American Justice?

February 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Yvonne Ridley

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Many of us are still in a state of shock over the guilty verdict returned on Dr Aafia Siddiqui.

The response from the people of Pakistan was predictable and overwhelming and I salute their spontaneous actions. From Peshawar to Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and beyond they marched in their thousands demanding the return of Aafia.

Even some of the US media expressed discomfort over the verdict returned by the jurors … there was a general feeling that something was not right. Everyone had something to say, everyone that is except the usually verbose US Ambassador Anne Patterson who has spent the last two years briefing against Dr Aafia and her supporters.

This is the same woman who claimed I was a fantasist when I gave a press conference with Tehreek e Insaf leader Imran Khan back in July 2008 revealing the plight of a female prisoner in Bagram called the Grey Lady.

She said I was talking nonsense and stated categorically that the prisoner I referred to as “650” did not exist. By the end of the month she changed her story and said there had been a female prisoner but that she was most definitely not Dr Aafia Siddiqui.

By that time Aafia had been gunned down at virtually point blank range in an Afghan prison cell jammed full of more than a dozen US soldiers, FBI agents and Afghan police.

Her Excellency briefed the media that the prisoner had wrested an M4 gun from one soldier and fired off two rounds and had to be subdued. The fact these bullets failed to hit a single person in the cell and simply disappeared did not resonate with the diplomat.

In a letter dripping in untruths on August 16 2008 she decried the “erroneous and irresponsible media reports regarding the arrest of Ms Aafia Siddiqui”. She went on to say: “Unfortunately, there are some who have an interest in simply distorting the facts in an effort to manipulate and inflame public opinion. The truth is never served by sensationalism…”

When Jamaat Islami invited me on a national tour of Pakistan to address people about the continued abuse of Dr Aafia and the truth about her incarceration in Bagram, the US Ambassador continued to issue rebuttals.

She assured us all that Dr Aafia was being treated humanely had been given consular access as set out in international law … hmm. Well I have a challenge for Ms Patterson today. I challenge her to repeat every single word she said back then and swear it is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

As Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s trial got underway, the US Ambassador and some of her stooges from the intelligence world laid on a lavish party at the US Embassy in Islamabad for some hand-picked journalists where I’ve no doubt in between the dancing, drinks and music they were carefully briefed about the so-called facts of the case.

Interesting that some of the potentially incriminating pictures taken at the private party managed to find the Ambassador was probably hoping to minimize the impact the trial would have on the streets of Pakistan proving that, for the years she has been holed up and barricaded behind concrete bunkers and barbed wire, she has learned nothing about this great country of Pakistan or its people.

One astute Pakistani columnist wrote about her: “The respected lady seems to have forgotten the words of her own country’s 16th president Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865): “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”

And the people of Pakistan proved they are nobody’s fool and responded to the guilty verdict in New York in an appropriate way.

When injustice is the law it is the duty of everyone to rise up and challenge that injustice in any way possible. The response – so far – has been restrained and measured but it is just the start. A sentence has yet to be delivered by Judge Richard Berman in May.

Of course there has been a great deal of finger pointing and blame towards the jury in New York who found Dr Aafia guilty of attempted murder.

Observers asked how they could ignore the science and the irrefutable facts … there was absolutely no evidence linking Dr Aafia to the gun, no bullets, no residue from firing it.

But I really don’t think we can blame the jurors for the verdict – you see the jury simply could not handle the truth. Had they taken the logical route and gone for the science and the hard, cold, clinical facts it would have meant two things. It would have meant around eight US soldiers took the oath and lied in court to save their own skins and careers or it would have meant that Dr Aafia Siddiqui was telling the truth.

And, as I said before, the jury couldn’t handle the truth. Because that would have meant that the defendant really had been kidnapped, abused, tortured and held in dark, secret prisons by the US before being shot and put on a rendition flight to New York. It would have meant that her three children – two of them US citizens – would also have been kidnapped, abused and tortured by the US.

They say ignorance is bliss and this jury so desperately wanted not to believe that the US could have had a hand in the kidnapping of a five-month -old baby boy, a five-year-old girl and her seven-year-old brother.

They couldn’t handle the truth … it is as simple as that.

Well I, and many others across the world like me, can’t handle any more lies. America’s reputation is lying in the lowest gutters in Pakistan at the moment and it can’t sink any lower.

The trust has gone, there is only a burning hatred and resentment towards a superpower which sends unmanned drones into villages to slaughter innocents.
It is fair to say that America’s goodwill and credibility is all but washed up with most honest, decent citizens of Pakistan.

And I think even Her Excellency Anne Patterson recognizes that fact which is why she is now keeping her mouth shut.

If she has any integrity and any self respect left she should stand before the Pakistan people and ask for their forgiveness for the drone murders, the extra judicial killings, the black operations, the kidnapping, torture and rendition of its citizens, the water-boarding, the bribery, the corruption and, not least of all, the injustice handed out to Dr Aafia Siddiqui and her family.

She should then pick up the phone to the US President and tell him to release Aafia and return Pakistan’s most loved, respected and famous daughter and reunite her with the two children who are still missing.

Then she should re-read her letter of August 16, 2008 and write another … one of resignation.

Yvonne Ridley is a patron of Cageprisoners which first brought the plight of Dr Aafia Siddiqui to the world’s attention shortly after her kidnap in March 2003. The award-winning, investigative journalist also co-produced the documentary In Search of Prisoner 650 with film-maker Hassan al Banna Ghani which concluded that the Grey Lady of Bagram was Dr Aafia Siddiqui

12-7

Assassination of Martin Luther King

January 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

www.ratical.com

martin-luther-king-and-malcolm-x1 The story of Martin Luther King’s assassination, and the 1999 trial where the truth of this event was finally revealed in a court of law is now encapsulated in Dr. William F. Pepper’s new book, released by Verso this month: An Act of State – The Execution of Martin Luther King. The dust jacket summarizes what many have intuitively known for more than thirty years:

“William Pepper, attorney and friend of Dr. King and the King family, became convinced after years of investigation that not only was Ray not the shooter, but that King had been targeted as part of a larger conspiracy to stop the anti-war movement, and to prevent King from gaining momentum in his promising Poor People’s Campaign. Ten years into his investigation, in 1988, Pepper agreed to represent Ray.

While he was never able to successfully appeal the sentence before Ray’s death, he was able to build an air-tight case against the real perpetrators. In 1999, Loyd Jowers and co-conspirators were brought to trial in a wrongful death civil action suit on behalf of the King family. Seventy witnesses set out the details of the conspiracy in a plot to murder King that involved J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, Richard Helms and the CIA, the military, the local Memphis police, and organized crime figures from New Orleans and Memphis. The evidence was unimpeachable. The jury took an hour to find for the King family. But the silence following these shocking revelations was deafening. Like the pattern during all the investigations of the assassination throughout the years, no major media outlet would cover the story. It was effectively buried.

“Until now, the details, evidence, and personalities of all these nefarious characters have gone unreported. In An Act of State, you finally have the truth before you — how the United States government effectively shut down one of the most galvanizing movements for social change by stopping its leader dead in his tracks.”

12-5

Harun Yahya – Secrets of the Hypocrites

August 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

They Do Not Defend the Truth

During their time they spend in the midst of believers, hypocrites play an imitative role in order to blend in and not give themselves away. They seek to imitate religious observances, but never go near those that impinge on their earthly desires. For example, calling people to proper moral values and advising them of the truth are duties that they see as inconvenient. They are not willing to see others implementing this system that they won’t implement themselves. They are therefore careful to avoid defending the truth.

In any case, there is an inconsistency here: Clearly, anyone who avoids remembrance of Allah and who harbors a genuine hatred for religion and sincere believers can never properly communicate the stipulations of the Qur’an and the importance of living for Allah. Since such people do not live by proper moral values themselves, naturally they cannot explain these to others. And in any case, they have no wish to do so.

In addition, communicating the message—which Allah, in the Qur’an, commands as an important religious duty—is something they can never do. Recommending what is good and trying to prevent what is evil, and issuing reminders in the light of the Qur’an are observances that hypocrites can never perform. Since their true desire is to gain the approval of others, they never wish to offend anyone and never intervene in any errors they happen to see.

They Make Excuses to Lag Behind in the Struggle

We have already seen how, one of hypocrites’ main objectives—for so long as they remain in the midst of believers—is their own interests. Doubtless the one area that most conflicts with those interests are the times of struggle that have been written as obligatory for believers. Hypocrites can see no logic in striving for an objective that they doubt will give them any advantage in terms of their own interests, nor in which they don’t sincerely believe. In addition, due to their lack of comprehension, they think of this struggle as one in which lives and belongings will be lost, not for whose sake there will be a reward in the Hereafter. They cannot understand such superior virtues as making sacrifices for Allah or enduring difficulties.

Hypocrites in the time of the Prophet (s) began fleeing as soon as the order for war was issued, and resorted to various lies and excuses to cover up their crimes. Some of the verses on this subject are as follows:

. . . They were told, “Come and fight in the way of Allah or at least help defend us.” They said, “If we knew how to fight, we would certainly follow you.”

Ali ‘Imran: 167

If it had been a case of easy gains and a short journey, they would have followed you, but the distance was too great for them. They will swear by Allah: “Had we been able to, we would have gone out with you.” They are destroying their own selves. Allah knows that they are lying.

At-Tawba: 42

Those who were left behind were glad to stay behind the Messenger of Allah. They did not want to strive with their wealth and themselves in the way of Allah. They said, “Do not go out to fight in the heat.” Say: “The Fire of Hell is much hotter, if they only understood.”

At-Tawba: 81

When a sura is sent down, saying: “Believe in Allah and strive together with His Messenger,” those among them with wealth will ask you to excuse them, saying, “Let us remain with those who stay behind.”

At-Tawba: 86

And a group of them said, “People of Yathrib, Your position is untenable, so return!” some of them asked the Prophet to excuse them, saying, “Our houses are exposed,” when they were not exposed; it was merely that they wanted to run away.

Al-Ahzab: 13

This attitude, which becomes apparent in times of struggle, is important evidence of the hypocrites’ logic. They abandon their imitation of believers carried out up until then and reveal their true character. Before such times of struggle, however, they will also show evidence revealing their true natures.

Their lack of preparation towards future struggles is characteristic of their attitude. Since they have no such aim, they see no need to make ready. Yet at the same time, this is evidence of the activities they do plan. They deliberately fail to fulfill their religious observances and make none of those preparations for the future that are dependent upon believers. In one verse it is revealed that:

If they had really desired to go out, they would have made proper preparations for it, but Allah was averse to their setting out so He held them back and they were told: “Stay behind with those who stay behind.”

At-Tawba: 46

Their View of Believers

Hypocrites have declared war on the religion of Allah. They oppose His messenger and are unable to bear to listen to His verses. Therefore, one cannot expect them to feel any closeness to believers. That they adopt the requirements of a religion that hypocrites are opposed to, and that they abide by Allah’s verses are sufficient cause for hypocrites to feel enmity towards the believers.

Hypocrites will naturally conceal themselves. In order to do so, they will play a role among believers and say, despite what lies in their hearts, that they are believers too. Therefore at first glance, it may not be possible to grasp the anger that they harbor in their hearts toward believers. Inevitably, however, this anger will give itself away through various signs, which are given to us in the verses of the Qur’an.

In Their Hearts They Feel Hatred & Anger Toward Believers

. . . Hatred has appeared out of their mouths, but what their breasts hide is far worse. . . .

Ali ‘Imran: 118

Scrupulous adherence to the Qur’an and the proper moral values they take from it are an important element of believers’ love and respect, but this works in entirely the opposite way for hypocrites. Everything to do with proper moral values further increases their anger and hatred. That is because they expect degeneration when it comes to religion and morality. They wish to distance themselves from everything that religion regards as good and to implement the exact opposite. Remembrance of Allah, recollection of His verses, and the strengthening and improvement of believers represent the continuing growth of a system to which they are opposed, so all this increases the anger in their hearts.

This anger in their hearts manifests itself in various ways. The various oppressive methods they use, the plans they draw up against believers and the way they take the messenger as their target are some consequences. However, as revealed in the verses, the anger they hide in their hearts is no doubt greater than that which appears on the surface.

11-34

Harun Yahya – Secrets of the Hypocrites

July 16, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

They Argue about Allah in the Absence of any Evidence

Among people there is one who argues about Allah without knowledge or guidance or any light-giving book.

Al-Hajj: 8

Their highest goal is to turn people from Allah and His religion and to hinder the spread of religious moral values on Earth. They therefore argue about Allah in such a way as to confuse people, and urge them to shape their own speculations about Him. Since they have a tendency to spread strife, they actively seek to eliminate people’s respect for and fear of Allah, but carry out these activities in a sly manner. Using a similar method to that employed by satan, they address people’s subconscious and speak in such a way as to confuse them.

All they manage to do, however, is deceive other hypocrites just like themselves. Allah reveals how the actions they take to turn people away from His path will rebound upon their own heads:

Turning away arrogantly, to misguide people from the way of Allah. He will be disgraced in this world and on the Day of Resurrection We will make him taste the punishment of the burning.

Al-Hajj: 9

They Admire an Ethical Model of which Allah Disapproves

As we have seen so far, hypocrites engage in all kinds of behavior displeasing to Allah. Unaware of the gravity of their situation, they also put forward negative, perverted ideas regarding Islam, the religion selected by and beloved of Allah. With their own defective logic, they regard their own ideas as good and the truth as ugly:

We brought you the truth but most of you hated the truth.

Az-Zukhruf: 78

As is revealed in the Qur’an, these two-faced people, “who have sold guidance for misguidance” (Surat al-Baqara: 16), refuse to recognize the revelation of Allah, and regard the truth as something ugly. The proper moral values that Allah revealed to believers through the Qur’an represent a model that they view as totally impractical. Since they themselves are full of hatred and uncleanliness, they imagine that others are too and could never abide by such a model.

No doubt, these ideas apply both to themselves and to other deniers of a similar nature. Good moral values can be implemented only through fear of Allah and absolute submission to His commandments. A person can maintain a good character only through faith in the Hereafter and the Day of Judgment and reckoning. For anyone who has forgotten that he will have to account for himself on the Day of Judgment, there is no motive to display patience or make sacrifices for others. He feels the need to engage in such behavior only if it squares with his own interests. Otherwise, for someone who lives far removed from religious moral values, it seems meaningless to display a good character in this world—which is in any case transitory—to people who are in any case mortal.

The hypocrite will receive no reward, either in this world or the Hereafter, for any good behavior he engages in for the sake of his own interests. If someone ignores all Allah’s commandments, everything that he does will be in vain, as is revealed by Allah in the Qur’an:

That is because they followed what angers Allah and hated what is pleasing to Him. So He made their actions come to nothing.

Muhammad: 28

Their Defiance of the Qur’an

First, in order to acquire a sufficient understanding of this matter, it should be useful to examine briefly the denier’s view of the Qur’an.

One of deniers’ most important characteristics is that they live by the religion of their ancestors instead of the religion of Allah. Under their religion, going along with baseless practices passed on by word of mouth is regarded as “religious observance.” By complying with these traditions, they imagine themselves to be virtuous and “obedient.” They never take the Qur’an as a criterion in any form whatsoever. The essence of this religion of the ignorant lies in traditions determined by the society, in which “goodness” lies in small matters performed with hardly any effort at all. They perform these in the name of “being good,” and thus think that this must make them “good” too.

For example, giving some spare change to a beggar they happen to meet on the street, or donating clothes that are too old for them to ever wear again is in their eyes a “good deed.” However, the true definition of goodness and righteousness is provided in the Qur’an:

It is not righteousness to turn your faces to the East or to the West. Rather, truly righteous are those who believe in Allah and the Last Day, the Angels, the Book and the prophets, and who, despite their love for it, give away their wealth to their relatives and to orphans and the very poor, and to travelers and beggars and to set slaves free, and who perform prayer and give the alms; those who honor their contracts when they make them, and are steadfast in poverty and illness and in battle. Those are the people who are true. They are the people who guard against evil.

Al-Baqara: 177

When these others are told about the criteria in the Qur’an, they refuse to abandon their distorted beliefs:

When they are told, “Come to what Allah has sent down and to the messenger,” they say, “What we found our fathers doing is enough for us.” What! Even if their fathers did not know anything and were not guided!

Al-Ma’ida: 104

Whenever they commit an indecent act, they say, “We found our fathers doing it and Allah commanded us to do it too.” Say: “Allah does not command indecency. Do you say things about Allah you do not know?”

Al-A‘raf: 28

They never want to abandon the “social religion” they’re accustomed to. For that reason, they seek out contradictions in the verses of Allah and strive to prevent people from His path. They are:

Those who bar access to the way of Allah and seek in it something crooked and reject the Hereafter.

Hud: 19

In short, these people are exceptionally insensitive with regard to the Qur’an and the verses of Allah; and their viewpoints never change in any significant way.

It is at this point comes a parting of the ways between hypocrites and deniers. Unlike the denier, the hypocrite does not completely reject the Qur’an. He will not emphasize that he does not truly believe in and submit to it, but on the contrary, seeks to hide that fact as much as possible. The denier does not implement the observances in the Qur’an unless he views them as a tradition left over from his ancestors; whereas the hypocrite does appear to fulfill a great many observances—on the surface.

Yet the hypocrite has not genuinely submitted to the verses. Whenever they impinge on his earthly desires, he remains completely insensitive to them. Furthermore, he performs only “formal” observances, even though a great many other observances need to be performed: such as complete submission to Allah and His messenger, and genuine acceptance of the messenger’s stipulations. In addition, the hypocrite ignores those commandments of Allah concerning proper moral values that happen to conflict with his worldly interests—which interests include defending those desires, belittling others and regarding oneself as superior.

Great wisdom underlies Allah’s revelation of the Qur’an, in which He warns against the Day of Judgment, and shows people the true path. However, only a few believe in the Qur’an and live by it in a fitting manner: Those are the faithful.

Believers are most respectful of the provisions of the Qur’an and submit to them. Their respect stems from their profound respect for Allah. Every time the Qur’an is recited, they fall silent to listen and fully reflect on the verses. The Qur’an increases their faith, and gives their hearts satisfaction and repose. In one verse Allah describes believers as:

. . . those whose hearts tremble when Allah is mentioned, whose faith is increased when His signs are recited to them, and who put their trust in their Lord.

Al-Anfal: 2

The attitude of hypocrites towards the Qur’an is highly two-faced. They abide by some of the verses of the Qur’an, but not by others. Their criteria are their earthly desires. They turn their backs without a qualm on provisions that feel difficult for them, such as spending in good causes or regarding their brother’s desires as superior to their own. They are very flexible when it comes to implementing many provisions that are actually obligatory, and do not implement others at all if no one is looking.

As the above verse reveals, believers who read the Qur’an grow in faith, while hypocrites grow in denial. This is actually one of Allah’s great miracles. That is because despite their reading exactly the same verses, two entirely different spiritual states emerge. Believers perceive the wisdom in the verses, while hypocrites are completely unable to fathom it. They may even be unaware of their inability to understand and imagine that they actually comprehend the Qur’an very well indeed.

The way this miracle comes about is set out in the Qur’an:

When you recite the Qur’an, We place an obscuring veil between you and those who do not believe in the Hereafter. We have placed covers on their hearts, preventing them from understanding it, and heaviness in their ears. When you mention your Lord alone in the Qur’an, they turn their backs and run away.

Al-Isra’: 45-46

11-30

Convoy of Corpses

July 16, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Dr. Aslam Abdullah, TMO Editor in Chief

What happened in 2001 in Afghanistan is still recounted in tiny Afghan villages whose residents taken as prisoners by the US-supported Afghan war lords were tortured and murdered. it was a massacre on the verge of almost mass murder in the presence of US. The bullets used to kill the Afghans were American, the orders to kill the prisoners came from the US commanders, and the blueprint to torture the prisoners was planned by CIA operatives in Afghanistan, many of whom were religious zealots working to eliminate the hostile Muslim infidels from the earth. More than 2,000 Afghan prisoners were killed. They were transported from one location to another in containers with no ventilation where they stayed for days.

No investigation was ever ordered. The Bush and Cheney Administration never agreed to one.

The media kept a lid on the story as many of its correspondents were friendly with CIA operatives or Pentagon officials. In the process the truth was lost for ever.
Now the Obama Administration for the time has given an indication that an investigation is possible. The is a positive step and it would determine the level of the US involvement in the killing of 2,000 prisoners against all human rights conventions and above all against the mandate that the taxpayers give to their government.

As taxpayers we have every right to question this undeclared policy of our intelligence agencies to kill and murder those whom they don’t like. But, our opinions and perspectives are shaped by a media that reports events on the basis of the interests of those who own it. It has less concern for justice and it raises cries for justice only to serve its own interests.

This once again brings the issue of a fair and balanced media to the forefront of our discussion. The fact is that Muslims, regardless of their political and ideological orientation, have no free media–and whatever they have is driven by the interests of a narrow few who are not always committed to truth and objectivity.

We hardly have a well documented media report in any Muslim media on either Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq or Pakistan. Most of the reports that we see are motivated by political interests. Most of the time these reports are more like a sermon or an emotional outburst then actual reporting of what happened.

For instance, what happened in Afghanistan came to the surface not because any Muslim media reported on the tragedy in an objective manner, but the world came to learn about it only when Physicians for human rights and other non-Muslim human rights activists decided to go to Afghanistan to investigate the event. It was the consistent pressure of these groups that led Obama to concede that an investigation might be needed to determine the role of CIA in the tragedy.

While we must support the president in this endeavor, we must also devote our efforts to strengthening the existing Muslim media that shows the potential of investigating the truth regardless of the consequences.

11-30

The Truth Is Out There

June 26, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

By Peter Barber

When Cynthia McKinney speaks the words of Martin Luther King Jr, they resound through the church with some of King’s cadence. “A time comes,” declares the former US congresswoman from Georgia, “when silence is betrayal.” The congregation answers with whoops and calls of “That’s right!” King was talking about America’s war in Vietnam. More than 40 years later, before the packed pews of the Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles, McKinney is speaking of the American government’s war on its own people. The shock and awe phase of this conflict, we had been told earlier, began on September 11 2001, when the Bush administration launched attacks on New York and Washington, or at least waved them through.

According to a show of hands that February afternoon, several hundred people in the immaculate church believe this to be true. Some came in T-shirts bearing the words “9/11 was an inside job”. One wore a badge demanding that you “Examine your assumptions”. Quite a few bought the DVDs on sale in the foyer, most of which bore photographs of the Twin Towers spewing smoke. They had all come to hear the message of Architects, Engineers & Scientists for 9/11 Truth, one of the dozens of groups across the US which campaign to persuade us that everything we think we know about 9/11 is wrong.

Last winter, “Investigate 9/11” banners seemed to be popping up all over the place. Bill Clinton was heckled by “truthers” in Denver while campaigning for his wife. Truthers picketed the Academy Awards in LA – despite this year’s winner of the best actress Oscar, Marion Cotillard, reportedly being one of them. But then, she’s French. Literature lovers in that country pushed Thierry Meyssan’s L’Effroyable imposture (The Appalling Fraud) – which asserts that 9/11 was a government plot to justify invading Iraq and Afghanistan and increase military spending – to the top of the bestseller list in 2002.

Country music star Willie Nelson is assuredly not French, but a week or so before the Oscars he described as naive the notion that the “implosion” of the Twin Towers was caused by crashing jets. Meanwhile the European Parliament screened the Italian documentary Zero, in which Gore Vidal, Italian playwright Dario Fo, and Italian MEP Giulietto Chiesa blame the US government, not al-Qaeda, for 9/11. The following month, Japanese MP Yukihisa Fujita raised his own doubts about the official story at a seminar in Sydney. A busy season for the “9/11 Truth” movement.

The events of 9/11 were recorded in many thousands of images, from crisp agency photographs to amateur camcorder footage. Every recorded trail of smoke, every spray of sparks is pored over by an army of sceptics, collectively described as the 9/11 Truth movement. They believe that the key to the mystery is hidden somewhere within the pictures, just as some people think that clues are contained in the Zapruder film which captured the moment of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Allied against them is a smaller group of rival bloggers who have taken it upon themselves to debunk what they claim are dangerous conspiracy theories.

Gore Vidal, writer
“If there ever was great cause for impeachment, it would be over 9/11”

There is some evidence that the truthers are swaying the rest of us. A New York Times/CBS News poll in 2006 revealed that only 16 per cent of Americans polled believed the Bush administration was telling the truth about 9/11. More than half thought it was “hiding something”. This is not the same as believing the government actually launched the attacks, but a Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll the same year found that more than a third of those questioned suspected that federal officials assisted in the attacks or took no action to stop them so that the US could go to war.

The truthers certainly believe that they are on a roll. The crowd in the Immanuel Presbyterian Church seemed electrified. As the donated sound system pumped out angry rap, a giant video screen showed images of protesters demanding a new investigation into 9/11. The symbols and the language were borrowed from the civil rights struggle, but the truthers are an eclectic group, including anti-Bush, anti-war liberals and anti-government libertarians. A young man in a “Vote Ron Paul” T-shirt scuttled through the hall, filming us as we took our seats on wooden pews.

First up was Richard Gage, a San Francisco architect who founded Architects, Engineers & Scientists for 9/11 Truth, which now claims to have 379 professional members. Gage told us that the collapse of the Twin Towers could not have been due merely to gravity, the impact of the airliners and the resulting jet fuel fires – which would not have been hot enough to weaken the steel sufficiently. Behind him on the video screen was the south tower of the World Trade Center. Smoke poured from its upper floors. A respectful silence fell over the audience, followed by gasps as the building appeared to dissolve before our eyes.
What happened to building 7?

To the truthers, the third building in the World Trade Center complex to collapse on September 11 is evidence that the mainstream media is in on the plot
While I have seen this footage countless times, it seems that I had clearly never understood what I was seeing. The destruction of the Twin Towers, along with the collapse of the nearby 47-storey World Trade Center 7 building, had all the hallmarks of controlled demolition, according to Gage. They all came straight down, almost at the speed of a free-falling object, right into their own footprints. Steel-framed buildings had never collapsed because of fires before. On this day three did, one of which, “Building 7”, was not even hit by an aircraft.

Gage, who had worked himself into a fever, exhorted the audience to stand up and be counted: “A country is at stake.” Then he welcomed on to the stage the star of the evening, Steven Jones. A softly spoken physicist, Jones is the movement’s designated martyr and seems to promise what the truthers so desperately need: scientific credibility.

Jones entered into truther lore in 2006 when he was put into early retirement by BYU in Utah after giving public lectures on his paper “Why indeed did the WTC buildings collapse?”, which he published on the website of the university’s physics department. Jones contended that the towers were demolished by cutter charges which had been placed throughout the buildings, probably involving an incendiary called thermite. BYU’s College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences and the structural engineering faculty, followed by the university administration, disowned him.

Still, Jones is no fool. He has published more than 50 scholarly papers, including pieces on cold nuclear fusion in journals such as Scientific American and Nature. He invented a cooker which uses solar power and has donated models to poor families in the developing world. Jones tells us he believes laboratory testing of dust from Ground Zero will reveal residue from a thermite reaction.

As soon as the seminar is over, Jones is mobbed by people asking him to pose for photos and offering their own views on the 9/11 plot, as well as others, some extremely outlandish. This is the world Jones now inhabits–it seems a long way from a Utah physics department. I ask him later by phone if he has any regrets about publishing that fateful paper: “No regrets. I’ve thought of Galileo a few times. He got a little worse than I did, I suppose.”

Jones is typical of many 9/11 researchers in that the subject has taken over his professional life. Down the coast in Santa Barbara is another of the movement’s luminaries. On the beach at Isla Vista, one of the most expensive real-estate spots in the US, lives David Ray Griffin, a former theology professor. As his dogs scratch excitedly on the sliding door, Griffin explains that America’s primary faith is not Christianity, but nationalism. “Other countries do really terrible things. Our leaders never would. And that [belief] has been the biggest impediment to getting people to look at the evidence, because they just know a priori that that is ridiculous.”

Michael Meacher, UK politician
“It is clear the US authorities did little or nothing to pre-empt the events of 9/11”

Griffin now thinks the evidence to the contrary is incontrovertible. Until 2002, he had busied himself far from the rancour of public controversy writing rather obscure philosophical books and teaching philosophy of religion at the Claremont School of Theology. But the course of his research changed abruptly when he heard a visiting British theologian question the official account of 9/11. Two years later, Griffin’s The New Pearl Harbor, with a foreword by British MP Michael Meacher, became a touchstone in the 9/11 Truth movement. He has since written others, including one detailing the “omissions and distortions” of the 9/11 Commission, the report of which fits the definition of “conspiracy theory” neatly, he says. “They started with the conclusion that al-Qaeda did it and didn’t even consider the alternative that it was an inside job.”

Griffin was a script consultant on Loose Change Final Cut, part of the internet phenomenon that set off the current explosion of low-budget 9/11 DVDs. The previous version was viewed more than 10 million times on Google Video, according to Vanity Fair. In 2002, armed only with a laptop and off-the-shelf video production software, Dylan Avery, an 18-year-old resident of Oneonta, New York, set about making a fictional film about discovering, with his friends, that 9/11 was orchestrated by the US government. At some point in his research, Avery had a “Dude, this shit is real!” moment and Loose Change entered the realm of agit-prop documentary. Final Cut makes a bold new allegation: the Twin Towers were packed with deadly asbestos, which would have cost billions to clean up. “If you bring down the buildings,” says Griffin, “not only do you not have to pay … to clean them up, somebody is going to make billions of dollars on the insurance.”

September 11 as insurance job? This seems to expand the circle of conspirators somewhat. Griffin ventures another possible explanation: the psychological impact. “You had these massive explosions, which rather looked like a nuclear blast,” he says. “That’s always been the deep fear of America. In the run-up to the Iraq war, that’s what they were talking about – we cannot wait until we have a nuclear cloud.”

Griffin offers one further speculation, this time on a question which is controversial even among 9/11 sceptics: what hit the Pentagon? Thierry Meyssan was the first to claim that it was not Flight 77 – an American Airlines 757 carrying 64 passengers – but a cruise missile that hit the west wall of the Pentagon at 9.37am on September 11. Websites have followed suit, pointing to the apparent lack of plane debris on the Pentagon lawn and the fact that the hole left in the outer ring of the building looks too small to accommodate the wingspan of a 757. Retired US Air Force captain Russ Wittenberg from Pilots for 9/11 Truth asserted that no inexperienced pilot could have performed the manoeuvre the 9/11 Commission concluded that al-Qaeda conspirator Hani Hanjour pulled off that morning: a 330° turn, 2,200ft descent, a full-throttle dive and then a 530 miles per hour plunge at ground level into the Pentagon. Call it “the magic plane theory”: doubters believe that, just as the bullet that killed Kennedy appeared to defy the laws of physics, so the plane that struck the Pentagon was like no other in existence.

And just as Nasa was forced to counter claims the moon landings were faked, these and other claims have forced the US State Department into the debunking business. Its Identifying Misinformation website states that debris from Flight 77 was indeed recovered, as were the remains of passengers and crew. Many witnesses saw the plane come in, and a number of passengers made phone calls to their loved ones telling them their flight had been hijacked.
There is also another obvious problem: if a missile hit the Pentagon, what happened to Flight 77? “There was a rumour that an airliner had gone down on the Ohio/Kentucky border and that was taken very seriously early on by the Federal Aviation Authority,” says Griffin. It later rejected the story. But Griffin claims the only evidence that Flight 77 was aloft after that was an alleged phone call from Barbara Olsen to Ted Olsen, the solicitor-general of the United States.
So how does he explain that phone call? Ted Olsen is a Bush administration insider, he says. Another possible answer, though, is “voice-morphing technology”.

This would also explain the flurry of phone calls from United Airlines Flight 93, which, as the official story has it, crashed in a Pennsylvania field after passengers revolted against their hijackers.

Glossary of doubt:

No-planers
People who claim that it wasn’t an aircraft, but a missile, that hit the Pentagon on September 11 2001. Some have taken it a step further and argued that no aircraft hit the twin towers, either. What the world saw that day, these sceptics argue, was either video trickery or cruise missiles disguised through image technology as aircraft.

Mihops
Truthers who believe the US government “Made it happen on purpose”, “it” being the destruction of September 11.

Lihops
A more moderate strain of truther who believe the government “Let it happen on purpose”.

Scholars for 9/11 Truth
Started by James Fetzer, the group advocates looking at all possible explanations of what happened on September 11, no matter how improbable.

Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice

The more moderate splinter group of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, led by Steven Jones. Endorses an “evidence-based approach” to questioning the 9/11 story.

It’s not just supporters of the official story who roll their eyes at these claims. They put Griffin in the camp of the “no-planers”, at least as far as the attack on the Pentagon is concerned. The no-planers enrage the rest of the truthers, who accuse them of sabotaging the credibility of the movement. The claim that no plane hit the Pentagon is a Trojan horse, they say – disinformation that serves the conspirators. Some – such as former MI5 whistleblower David Shayler – have even asserted that no planes, but missiles disguised by “cloaking technology”, hit the Twin Towers. Shayler, incidentally, proclaimed himself the Messiah last year.

If the 9/11 truth movement is fighting a kind of asymmetric war against official sources of knowledge, it is also battling itself. As the movement morphs into an international activist group, it recognises that if it is to convince middle Americans, it must distance itself from its exotic fringe. Once, it was the Mihops versus the Lihops. These factions, who sound like warring species from an H.G. Wells story, are those who believe the government Made It Happen On Purpose and those who think it Let It Happen On Purpose. The Mihops are in the ascendancy.

The genesis of all this can be traced back to a schism that followed the first real attempt to bring scholarly credibility to the 9/11 sceptics. In 2005, Steven Jones was invited to form a group called Scholars for 9/11 Truth by James Fetzer, a professor in the philosophy department at the University of Minnesota and the author of some 20 books on the philosophy of science and artificial intelligence. Fetzer teaches critical thinking, and is nothing if not critical. He has been campaigning for more than a decade to prove that the Zapruder film is a hoax perpetuated by the same government intelligence agencies that orchestrated JFK’s assassination.

But within a year, Jones had written to all members of Scholars announcing that he and others no longer wanted to be associated with Fetzer, who was, in the rebels’ opinion, holding them up to ridicule. Fetzer had backed a theory by Judy Wood, a former assistant professor in mechanical engineering at Clemson University, proposing that the Twin Towers were brought down by a “directed energy” weapon developed as part of the US government’s Star Wars programme. It prompted a stampede to a new group, Scholars for 9/11 Truth & Justice, headed by Jones. Confusing the two groups would be like mistaking Monty Python’s Judean People’s Front for the People’s Front of Judea: this was a major doctrinal split.

Fetzer’s view is that any serious inquiry into what happened on 9/11 should look at all possibilities. Supporters of the directed energy hypothesis keep popping up at 9/11 Truth lectures to heckle what Python fans might call the “splittist” thermite theorists. Among the advocates of the Star Wars theory is Morgan Reynolds, perhaps the first prominent US government official to claim that 9/11 was an inside job. At the time of the attacks, Reynolds was chief economist at the US Department of Labor.

Some Star Wars supporters, in turn, accuse proponents of the thermite hypothesis of being government shills. One, on CheckTheEvidence.com, alleges that Jones’s public denunciation of Star Wars theories is actually a Trojan horse; he notes that Jones once worked at Los Alamos, where directed energy weapons are researched. This line of conjecture also entangles Norman Mineta, US transportation secretary on September 11 2001. Mineta was the man who grounded all civilian aircraft on that morning. But he was also once vice-president of Lockheed Martin, a founding member of the Directed Energy Professional Society … In this outer reach of the blogosphere, no one is ever more than six degrees of separation from the heart of the conspiracy.

Jones did, in fact, do post-doctoral research at the Los Alamos Meson Physics Facility for the University of Wyoming, but he says it was peaceful and non-weapons-related. He says the more out-there theories, including those of the no-planers, are harming the movement. “First, they discourage others who are trying to do serious work, and they tend to be quite vocal about their heckling,” he says. “More serious is that when we’re really trying to look at an evidence-based approach, we get lumped in with these people and then dismissed as a whole.”

Two days before Jones’s lecture in LA, his erstwhile colleague was taking his own campaign on the road on the other side of the country. After addressing Student Scholars for 9/11 Truth in New Hampshire, Fetzer was off to that seat of academic respectability, Yale University. To prepare for our meeting, I watched a DVD of a 9/11 symposium he held in his new hometown of Madison, Wisconsin last year. The star of this show was Alfred Lambremont Webre, a judge on former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad’s alternative international War Crimes Tribunal in Kuala Lumpur and co-author of the Space Preservation Treaty. He delivers what might be the most momentous opening line in the history of town hall seminars. “Fellow Citizens… 9/11 was a false flag operation by an international war crimes racketeering organisation to provide a pretext to engage in a genocidal and ecocidal depleted uranium bombing of central Asia, Afghanistan and Iraq in order to secure vast oil and uranium reserves; to roll out a terror-based national security state system worldwide and … to implement the final stages of a world depopulation policy.” There are two more “false flag” operations in the pipeline, he says. The first is the war against asteroids, the second the “war against the evil aliens”.

Hearing this, you either experience the thrill of revelation or the sinking feeling that the person you are listening to is having some kind of breakdown. Within 30 minutes, Webre has folded into the 9/11 plot the Skull & Bones society at Yale University – or the “Brotherhood of Death”, as he calls it – neocon think-thank the Council on Foreign Relations, the Rothschilds, the Queen and the City of London. I wondered how all these conspiracies could be maintained without the whole conceit unravelling.

The answer, of course, is that there is only one conspiracy. Pearl Harbour, the moon landing, JFK, 9/11, the Illuminati, the Black Helicopters, Skull & Bones, chemtrails: all faces of the same demon. The plot goes all the way to the top, and all the way back in time. You could come to believe that it involves everyone except yourself – at which point it’s all over for you. And as I listened, I just waited for him to say the Word. And, inevitably, Webre brought it all back to the “international neo-Zionist organisation”.

I asked Fetzer about this as we sat in a cafe across from Yale, home of the Brotherhood of Death: how did he keep his scholars on message? “It’s obvious to me that you have to consider all the possible alternatives,” he says. “You can’t exclude any, lest, as you proceed in your investigation and eliminate hypotheses, you eliminate the true hypothesis because you’ve never allowed it to be considered.”

Fetzer’s talk later that night does not go well. A Yale student had promoted the lecture on Facebook Events, but fellow students had apparently been unwilling to add their names, which anyone can see, perhaps for fear of ridicule. Only six show up. When it becomes clear that Fetzer is implicating some kind of Star Wars weapon, the two next to me begin scrolling distractedly through their mobile phone messages. Within 10 minutes, they have left.

Lewis Lapham, journalist
“Americans are very good at dreaming up these scenarios”

The conclusion of the 9/11 Commission – the official story – is that the 2001 attacks got through because those charged with protecting America had not truly conceived of the threat: in its author’s evocative phrase, they had suffered a “failure of imagination”. After trawling the internet in search of 9/11 Truth, it seems to me the American imagination is strong. “Americans are very good at dreaming up these scenarios,” says Lewis Lapham, the former Harper’s magazine editor and a prominent critic of the Bush administration post-September 11. “We are open to all kinds of magical theories,” he says, citing the continuing fascination with the assassination of JFK. “We are also good at creating religions.” Lapham thinks the theory that 9/11 was an inside job follows in this long tradition, but also reflects cynicism among Americans towards their government. He does not accept that the Bush administration planned 9/11 or even allowed it to happen. Nonetheless, he thinks a new investigation is warranted. In 2004, Harper’s ran a trenchant piece describing the 9/11 Commission as a “whitewash” and a “cheat and a fraud” for downplaying evidence that warnings of the al-Qaeda threat were ignored. Such flaws allowed space for alternative theories to develop, Lapham says.

 

In this, there are shades of the Warren Commission into the assassination of President Kennedy, which served merely to deepen popular distrust. But if we have seen the likes of the 9/11 Truth movement before, it also represents something new. “With the Kennedy assassination, pretty soon after the events themselves there were fairly significant questions being raised by people of all types and stripes about what actually happened,” says Mark Fenster, a University of Florida law professor and author of Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture. “But whereas then it was a generalised, amorphous kind of response, the amount of organisation – politically and through alternative media – is far more striking now than it was back then.”

Fenster thinks that the 9/11 Truth movement is in some ways a typical American response to a surprising and traumatic event. But it also represents a step change in its use of telecommunications technology. “One of the interesting things, particularly in the beginning of this movement, was the extent to which there were a lot of local groups in different cities organising protests … and they could co-ordinate and create a national and international movement,” he says. “Whether that translates into more people actually believing in the conspiracy theory is a completely different question.”

Fenster believes the few published polls on the subject, rather than showing any real depth of suspicion about 9/11, demonstrate declining trust in the Bush administration generally. The author of one of the most rigorous of the websites that aim to debunk the conspiracy theories, Debunking911.com, notes that the most recent Zogby poll on attitudes towards 9/11 found only 4.6 per cent of Americans believe the Bush administration blew up the Twin Towers. “If you follow the website hits, you’ll find that since Debunking911 came into existence, conspiracy sites have been losing readership,” he says via e-mail. “I think all they needed was someone to fill in the parts conspiracy theorists left out of the conspiracy story and their numbers begin to shrink.”

Perhaps the 9/11 Truth movement is what one would expect in the dying days of an unpopular administration, and with no end in sight to a costly war. Whether it can maintain momentum when that government leaves office next year is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, some on the left accuse it of letting the leaders they so vehemently distrust off the hook. “They make a mockery of [civil rights] causes by associating their nonsense with genuinely important issues, and by diverting a large number of people who should know better into a unicorn hunt,” says British writer and activist George Monbiot. Monbiot is regularly heckled by 9/11 truthers at public events after accusing them in The Guardian of undermining genuine political opposition. His first column on the truthers prompted a near-record number of postings on the paper’s Comment Is Free website – 777 – many accusing him of being part of the conspiracy.

“It’s very interesting to see,” he says, “particularly in the United States, how the anti-war movement has been largely co-opted in many places by the 9/11 Truth movement. And we desperately need an active anti-war movement, because there is a lot of reckoning to be done.”

Peter Barber is the FT’s deputy comment editor