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International Conspiracy Revisited:
9/11 Five Months Later
James Petras
February 14, 2002

Since 9/11 many world historic events have transpired. On October 7th the U.S. declared war on Afghanistan resulting in a massacre of thousands of Afghan civilians and soldiers and the displacement of millions of others. U.S. military bases have been established in Central Asia. Washington overthrew the Taliban and established a new client regime in Afghanistan. President Bush has announced new wars, naming North Korea, Iran and Iraq as probable new targets. Pentagon spokes people Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz have declared the imperial doctrine of permanent, unilateral and "preventive" wars.

Despite the profound changes taking place, the original justification for this New Imperialism, an international Islamic terrorist network directed by Osama Bin Laden and responsible for the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, has not been proven. On the contrary substantial evidence has emerged that argues against Washington's international conspiracy theory. Washington's justification for its destruction and occupation of Afghanistan and its world-wide military imperial offensive is based on several claims. (1) Bin Laden planned, directed and executed the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. (2) The Taliban regime were co-conspirators and provided a haven for terrorists. (3) The 19 terrorists were part of Bin Laden's El Qaeda network and were organized, financed and directed by Bin Laden. (4) The terror network threatens the world with activities similar to 9/11.

Against Washington's conspiracy theory I want to present an alternative scenario and then examine the evidence over the last 5 months to test which approach has greater validity. My counter-theory argues that the 9/11 terrorists were a self-contained autonomous group of conspirators who planned, organized and executed their actions independently of the Al Qaeda networks and Bin Laden. While the 19 may have received small amounts of money from radical Islamic nuclei and someone may have met Al Qaeda members at some point, they were essentially a self-directed group. The validity of one or the other theory has profound political consequences in terms of understanding Washington's military policies and the future of war and peace in the world.

The Evidence

The most striking fact after 9/11 is the absence of any major follow-up terrorist attack in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East or even Afghanistan.

Despite daily warnings of imminent attacks by all the U.S. intelligence agencies, nothing has happened. After the 19 suicide bombers died there have been no serious incidents. The one supposed Al Qaeda operative, the shoe bomber, was a semi-literate thief from Jamaica lacking any of the precision and operational capacity of the 19. Given the claims and descriptions of the conspiratorial network by the CIA and given the devastation of Afghanistan, one would have expected a terrorist attack. Yet none occurred. It is logical to conclude that the 19 acted independently of the Al Qaeda network and succeeded precisely because they were disconnected from it.

CIA head, George Tenet inadvertently provides further proof of the autonomy of the 9/11 terrorists. In testimony before a U.S. Senatorial committee on February 6, 2002, he claims that the CIA infiltration led to the arrest of 1,000 Al Qaeda agents since 9/11. He further argues that the CIA was at war with Al Qaeda for 5 years, ad that the CIA had infiltrated spies and engaged in electronic surveillance of the leaderships communication networks.

Tenet categorically states, "Did we have penetration for the target (Al Qaeda)? Absolutely. Did we have technical operations? Absolutely.

Where did the secret for the planning (of Sept. 11th) reside? Probably in the heads of three or four people" (my emphasis). This is a devastating revelation because it means that the only possible knowledgeable "three or four people" were the leaders of the nineteen -- not Bin Laden or the other leaders of Al Qaeda. Given the level of CIA infiltration and surveillance of Al Qaeda and Tenet's further claim that the CIA had an agent close to Bin Laden, the only possible explanation for the non-detection of the 19 was because they did not communicate, or form part of Al Qaeda, even less take orders from Bin Laden. Despite Tenet's claim that U.S. Special Forces have discovered a vast amount of Al Qaeda documentation, videos, computer based information, none of the above contains a single example of communication between Al Qaeda and the 19.

The reason the 19 were not detected, infiltrated or surveyed was because they were not part of Al Qaeda nor directed by Bin Laden who was being monitored by CIA electronic equipment and a CIA asset.

Despite interrogations -- and torture -- of hundreds of Al Qaeda prisoners and some high level Taliban leaders, no evidence has emerged linking the 19 to Bin Laden.

The Bin Laden videos that Rumsfeld and Bush claim prove has ties with the 19, actually prove the opposite. In the videos, Bin Laden never claims responsibility even though he praises, even celebrates, the terrorist incidents. Given the nature of his politics and his support of terrorism it is certain that he would take credit if he were responsible.

Unlike the 19, the image of Al Qaeda and the Taliban as fanatical martyrs for a cause, is disproved by their behavior during the "war" (massacre). Tens of thousands fled or surrendered or defected rather than fight a "holy war to the death." They behaved as ordinary soldiers facing an overwhelmingly powerful adversary.

In other words, no group or fighter has appeared in 5 months capable of replicating the precision, organization and commitment of the 19. The contrast between the organization of the 19 and the Al Qaeda "shoe bomber" is striking and revealing of the differences between an educated, autonomous group of terrorists and an incompetent, infiltrated and ineffective international terrorist network.

Implications of Counter-Theory

Since the terrorist act of 9/11 was organized by an isolated group, it explains why no subsequent actions have occurred or succeeded in the past 5 months. The war against Afghanistan therefore has no demonstrable basis. The absence of any links between the 19 and any international terrorist networks means that Washington's international terrorist campaign is based on false assumptions, highly dubious futuristic projections.

Washington's concocted international conspiracy theory has been invented and widely disseminated to justify a world wide military campaign to expand U.S. military bases (Central Asia, Philippines, Latin America), to justify unilateral military intervention and to marginalize European and Japanese competitors from any influence in strategic oil producing regions (Middle East, Caspian Sea). At the same time the terrorist war propaganda in the U.S. serves to strengthen the repressive state, undermine opposition to the massive social cuts and vast increase in militarization, and to silence any voices which question the international terrorist conspiracy theory.

The conspiracy theory creates the kind of war psychosis in the U.S. which justifies endless wars and chronic economic sacrifices and enables Washington to project a new mercantilist empire, where bombers and investors march hand in hand colonizing new regions, monopolizing markets and strategic resources, while marginalizing European competitors.

© 2002 James Petras
Reprinted for Fair Use Only.

James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghampton University, New York, and author of:

James Petras' web site in english is at:

A superset list of his articles in Spanish is at:

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