News / USA

9/11 Conspiracy Theories Still Persist 10 Years Later

United Airlines Flight 175 collides into the south tower of the World Trade Center in New York as smoke billows from the north tower on September 11, 2001.
United Airlines Flight 175 collides into the south tower of the World Trade Center in New York as smoke billows from the north tower on September 11, 2001.
Sean Maroney

In the decade since television cameras caught hijacked airliners crashing into buildings in New York and outside Washington, conspiracy theories about who was behind the terror attacks have persisted around the world. And some of these theories question whether the al-Qaida terror network had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks. People’s attitudes about the United States often influence their beliefs about 9/11 more than the facts themselves.

Al-Qaida's role

The United States and most governments around the world have long blamed al-Qaida for the events of September 11, 2001.  The late al-Qaida leader, Osama bin Laden, even admitted responsibility for the attacks.

But during the past decade, some people have argued against this explanation.  In fact, if you begin typing "9/11" into an Internet search engine, one of the top five choices that pops up is "9/11 conspiracy."  And some of the more bizarre conspiracies go so far as to accuse the United States of attacking itself, or speculate that Israel carried out the attacks in a plot to discredit Muslims.

International opinion

(Click on the photo to see the full survey)
(Click on the photo to see the full survey)

In 2008, researchers with the Program on International Policy Attitudes spoke with people in 21 countries around the world, asking them who they thought was behind the 9/11 attacks.

PIPA director Stephen Kull says the survey results were surprising.

“About half of them had a majority that said something like al-Qaida," Kull said. "And even among countries like our NATO allies, the majorities were not very large, in no cases more than two-thirds. So what we have here really is a lack of consensus around the world.”

Attitude factor

Kull says researchers then correlated the survey results with the peoples’ attitudes toward the United States. Those with a more negative attitude were less inclined to believe that al-Qaida carried out the attacks.

Graeme Bannerman, formerly of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says he believes the study’s findings would have been different immediately after 9/11.

“I think the rest of the world supported us at first. I think everybody was American.  Everybody sided with us," Bannerman said. "People who normally were not our best friends were saying, ‘We’re with you. We understand what you’ve been through.’”

But he says the United States lost much of this goodwill when it went to war with Iraq, a country most believe was not involved in the September 11 attacks.

Muslim opinion

9/11 Conspiracy Theories Still Persist 10 Years Later
9/11 Conspiracy Theories Still Persist 10 Years Later


After the U.S.-Iraq war, negative attitudes toward the United States increased sharply in Muslim countries.  In 2008, a majority of people polled in the Middle East said either that al-Qaida was not responsible for 9/11, or that they did not know who was.

A Pew Research Center survey this year found that a majority of Muslims polled still do not believe Arabs were responsible.

Ishtiaq Ahmad a Pakistani expert in international relations, says negative attitudes toward America in the Muslim world are not only caused by U.S. foreign policies.  

Ahmad says ruling elites, especially in Pakistan, encourage those negative attitudes by playing down U.S. assistance and blaming America and the West for their own domestic failures.

“Basically, there is public anger against the rulers and they find ways and means to shift this anger to other great powers such as the United States. The same has been the case in Egypt, in Saudi Arabia, in the Gulf, in Pakistan. And therefore this conspiracy mindset, even some 10 years after the events of 9/11 one notices has not gone away, rather in some aspects it has aggravated,” he explained.

But Ahmad says it may be possible to improve the situation. He says a U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan and lower profile in other Muslim regions, combined with increased trade and assistance, could begin changing attitudes toward Washington - and possibly put some of the more bizarre 9/11 conspiracy theories to rest.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid