Five Years On…
© By Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed
It has been half a decade since the United States came under an unprecedented coordinated terrorist attack on some of its most prominent symbols of power. First the North, then the South, Towers of the World Trade Centre (WTC) in New York were hit by civilian airplanes. Then even the heart of the US military, the Pentagon, was struck, and finally a civilian plane, apparently destined for the White House, ended up crashing in Pennsylvania.
Most of us remember watching the TV screens in absolute shock and horror, as first one, then the other, WTC towers collapsed in on themselves in a cloud of smoke and debris. Some of us experienced unbearable grief as we witnessed or later learned that our own loved ones were among those thousands of people who were brutally, gruesomely slain.
Since then, there have been many other terrorist attacks on Western targets in Indonesia, Turkey, Spain, Britain, and elsewhere. And, we are told, there have been countless other attempted terrorist attacks foiled by the authorities. The enemy is not always easy to identify – but their broad contours, our leaders say, are well-known.
“The evidence we have gathered all points to a collection of loosely affiliated terrorist organisations known as al Qaeda,” declared US President George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001 attacks…
Al Qaeda is to terror what the mafia is to crime. But its goal is not making money; its goal is remaking the world – and imposing its radical beliefs on people everywhere… This group and its leader – a person named Osama bin Laden – are linked to many other organisations in different countries… There are thousands of these terrorists in more than 60 countries. They are recruited from their own nations and neighbourhoods and brought to camps in places like Afghanistan, where they are trained in the tactics of terror. They are sent back to their homes or sent to hide in countries around the world to plot evil and destruction.
And thereafter was officially launched the “War on Terror,” an unlimited war against an amorphous network of Islamist extremists who could strike out at any time, in any place, without warning, and without mercy, in order to pursue their ultimate goal of global domination.
Cold War Pentagon Memo Confirms
State-Sponsored Self Terrorism
For those well-versed in the history of Western covert operations, the official narrative of 9/11 could not simply be accepted at face value. Questions were perfectly legitimate. But the 9/11 truth movement has largely missed the value of one of the biggest “covert operation smoking guns” of 20th century history: Operation Gladio, perhaps the only instance of successfully completed state-sponsored self-terrorism that is fully and directly confirmed by declassified secret documents, European Parliamentary inquiries, and confessions from intelligence operatives.
The most authoritative study of this ‘Strategy of Tension’, NATO’s Secret Armies, was released last year, and authored by Dr. Daniele Ganser, Senior Researcher at the Centre for Security Studies in the Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich.
His groundbreaking book shows that it is now a matter of historical record that during the Cold War, high-level sections of the American, British and western European secret services participated in a sophisticated NATO-backed operation to engineer domestic terrorist attacks to be blamed on the Soviet Union. The objective was to mobilise drastic anti-Communist policies at home and abroad, and to legitimise interventionism against nationalist independence movements throughout the “Third World.”1
In July 1940, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered the establishment of a secret army to “set Europe ablaze by assisting resistance movements and carrying out subversive operations in enemy held territory.”2 By 4 October 1945, the British Chiefs of Staff and the Special Operations branch of MI6 directed the creation of a “skeleton network” capable of expansion either in war or to service clandestine operations abroad.3
In the ensuing years, Col. Gubbins’ Special Operations branch of MI6 cooperated closely with Frank Wisner’s CIA covert action department Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) on White House orders, and in turn coordinated US and UK Special Forces, to establish stay-behind secret armies across western Europe.4
The programme soon developed into a dangerous conglomerate of unaccountable covert operations controlled by clandestine structures operating as parallel sub-sections of the main intelligence services. Dr. Ganser does us the greatest service in unearthing the only smoking gun Pentagon memo which proves that state-sponsored self-terrorism is standard strategy for elements of Western military-intelligence services: classified Field Manual 30-31, with appendices FM 30-31A and FM 30-31B, authored by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).
As Ganser observes: “FM 30-31 instructs the secret soldiers to carry out acts of violence in times of peace and then blame them on the Communist enemy in order to create a situation of fear and alertness. Alternatively, the secret soldiers are instructed to infiltrate the left-wing movements and then urge them to use violence.” In the manual’s own words:
There may be times when Host Country Governments show passivity or indecision in the face of Communist subversion and according to the interpretation of the US secret services do not react with sufficient effectiveness… US army intelligence must have the means of launching special operations which will convince Host Country Governments and public opinion of the reality of the insurgent danger. To reach this aim US army intelligence should seek to penetrate the insurgency by means of agents on special assignment, with the task of forming special action groups among the most radical elements of the insurgency… In case it has not been possible to successfully infiltrate such agents into the leadership of the rebels it can be useful to instrumentalise extreme leftist organisations for one’s own ends in order to achieve the above described targets… These special operations must remain strictly secret.5
In this way, US and UK intelligence services orchestrated devastating waves of terrorist attacks blamed on the Soviet Union, not only in Italy, but also in Spain, Germany, France, Turkey, Greece, and throughout western Europe.
But why suspect that the same thing is happening now in the new “War on Terror”? The answer lies in what almost amounts to a signed confession in the form of the “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” document published one year prior to 9/11 by the neo-conservative think-tank, the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). The document was sponsored by all the leading lights of the Bush Cabinet, including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Armitage, John Bolton, among many others.6 It advocates a “blueprint for maintaining global US pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests.”
The US military is described as “the cavalry on the new American frontier,” whose “core mission” is to “fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars” to preserve what is candidly portrayed as a “global Pax Americana.” But the most significant revelation is on pages 62-63, stating that:
Any serious effort at transformation must occur within the larger framework of US national security strategy, military missions and defense budgets.… Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalysing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.7
The PNAC blueprint echoed the strategic concerns about legitimising US military expansionism expressed by Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Adviser to President Carter, made three years earlier:
The attitude of the American public toward the external projection of American power has been much more ambivalent. The public supported America’s engagement in World War II largely because of the shock effect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor… As America becomes an increasingly multi-cultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat.8
Immediately, it becomes clear that interrogating the US government’s relationship to 9/11 is absolutely essential. It seems that in the preceding years, senior US policymakers had seriously contemplated the usefulness of a Pearl Harbor-scale attack to mobilise domestic populations in support of US military power projection. As Daniel Ellsberg, Special Assistant to the Assistant Defense Secretary of the United States during the Vietnam War, who famously leaked the Pentagon Papers, asked in June this year:
Is this administration capable, humanly and psychologically of engineering such a provocation [as 9/11]? Yes, I would say that, I worked for such an administration myself, Johnson, ah, President Johnson put destroyers in harm’s way in the Tonkin Gulf not only once, but several times, with the, with a lot of his people hoping that it would lead to a confrontation and claiming that it had. And could have resulted in the loss of many lives in the course of it.9
Denounced by the 9/11 Families
Thankfully, not everyone bought into the official narrative of 9/11 so easily. Least of all the bereaved families of the 9/11 victims, many of whom struggled and lobbied despite their own mourning for an independent public inquiry into the terrorist attacks, an inquiry that might resolve the numerous questions that hung over almost every single dimension of the government’s explanation for what had happened that Tuesday morning.
The 9/11 families’ courageous struggle, supported by a loose association of researchers, organisations and activists around the United States and the world, forced the US government to hold first the Joint Inquiry by the House and Senate, and finally to instate the National Commission to Investigate the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001, in Washington DC. But despite both processes making public some valuable new information about the attacks and raising a few important questions, they were ultimately pitiful failures in the task of genuinely, impartially interrogating the 9/11 attacks.
Last year on 22 July, I had the honour of testifying as an expert at a special all-day Congressional hearing in Washington sponsored by Hon. Rep. Cynthia McKinney and Hon. Rep. Raul Grijalva, “The 9/11 Commission Report One Year Later: A Citizen’s Response – Did They Get it Right?”
I was joined by a host of academic experts, journalists, and former senior US intelligence officers, all of them questioning the official 9/11 narrative from their own perspectives. But by far the most powerful address was from the 9/11 families who came to support and inform the meeting, including Robert McIlvaine, father of 9/11 victim and member of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows; Marilyn Rosenthal, mother of 9/11 victim, and professor at University of Michigan; and especially Lauri von Auken, Mindy Kleinberg and Monica Gabrielle representing the 911 Family Steering Committee.
“This report was supposed to provide the definitive account of what had transpired on September 11, 2001,” said von Auken in her opening address at the hearing. “We hoped that our thousands of unanswered questions would be addressed and answered. Yet, incredibly, we have found that the Commission’s definitive final report has actually yielded more questions than answers.” She indicted the 9/11 Commission Report as just “some statements that truly insulted the intelligence of the American people, violated our loved ones’ memories, and might end up hurting us one day soon.”10
Her characterisation of the Commission Report was the most damning condemnation that the 9/11 Families Steering Committee had ever made about the official inquiry process. Yet it was met with resounding silence from the American media, which refused to report the hearing in general, and ignored von Auken’s heart-rending testimony on behalf of the 9/11 families.
Whither the Movement?
Five years on from 9/11, the “truth movement” that has emerged in the vacuum of legitimate answers to the countless questions about the terrorist attacks remains in a state of internal disarray, despite significant progress and achievements. The movement is plagued with accusations and counter-accusations between researchers based on their theoretical preferences about what happened on 9/11.
With an almost religious zeal, activists hurl outraged condemnations and paranoid allegations at each other. Splits in the movement are innumerable, mutual suspicions that other parties are “disinformation agents” are rife, and fruitless regressive arguments and counter-arguments continue on the most speculative minutiae of the attacks, without any clear resolution in sight.
Perhaps one of the most obvious splits worth noting here is the apparent gulf between “physical evidence” theorists, who emphasise discrepancies in official accounts of the collapse of the WTC buildings, the movements of the planes that hit the buildings, and the Pentagon crash, among other things; and “covert operations” theorists, who emphasise the role of intelligence operations in liaising with terrorist networks, the extent of prior advanced warnings of the attacks, and the manipulation of “terrorist threats” to justify the pursuit of US geostrategic interests on the pretext of fighting the “War on Terror.”
Even within these particular “schools,” there are vitriolic disputes between “9/11-truthers,” some advocating that there were no planes on 9/11, others that the planes were military aircraft, some that there were no hijackers, others that the hijackers were patsies, and so on and so forth. Most of these quite specific disagreements about how to interpret the available data remain unresolved on the whole, despite individual opinions.
To some extent, the disputes have manifested in the form of seemingly hostile exchanges between various camps, such as the recent observations made by Michael C. Ruppert to the effect that the 9/11 movement has virtually killed itself by getting obsessed with physical evidence, and the responses that followed suggesting physical evidence provides the most convincing case.
As readers familiar with my work will know, I myself prefer to engage in the kind of research loosely categorised here as belonging to the “covert operations” camp, but this has nothing to do with my view of the value of the evidence at hand. On the contrary, it is largely to do with my own expertise in international relations and conflict analysis, and my lack of familiarity with the relevant scientific disciplines.
Having said that, the overemphasis on particular kinds of 9/11 research at the expense of others, for the movement as a whole, must be dropped. The fact of the matter is that both kinds of research are essential to develop a full and accurate understanding of what happened on 9/11, how and why. An impartial inspection of the relevant data in these two seemingly opposed areas of analysis firstly shows that there is a great deal we do know about what happened, and secondly opens up new avenues of inquiry about what we still don’t know.
The World Trade Centre:
Demolishing Conventional Collapse Theories
Thankfully, there are non-scientists unlike myself who despite a lack of specifically relevant qualifications, do feel confident about addressing some of the physical and scientific issues concerning 9/11.
Some of the best work on this subject has, indeed, been done by David Ray Griffin, a professor emeritus at the Claremont School of Theology, who applies his well-honed academic methods of analytical analysis to the questions surrounding the collapse of the World Trade Centre buildings.
Griffin is perhaps best known in the movement for his New Pearl Harbor (2004), which attempted to summarise the best evidence about 9/11 produced by other researchers, including apart from myself, Paul Thompson at the Centre for Cooperative Research and author of The Terror Timeline; Michel Chossudovsky, a professor of economics at the University of Ottawa; and Michael Ruppert, former LAPD narcotics investigator who uncovered CIA narco-trafficking and author of Crossing the Rubicon.
But Griffin went further in using the works of researchers like Eric Hufschmidt, a non-scientist who collected together serious discrepancies in the government’s claims about the WTC collapses, and Jim Hoffman, who specialises in applying scientific visualisations of mathematics. Griffin also tackled the anomalies in official accounts about the Pentagon crash.
Griffin’s best work in this area was published earlier this year in what is arguably the best collection of academic 9/11 research to date. The collection, “Hidden History of 9-11-2001”, was published in the peer-reviewed annual volume Research in Political Economy (REP), edited by Paul Zarembka, professor of economics at New York State University.
Griffin’s contribution systematically deconstructs the various official explanations for why the WTC buildings collapsed, and finds them hopelessly inadequate.11 Once again, he relies heavily on the research of other scientists, particularly Hoffman’s. He notes the basic claim, also endorsed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) report, that the towers collapsed due to fires, and points out that scientific studies carried out by NIST itself “found no evidence that any of the core columns were exposed to temperatures greater than 482˚F (250˚C).” The problem is that steel “does not even begin to melt until it reaches almost 2800° Fahrenheit. And yet open fires fueled by hydrocarbons, such as kerosene – which is what jet fuel is – can at most rise to 1700°F, which is almost 1100 degrees below the melting point of steel.” In other words, the fires were nowhere near hot enough to cause the steel to either buckle, or melt.
Griffin’s analysis is also the first attempt to review testimony about explosions from fire fighters and emergency medical workers in the over 500 9/11 oral histories recorded by the New York Fire Department. These were only publicly released in August 2005 under pressure from the 9/11 families and the New York Times. In conclusion of his review, Griffin quotes Auxiliary Lieutenant Fireman Paul Isaac saying that “there were definitely bombs in those buildings,” and that “many other firemen know there were bombs in the buildings, but they’re afraid for their jobs to admit it because the ‘higher-ups’ forbid discussion of this fact.”
Unknown to many, however, is the debacle behind the publication of Griffin’s article in Research in Political Economy. The piece was only submitted after another article on the WTC collapses, authored by Steve Jones, professor of physics at Brigham Young University (BYU), was banned from publication in the journal by his own physics department.
Jones’ groundbreaking analysis – the first peer-reviewed deconstruction of the official account of the WTC collapses from an American physicist – was eventually posted on Jones’ website at the BYU physics department, which also permitted him to publish it in a separate prospective volume edited by Griffin, for which the paper went through yet another peer review process. Jones’ contribution is the first peer-reviewed refutation of the official account of the WTC collapses by a qualified physicist.12
One of his most explosive arguments concerned discoveries of molten metal in the basements of the two WTC towers, which were hit by planes, as well as in the third building, WTC 7 – a building which symmetrically collapsed despite not being hit by a plane. In all cases, the official account blames intense fires, made hotter due to jet (or in WTC 7’s case diesel) fuel. Jones points out that all scientific investigations by NIST, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and independent experts establish that the fires were simply not hot enough to melt the steel. In that context, the deposits of molten metal found after the collapses constitute “direct evidence for the use of high-temperature explosives, such as thermite, which produces molten iron as an end product.”13
Long before Jones’ devastating conclusions – only 3 months after 9/11 – the inadequacy of the official account had been flagged up by fire protection engineering experts. Editor Bill Manning wrote in Fire Engineering that:
Fire Engineering has good reason to believe that the ‘official Investigation’ blessed by FEMA… is a half-baked farce that may already have been commandeered by political forces whose primary interests, to put it mildly, lie far afield of full disclosure… Respected members of the fire protection engineering community are beginning to raise red flags, and a resonating [result] has emerged: The structural damage from the planes and the explosive ignition of jet fuel in themselves were not enough to bring down the towers….14
And late last year, similar reservations were aired by structural engineers, concerned that: “World Trade Center disaster investigators [at NIST] are refusing to show computer visualisations of the collapse of the Twin Towers despite calls from leading structural and fire engineers.” The visualisations are needed to iron out the many “simplifications, extrapolations and judgment calls” made in the investigation.15
Concealing the Nuclear Device
Unlike the growing scientific literature critiquing the government’s account of the WTC collapses, there remains considerable ambiguity over what happened at the Pentagon on 9/11. There are no scientific peer-reviewed analyses of the subject either for or against the official account. It is therefore difficult for a layperson to assess the strength of the evidence on either side.
For instance, Griffin, using the work of French journalist Thierry Meyssan, has argued that the Pentagon could not have been hit by a Boeing 757. Mathematics professor A. K. Dewdney has also supported this thesis. The main grounds for the argument are, 1. The photovisual evidence of the crash scene, where no debris from a Boeing jet can be seen anywhere, and where the entry-point in the west wing wall is a small hole with no damage on either side of it; 2. Photovisual evidence showing that whatever entered the Pentagon had the power to penetrate six reinforced walls; 3. The systematic concealing of evidence relevant to the crash, including debris, camera footage, etc.; among some other issues.
But the Pentagon crash debate illustrates precisely the kinds of ambiguities that can arise when non-scientists try to assess physical evidence without the qualifications to do so.
Perhaps the best critique of the sort of analysis done by Meyssan and Griffin, is by the French engineering professor, Jean-Pierre Desmoulins, who also holds a private pilot’s license. Desmoulins notes that it is often wrongly assumed that the famous AP “hunt the boeing” photo was taken only a few minutes after the crash: “Examined more carefully the photo reveals that this E-Ring zone had already collapsed.” Desmoulins notes that the photo, taken from afar, shows very little detail, and therefore chastises those who assume that the photo provides proof that there is no damage above or on either side of the hole. Indeed, he argues that although “there’s no damage above the central (fuselage) hole, there is extensive damage extending on both the left and right sides of this hole.”16
Desmoulins assessment is corroborated by Joe R.’s so far undisputed calculation of the actual size of the hole, based on examining the photovisual evidence in relation to the known sizes of the clearly visible windows in the damaged Pentagon wall, the known size of the wall itself, etc. Joe concludes that the total width of the primary hole is 20ft, compared to the fuselage width of a 757 at 12.5 ft – ample size for a 757 to pass through.17
The photo is also selective. Although fuselage debris “are not visible on the area shown by this photo, i.e. south-west of the impact point,” Desmoulins points out with photovisual evidence that “there were a lot of small (and some middle size) aluminium pieces on the north-west side of the impact point. This is normal, as the impact occurred with an angle of 55° from the plane of the facade. The parts of the aircraft which didn’t enter the building bounced away, like confetti, in a sector comprised, approximately, between 0° and 55° from the planular facade on the NORTH side.”18
Crash studies suggest that the over-300-mph impact of a jetliner with the Pentagon’s reinforced wall would have reduced the entire aircraft – and certainly its relatively light wings and tail – to confetti.19
Desmoulins also notes the role of the “Owen Effect,” whereby the temperature was likely to reach higher than the melting point of aluminium, a phenomena commonly recorded in tunnel fires in Europe (e.g. in the channel tunnel, in the Mont Blanc tunnel, in a funicular fire in Austria where aluminium was completely melted and iron partly melted). As there was a sprinkler system recently installed in the zone of the crash, the input of water “on a mix of fuel and molten aluminium at high temperature creates a chemical reaction between aluminium and water, producing alumina (a white powder) and hydrogen.” The reaction would have “disintegrated most of the parts of the plane which were placed in this inferno condition… Any engineer in an aluminium production plant knows the dangers created by the encounter of water and melted aluminium.”
Desmoulins then forwards an alternative explanation, consistent with the findings of a growing number of credible 9/11 researchers like Jim Hoffman, Eric Bart, Joe R., among others, that the Pentagon was indeed hit by a Boeing 757. This is consistent with the overwhelming bulk of the eyewitness evidence compiled by Bart,20 as well with the physical evidence assessed by Hoffman. But the large-scale impact of the crash inside the Pentagon can only be explained by the hypothesis that the airliner carried a military load. Indeed, professor Desmoulis argues that the scale of the explosion and its effects on the building structures is consistent only with the impact of a depleted uranium warhead.21
The use of DU on 9/11 at the Pentagon crash has been corroborated by radiation scientist Leuren Moret, who worked on radiation issues at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Laboratory. Moret and another radiation expert Dr. Janette Sherman took Geiger counter readings showing over eight to ten times higher than normal, 12 miles from the Pentagon.
According to Moret, they alerted radiation experts from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the FBI who later confirmed high radiation levels at the Pentagon crash site.22 For Desmoulins, the high levels of radiation that would have penetrated the crash scene debris account for the authorities’ refusals to release the Pentagon evidence, which would confirm the planting of an advanced DU warhead in the nose of the Boeing.
Remote Hijacking of Hijackers?
In any case, the Pentagon debate appears less easy to resolve than another line of inquiry, the role of the alleged 9/11 hijackers. The best research on the subject is by Jay Kolar, in yet another stellar contribution to the “Hidden History” REP volume.
Reviewing credible reports from the BBC, CNN, and other mainstream sources around the world, he concludes that “at least ten of those named on the FBI’s second and final list of 19 have turned up and been verified to be alive, with proof positive that at least one other ‘hijacker’, Ziad Jarrah, had his identity doubled, and therefore fabricated.” Kolar, who has expertise in film analysis, examines the visual evidence furnished by the government to support its narrative – including alleged footage of the hijackers at Dulles Airport and the infamous Osama bin Laden confession tape. He finds them to be riddled with impossibilities and anomalies, and concludes that they are utterly unreliable at best, and downright forgeries at worst.23
This leaves us, however, with another problem. If there were no hijackers, then what happened on 9/11? In the same volume, professor Paul Zarembka notes that the available evidence from the FAA and elsewhere tends to support the conclusion that there were hijackings of the four flights that morning.24 So if the planes were hijacked, who did it?
In my view, this is where Kolar’s ‘doubles’ theory comes in. Kolar argues that as many of the alleged hijackers are now alive, they must have had ‘doubles’ who were using their identities as aliases. In my own research, I’ve noted that the alleged hijackers had trained in US military installations in the 1990s, had connections to the CIA and DEA, and worse still, displayed patently non-Islamic behaviour in the form of drinking alcohol, snorting cocaine, and frolicking with women at lap-dancing clubs and illicit parties – behaviour not commensurate with that of normal practising Muslims, let alone Islamist al-Qaeda fanatics about to conduct the most spectacular martyrdom operation in history. At the forefront of this line of inquiry is former PBS and NBC journalist Daniel Hopsicker.
Kolar’s ‘doubles’ theory can perhaps begin to explain how the 9/11 cell was in fact made up of double agents who could have gone on to carry out the hijacking operations on the morning of 9/11.
But questions still remain. Nila Sagedevan, an aeronautical engineer and pilot, explores how it is a matter of record that the vast majority of these individuals were notoriously incapable of flying properly according to their own flight instructors. Mohammed Atta, Khalid al-Mihdhar, Marwan al-Shehhi and Hani Hanjour, were all described by their trainers as utterly incompetent. Hanjour’s instructer proclaimed incredulously: “His English was horrible, and his mechanical skills were even worse. It was like he had hardly even ever driven a car. I’m still to this day amazed that he could have flown into the Pentagon. He could not fly at all.”25
But the flight into the Pentagon, as is well-known, was described by pilots as one of the most sophisticated flying operations they had ever seen. Consider the observation of retired US Army Special Forces Master Sergeant Stan Goff about Hanjour:
A pilot they want us to believe was trained at a Florida puddle-jumper school for Piper Cubs and Cessnas, conducts a well-controlled downward spiral, descending the last 7,000 feet in two-and-a-half minutes, brings the plane in so low and flat that it clips the electrical wires across the street from the Pentagon, and flies it with pinpoint accuracy into the side of this building at 460 nauts. When the theory about learning to fly this well at the puddle-jumper school began to lose ground, it was added that they received further training on a flight simulator. This is like saying you prepared your teenager for her first drive on I-40 at rush.26
Thus, while it may be necessary to factor in the hijackers as involved in the initial part of the operation to takeover the civilian airliners, a fuller explanation would suggest that they were not aware of the wider ramifications of the operation as a suicide mission; and that new methods for the control of hijacked aircraft using remote technologies were implemented that morning to take the operation to its final, terrible conclusion. These technologies did exist prior to 9/11, as reported by the New Scientist, the Economist, ITN News, and many other sources.
For example: “Most modern aircraft have some form of autopilot that could be re-programmed to ignore commands from a hijacker and instead take direction from the ground,” said Jeff Gosling of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.27
This of course highlights the failure of the US air defence system to do anything for about one and a half hours, as recently acknowledged by experts such as Lt. Col. (ret.) Robert Bowman, director of the Star Wars programmes under Presidents Ford and Carter. Not only were standard operating procedures systematically violated, such that no military jets were implemented in a timely fashion to the right targets; the technology in place to remotely direct the hijacked aircraft was not used to take them to safety. Given that the conventionally identified hijackers could not have flown the planes either, we are left with an unavoidable, if startling scenario of an “al-Qaeda” operation that was itself “remotely hijacked” by elements within the US national security establishment itself.
There is, indeed, significant circumstantial evidence consistent with the possibility that remote control technologies were being used on the morning of 9/11. It is no longer disputable that there were over half a dozen war-games in operation on the morning of 9/11, including Vigilant Warrior, “a joint, live-fly, hijack Field Training Exercise (FTX) which involved at least one (and almost certainly many more) aircraft under US control that was posing as a hijacked airliner,” being run by NORAD and the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.28
A further exercise whose special significance has been relatively unnoticed by most 9/11 researchers was run by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), a secretive US intelligence agency which “designs, builds and operates the nation’s reconnaissance satellites” in order to “help plan military operations” and “monitor the environment” for the “Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Department of Defense (DoD).”29 According to the Associated Press:
…one US intelligence agency was planning an exercise last Sept. 11 in which an errant aircraft would crash into one of its buildings... National Reconnaissance Office had scheduled an exercise that morning in which a small corporate jet would crash into one of the four towers at the agency’s headquarters building after experiencing a mechanical failure. The agency is about four miles from the runways of Washington Dulles International Airport.
The exercise was first publicly revealed in an announcement for a homeland security conference in Chicago, which noted that CIA officer John Fulton, also Chief of the Strategic War Gaming Division of the National Reconnaissance Office, was on the very morning of 9/11 “running a pre-planned simulation to explore the emergency response issues that would be created if a plane were to strike a building…”30
NRO officials promptly denied that the simulation was a counterterrorism and/or security exercise, claiming that it was to simulate a mere accident – and insisted that the simulation was cancelled when “real world events” began. But this is hard to believe given Fulton’s specific credentials – not only the CIA/NRO chief war gamer, but also a member of the US Joint Forces Command’s Project Alpha, and an adviser on counterterrorism and homeland defense to the Director Central Intelligence Staff.31 Fulton’s expertise as chief NRO war gamer is therefore fundamentally concerned with exploring scenarios related to security and terrorism.
And what of Fulton’s Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM)? It describes itself as the Pentagon’s “transformation laboratory,” tasked among other things to develop concepts, test these concepts through live experimentation, and implement joint training exercises involving the “choreographing” of multiple military commands.32 In particular USJFCOM’s Project Alpha, in which Fulton is specifically involved, pursues programmes concerned with utilising advanced space-based satellite, surveillance, and communication technologies for military operations.
Intriguingly, many of these programs have significant aerial connotations, including the use of remote control technologies using “unmanned, autonomous airborne vehicles” in war.33 Project Alpha – which is subordinate to the Department of Defense – also conducts military experiments that bring live field exercises and computer simulations together.34
Fulton’s job, in other words, is not to simulate accidents – it is to wargame complex joint military operations involving space-based and aerial technologies. Whatever the “plane into building” simulation that Fulton was exercising on the morning of 9/11, it was almost certainly a highly complex wargame. Given Project Alpha’s function, Fulton’s NRO exercise could have provided the mechanism for joint coordination of the live-fly hijack exercise, war game simulations, and remote control operations on 9/11 – remotely hijacking an al-Qaeda hijacking.
“Al-Qaeda”: A CIA Database
Indeed, much of my own latest research in The War on Truth (2005), The London Bombings (2006), and my own contribution to the “Hidden History” RPE volume, has focused on examining this entity “al-Qaeda.” Does it exist? If so, what is it?
The late former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook wrote in The Guardian one day after the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London that the term “al-Qaeda” was invented by the CIA to designate a computer database of CIA-trained mujahideen recruits around the world, administered by Osama bin Laden.35
Overwhelming evidence in the public record confirms that groups identified as being affiliated to al-Qaeda in the Middle East, Central Asia, the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Asia-Pacific, have been penetrated, subverted and manipulated by Western intelligence services. But why? Largely to destabilise regional environments to pave the way for new “security” policies that serve to protect not people, but foreign investors taking over regional markets – especially markets with significant oil and gas deposits.36
Indeed, one CIA analyst described the covert strategy in plain words to the mainstream Swiss television journalist Richard Labeviere (currently chief editor at Radio France International): “The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvellously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilise what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.”
It should not be a surprise then (although it was at first to me!), to discover that al-Qaeda operatives as senior as Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s own right-hand man, are in fact CIA informants. The latter was confirmed by none other than Yousef Bodansky, former Director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism, reporting in Defense & Foreign Affairs: Strategic Policy that the al-Qaeda deputy leader was approached by a CIA emissary in November 1997, and essentially offered $50 million to protect US interests in the Balkans.37
It should not be lost on us that the same al-Zawahiri appears on the recently released al-Qaeda videos claiming responsibility for the London bombings. The implication is dire, but it is one supported by other academics such as University of Ottawa professor Michel Chossudovsky and University of California (Berkeley) professor Peter Dale Scott: that “al-Qaeda” has continued to function throughout the post-Cold War period as an instrument of Western statecraft, a covert operations tool. This, and everything else discussed here, renders the whole “War on Terror” narrative meaningless, and exposes it as an ideological framework engineered to legitimise a state of unlimited war for power and profit.
Five years on, the way forward for the 9/11 truth movement is to put an end to the obsessive infighting, forge bonds with all activists sceptical of the official 9/11 story regardless of whether they are LIHOP (Let It Happen On Purpose), MIHOP (Made It Happen On Purpose), or even neither, and unite on a common platform based on asking hard questions. We don’t have all the answers, but we do know that the official account is wrong on all counts. Interpreting the often complex (and sometimes technical) data is difficult enough; overcoming the reflexive psychological barriers that most people are socialised into putting up as soon as they hear of the possibility of state-sponsored self-terrorism is even more difficult.
9/11 truth needs to be understood and advocated in the context of clarifying the long tradition of state-sponsored self-terrorism that is so deeply embedded in our societies, as well as in relation to the wider dynamics of an increasingly unstable and indeed crumbling global imperial system, which the powers-that-be are desperately attempting to rehabilitate under the mantle of fighting the “War on Terror.”
In this context, a strategy of compassion and persuasion is urgently required, one which looks ahead to the possibility of a new social model that is ecologically sound, politically free, economically just and spiritually awake to the ethical values that make us human. In keeping that vision at the heart of our movement, perhaps we will be able to magnify the successes made so far and reach out to people everywhere.
Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed is the author of The London Bombings: An Independent Inquiry (Duckworth, 2006 [www.independentinquiry.co.uk]) and The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism (Olive Branch, 2005). He teaches political theory, international relations, and contemporary history at the University of Sussex, Brighton. His first book, The War on Freedom: How & Why America was Attacked, September 11, 2001, was written to critique the official account of 9/11, winning him the Naples Prize, Italy’s most prestigious literary award. After that, he wrote a comprehensive deconstruction of Western imperialism in Iraq and the wider Middle East since the collapse of the Ottoman empire, Behind the War on Terror: Western Secret Strategy and the Struggle for Iraq (New Society, 2003). His blog is at http://nafeez.blogspot.com.
The above article appears in
New Dawn No. 98 (Sept-Oct 2006)
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