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Was America Attacked by Muslims on 9/11?

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Much of America's foreign policy since 9/11 has been based on the assumption that it was attacked by Muslims on that day. This assumption was used, most prominently, to justify the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is now widely agreed that the use of 9/11 as a basis for attacking Iraq was illegitimate: none of the hijackers were Iraqis, there was no working relation between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, and Iraq was not behind the anthrax attacks. But it is still widely believed that the US attack on Afghanistan was justified. For example, the New York Times, while referring to the US attack on Iraq as a "war of choice," calls the battle in Afghanistan a "war of necessity." Time magazine has dubbed it "the right war." And Barack Obama says that one reason to wind down our involvement in Iraq is to have the troops and resources to "go after the people in Afghanistan who actually attacked us on 9/11."

The assumption that America was attacked by Muslims on 9/11 also lies behind the widespread perception of Islam as an inherently violent religion and therefore of Muslims as guilty until proven innocent. This perception surely contributed to attempts to portray Obama as a Muslim, which was lampooned by a controversial cartoon on the July 21, 2008, cover of The New Yorker.

As could be illustrated by reference to many other post-9/11 developments, including as spying, torture, extraordinary rendition, military tribunals, America's new doctrine of preemptive war, and its enormous increase in military spending, the assumption that the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked by Muslim hijackers has had enormous negative consequences for both international and domestic issues.1

Is it conceivable that this assumption might be false? Insofar as Americans and Canadians would say "No," they would express their belief that this assumption is not merely an "assumption" but is instead based on strong evidence. When actually examined, however, the proffered evidence turns out to be remarkably weak. I will illustrate this point by means of 16 questions.

1. Were Mohamed Atta and the Other Hijackers Devout Muslims?

The picture of the hijackers conveyed by the 9/11 Commission is that they were devout Muslims. Mohamed Atta, considered the ringleader, was said to have become very religious, even "fanatically so."2 Being devout Muslims, they could be portrayed as ready to meet their Maker---as a "cadre of trained operatives willing to die."3

But this portrayal is contradicted by various newspaper stories. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Atta and other hijackers had made "at least six trips" to Las Vegas, where they had "engaged in some decidedly un-Islamic sampling of prohibited pleasures." These activities were "un-Islamic" because, as the head of the Islamic Foundation of Nevada pointed out: "True Muslims don't drink, don't gamble, don't go to strip clubs."4

One might, to be sure, rationalize this behavior by supposing that these were momentary lapses and that, as 9/11 approached, these young Muslims had repented and prepared for heaven. But in the days just before 9/11, Atta and others were reported to be drinking heavily, cavorting with lap dancers, and bringing call girls to their rooms. Temple University Professor Mahmoud Ayoub said: "It is incomprehensible that a person could drink and go to a strip bar one night, then kill themselves the next day in the name of Islam. . . . Something here does not add up."5
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In spite of the fact that these activities were reported by mainstream newspapers and even the Wall Street Journal editorial page,6 the 9/11 Commission wrote as if these reports did not exist, saying: "we have seen no credible evidence explaining why, on [some occasions], the operatives flew to or met in Las Vegas."7

2. Do Authorities Have Hard Evidence of Osama bin Laden's Responsibility for 9/11?

Whatever be the truth about the devoutness of the hijackers, one might reply, there is certainly no doubt about the fact that they were acting under the guidance of Osama bin Laden. The attack on Afghanistan was based on the claim that bin Laden was behind the attacks, and the 9/11 Commission's report was written as if there were no question about this claim. But neither the Bush administration nor the Commission provided any proof for it.

Two weeks after 9/11, Secretary of State Colin Powell, speaking to Tim Russert on "Meet the Press," said he expected "in the near future . . . to put out . . . a document that will describe quite clearly the evidence that we have linking [bin Laden] to this attack."8 But at a press conference with President Bush the next morning, Powell reversed himself, saying that although the government had information that left no question of bin Laden's responsibility, "most of it is classified."9 According to Seymour Hersh, citing officials from both the CIA and the Department of Justice, the real reason for the reversal was a "lack of solid information."10

That same week, Bush had demanded that the Taliban turn over bin Laden. But the Taliban, reported CNN, "refus[ed] to hand over bin Laden without proof or evidence that he was involved in last week's attacks on the United States." The Bush administration, saying "[t]here is already an indictment of Osama bin Laden" [for the attacks in Tanzania, Kenya, and elsewhere]," rejected the demand for evidence with regard to 9/11.11
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The task of providing such evidence was taken up by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who on October 4 made public a document entitled "Responsibility for the Terrorist Atrocities in the United States." Listing "clear conclusions reached by the government," it stated: "Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, the terrorist network which he heads, planned and carried out the atrocities on 11 September 2001."12

Blair's report, however, began by saying: "This document does not purport to provide a prosecutable case against Osama Bin Laden in a court of law." This weakness was noted the next day by the BBC, which said: "There is no direct evidence in the public domain linking Osama Bin Laden to the 11 September attacks. At best the evidence is circumstantial."13

After the US had attacked Afghanistan, a senior Taliban official said: "We have asked for proof of Osama's involvement, but they have refused. Why?"14 The answer to this question may be suggested by the fact that, to this day, the FBI's "Most Wanted Terrorist" webpage on bin Laden, while listing him as wanted for bombings in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, makes no mention of 9/11.15

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David Ray Griffin is professor emeritus at Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University, where he taught philosophy of religion and theology, with special emphases on the problem of evil and the relations between science and (more...)

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Was America Attacked by Muslims on 9/11?


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Comment from Ratings:   David Ray Griffi... by N Soren on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 11:54:19 AM
Comment from Ratings:   Dr. Griffin has ... by Carol Cleveland on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 1:46:55 PM
Comment from Ratings:   Superb! Really ... by Maxwell on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 2:44:09 PM
at the NIST report of the building 7 collapse, if ... by Maxwell on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 2:49:17 PM
Comment from Ratings:   Griffin has real... by Tod Fletcher on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 3:38:34 PM
Do I believe the hijackers were muslim? Probably. ... by Paul Kruger on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 4:58:20 PM
Comment from Ratings:   David Ray Griffi... by Kevin Barrett on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 6:17:18 PM
Welcome to Op Ed News!Please post more! ... by George Washington on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 6:59:02 PM
This complements and extends the fine work of Elia... by Keith Mothersson on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 7:13:33 PM
If these 19 guys didn't board the planes, wher... by Mad Jayhawk on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 11:42:27 PM
that you didn't actually read the article. I pres... by Oh on Friday, Sep 12, 2008 at 3:38:34 AM
Comment from Ratings:   One of the reaso... by Bob F on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 7:55:00 PM
On the contrary, the tower collapses only require ... by Maxwell on Friday, Sep 12, 2008 at 3:29:09 PM is very good to see you posting on Op Ed New... by scott creighton on Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 at 8:39:16 PM
Bob F, I think you might be interested in this sho... by gravity32 on Wednesday, Sep 10, 2008 at 2:35:46 AM
That is one of the best presentations I have ever ... by Maxwell on Friday, Sep 12, 2008 at 3:48:01 PM
Thank you for this well-researched and objective l... by Ron R. on Wednesday, Sep 10, 2008 at 3:17:57 AM
Comment from Ratings:   Incredibly detai... by Jaswant Krishnayya on Wednesday, Sep 10, 2008 at 8:54:48 AM
Comment from Ratings:   David Ray Griffi... by Gary Via on Wednesday, Sep 10, 2008 at 10:29:28 AM
Comment from Ratings:   BREAKING NEWS! 9... by Amanda Lang on Wednesday, Sep 10, 2008 at 4:33:56 PM
See here and here and here.... by Sheila Samples on Wednesday, Sep 10, 2008 at 5:54:52 PM
 The Dutch connection , Rudi Dekkers and Huff... by Nemo on Wednesday, Sep 10, 2008 at 11:32:20 PM
Excellent masterpiece of scientific argumentation ... by aberamsay on Thursday, Sep 11, 2008 at 5:16:17 PM
for this wonderfully clear piece of truth.... by Bob Smith on Friday, Sep 12, 2008 at 2:53:39 PM
Comment from Ratings:   This is a very, ... by joel kauffman on Friday, Sep 12, 2008 at 9:37:40 PM
.... and treats 9/11 like it's a religion, because... by Alan Williams on Saturday, Sep 13, 2008 at 1:15:05 AM
Joel Kaufman an Alan Williams,Where is your top gu... by aberamsay on Saturday, Sep 13, 2008 at 3:14:47 AM
"Shame and sh*t ..."Ramsheyi, are using ... by Tom Murphy on Sunday, Sep 14, 2008 at 10:13:46 PM
The only tool available to those of us who wish to... by jeff prager on Saturday, Sep 13, 2008 at 9:16:56 AM
Jeff Prager,Gangsters in power don't give a da... by aberamsay on Saturday, Sep 13, 2008 at 5:55:14 PM
On the contrary my friend. Should I print what I r... by jeff prager on Tuesday, Sep 23, 2008 at 6:33:19 AM
Silverstein, the leassor of the WTC buildings was ... by Mel Smith on Sunday, Sep 14, 2008 at 2:06:08 AM
PNAC, modern day version of The Protocols, is a Zi... by aberamsay on Sunday, Sep 14, 2008 at 10:29:12 AM
I too believe 911 was an inside job, and will cont... by ronheri on Sunday, Sep 14, 2008 at 2:17:05 PM
By what possible logic do you conclude that the 9/... by Alan Williams on Sunday, Sep 14, 2008 at 9:04:43 PM
Alan Williams,We don't need a whistleblower to... by aberamsay on Monday, Sep 15, 2008 at 3:06:25 AM
Translation:  I have no meaningful evidence, ... by Alan Williams on Tuesday, Sep 16, 2008 at 12:36:41 AM
Comment from Ratings:   There are millio... by ronheri on Sunday, Sep 14, 2008 at 2:20:01 PM