The operation that elevated Al Qaeda to the status of a top-tier terrorist organization was 9/11. The official version contains many incongruent details, including puddles of molten steel, which doesn’t melt at 1500°F—the maximum temperature of burning kerosene. The towers also collapsed long after the kerosene had burned away, and in the absence of major afterfires. There was also the absurd story of the Boeing plane’s wings liquefying before it crashed into the Pentagon. It matters most that no terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack. That never happened before after any large general-purpose attack. On the contrary, often several groups claim responsibility for one attack. Terrorism is about publicity, and refraining from publicizing one’s involvement in a major terrorist act is senseless. Terrorist leaders do not fear retaliation, but long for the propaganda effect. It is unbelievable that no group claimed responsibility for 9/11. Even in his videotapes, Osama never claimed to have organized the event. He only praised it, as he praised many other terrorist acts both before and after 9/11. Osama’s praise is unrelated to his participation or even to Muslim involvement: he congratulated the Chechen fighters for a terrorist attack on Moscow’s Nord-Ost theatre, which was widely viewed as a KGB/FSB ploy to implicate the Chechens. Osama’s praise for 9/11 did not come until October 7, almost a month after the attack—an inexplicable delay—and unusually for Osama stressed the liberation of Palestine over the liberation of Mecca. The US government attributes to Osama only a few days’ advance knowledge of the attack; that’s not planning. Curiously, Osama’s family in Saudi Arabia denounced him four days after the attack—three weeks before his first comment on 9/11; under American pressure, they somehow knew the culprit before he stepped forward. Osama was quick to claim responsibility for the attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and even claimed credit for the USS Cole attack, which he didn’t organize. Muslim terrorist groups often claim credit for others’ attacks—a practice facilitated by cross-membership; a whole bunch of terrorist organizations claimed three bombings in Taba in 2004. It is unbelievable that Osama refrained from claiming the 9/11 attack for fear of American retaliation. The very choice of date, 9/11 for the 911 emergency phone number, smacks of American black humor.

The Spanish train bombings are also odd. Anyone living in Spain knows that local trains never arrive on time. The four trains just couldn’t have converged at the train station to blow the roof. The attack was planned by someone living in a country where the timely arrival of trains is a norm (that disqualifies Israel). All the suspects killed themselves rather than be arrested by Spanish police. That’s odd, since the terrorists could have used the court hearings as a media platform and hoped to be exchanged in a prisoner swap. The police found a lot of unused explosives; why didn’t the terrorists use them for the train bombings? Why did they leave that overwhelming evidence? Why did they stay in Spain after the bombings? No working relationship has been proven between the dead terrorists and Al Qaeda.

Another Al Qaeda-related attack, that of the shoe bomber, is odd beyond measure. José Padilla might be an imbecile, but someone sane had to assist him. Anyone who helped him to prepare the bomb would have understood that such a bomb cannot cause a plane crash. The shoe bomber’s case smacks of a trailer show for 9/11.
A string of assaults is atypical for terrorists, who have to go deep underground after strikes, but is extremely typical of sabotage planned by secret services. For example, the Israeli secret service apparently organized a string of double murders in the settlements to greatly terrorize the local Jews, who were too active politically. In a typical case, two family members would be murdered within a short period of time, ostensibly by Arabs in unrelated incidents, the very improbability of such an event causing terror.
Then of course there’s Padilla’s acquaintance McVeigh, who surprisingly demolished a huge building with a low-yield ammonium explosive. But that’s another story.

Germans set the Reichstag on fire to implicate their fellow communists. Jews killed Rabin to implicate the right-wingers. Russians blew up apartment houses in Moscow to justify launching a retaliatory war in Chechnya. Staging an attack is a historically standard way of forging a casus belli.

Osama, too good to be true

Flight 93
It is unusual that the hijackers allowed the passengers to make phone calls. The passengers made surprisingly short, dry calls, containing almost no family specifics. One passenger, Mr. Beamer, made an unusually long thirteen-minute call—but to a GTE Airfone supervisor rather than to his pregnant wife and two sons; the supervisor cannot verify that the voice belonged to Mr.Beamer. After telling her the whole story, he added that the passengers were going to rush the hijackers; normally, people would start with such an announcement. The others certainly wouldn’t have been waiting for him to finish his call before proceeding with the attack. He also told them that the flight attendants were made to sit in the back of the plane. Another passenger, however, related that a flight attendant told him about the pilots’ bodies in the first class (front) cabin. Flight attendant Sandra Bradshaw told her husband that she was boiling water to throw at the hijackers.
Tom Burnett called home from the hijacked plane, and his wife asked him, “Are you okay?” Why would she start the conversation thus? Tom, for his part, didn’t tell her immediately about the hijacking, but waited for her questions instead. Surprisingly, Tom knew that the pilot who lay in the first class cabin had died.
Mark Bingham called his mother, but his opening words were, “This is Mark Bingham.”
Passengers lent each other their cell phones. In 2001, every American who could afford an air ticket was likely to have his own cell phone.
The callers who spoke about the plan to attack the hijackers sat in different locations. The plan had to include the entire coach class cabin, and it is unlikely that such widespread preparation didn’t draw the attention of the terrorists.
The cockpit recorder contains many instances of the hijackers screaming at the passengers—but no caller mentions any contact with the hijackers. The passengers’ apparent freedom to call their families and communicate with each other doesn’t square with the repeated recorded orders like “Shut up!”
The callers said the pilots lay stabbed in the first class cabin. Why would the hijackers drag the bodies into the narrow path instead of dropping them into the cockpit or into the front row of seats?
The phone calls indicate that the passengers expected to overcome the hijackers and return to safety. That’s incongruent with the information they had about the dead pilots. If, however, the passengers were counting on their fellow Donald Greene (who was probably able to flight Boeing 757), why did the plane eventually crash without any detectable attempt to pilot it to safety?
The plane went wayward at 9:54 a.m, apparently after the passengers attacked the hijackers. Then, however, it regained stability and changed course from San Francisco to Washington. It is not plausible that three hijackers overcame the entire crowd of passengers.
Rather unusually, air-traffic controllers overheard the conversation in the cabin—the hijackers’ precise words. A hijacker with a strong Arab accent announced to the passengers that there was a bomb on board and the plane was returning to airport. The terrorists must have been really stupid to try to placate the passengers with such a transparent lie; why would anyone hijack a plane to bring it back to the airport?
No substantial wreckage survived the crash, but investigators uncovered a book of Muslim prayers. Most callers didn’t identify the hijackers as Muslims. No caller saw the fourth hijacker.
Why did the hijackers wait for half an hour before disclosing themselves, and therefore had to allegedly turn back to hit the White House? A terrorist organization won’t send a hijacked plane against a target so hard to hit as the low-profile White House.
The hijackers used an oddly red box as a bomb. Usually, hijackers try to make their bombs inconspicuous.
Passengers reported that one of the three hijackers guarded the first-class passengers behind the closed curtains. That’s odd behavior compared to the lack of supervision for the coach class passengers.
The cockpit recorder contains many oddities—besides the very fact that the US government refused to release the audio, but only the transcript. At 9:32:09, the hijackers called the traffic center, which responded only at 9:33:20—but at that point, the hijackers didn’t answer. The traffic control repeats its question only at 9:39:21, conveniently after the hijackers have killed the pilots.
They kept the pilots alive, even though the pilots are the single biggest threat to the hijackers because pilots give passengers a hope of regaining control of the plane. Without pilots, the passengers have to rely on the hijackers, and normally sit quietly. The hijackers quickly changed their minds and started killing the pilots at 9:33:43; such a change of mind is not consistent with any kind of planning. The seven-minute record of the killing mostly consists of countless repetitions of “sit down” and “down.”
At 9:40:52, the hijackers converse about some green knob in the cockpit. But according to the official story, only one of them learned piloting. Shortly thereafter they have to call the pilot back, even though they seemingly killed him minutes earlier.
Most of the time, the hijackers speak among themselves in English rather than Arabic, even though their English is pointedly bad.
The hijackers converse almost exclusively in meaningless exclamations and sighs, though the one who was piloting the plane would have had to maintain a sensible conversation in order to steer the aircraft.
At 09:58:23, one hijacker says, “Let’s go, guys.” Thus, at least three of them were in the cabin. But none of the passengers mentioned more than three hijackers, including the one in the first class cabin.
At 9:58:57, the hijackers scream, “Hold from the inside,” apparently a reference to the passengers attacking the cabin. Then, on 9:59:17, a hijacker asks another: “What?” and a few seconds later, “Let’s get them!”
The hijackers didn’t detonate the bomb: at 10:01:18, one of them told another to cut off the oxygen, apparently to asphyxiate the passengers. The attempt was senseless because of the individual oxygen masks. The hijackers were extremely anxious, certainly unable to repel the attacking passengers.
The recording ends at 10:03:09, less than two minutes after the hijackers decided to turn off the oxygen. Except in the unlikely event of the aircraft flying straight down at 500 miles per hour, that’s not enough time for the aircraft to have hit the ground from cruising altitude.