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memri
September 9, 2004 No.
33

Three Years Later – The Arab and Iranian Media Commemorate 9/11

Introduction

Days following the release of the September 11 Commission report this summer, Sheik Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari, the former dean of the faculty of Shariah at the University of Qatar and a leading Arab reformist, wrote an article in the London Arabic daily Al-Hayat on August 2, 2004, asking, "Why won't we [Arabs] take the opportunity of the appearance of the September 11 commission's report to ponder why destructive violence and a culture of destruction have taken root in our society? Why won't we take this opportunity to reconsider our educational system, our curricula, including the religious, media, and cultural discourse that cause our youth to live in a constant tension with the world?"

Within hours of the September 11 attacks, conspiracy theories began to emerge in the Middle East. They were repeated by the highest echelons of powers, including Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who was quoted in the Egyptian paper Al-Ahram weeks after the attack: "I find it hard to believe that people who were learning to fly in Florida could, within a year and a half, fly large commercial airlines and hit with accuracy the towers of the World Trade Center which would appear, to the pilot from the air, the size of a pencil. Only a professional pilot could carry out this mission." A year following the attacks, Saudi Arabia's powerful Interior Minister Prince Nayef more explicitly blamed "the Zionists."

During this past year leading up to the third anniversary of the attacks, there has been a consistent stream of articles and TV programs in the region's government-controlled media continuing to focus on conspiracy theories surrounding the attacks. The commemoration within the region's media includes statements made by leading professors, religious leaders, government officials, and even Muslim-Americans.

These conspiracy theories primarily state that Arabs and Muslims were not involved and that the U.S. government and/or Jews/Israel are the true culprits. While it should be no surprise that Iran, a country with no official ties with the U.S., is supporting many lies regarding September 11, the U.S.'s closet Arab allies, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are also supportive of these lies.

The Egyptian Media

In Egypt, Former Dean of Humanities at 'Ein Shams University, Mustafa Shak'a, was interviewed by Iqra TV on June 16, 2004. Shak'a attributed the September 11 attacks to the U.S. and the Jews: "To this day, we don't know who attacked the U.S. on September 11. Why is the attack attributed to bin Laden although it has not been proven that he was involved in the operation? It is way above his capabilities. Those who created him have made him a legend. The operation was 100% American, and this is not the place to elaborate, but what proves the operation was a Jewish one is that five Jews climbed up a high building and filmed the first attack of the first plane…" [1]

Another Egyptian professor, Galal Amin of the American University, wrote an article for Al-Ahram in April 2004: "The claim that the Greater Middle East Initiative aims, wholly or partly, to eliminate terror of the type seen on September 11, 2001 is unconvincing, for several reasons. One is that there is still doubt that the September attacks were the outcome of Arab and Islamic terror. No conclusive proof to this effect is yet available. Many writers, American and European, as well as Arab, suspect that the attacks were carried out by Americans, or with American assistance, or that Americans knew about them and kept silent. Such doubts are strong and rest on damning evidence, but the U.S. administration forcefully censors them and bans any discussion of the matter – something that, by the way, makes one suspect the U.S. administration's commitment to 'knowledge.' But enough of that."

In an article in the Egyptian government daily Al-Gumhouriyya titled 'The Secret Israeli Weapon,' published on April 23, 2004, deputy editor Abd Al-Wahhab 'Adas accused the Jews of perpetrating all terrorism throughout the world, including the September 11 attacks: "Actually, it is they who are behind the events of September 11. Proof of this is what was broadcast by the Canadian news agencyon September 17 … that prior to the events the CIA had received a report that the Mossad would carry out an attack operation on American territory, in a new attempt to divert attention from the barbaric Israeli operations against the Palestinian people. Further [proof] of this is the news in the American papers at that time, that 4,000 Jews of American origin who worked at the World Trade Center received instructions from the Mossad not to go to work that day. We also find a heavy blackout by America regarding the results of the investigations into the September 11 events. So far it has published no conclusions, and has not told us who the real perpetrator of these events is, as revealed by the investigations. Since America knows very well that the Jews and the Mossad are behind these events, it will never declare the results of the investigations..."

On August 9, 2004 Galal Dweidar, editor of the Al-Akhbar Egyptian government daily, wrote an article titled ' Barbarian Imperialist Occupation,' questioning who was really behind the attacks: "… There are strong doubts on the identity of those who schemed the terrorist action that targeted the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York…"

To commemorate the attacks of two years earlier, on September 11, 2003 Al-Arabiyya TV conducted an interview with Egyptian Muhammad Al-Amir Atta, father of Muhammad Atta, a leader of the 19 hijackers. He characterized the September 11 attacks as "100% made-in-America. All the facts that have been verified and published in the press, on television, and in the statements of officials in the U.S. and abroad prove definitively that this even is an American product, as I said on Egyptian television 72 hours after the event… The subject [at hand] is not my son; it is more general. Is my son or any of the other 19 young men – four of whom died over a year before the event – are these young men the ones who went to the 4,000 Jews and Americans who work at the World Trade Center to tell them not to go [there]? What I am saying was not stated in the newspapers, not stated by you, and not by me; rather, it was stated by America, and that is the truth. Four thousand American Jews did not come to work on September 11. [Moreover], none of the 101 Jewish businessmen – without exception – who booked tickets for business purposes for the four flights in America boarded the four planes, and none of them notified the airlines [that they would not be boarding]. About a week after the event, the American authorities arrested 117 Israelis – and not only Jews but Jewish Israelis – who had come from Israel to the U.S. and live in different groups located in the same vicinity in Florida. They were found to be holding detailed maps on the routes of the four planes. They were questioned, but no information was released. [Moreover], the FBI announced it had recorded two telephone calls on the 11th made by two congressmen at the Capitol to two American newspapers, in which they said, 'The zero hour has come, and the competition begins tomorrow.'"

For its September 10, 2003 edition, the Egyptian weekly Akher Sa'a interviewed several experts for articles commemorating September 11, 2001. Among them was General Mahmoud Khalaf, an Egyptian strategic expert, who said: "What took place on September 11 was a conspiratorial plan by the U.S. to justify invading Afghanistan and later Iraq. In 1999, books were published exposing a plan by far right-wing American hawks to fulfill the dream of a large empire, and there was an opportunity [for this] on September 11. They did not wait for investigations to expose the perpetrator of the operation, not even for those exposing the negligence in preventing the event. The American invasion of Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, in other words, only three weeks after the September 11 event. This is not at all a sufficient period in which to transfer [military] forces, train them, and draft the operational plans. This proves these plans were ready at an earlier date and that the forces were close to Afghanistan, the results of which are unknown to this day. [In addition], the declared goals were not achieved. Afghanistan did not develop, it has not democracy or control, and bin Laden was not caught. But what was achieved is that the Americans positioned themselves along the borders of Russia, China, central Asia, and in the center of Islamic countries."

Also interviewed for Akher Sa'a was General Ali Hafzi, governor of the northern Sinai district: "The September 11, 2001 event was meant to determine and direct the events of the 21st century in order to force American hegemony on the world and to enable it to be the sole superpower in the world and prevent the Soviet Union from returning, or prevent the emergence of new superpowers, such as China, Japan, and others… The Americans have not yet announced the results of the investigation of the event. Moreover, an important document published after the event says that 6,000 Jews who used to work daily with the companies and offices housed in the World Trade Center did not go to [that area] on the day of September 11. Let us take a look at what [the U.S.] has achieved so far, beginning with the invasion of Afghanistan. The U.S. has already reached the border of the former Soviet Union in order to prevent an attempt on the part of [the Soviets] to reemerge. It has also reached the Chinese border in order to keep it from spreading to a particular local or regional border so that it does not reach the stage of becoming a world superpower…"

In Egypt this past year one of the most popular songs says that the U.S. was behind September 11. The following are excerpts from a review in the January 15-22, 2004 Cairo Times of beloved Egyptian singer Sha'ban Abd Al-Rahim's new album, which included the song: "[Popular] singer Sha'ban Abd Al-Rahim is making headlines again with his announcement that he has put the final touches on his latest album Mahibish Al Karasi (I Don't Like the Chairs) — possibly referring to political positions as opposed to furniture. The new album includes a new ditty about the U.S., Israel, and the road map. 'Kharittat Al Tariq' (Road Map) is the name of the song which gives voice to widespread views in the Egyptian street regarding the September 11th events and the U.S.-Iraq standoff… Abd Al-Rahim … boldly sing[s] that the U.S.A. is the perpetrator of the September 11th attacks. 'Hey people it was only a tower and I swear by God that they are the ones who pulled it down.' Abd Al-Rahim further sings that they purposely did it to make people think that Arabs and Muslims are terrorists and were behind that disaster. Now the U.S. can do what it pleases to the Arab world since everyone thinks they are to blame."

The Saudi Media

Following up on Prince Nayef's claim in 2002 that Zionists were behind September 11, Saudi Cleric Dr. Sa'd bin 'Abdallah Al-Breik spoke about Al-Qa'ida's role on Saudi Arabia's Channel 1 on August 16, 2004: " We must not inflate [the importance] of Al-Qa'ida, to the point of claiming that it is the main and only perpetrator of this large operation [September 11]. I'm not here to defend [Al-Qa'ida], but we must not overstate this matter… It is a mistake to ignore the possibility that the Zionist hands used some people who were planted into one of the stages of this plan, from this issue. I have read some books that were translated from English into Arabic in which the Americans themselves call 9/11 'The Great Deception' or the 'The Great Game,' so why do we use all sort of names to avoid this subject. No, we must be clear and not censor ourselves. These false accusations and the rush to accuse Saudi Arabia, the judging of others according to the guidance of the Zionists via the media which is owned by the Zionist... " [2]

In Saudi Arabia, the Al-Watan daily published an interview with Muslim Brotherhood Leader Muhammad Mahdi Othman 'Akef on February 3, 2004, and asked "Don't you think that the September [11, 2001] events are justification of America's [activity] in Afghanistan?" 'Akef responded by stating, "This is a false statement, because [America] has no proof. They held no fair trial for those arrested on the charge of the September explosion. All they say is a list of names whom they claim bear the responsibility for the September events. If [the Americans] provided proof of the truth of their version, I would fight together with the Americans and join President Bush in this war." Regarding the claim that "the Al-Qa'ida organization acknowledged responsibility for these operations in the videocassettes aired on several Arab television channels," 'Akef said: "I do not pay any attention to these films, because they are part of the psychological war between these people [Al-Qa'ida] and the American administration. These cassettes came in response to the American operations. Washington must prove by trial that they [Al-Qa'ida] are the ones who carried out the explosions in September."

In the front page of its November 3, 2003 edition, Al-Watan published an Arabic translation of an article from Glasgow's Sunday Herald about the Mossad's involvement in the September 11 attacks: "Israeli intelligence has been showing the Al-Qa'ida hijackers as they move from the Middle East through Europe and into American, where they trained as pilots and prepared to suicide-bomb the symbolic heart of the United States. And the motive? To bind America in blood and mutual suffering to the Israeli cause… If Israel's closest ally felt the collective pain of mass civilian deaths at the hands of terrorists, then Israel would have an unbreakable bond with the world's only hyperpower and an effective free hand in dealing with the Palestinian terrorist, who had been murdering its innocent civilians as the second Intifada dragged on throughout 2001… There is more than a little circumstantial evidence to show that Mossad – whose motto is 'By way of deception, thou shalt do war' – was spying on Arab extremists in the U.S.A. and may have know that September 11 was in the offing, yet decided to withhold vital information from their American counterparts which could have prevented the terror attacks… Mossad agents were spying on Muhammad Atta and Marwan Al-Shehi, two leaders of the 9/11 hijack teams. The pair had settled in Hollywood, Florida, along with three other hijackers, after leaving Hamburg – where another Mossad team was operating close by… Certainly, it seems, Israel was spying within the borders of the United States and it is equally certain that the targets were Islamic extremists probably linked to September 11. But did Israel know in advance that the Twin Towers would be hit and the world plunged into a war without end; a war which would give Israel the power to strike its enemies almost without limit?"

The Iranian Media

The Iranian media also frequently discusses conspiracies surrounding September 11. The Iranian station Jaam-E-Jam3, aired a program on June 15, 2004 that began with the following question: "What group or organization was responsible for the events of 9/11? The intellectuals, who support globalization and oppose America's policy, believe that it was the U.S. that created the events of 9/11 in order to expand its hegemony in the world. The FBI and CIA experts attributed the events of 9/11 to the Muslims and Al-Qa'ida. Moreover, two months after the events, part of bin Laden's speech was broadcast by Al-Jazeera, in which he said, 'We calculated the number of enemy victims ahead of time, and predicted the number of people to be killed in the towers.' Some experts expressed doubts about tape's authenticity and considered it to be the work of the CIA. In light of the wide scope of the operation, which required coordinating four airplanes by at least 20 people, who would engage in combat and carry out a suicide operation, the likelihood that this was an Al-Qa'ida operation is low." [3]

One June 1, 2004 Jaam-E-Jam 1, the Iranian government TV channel directed at Europe, aired the first in a series about the September 11 attacks, which included video clips of the O.J. Simpson murder case: "Zionism, as expressed in the Jewish Protocols, nurtures in its mind the dream of taking over the world. With Bush's rise to power, it controls the White House with greater force. A short while before the blasts of September 11, Mercury, a local Pennsylvanian newspaper, reported that two Jews were arrested while filming the Twin Towers… Some hours after the Twin Towers were blasted, the FBI had arrested five Israelis who had planned to blow up the New York Bridge in the Manhattan and New Jersey area. Also, the absence of 4,000 Jews [working] in the Twin Towers strengthened the claim that they took a vacation on that day. A while afterwards, a source in American military intelligence raised details pertaining to an intelligence memo regarding Israel's espionage organization, the Mossad, and its role in the events of September 11. In fact, the claim that Israel was involved in the blasts of September 11 and used it as a basis of America's new strategy for fighting the world of Islam disappeared in the media coverage, but world public opinion still believes this possibility."

In an editorial in the July 27, 2004 Tehran Times titled, 'What the 9/11 Commission Report Ignores: the CIA-Al-Qa'ida connection,' stated, "The 9/11 reports excludes, a priori, the most important question raised by the events of September 11, 2001 - did U.S. government agencies deliberately permit, or actively assist, the carrying out of this terrorist atrocity, in order to provide the Bush administration with the necessary pretext to carry out its program of was in Central Asia and the Middle East and a huge buildup of the forces of state repression at home… The FBI played a key role in burying a series of warnings about the potential dangers from an Al-Qa'ida terrorist enrolled at U.S. flight schools, most notably in the case of Zacarias Moussaoui … This refusal to name names and assign responsibility has a definite significance. [Naming] individuals within the intelligence apparatus would be likely to defend themselves by shifting responsibility to those higher up in the chain of command – thus directing the investigation toward the top levels of the national security apparatus and the White House. The 9/11 commission sought at all costs to avoid such an outcome, and to safeguard these key institutions of the state, while documenting numerous CIA and FBI actions that effectively prevented the exposure of the 9/11 conspiracy, the commission's report never addresses an obvious and crucial issue - were any of the Al-Qa'ida operatives, especially the ringleaders and organizers of the suicide hijackings, at some point assets or agents of the U.S. intelligence services?… The conduct of the 9/11 conspirators strongly suggests that they were under some form of official protection. They made few efforts to conceal themselves, moving about as they pleased, both within the U.S. and across its borders. They used telephones and credit cards both easily traceable. They enrolled openly under their won names at U.S. flight schools, and made repeated transcontinental flights to test out airline security and familiarize themselves with the aircraft interiors… It is highly plausible – and on the basis of the available evidence, more likely than not – that the U.S. intelligence agencies had identified the main leaders of the 9/11 hijackings long before they boarded the doomed flights…"

Muslims In America

Dr. Nawwal Nur and her son Hazem Saleh Abu Isma'il, who preach and teach Islam in the U.S., were interviewed by the Saudi-based channel Iqra TV about September 11 on July 15, 2004. The host of the program asked if the attacks impacted the image of Islam by Americans. Nur explained, "Not at all, it has not even been proven that Muslims committed it. There hasn't even been an investigation… They are confused about what happened… That is why more people converted to Islam."

Her son added: "I am one of those who believe these events were fabricated from the outset as part of the global groundwork for the distortion of Islam's image… Even before these events took place there was preparation for them…" [4]

The U.S. Controls Bin Laden's Al-Qa'ida and Orchestrates the Attacks

Another common conspiracy has been to state the Al-Qa'ida and Osama bin Laden are really puppets of the U.S., who orchestrated the attacks. Iraqi political analyst Kazem Al-Qurayshi spoke on the Iranian channel Sahar1 TV about September 11 and terrorism on July 18, 2004: " Al-Zarqawi, bin-Laden, and Mullah Omar, and all the leaders of the Salafi movement, are tools created by the British Freemason movement 200 years ago. With these tools they wanted to create a new religion for us, to confront Islam. They filled this new religion with Jewish poison, the Masonic poison. Their religion is manifested by a long beard, a short garment, and killing Muslims. Do you think that the CIA participated in the events of 9/11, that they attacked the U.S., killed Americans, and humiliated the U.S. in front of the whole world?… It has been three decades since plans to bomb these buildings, the Twins, were made. But they wanted to do it so it would not be in vain. I noticed that the planes hit the upper part of the buildings, but the buildings exploded from the bottom, which proves that they were booby-trapped. Neighboring buildings also collapsed without being hit by planes. In order to carry out this plan they dragged fools from the Salafi movement and trained them to fly planes, a few years ago. Does bin Laden have airfields where he can train them, or what…?" [5]

On April 28, 2004, Lebanese Druze leader and Parliamentarian Walid Jumblatt gave an interview to Al-Arabiyya TV, and detailed how the U.S. was really behind September 11: "Who invented Osama bin Laden?! The Americans, the CIA invented him so they could fight the Soviets in Afghanistan together with some of the Arab regimes. I am of the opinion that somewhere, someplace, there is an intelligence agency profiting from Al-Qa'ida and Osama bin Laden. Osama bin Laden is like a ghost, popping up when needed. This is my opinion." Jumblatt was asked "Even 9/11?" and answered: "Even 9/11… Why didn't the sirens go off when the four hijacked planes took off? This happened only after an hour and a half or an hour and twenty minutes. That is peculiar. The largest country in the world, with the largest intelligence budget of $70-80 billion for various agencies, could only put out a warning after an hour and twenty minutes?! A peculiar story. The U.S. always needs an enemy. It comes and goes. Today it is Islam. According to this plan or ideology of the born-again Christians who formed an alliance with Zionism - Islam is the monster, Islam is the target."

To accompany its broadcast of the September 11 memorial ceremony in the U.S. on September 11, 2003, Al-Arabiyya TV interviewed political commentator Mustafa Al-Habra. In response to the question, "Did the U.S. succeed in proving, after two of the attacks, that bin Laden was [the perpetrator]?" Al-Habra said, "If we go back to Thierry Meyssan's book 'the Great Deceit,' we will find the answer to that question. And there are a lot of questions. I cannot imagine that a neophyte organization like Al-Qa'ida managed to take control of the U.S., [its] technology, and [its] radar system over a lengthy period lasting about two hours. I would add that there are those who said that what struck the Pentagon was not a plane but a missile, and to this day the U.S. does not have clear and plain answers about what happened on September 11…"

Al-Habra was also asked, "Do you think Osama bin Laden is capable of carrying out this attack on his own, without domestic help?" He answered: "I think Osama bin Laden is capable of carrying out a terror operation on the scale of the Tanzania operations. [But] I doubt that either Osama bin Laden or Al-Qa'ida alone was able to carry out the September 11 events with such precision, with no American domestic assistance, and without the American security apparatuses turning a blind eye… According to the American versions, the members of the group carrying out this terrorist, horrible, inhuman – call it what you will – operation trained on light planes. In aeronautics, a person who trains on this type of aircraft is not able to fly a large passenger plane like this with advances techniques like these."

At Al-Shahid Mosque in Khartoum, Sudan on August 27, 2004, the imam 'Abd Al-Jalil Al-Nazir Al-Karouri discussed September 11 during a Friday sermon that appeared on Sudan State TV: "… When September the ninth comes [i.e. September 11] we will again review the material we handed out about the Jewish thumbprint. Let's say in brief, that whether the 9/9 events and the destruction of the two famous buildings in the U.S. were carried out by Israel's enemies, as the U.S. claims, or by Israeli agents, as we claim, the outcome is the same - the Jews are the cause. These Jews hasten America's death. The U.S. must beware. We offer this advice via the TV channels so they won't wake up when it is too late. They must understand this now and dismantle this alliance with the Jews. "

Syrian researcher Tayyeb Tizini was interviewed on Iran's Al-'Alam TV on August 16, 2004, and claimed that an Intifada against globalization broke out and that in order to thwart it, America attacked its own soil on September 11: "According to American and European documents, including the investigation of President Bush and his aides about 9/11, I'd like to say that 9/11 was an American action. These Americans began to understand that the new order must be marketed by a great event that would create new dangers for the world. 9/11 was for this purpose…" [6]

Speaking on Bahrain TV on September 1, 2004, Sheik 'Adel Al-Mu'ada, Bahrain's Deputy Speaker of Parliament, called Bin Laden a good man who he had met in 1989, and explained that he did not think that Al- Qa'ida was behind September 11. He also said: "… I don't accuse him of what the West accuses him of and with no evidence. The truth is that I heard with my own ears what he said. He commended the bombings of 9/11, which I didn't and still don't. I believe these bombings were a mistake. But I didn't hear him confess that he was responsible. I don't accuse him without proof." [7]

All TV segments mentioned in this article can be found at www.memritv.org


[1] MEMRI TV Project Clip No. 124,Iqra TV (Saudi Arabia),June 16, 2004, http://memritv.org/clip/en/124.htm

[2] MEMRI TV Project Clip No. 201,Saudi Arabia Channel 1, August 16, 2004. http://memritv.org/clip/en/201.htm

[3] MEMRI TV Project Clip No. 150, Jaam-E-Jam3 (Iran), June 15, 2004, http://memritv.org/clip/en/150.htm

[4] MEMRI TV Project Clip No. 168 Iqra TV (Saudi Arabia), July 15, 2004, http://memritv.org/clip/en/168.htm

[5] MEMRI TV Project Clip No. 164, Sahar1 TV (Iran), July 18, 2004, http://memritv.org/clip/en/164.htm

[6] MEMRI TV Project Clip No. 207, Al-'Alam TV (Iran), August 16, 2004, http://memritv.org/clip/en/207.htm

[7] MEMRI TV Project Clip No. 238, Bahrain TV, September 6, 2004, http://memritv.org/clip/en/238.htm