September 2011: Ten years after 9/11

A tip of the cap to the legendary New York newspaper columnist Jimmy Cannon for borrowing his signature phrase: nobody asked me, but…

Ten years after, even Al Qaeda has grown tired of the delusions of the 9/11 conspiracy theorists: the terrorist network’s English-language magazine, Inspire, recently chided Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for not properly crediting Al Qaeda as the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

“The Iranian government has professed on the tongue of its president Ahmadinejad that it does not believe that al Qaeda was behind 9/11 but rather, the U.S. government,” an article in Inspire says. “So we may ask the question: why would Iran ascribe to such a ridiculous belief that stands in the face of all logic and evidence?”

Apparently Al Qaeda’s leadership doesn’t like it when people blame Bush-Cheney, Zionists, Mossad, Wall Street financiers, the military industrial complex, or the Babylonian Brotherhood (a secret group of reptilian humanoids) for the planes that slammed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field outside Shanksville, PA on September 11, 2001.

Don’t expect Inspire‘s proclamation of Al Qaeda’s responsibility for 9/11 to change any Truther minds. After all, the reasoning will go, Al Qaeda is controlled by the CIA and disseminates disinformation on command. Truthers will also argue, no doubt, that the CIA drone attacks in Yemen that killed the American-born cleric Anwar Awlaki and an editor of Inspire, Samir Khan, were designed to silence them and/or remove them as potential witnesses.

While its support has been fading, there is still some life in the Truther movement. A public opinion survey conducted for the BBC this year found that 15% of Americans thought that a U.S. government conspiracy had been behind the attacks. While it is true that similar numbers of Americans believe in astrology, alien abductions and that the NASA faked the moon landings, it’s still jolting to find that many people accepting the toxic notion that the government would murder thousands of its own citizens.

A conspiracy did guide the attacks on September 11, but it involved those young jihadists dispatched by Al Qaeda in what the editor-in-chief of Inspire, Yahya Ibrahimnow, calls “The Greatest Special Operation of All Time.” While Al Qaeda undoubtedly planned the attacks, what remains unclear is the extent of financial and operational support the radical group received from Saudi citizens both in the Middle East and in the United States. Some recent revelations have raised troubling questions about Saudi involvement and U.S. attempts to downplay their severity.

Exploring the Saudi connection

It’s well known that some 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi citizens, and that the Bush Administration approved the quick exit from the U.S. of Saudi royals and members of the extended bin Laden family in the days after 9/11. While the Saudi monarchy has vigorously denied any connection to 9/11, the actions of Saudis in the U.S. before the attacks have raised many questions.

The Miami Herald broke a deeply disturbing story on Sept. 8 that a Saudi family in Sarasota, Florida had vanished from a gated community there on August 30, 2001. They reportedly left behind a brand new PT Cruiser in the driveway of their luxury home and a refrigerator stocked full of food. According to counter-terrorism sources, the family (Abdulazzi al-Hiijjii, his wife Anoud and their two children) had direct contact with three of the 9/11 hijackers receiving pilot training in Venice, Florida and had phone contact with some of the other Al Qaeda operatives in the U.S.

The Herald reported that former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, who co-chaired the congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11, said he had not been informed about the Sarasota situation, saying it “opens the door to a new chapter of investigation as to the depth of the Saudi role in 9/11. … No information relative to the named people in Sarasota was disclosed.”

A week later the FBI’s head agent in Tampa, Steven Ibison, released a statement to the St. Petersburg Times saying that his agency had investigated “suspicions surrounding” the al-Hiijjii family, but found no evidence tying them to the hijackers.

The reports of these connections prompted Rep. Kathy Castor and Graham to call for further investigations. Graham told MSNBC that he spoke with the White House’s chief of counterterrorism to ask that the administration look into the Sarasota case.

It would not be surprising if such an investigation revealed deeper ties between Saudi nationals in the U.S. in 2001 and the Al Qaeda network and less than stellar fieldwork on the part of the FBI and other law enforcement agencies charged with counter-terrorism.

Our lack of preparedness for 9/11 has become more and more apparent. Recent revelations about passenger screening at Logan Airport (disclosed in the settlement of a lawsuit by the family of one of the passengers on United Airlines Flight 175) suggests that the screeners were poorly trained, ill informed about terror threats, and that many of them were immigrants who spoke limited English.

Further proof came with the release by the Rutgers University Law Review of audio tapes showing the chaotic response by civil and military aviation controllers to the 9/11 skyjackings. Contrary to what FAA and military officials told the 9/11 Commission, they did not understand, or respond quickly enough, to the cascading events of that Tuesday morning.

It’s understandable why many in the government and law enforcement resist exposing the failures, inadequacies, and incompetence of the American counter-terrorism effort prior to 9/11. Nor does there appear to be any appetite in Washington for exploring the involvement of individual Saudis in the execution of Al Qaeda’s plot, as Saudi Arabia is our “ally” in the oil-rich Middle East. But we deserve to know the full story of what happened that day in September, no matter who is embarrassed.


Copyright © 2011 Jefferson Flanders
All rights reserved

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