October 4, 2011 Special Dispatch No. 4180

Qatari Liberal and Former Dean of Islamic Law at Qatar University: Prominence of 9/11 Conspiracy Theories in Arab World Stems from Mentality of Arrogance and Denial

October 4, 2011
Qatar, The Gulf | Special Dispatch No. 4180

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, liberal journalist 'Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari, formerly dean of Islamic Law at Qatar University, condemned the Arabs for continuing to spread conspiracy theories blaming America or Israel for the attacks. Al-Ansari, who has already previously criticized these conspiracy theories,[1] argued that their prominence in the Arab world stems from a mentality of arrogance and denial, and from a tendency to blame others for every disaster.

The following are excerpts from the column:[2]

10 Years after 9/11, "One Thing in the Arab World Remains Unchanged: the Mentality Which Maintains that 9/11 Was an American-Zionist Conspiracy"

"This month 10 years ago, Al-Qaeda raided America and destroyed the towers of the World Trade [Center], killing 3,000 innocent people. [Since then] America has changed, the world has changed and the region [of the Middle East] has changed, witnessing broad and fruitful developments: Women have gained access to senior posts that were [previously] the exclusive domain of men, and the Arab Spring, which is still ongoing and gaining momentum, has arrived. But one thing in the Arab world remains unchanged: the mentality which maintains that 9/11 was an American-Zionist conspiracy [aimed at] destroying the Muslim world.

"A large part of the public, and of the intellectual and religious elites, still believes that it was the Mossad or American intelligence who planned [the attack], in order to lay the blame on the Muslims [and thus provide] an excuse for attacking the Muslim world, taking it over, and fighting Islam on its own soil.

"I shall [never] forget that sad afternoon. Al-Jazeera, reporting live from the scene, presented us with a media expert who proclaimed that, like the Oklahoma [bombing], this too was an operation of the [American] radical right, because our young people did not have the ability to pull it off. [Journalist] Salah Muntasir [likewise] claimed, in his Sept 13, [2001] column in [the Egyptian daily] Al-Ahram, that the Arabs were innocent. And an Islamic leader famous for his moderation proclaimed with great certainty, in a Friday sermon and on satellite channels throughout the world, that America knows that bin Laden and his men are innocent, 'yet it is mobilizing to exterminate the Muslims, out of hostile Crusader motives'! Why [is it so clear that bin Laden is innocent]? Because he had sworn to the Emir of the Faithful, Mullah Omar, that he would refrain from attacking any country, and the shari'a compelled him and his men to uphold this [promise].

"A preacher – a former engineer turned brilliant expert on the miraculous nature of the Koran – declared that it was the Mossad [that perpetrated the attack], because [the Jews] had warned their people not to show up for work on that tragic morning. Also, some Jews were caught taking photos of the event [and laughing] with glee. [Besides], Israel is always the first one the Arabs blame. And the claim [that the Jews did it] became widespread, just like the statements by the former [general] guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, [who blamed] the Mossad for the bombings in Taba, Sharm Al-Sheikh, 'Aqaba, Cairo, and Iraq, and the statements of the former head of the Kuwaiti Reform Association, that the Mossad was behind the bombing of the London Underground! Why? Because it was not perpetrated by Muslims!!...

"What is the irrational root of these conspiracy theories and fantasies that have taken hold of our minds and souls? It is the culture of arrogance and stubbornness that has prevailed in the Arab lands since the 'great fitna' [i.e., the split between the Sunna and the Shi'a] that divided the Muslims and dealt them a deadly blow – an event for which we blame the Jew Ibn Saba,[3] in [an act of] self-exoneration and hatred of the other...

"This eternal devil is behind every single disaster that occurs in the [world]. The Mossad is responsible for the death of [Gamal 'Abd] Al-Nasser and [Yasser] Arafat and [Rafiq] Al-Hariri. [Egyptian entertainer] Su'ad Husni did not commit suicide but died as the result of a conspiracy, and [Princess] Diana was killed because she wanted to marry a Muslim. The invasion of Kuwait was a conspiracy [led] by Ambassador [April] Glaspie, [aimed at] enticing Saddam Hussein and attacking him. All the terrorist bombings in the region are perpetrated by America or the Mossad, and Al-Zarqawi is an imaginary figure invented by the Americans to besmirch the reputation of the mujahideen. Education in our region is [controlled by] American dictates, and the Palestinian reconciliation was prevented by American pressure. Even the earthquake-tsunami was an American conspiracy to paralyze the Asian market!"

"The Culture of Arrogance is a Type of Deception [Based on] Self-Exoneration and Disregard of the Facts"

"One feels embarrassed by these views, which are inexcusable after decisive evidence has been published [proving] Al-Qaeda's responsibility [for the 9/11 attacks]. Do [the people who speak this way] really believe in what they are saying, or [do they speak this way] out of arrogance and stubbornness, or contempt for the people they are misleading? Perhaps, having taken this stance, they are unable to recant...

"It is this culture of arrogance and stubbornness, which has taken over [people's] minds and souls, that prompted [Assad's] media advisor Buthayna Sha'ban – as well as other [advocates of] willful blindness – to describe what is happening in Syria as a Zionist conspiracy aimed at dividing the Arab countries. [The same culture] prompted the lawyers to leap up and rush to Saddam's defense, while ignoring his victims...

"The culture of arrogance is a type of deception [based on] self-exoneration and disregard of the facts... Had a poll been conducted regarding Al-Qaeda's culpability, the majority would have exonerated bin Laden! Are [these people] waiting for him to knock on their door and confess to them? [And if he had,] would they have believed him? After all, he already [confessed]... Khaled Sheikh Muhammad, [believed to be the engineer of 9/11], has already confessed in detail that hitting the World Trade Center with planes was his idea, and that he persuaded bin Laden...

"The culture of arrogance is a hereditary disorder. People absorb it in childhood as something beyond questioning; they are programmed [to think] this way. It is a culture that dominates the collective Arab consciousness, cutting across political and ideological divisions. It causes people to bristle at any external criticism, [whether it concerns] human trafficking or human rights violations in the Arab world. It harks back to the Arab culture of the jahiliyya [i.e., the pre-Islamic era].

"Ten years after the 9/11 tragedy, do these arrogant people have the courage to recant their erroneous [views], admit [their mistake], and apologize to the people they have misled? Or will they stick to their stubbornness, rigidity, and arrogance? The culture of admitting one's errors is a supreme virtue. [Though] it is one of the virtues [extolled by] our faith, it is missing in our societies and actual [behavior]. We must adopt it by shedding the shackles of arrogance and overcoming the culture of denial..."


[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 792, "Qatari Intellectual on the Islamic Roots of Antisemitism and 9/11 Conspiracy Theories," October 4, 2004, Qatari Intellectual on the Islamic Roots of Antisemitism and 9/11 Conspiracy Theories; On the prevalence of 9/11 conspiracy theories in the Arab world, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 4123, "Ten Years after 9/11, Arab Press Continues to Disseminate Conspiracy Theories,"

September 9, 2011, Ten Years after 9/11, Arab Press Continues to Disseminate Conspiracy Theories.

[2] Al-Watan (Qatar), September 19, 2011.

[3] 'Abdallah Ibn Saba is a figure associated with the early Shi'a. According to some accounts, he was a Yemeni Jew who converted to Islam and became a disciple of the fourth Caliph 'Ali bin Abu Talib. Others believe he is a mythical figure invented by the opponents of the Shi'a in order to associate it with Judaism. Ibn Saba is also accused of inciting against the third Caliph, 'Othman bin 'Affan, and bringing about his murder.

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