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memri
October 31, 2001 No.
294

Terror in America (21): Saudi Columnists Condemn Conspiracy Theories and Anti-U.S. Sentiment in the Arab World

Two Saudi columnists recently challenged Arab conspiracy theories. Both aimed their comments primarily atwell-known Islamist Egyptian journalist Fahmi Huweidi who wrote a series of articles in the Saudi press accusing"extremist American militias" or, alternatively, the "Israeli Mossad," of carrying out the terrorist attacks ofSeptember 11. Huweidi was a member of the group of Islamic clerics that issued a fatwa allowing Muslim soldiers inthe American armed forces to participate in the war in Afghanistan. The following are excerpts of the articles:

An article by Saudi columnist, Hamad Abd Al-Aziz Al-'Isa, which appeared in the Egyptian weekly Al-Qahira, blasted Huweidi's charges of conspiracy as presented in two of the latter's articles in the Saudi daily Al-Watan (September 18 and 25, 2001):

"…Huweidi cited 'experts' who maintain that it is highly probable that right-wing American militias are behind this attack… I am stunned [by the way in which] half-truths are presented; is it conceivable that Huweidi could write two articles, each covering three-quarters of a page, without mentioning at all that the only person in the world to issue a fatwa – on October 12, 1996 – calling for the killing of American civilians and military personnel is one of the Afghani Arabs [i.e. bin Laden]?…"

"Second, Prof. Huweidi tried to deny that Arabs were involved in this act of terror by saying that [the operation] required a high level of technical capability in flying planes, in addition to the imagination and inventiveness that are lacking in those Middle Eastern elements to which the acts of terror (of September 11) are attributed! I am amazed at this interpretation, and want to ask Huweidi…:"

"'Didn't Arabs try to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993? Aren't Arabs capable of flying planes? Aren't Arabs responsible for suicide operations in Southern Lebanon and in occupied Palestine? Didn't Arabs come up with the idea of hijacking and blowing up civilian planes in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and then give it up after it turned out that this method failed abysmally in achieving their political goals…?'"

"Third, Huweidi expressed exultation over the U.S.'s misfortune… In my opinion, the success of the terrorist action is a 'tax' paid by the U.S. and the good – yes, 'good' – and peaceful – yes, 'peaceful' – American people because of their civilized treatment of anyone, without exception, who comes to the U.S. legally. I say this from personal experience, and I can swear that anyone who has ever visited the U.S., or lived there, joins me [in this statement]. Does Fahmi Huweidi know that every tourist, even if he looks like an [Islamic] fundamentalist like myself, could have toured the White House, the Capitol buildings, the Supreme Court, and the FBI building? Doesn't Huweidi know the freedom in which the Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. live? Doesn't he know that 'extremist' Islamic preachers curse the U.S. on its own home soil without being harmed – something I witnessed personally?…"

"Fourth, Huweidi cited, and adopted, a suggestion made by a teenage girl on an Internet chat: to establish an international investigative committee to examine 'what happened' (note the genteel expression) [on September 11], because the FBI, Huweidi claims, is, historically, notorious for 'influencing the process of investigation and fabricating its results'… Personally, I maintain that establishing an international investigative committee would be a wonderful idea had the terror attack occurred in some banana republic, but no way after it occurred in Uncle Sam's home! I suggest [to Huweidi] that he show some humility when he puts forth suggestions of this kind… The American legal system is superb, and unequaled with regard to protecting the rights of the accused… Besides, did Huweidi forget that The Washington Post caused President Nixon's resignation?… Wasn't President Reagan investigated over the Iran-gate scandal?… I am embarrassed for Huweidi's selective memory, and leave the decision up to the readers."

"Sixth, Huweidi cites an 'item' from Hizbullah's television channel (notice it's not Reuters), according to which 4,000 Israelis [who] work[ed] at the World Trade Center (notice it doesn't say 'Jews') were all absent from work on the day of the attack! All right; let us analyze this 'item' rationally: The Mossad planned the action and, so as not to harm a single Israeli, reported to the 4,000 Israelis 'perhaps by means of the Internet' not to go to work that day. Of course, 'all' 4,000 Israelis carried out the order they were given without asking why, and also did not report it to their 460,000 colleagues!!! I was in shock when I read these words, and I leave the decision regarding this 'item' up to the readers."

"Seventh… Huweidi posited the question, 'Would the U.S. have been attacked had it been less biased towards Israel?' My small brain is incapable of linking this question with Huweidi's claim that it is reasonable to assume that this terror attack was carried out by extremist American militias!…"[1]

An article by another Saudi columnist, Suleiman Al-Nkidan, that sharply censured Huweidi and the other proponents of the conspiracy theories, appeared in the London Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.[2] Following are excerpts from the article:

"Huweidi's opinion astounded [I didn't expect] such an opinion from a sheikh as enlightened as he. Not only does the man believe [in the conspiracy theory], but he has also begun to prove it, and to market absurd, improbable explanations that are no better than those [explanations] rife among the simple folk – such as the story about a number of Israelis being arrested at the scene of the events as they were filming the catastrophe and exulting over the Americans' [misfortune]."

"If this is the condition of the enlightened elite [to which Huweidi belongs], what can be said about the cave-dwellers of Kandahar? Unfortunately, if we examine modern Arab thought from this angle, we will find that it is collapsing under the weight of these delusions. The Arab thought completely lacks the rationality or critical spirit required for Arab and Islamic societies today and in the future…"

"Most of the Arab and Islamic commentators have not eliminated the possibility of conspiracy in one way or another. Naturally, the conspirator is always Israel; alternatively, the finger is pointed at the Jews. If it seems inconceivable logically and in light of events that this catastrophe was perpetrated by the Zionist movement or that Jewry had a hand in it, we tend to stress the Jewish influence on decision-making [and on American] public opinion, or even their control over the American business and financial community. These claims appear somewhat convincing, but there remains one point important for [Arab commentators] to ignore, and that is that American society is a democratic, open society, and there is no way of hiding the truth from it to please anyone, even if it concerns Israel itself…"

"Some of us make assumptions, and [settle for] determining that there is nothing to do but to [conclude] that the Jews assisted in the planning [of the attacks], and hinting that U.S. intelligence [apparatuses] could have carried out such an action. In that case, [it is claimed] that Israel was not directly involved, because the American people is likely to find this out with its advanced [security] apparatuses. We do not forget [to point out] that the Jewish soul always tends towards adventurism and haste…"

"Throughout history, there has not been a single instance of proof of the veracity of the assumptions underpinning this [conspiracy] theory. Nevertheless, Arab thought has become enamored of it..."

"The truth is that we are not capable of formulating an interpretation [of the events] from scratch, and therefore we recycle this idiotic culture, the same improbable and stupid theory… Despite the changes in the Arab world and in the world around us, the Arab citizen still does not have a complete character that could have enabled him to independently impose on the Arab rhetoric his own position regarding the events …"

"In conclusion, do any of you remember the Protocols of the Elders of Zion? They too spoke of a Jewish conspiracy against the world, even though no one in his right mind in the world today can view them as the truth…"[3]


[1] Al-Qahira (Egypt), October 23, 2001.

[2] The same points were made in another article in the Saudi daily Al-Madina.

[3] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), October 25, 2001.