9-11 conspiracy theory

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Following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, Islamist terrorists led by Osama bin Laden claimed responsibility, and the American government have stated that they are responsible. This is widely accepted, but a number of people subscribe to alternative theories about what happened on September 11, 2001. The 9/11 Truth Movement and a variety of other groups of a range of political orientations has been known to subscribe to conspiracy theories regarding the events of September the 11th. They claim that the United States government had foreknowledge of, did nothing to prevent, or possibly even encouraged or participated in, the hijacking of the airliners, covered up their involvement after the fact, and used the attacks as a "false flag" operation. Conspiracy theorists - and the term is contested - claim that the truth is being hidden by the U.S. Government, and that the real events that occurred on September the 11th need to be revealed. To that end, they engage in political advocacy and promotion of their materials. Two highly popular Internet videos have been spread containing the claims of the Truthers, as well as many websites, books, pamphlets, talk radio shows and discussion fora.


It is inevitable that events as visible and consequential as the 9/11 attack would be accompanied by wide-ranging speculation about "what really happened," comparable to that which followed the John F. Kennedy assassination, the Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy assassinations of 1968, and the death of Princess Diana. Although the period immediately after the attacks is remembered as one of intense national unity and solidarity, for leftists and other political nonconformists it was a time when deviations from the popular narrative by such people as Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn were marginalized by the major American news media. Even respected media like the New York Times and the Washington Post remained largely uncritical as the War on terror was engaged. Later, much of the press and many Democratic politicians expressed regrets giving the George W. Bush Administration the mostly free hand it enjoyed after 9/11, but many questions were raised on Internet forums, in nearly real time.

The theories

Several categories of 9/11 "conspiracy theories" exist. Michael Moore's treatment of the attacks in the film Fahrenheit 9/11 might be classed by some as such a theory, but Moore does not imply that any Americans had any active responsibility for the attacks. He suggests that the Administration was blinded to the likelihood of such attacks by its close ties to the Saudis, and then that after the attacks had taken place, it used them to justify actions that it already wanted to take for other (usually oil-related) reasons.

The Let It Happen On Purpose (LIHOP) theories assert that the Administration actually did know that the attacks were coming, and viewed them as an opportunity to implement plans that the neoconservatives supported, but that would require something like "a new Pearl Harbor" to sell them to the general public. This vision of an America that would have no military "peer competitors" and would use military power to prevent the rise of any such competitors - for generations, if possible - was articulated by the Project for the New American Century think tank before 9/11, and became an explicit part of the National Security Strategy of the United States of America (2002)[1] after the attacks.

Finally, there are also Made It Happen On Purpose (MIHOP) theories that involve known and hypothesized connections among U.S. intelligence agencies, their Pakistani and Saudi counterparts, Osama bin Laden and various actual or alleged terrorists. In these theories, any role played by Islamic militants was known to and directed by at least a few people inside the U.S. Government.

Claims regarding motive

The mainstream account of the attacks provides as motives the political/religious jihadist ideology of al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden - a hatred of the culture and values of the West and specifically of the United States. The terrorist attacks on the United States were to be a rallying cry for the spread of an Islamic caliphate. Some of the conspiracies deny that al Qaeda exists.

Instead, conspiracy theorists put the motive much closer to home than the mountains of Afghanistan.

In Loose Change, it is implied that World Trade Center owner Larry Silverstein benefited from the destruction of the WTC buildings, getting around $3.55 billion in insurance for the destroyed towers. The costs for building the new Freedom Tower on Ground Zero are around $3 billion. It has cost over $1 billion to rebuild building 7, and Silverstein has had numerous other expenses.

Claims regarding air defense

Claims regarding the World Trade Center towers

Claims regarding WTC7

In the PBS documentary America Rebuilds, World Trade Center owner Larry Silverstein states:

I remember getting a call from the fire department commander, telling me that they were not sure they were gonna be able to contain the fire, and I said, 'We've had such terrible loss of life, maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it.' And they made that decision to pull and we watched the building collapse.

Conspiracy theorists contend that Silverstein's instructions to "pull it" refer to the building being demolished. Critics of the conspiracy theorists - and a spokesman for Silverstein - argue that "pull it" is not used to refer to controlled demolition by explosion, but "pulling" is used by firefighters to refer to pulling out of a building that is too dangerous. A number of Ground Zero firefighters have used this terminology to refer to such orders.[2][3]

Claims regarding the Pentagon

Claims regarding Flight 93

Claims regarding the Commission report

The George W. Bush Administration, some say, attempted to prevent a formal investigation of the attacks. The report that was eventually produced by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States paid little attention to many issues that were of concern to the "9/11 Truth" community.

The theorists

  • Paul Thompson: The Terror Timeline (2004)
  • David Ray Griffin: The New Pearl Harbor (2004), The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions (2004), Debunking 8/11 Debunking (2007), etc.
  • Michael C. Ruppert: Crossing the Rubicon (2004)


  1. George W. Bush (March 2006), National Security Strategy of the United States of America
  2. Debunk 9/11 Myths, Larry Silverstein
  3. WhatReallyHappened.com, WTC 7: Silverstein's "Pull It" Explanation Examined