center for Coordination and Follow-Up in Abu Dhabi. His talk, titled "Who masterminded the attacks of September 11th?," was summarized by the Center, which referred to him as "the famous French author and writer," and was reported on by the Egyptian weekly October, the Saudi Gazette, and the UAE daily Khaleej Times. In its summary, the Zayid Center wrote, "The American military - to further its interest and hegemony over the world - was responsible for the attacks."

Meyssan claimed that the perpetrators of the September 11 operation were American military men, and that the attacks were carried out to support the "myth of Islamic terrorists." He said that a similar operation had already been carried out in 1961, when the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff planned attacks within the U.S. against Americans - except that President Kennedy's immediate intervention had thwarted its implementation.

As evidence that the perpetrators were from the American military, Meyssan cited their ability to call the Pentagon en route using codes known only to Pentagon staff.

Meyssan claimed that the U.S. was ruled by a shadow government that was handling U.S. affairs and could easily replace the official government.

"It was not logical," Meyssan claimed, "that a plane could enter Pentagon airspace without being shot down. Moreover, a photo taken a few minutes after the event showed no evidence of fire, and there was also no hole in the building where the plane had allegedly penetrated it." Meyssan depicted Osama bin Laden as a CIA agent who had been treated in an American hospital in Dubai two months before September 11. There, he said, bin Laden had been visited by a top CIA official. [15]

Other newspapers also addressed Meyssan's theory. Among them were the Palestinian weekly Al-Bayadir Al-Siyasi[16] and the Egyptian weekly Akhir Sa'a.[17] Other papers actually interviewed Meyssan, among them Al-Ahram Al-Arabi[18] and Al-Watan of Saudi Arabia. [19]

B. Jeffrey Steinberg

Jeffrey Steinberg, an editor of Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.'s Executive Intelligence Review,[20] who has appeared on Al-Jazeera and whose articles are regularly translated into Arabic by the Saudi daily Al-Watan claimed to be the one who uncovered the "Israeli spy ring" that was later used by the Arab media. [21]

C. Gordon Thomas

Gordon Thomas, a newspaper correspondent and the author of dozens of books, several of them on intelligence, wrote an article that was translated in the Saudi daily Al-Watan. In the article, Thomas said, "The Israeli intelligence service chose to pass on its own intelligence to Washington through its contacts in French and Egyptian intelligence agencies because it did not believe its previous warnings of an impending attack by the bin Laden network had been taken seriously enough in Washington." [22]

D. Michael Collins Piper

An article by revisionist historian Michael Collins Piper, who authored a book on president Kennedy's assassination that claimed the Mossad played a key role in the assassination, was translated in the Saudi English-language daily Arab News. The article attempts to prove that Jews use suicide in terror operations in order to support the conjecture that they were involved in the September 11 suicide attacks. [23]

E. "Private Investigators" Joe Wallis and Korins Mey

According to the Israeli-Arab weekly Al-Senara,[24] American private investigators Joe Wallis [sic] and Korins Mey [sic] [25] claimed that "accusing Arab terrorists" of perpetrating the September 11 events was a part of a conspiracy. To substantiate their claim, the investigators said that the attacks were carried out by remote control [using American technology developed many years ago in order to prevent airliner hijackings]. The paper added that the two said that no emergency signals were sounded, the planes' black boxes were empty, and there had been no Arab names on the planes' passenger lists. The investigators were also reported by the paper to have said that the towers' collapse could only have been caused by explosive devices inside the buildings.

F. Holocaust Denier Roger Garaudy

The Saudi daily Al-Watan published an article by the Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy, in which he claimed that the September 11 attacks were an American conspiracy involving the cooperation of extremist Islamic groups formed in the days of the struggle against the Soviets. According to Garaudy, the planes could have been directed by technological means, with no real need for humans; the names that allegedly were those of the perpetrators were names of Islamic extremists known to the Americans who could easily be connected with the attacks.

Like others, Garaudy also claimed that the attacks corresponded with the American strategy to take control of Central Asian oil reserves - a strategy led by the largely Jewish Pentagon hawks. Further proof, he said, was the absence of 4,000 Jews from their place of work at the World Trade Center on that day, as well as the Jews' profits from stock market deals made using their prior information on the attacks. [26]

G. Former Ku Klux Klan Leader David Duke

The PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida published an article by white supremacist David Duke, who served as national director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. In his article, Duke claimed that "Israeli leaders have launched terrorist attacks on America disguised as Arab attacks, because they knew that any Arab terrorist attack on America advances their own aims… the bigger the attack against America, the better it is for Israel."

According to Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Duke said, "There are two solid pieces of evidence indicating the Mossad's prior knowledge of the September 11 attacks." He goes on to enumerate: "Having only one Israeli casualty among the 4,500 dead at the WTC is simply a statistical impossibility," and "The Israeli daily, Ha'aretz, also confirmed the prior warnings to Israel… an Israeli communication company, Odigo, with offices in both the World Trade Center and in Israel, received a number of warnings just two hours before the attack" [27]

[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), September 4, 2002.

[2] An article by Jeff Steinberg appeared in the Saudi government controlled daily Al-Watan which read: "there is an increasing concern among intelligence experts in the U.S., in Europe and the Western world, and even among the moderates within Israel, that Sharon and his gang in the Israeli Mossad, Israeli military and the Israeli Mafia will carry out a terror attack against American targets in order that Iraq will be blamed for it… and then President Bush will have to launch a senseless war against Iraq." Al-Watan (Saudi-Arabia), September 6th, 2002. This article was also published in the Palestinian daily Al-Quds on September 9, 2002.

[3] July 15th, 2002

[4] Saudi Gazette, May 24, 2002.

[5] Asrar Al-Quds, Issue #34, April 2002. "An exceptional proof" to the involvement in the attacks appeared in Letters to the Editor in the London daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, by Taha Muhammad Shawat. He claimed that "[there is] a possibility that the Jews knew in advance [about the attacks] through the use of Kabala and magic…" along with intelligence penetration capabilities and since the Afghans are Jews in origin. Al-Quds Al-Arabi, (London), May 25, 2002.


[7] Al-Bayan, (UAE), April 26, 2002.

[8] Al Ahram Al-masai (Egypt), August 5, 2002.

[9] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), January 25, 2002. The paper also claimed that von Bülow was profoundly impressed by the "theory and the professional analysis of Dr. Muhammad Khalaf, a retired Egyptian general who was a member of the Nasser Military Academy and of the State College for Defense Studies in London, who gave a lecture at the Asian Studies Department of Cairo University on December 5, 2001. In the lecture, Khalaf provided detailed military data "proving" that this kind of operation demanded high military proficiency and secret infiltration of the American oversight and control apparatuses – something beyond the capability of bin Laden and Al-Qa'ida.

[10] The report was compiled by Karl Camron of Fox News.

[11] Al-Watan (Saudi) December 15, 2002.

[12] Al-Bayan, (UAE), July 12, 2002. In the past Suweilim wrote an article in the Egyptian weekly October on the personality of the Jews. Suweilim depicted the Jews as people who spread corruption, wars and evil, break agreements, have chronic paranoia and invent lies in order to achieve their goals. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 166.

[13] Al-Usbu' (Egypt), March 11, 2002. Bakri added that the leader of the New York spy ring was a former top official in Israeli military intelligence, and had an office in the World Trade Center, employing some 160 Israelis, most of whom were members of the ring, in addition to 45 American and European Jews. Bakri said that the leader had decided, suddenly and with no advance warning, to sell the WTC in July 2001 – that is, two months before the September events – and that he had asked the Israeli Jews working there to take the day off and not to come to work.

[14] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (May 28, 2002). A comprehensive compilation of the "Israeli spy affair" can be found in the Iranian Foreign Ministry mouthpiece, the conservative Iran Times daily. The paper printed a list of suspicions (some of which had been mentioned in the past) such as: the arrest of two Israelis with a truck and traces of explosives; the arrest of two Mossad agents with rifles and explosives in the Mexican Congress [sic] building; Mossad agents employed by the Urban Moving Systems company, whose owners fled; dozens of people posing as art students who set up kiosks with spy equipment across New York City; Israeli communications companies, particularly Odigo, that warned Israelis two hours prior to the attack; the rapid release of the Israelis who were arrested and the silencing of Carl Cameron's [sic] Fox News report of the matter; the media silence on the links between Osama bin Laden and the CIA; the entire attack corresponding with previous American plots to seize Afghanistan in order to control the Afghan oil pipeline stretching from the Caspian Sea to India, by the Unocal company, which employs Afghan president Hamid Karzai and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad; the fact the that 19 names given as the names of the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks did not appear on the passenger list – one is the name of a man who was dead at the time, and the other was found to be living in Tunisia. Tehran Times (Iran), July 8, 2002.

[15] October (Egypt), April 28, 2002.

[16] Al-Bayadir Al-Siyassi (Palestinian Authority), March 23, 2002, August 24, 2002.

[17] Aaher Saa (Egypt), May 29, 2002.

[18] Al-Ahram Al-Arabi (Egypt), June 1, 2002.

[19] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), March 17, 2002.


[21] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), December 21, 2001. The article in which Steinberg claimed he uncovered the Israeli spy affair in the U.S. was published in Al-Watan on December 14, 2001. On March 22, Steinberg claimed in Al-Watan that the Jewish daily The Forward reported that five students were arrested in the U.S. near Muhammad Atta's apartment.

[22] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), June 21, 2002. The original article in English can be found at

[23] For example, a 1986 quote by the "New York-based leader of the terrorist Jewish Defense League, Victor Vancier," [sic]: "If you think the Shias in Lebanon are capable of fantastic acts of suicidal terrorism, the Jewish underground will strike targets that will make Americans gasp: 'How could Jews do such things?'" Also, the claim that suicide is an integral part of Jewish history, as in the story of Masada, and other examples from Victor Ostrovsky's book on the Mossad, The Other Side of Deception. Arab News (Saudi Arabia), December 30, 2001.

[24] Al-Senara (Israel) March 22, 2002.

[25] An extensive Web search turned up no such names.

[26] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), March 7, 2002.

[27] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), January 14, 2002. The article also appears on David Duke's Web site:

Share this Report: