Nine years on, 9/11 jury is still out
On the ninth anniversary of the worst terror attacks to strike the US mainland, many questions remain unanswered, not least of all concerning the true identities of the perpetrators.
Three days after the events of 9/11 came crashing into our living rooms, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported the identities of the hijackers of the four US commercial aircraft. This was certainly record time for cracking the biggest crime case of modern times. However, the FBI seems to have jumped the gun in their haste to pinpoint the crimes to the 19 Muslim passengers. As things turned out, this would be no small oversight – and even a bit of an embarrassment – since several of the accused terrorists were reported to be alive and well.
One of the alleged terrorists on 9/11 was identified as Waleed Al Shehri, who the FBI accused of helping to hijack and crash American Airlines flight 11 into the World Trade Center together with four other individuals.
There was just one problem, however: Waleed Al Shehri is alive and at the time of the 9/11 attacks was employed as a pilot for Saudi Arabian Airlines.
Moreover, Al Shehri is not the only individual who appears to have been a victim of identity theft on 9/11. Indeed, less than two weeks after 9/11, British media reported that “the identities of four of the 19 suspects accused of having carried out the attacks are now in doubt.”
“The men – all from Saudi Arabia – spoke of their shock at being mistakenly named by the FBI as suicide terrorists,” reported the Telegraph of London. “None of the four was in the United States on September 11 and all are alive in their home country.”
One of the men, Abdulaziz Al Omari, was employed at the time of the attacks as an engineer with Saudi Telecoms. He told Arab media about the shock he felt when he saw his name on the terrorist list.
"I couldn't believe it when the FBI put me on their list,” Al Omari told Arab media. “They gave my name and my date of birth, but I am not a suicide bomber. I am here. I am alive. I have no idea how to fly a plane. I had nothing to do with this."
The other exonerated “terrorists” were identified as Saeed Al-Ghamdi, who works as a pilot with Saudi Arabian Airlines; Salem Al-Hamzi, who is employed at a petrochemical complex; and Ahmed Al-Nami, an administrative supervisor with Saudi Arabian Airlines.
Of the 19 alleged terrorists, seven of the men have subsequently been confirmed as being alive, yet their names remain on the official list of hijackers. Meanwhile, none of the names of the suspected terrorists were ever found to have been included on the official (original) passenger manifests of the hijacked flights. No explanation has ever been given for this oversight. When media reports do provide names of the passengers, however, they fail to say if the manifest was obtained from the airlines or not.
To date, the only piece of tangible evidence that any one of the 19 accused hijackers were actually on board any of the four hijacked aircraft was discovered on a sidewalk near the site of the World Trade Center complex.
Following the attacks, a passport belonging to Satam al Suqam, one of the alleged hijackers, was miraculously discovered in the vicinity of Vesey Street, near the World Trade Center.
"It was a significant piece of evidence for us," said one investigator.
So now the obvious question: How did the flimsy passport of one of the suspected hijackers emerge practically unscathed from the World Trade Center inferno, which was powerful enough to melt steel, and turn up on a New York City sidewalk?
The Guardian, for one, was highly skeptical: "The idea that [al Suqam's] passport had escaped from that inferno unsinged [tests] the credulity of the staunchest supporter of the FBI's crackdown on terrorism."
A look at the perpetrators
So who were the hijackers? The official story is that 15 of the 19 individuals accused of pirating United Airlines 93, United Airlines 175, American Airlines Flight 11 and American Airlines Flight 77 were Saudi Arabian citizens, trained in Afghanistan and, of course, fanatical Muslims born and bred on the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed.
The problem, however, is that the main terrorists on 9/11, namely Muhammad Atta, the alleged ringleader, and Abdulaziz Alomari behaved in a way that would not be considered normal for two dedicated Muslims who are about to commit suicide against "the infidel."
“It is the afternoon of September the 10th,” says Moni Ovadia, an Italian actor who provides narration in the film Zero: An Investigation into 9/11. “The next day will be the most important day in the two men’s’ lives. A day on which they cannot make any mistakes. But what do they do? They go on a trip to Portland! They spend the night there and they attract attention to themselves with their noisy revelry. They also pay with credit cards in their names. They do everything they can to leave traces of their presence there.”
At 6 AM on the fateful morning of 9/11, the two men fly to Boston. The plane that they are supposed to hijack, American Airlines Flight 11, which eventually crashes into the North Tower of the WTC, is scheduled to depart just 30 minutes after their arrival. This is cutting things extremely close.
The one piece of evidence that attempts to prove that these two individuals were on board this flight comes courtesy of CCTV video footage, photos that were beamed around the world as definitive proof of their involvement. The only problem, however, is that the grainy video grabs show the alleged hijackers boarding at Portland, not in Boston as widely believed.
But perhaps the most baffling details to emerge about the 9/11 terrorists is their inability to operate even the smallest aircraft, to say nothing of large commercial aircraft. Every flight instructor who had ever trained any of the alleged hijackers had nothing but negative remarks for their abilities to fly a plane.
Hani Hanjour, for example, who has been identified as the pilot who flew Flight 77 into the Pentagon, was said to have had problems landing even a small Cessna 172. Newsday reported that, “Even though Hanjour showed a federal pilot’s license…chief flight instructor…refused to rent him a plane.”
So on the basis of such poor piloting skills, how can we believe that Hansour was able to perform a flight maneuver with a lumbering Boeing 757 into the Pentagon that even a highly maneuverable fighter jet would have had trouble performing?
According to an article in the Washington Post, "The unidentified pilot executed a pivot so tight that it reminded observers of a fighter jet maneuver."
Meanwhile, the flight instructor who worked with Muhammad Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari, the two who were responsible for piloting American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower, described them as “dumb and dumber” when it came to their flying skills.
The mystery of the mastermind
One of the most incriminating pieces of evidence that is said to link Al Qaeda to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 apparently comes straight from the mouth of the terror mastermind himself, Osama bin Laden.
Following the 9/11 attacks, US soldiers stumbled upon a videotape in an abandoned house in Afghanistan that had allegedly sheltered Al Qaeda militants. According to the American translation of what is said on the tape, Osama bin Laden claims responsibility for the 9/11 attacks.
Marina Montesano of the University of Genova, however, provides a strikingly different opinion in the film Zero.
“A German TV network gave an alternative translation,” Montesano says. “It is completely different from the one given by American investigators. They (Al Qaeda) are not, apparently, claiming a role in the September 11th attacks. They are simply talking about what happened on September 11th.”
Montesano goes on to say that other videos containing Osama bin Laden are also inaccurate in their translations.
“Many of the other videos of Osama bin Laden have…a person speaking, and an audio track that does not correspond, or that corresponds very little, to what his lips are actually saying,” she claims.
Meanwhile, Giulietto Chiesa, a former member of the European Parliament and the producer of the film Zero, provided an incredible account of how the image of Osama bin Laden was manipulated to great effect during a European security meeting.
“People often ask me,” says Chiesa: “‘How can you doubt the official version [of 9/11] when Osama bin Laden himself appeared several times on television to say, ‘I did it.’”
Chiesa explains in his film: “In the summer of 2005, the Commission of the European Parliament for Security and Defense, of which I am a member, was invited to a special screening created by the Washington Center for Strategic Studies. We were asked to watch a film that depicted what would happen in Europe if Brussels was hit by a nuclear bomb – 50,000 deaths and 100,000 injured.”
The image that next appeared on the huge screen clearly took Chiesa by surprise, as well as the other European officials in attendance.
“Suddenly, footage of Osama bin Laden claiming responsibility for a nuclear attack on NATO headquarters comes on screen," Chiesa recounted. "All members of the Parliament, myself included, were rendered speechless. American experts from the Center for Strategic Studies were on hand to explain the action on screen.
“Then a parliamentarian finally said, ‘Today, we were shown a convincing demonstration of how Osama bin Laden’s image can be completely manipulated.'”
The experience allowed Chiesa to consider the possibility that “all of the Osamas we have seen over the years may have never existed. Just as a nuclear attack on NATO headquarters in Brussels has never taken place.”
Finally, incredible as it may sound, even the FBI remains unconvinced about Osama bin Laden’s participation in the events surrounding 9/11. Although he is a wanted man for other heinous crimes, including the bombings of the United States’ Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, which killed over 200 people, bin Laden is not wanted in connection with the attacks of 9/11.
On June 5, 2006, the Muckraker Report contacted the FBI Headquarters and asked why there is no mention of 9/11 on the FBI's web page. Rex Tomb, the FBI's Chief of Investigative Publicity, is reported to have commented, "The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Osama bin Laden's Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11."
On the basis of that comment, some may be rightly wondering exactly why US and NATO forces are battling the Taliban in Afghanistan, which the US accused of “harboring terrorists” on the very same day that the events broke on 9/11, despite there being little or no evidence to connect Osama bin Laden to 9/11.
Perhaps once Osama bin Laden is finally captured, he can shed some light on these nagging inconsistencies, otherwise the international community may be theorizing about 9/11 for a long time to come.