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20 Jun, 2009 08:14

The War on Terror as a Spin of Imagination. Part 3. Conspiracies.

The War on Terror as a Spin of Imagination. Part 3. Conspiracies.

When an event of the magnitude of 9/11 happens, it is only natural that at least a few conspiracy theories will emerge, or re-emerge in its wake.

A war on terror triggered by an event of 9/11’s magnitude causes a stream of conspiracy theories. Some of them die instant deaths. Very few stay for years or even decades.

Late in 2001, conspiracy theories started flooding the Internet and the pages of the less scrupulous tabloids all over the world. Three of these were the most popular. Firstly, the Controlled Demolition Conspiracy: after the airplanes hit the WTC, a series of demolition devices were employed to ensure minimal damage from the terrorist attack. Then there was the Oil Conspiracy: there was no terrorist attack – the U.S. government via the intelligence community, or some unnamed force with unlimited influence over the U.S. government, organized 9/11 to create a foolproof excuse to install 100% U.S. military control over Middle Eastern oil deposits. Lastly, there was the Jewish conspiracy: not Islamic terrorists, but Israel and the Jewish community in America organized 9/11 to ensure that the U.S. stayed firmly on Israel’s side in the Middle East Conflict, and were ready to go beyond diplomatic means.

As for the Controlled Demolition, I do not have anything to say apart from the fact that this theory has been repeatedly used by the adepts of the other two theories: some say the Jews employed controlled demolition devices, installed during construction, in the basements of the Twin Towers for their own purpose of faking a terrorist attack. Others say that the U.S. government did the same thing for the same reason.

The oil conspiracy was based on very Marxist logic, asking the question ‘who benefits from it?’ The answer given by the conspiracy theorists was as follows: everything seems to be leading to a military invasion of Iraq; Iran is probably next; and all that is aimed, in turn, at America’s domination over the vast majority of the Middle East’s oil wells. That, unless alternative energy sources enter our lives in the nearest future, means world domination for the U.S.

There is one mighty counter-argument for this: in 2009, notwithstanding a lengthy post-war conflict in Iraq (which we, out of habit, call the Iraq War), and the strange, crawling war quietly corroding Afghanistan for even longer, Middle East oil is not yet under total American control, to say nothing of Iran’s (and other Central Asian) oil deposits. Besides, there are significant deposits belonging to Russia and Venezuela, and these are even harder to arrange to fall into American hands than those in the Middle East. To be absolutely clear, I mean that U.S. domination through oil was not a historical probability at all – as long as the U.S. is not considering inviting Russia and a few more nations along for the ride.

It is not that easy to dismiss the Jewish conspiracy. It has been established that some Israelis inside the WTC had received warnings from their embassy, high-positioned friends and officers of Israeli intelligence, hours prior to the disaster. Some ‘experts’, with figures in hand, are still trying to prove that most of the American Jews who worked at the WTC, had received similar warnings and on that September 11th called in sick or took short leaves. If the former (Israeli warnings) has some essence to it – as has been proven – then there is a lot of slack and loose ‘evidence’ about the latter (American Jews having been warned), and no hard facts.

It seems to me that the matter here is more about the professionalism and specialization of Israeli intelligence than about conspiracies. Most probably it just happened that way, that Mossad or another Israeli spy agency had learned about the plot being a ‘go’ with a minimum time margin: enough to warn a few Israeli citizens, but not enough to improve the chances of all those who were in the building. Israeli intelligence agencies, unlike their American counterparts, had long since penetrated various militant Islamic organizations, including some terrorist cells, and so they may have had information that the U.S. side had no access to.

If it did happen that way, I believe that an intelligence officer who had the information and was passing it on up through the chain of command may have thought that by using his phone he may save a few lives while the data was being processed – and he may have been right too. This may be the nature of that ‘special warning’ for the Israelis. It is hard to believe though, that the Israeli officer in question would not have sent his warning to his American colleagues – professionals like him, who would have known what to do with it. Maybe he did – but we will never know for sure…

There was no such warning for the Americans and others in the building, for reasons which are still not absolutely clear to this day. The U.S. intelligence failure, the data flood that incapacitated the complex machinery of intelligence estimation and decision making (described in the first column of this series) explains only how the data was lost.

Dozens of other reasons and excuses still prevent the U.S. government (or rather – governments) to answer in full the big WHY and HOW of 9/11: why U.S. law enforcement agencies were not ready for such an event, and how such an event could happen in America at all? The lack of answers gives new breath to the conspiracy theories (the main two described above, and many others). They, in turn, give birth to legends loosely based on the fate and lives of real people involved in the war on terror on the both sides.

Such is the legend of Viktor Bout, the alleged ‘Merchant of Death’ and supposed arms dealer who turns out to be significantly smaller and many times more legitimate than we have been told by the DEA and other agencies, and the legend of Michael Braun at the DEA who (as ‘Men’s Own Journal’ insists) crowned his two-decade long law enforcement career with the capture of Viktor Bout. Reading the article in the magazine, I established that Michael Braun’s team had continued looking for Bout all over Europe, Asia and Africa while Bout, broke and full of hopes for his new agricultural business, was sitting tight in Moscow, making no secret of his whereabouts.

Then there’s the legend of Hambali, the alleged Indonesian section leader of Al Qaeda and the supposed theoretician and mastermind of actions by Abu Sayaf and Jemaah Islamiyah. After his arrest (or abduction) in Thailand in August 2003, and disappearance without legal procedure into one of the CIA secret prisons (he arrived in Guantanamo only in 2006, and is supposed to be there now), law enforcement experts liked to say in their interviews something like: ‘You know, Osama had great respect for him, had a very good relationship with him.’ Where had they acquired such intimate knowledge of Osama Bin Laden’s friendships if by then they had already admitted that they knew next-to-nothing about the man, least of all his whereabouts?

The legend of Hambali, created by certain conspiracy theorists in Thailand and Indonesia goes much further than my question: some of them say Hambali is actually an alias of a lifetime Mossad operative, a General by rank, who works independently from Headquarters and who, in fact, was the real mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Others simply say Hambali never existed: the CIA invented him and now, with Guantanamo about to be shut down, his ‘creators’ will have to produce someone who will play the role of Hambali, or be accused of having tortured the Indonesian to death.

What I remember from August 2003, and the arrest made by U.S. agents together with the Thai police in the ancient Thai capital Ayutthaya (I reported the arrest for TRUD, the newspaper I was working for at the time), is the fact that there was a man who was arrested. I saw his pictures (no close-ups though) and some video footage too. So it would be feasible to assume at least that there was someone called Hambali (no other names were announced in connection with the arrest) arrested in August, 2003 in Thailand, who indeed vanished from public view without trial or extradition procedure.

It also seems to me that if some legal process had occurred – had been shown on TV and reported by the papers – that would have been much better for the image of the U.S. and would have prevented the birth of the above-mentioned legends. As there was no legal process, all we can do now is listen to both sides (official and conspiracy-theorist) and doubt. Both ways.

Yet another conspiracy has the U.S. government, or a group of mighty members of the establishment, mastermind the 9/11 horror in order to curtail the civil rights and liberties to which Americans are so accustomed. Most people do not believe this – they cannot imagine a group of sane Americans perpetrating such an outrageous act for any reason. But the fact stays: civil rights and liberties have been curtailed and cut down by various ‘temporary measures’ and not only in the U.S. The Barack Obama administration is trying to reinstate them at the moment, but no one can predict the result of that work.

Most conspiracy theories have one common quality: at first encounter they seem to be the work of a totally insane mind. However, the more you listen and absorb the logic of the conspiracy theorist, the more what he says becomes feasible and even real. And it cannot always be attributed to the persuasive abilities of a twisted mind: quite often facts jump to join each other and unexpected links are built to make any fantasy a firm reality. This effect is masterfully described by Umberto Eco in Foucault’s Pendulum. However, sometimes a conspiracy theory does turn out to be the only truth about an event or a matter. And that justifies all conspiracy research conducted by sane and insane people all over the world.

Besides, conspiracy-related research is interesting by nature. It is a game played on equal terms by the most sophisticated and the simplest of minds. And as such, it is eternal.

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT.