That video perhaps was the most unsettling to 9/11 perpetrators and possibly still the greatest recruiting tool for the 9/11 movement. It was an illustrated lecture by a Utah physics professor, Steven E. Jones, Ph.D. In it, he said that particles of the high-tech explosive compound thermate had been found at the No. 7 site. This cutting-charge mixture (thermite, sulfur, barium nitrate), once ignited, quickly reaches 4500ºF and easily slices through steel. The powder comes in bags like bark dust and, now, in spray form. If it could be used to turn discarded railroad tracks into melted scrap, it could do the same on the WTC buildings’ 20-ton beams and 50-ton columns. Besides, thermate is easier to plant than dynamite or the high-yield explosive RDX and does its work silently, but leaves pools of molten iron. In weighing these factors, Jones concluded WTC 7 was brought down by a standard controlled demolition procedure—probably with thermate. 
Whether thermate or nuclear materials, missiles or DEW weapons were used on No. 7, it became obvious that unlocking the cause of that collapse might well reveal the mystery of what had happened to No. 1 and 2. After all, the Towers had collapsed into mostly dust also in astounding time: under 11 seconds at free-fall speed—and almost exactly in their own footprints, too.
An overwhelming din of questions arose about No. 7, along with statements from national and international demolition specialists that its collapse indeed was a controlled implosion. Those conclusions set off the distribution of thousands of postcards depicting the second-by-second drop. Jones and others soon were talking about WTC 7 on talk shows and the 9/11 speaker circuit. 
The Administration seems to have foreseen this backlash and had handed off explaining the collapse to NIST in 2005. Its team of in-house researchers and “private-sector technical experts” knew what was expected: WTC 7’s collapse was blamed on fire. The report was released without fanfare in August 2008 with the revealing caveat it wasn’t complete “due to the loss of records over time and due to the collapses.” They “firmly” declared:
WTC 7 collapsed due to uncontrolled fires with characteristics similar to previous fires in tall buildings….Had a water supply for the automatic sprinkler system been available and had the sprinkler system operated as designed, it is likely that fires in WTC 7 would have been controlled and the collapse prevented. 
They stunned outside peers by limiting explosives to RDX, quickly ruling it out. Rather than do field testing, they relied upon video soundtracks of the collapse and computer simulations to conclude:
The soundtracks…did not contain any sound as intense as would have accompanied such a blast. Therefore, the Investigation Team concluded that there was no demolition-type blast that would have been intense enough to lead to the collapse of WTC 7 on September 11, 2001.
For all the fire claims by FEMA and NIST, their researchers somehow failed to explore the obvious possibility that arson—particularly in WTC 7—might have been used to cover the use of “silent” explosives such as thermate. Under any other circumstances, fire inspectors and insurance detectives would have suspected arson because of the fire’s curious starting point (the building’s midsection) and subsequent routes. Nor were questions asked about the unusually quick $861 million insurance settlement for Silverstein. 
NIST’s research expenses for both 2005 and 2008 reports had been covered by FEMA and it was highly unlikely it would contradict FEMA’s 2002 verdict about causes: “[It]…was due primarily to fire, rather than any impact damage from the collapsing towers….It is likely that fires started as a result of debris from the collapse of WTC 1.” The NIST report seconded that notion. 
However, it is doubtful that most arson inspectors or experts would have agreed with the results on WTC 7, just in reading the report. For one thing, no entrance point for flaming debris or sparks existed. No open rooftop doors, no blown-out windows from interior heat, and no fire alarms going off. One of NIST’s exhibits showed that on 9/11 the entire fire-alarm system had been “placed on test” at 6:47:42 a.m. for “routine maintenance.” Researchers apparently saw nothing amiss in the log operator (“DYJ”) calmly reporting “completing test over” at 14:48:22 (2:48:22). The last firefighter presumably was gone and adequate time was left for experienced arsonists to complete a job. 
The report stated that at 11:30 a.m., firefighters discovered no water was available (broken city water mains) except for a sprinkler tank on the 46th floor. Presumably, they were hunting a source to hose off the building’s exterior. 
But, suddenly at 12:10 p.m., small fires started in the building’s midsection—Floors 19, 22, 29, and 30. Though these blazes blew out a few windows and admitted oxygen, they “did not spread far before dying out,” thanks to the sprinklers, the report stated. Then, at 2 o’clock small fires sprang up between Floors 7 and 13—below the sprinkler system’s reach, the report stated. With no water from below or above, the remaining firefighters were ordered to leave at 2:30 because someone had concluded saving the building was an impossibility. And so the fires continued to burn. 
As yet, few seem to have questioned why firefighters were not permitted to extinguish the fires. Or why firefighters and lawmen had surrounded the building from noon on, warning bystanders the building was going to fall.
Or why a countdown to the 5:20 collapse was clearly overheard on the street.
After the release of the 9/11 Revisited video, suspicions went around the globe, not about arson, but about Silverstein’s possible pre-planned demolition of all three buildings to save millions on repairs should terrorists attempt a repeat of the 1993 bombing of WTC 1 and 2. Repairs had come to $700 million. The Port Authority had told bidders on the lease during the 2000 negotiations that asbestos removal and cladding replacement for WTC 1 and 2 probably would cost at least $200 million and plumbing/electrical upgrades might bring the total to $800 million. Silverstein’s 15-year old WTC 7 also needed asbestos removal and utility upgrades. Yet a year later on the PBS 9/11 special America Rebuilds he recalled that he told the fire commander around 5 o’clock on 9/11: “We’ve had such terrible loss of life, maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it. And they [sic] made that decision to pull and we watched the building collapse.”
Any long-time developer like Silverstein knew the verb “pull” was a demolition term—and he’d used it twice. His spokesman tried to cover that slip by explaining it referred to pulling firefighters from the building, though all 4,000 tenants had fled by 10:30 a.m., all firefighters were out by 2:30 p.m. Considering the time involved in preparing a demolition of a building that size, it was plain to many demolition and building experts that No. 7 had to have been rigged long before 9/11.