Both of these stories were in fact reported in the mainstream media. That is true what the Israeli press also reported that Zim Israel Navigation Company moved out of its offices on the WTC two weeks before the 9/11 attacks, and employees of the company said afterwards they felt lucky to have escaped the disaster. Employees at Odigo's Israel office did receive e-mail messages on 9/11 warning of an impending attack but the messages were vague and made no references to the World Trade Center or the Pentagon. Nor were the employees familiar with the sender of the emails. Odigo passed the information on to Israeli authorities and the FBI, which investigated the messages (their origin was never explained). Nonetheless, other far-right publications, including Media Bypass, cited the circumstances of these two companies as evidence of Israel’s foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks.
Blaming the Mossad for the attacks
The biggest "villain" in anti-Semitic 9/11 conspiracy theories is the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency. Its reputation for professionalism and effectiveness is turned against it by 9/11 conspiracy theorists, who argue that it had to have known about an operation like the terrorist attacks in advance.
At the same time, the Mossad is represented as the only organization with the ability to carry out such devastating acts. This perverse respect for the Mossad derives in part from anti-Semitic notions that only Jews alone are sufficiently cunning, resourceful, and wicked to have carried out the 9/11 attacks and blamed them on their enemies. The implication is that "the Jews" are behind the attacks since the Mossad works on behalf of the "Jewish State," and is run by Jews.
Of course, the Mossad not only had to have the ability to orchestrate the 9/11 attacks, it had to have the motivation. To stress the point that Israel and Jews had not only the cunning but also the desire to carry out the 9/11 attacks, a number of far-right publications quoted an editorial from the Saudi newspaper, Okaz, which claimed that the "main purpose of the conspiracy is to undermine ties between Arabs and Muslims…and to turn the Muslim and Christian civilizations against each other and incite hatred between their adherents." By trying to weaken the bonds between Muslims and Arabs, and by undermining Christian civilization, turning it against Islam so that the two will destroy each other, the Jews were allegedly plotting to gain total power over the world.
Conspiracy-oriented material also pointed to previous "treacherous" acts allegedly carried out by Israel as proof that the country has a history of clandestine terrorist operations against the U.S., and that its alleged actions on 9/11 were nothing new. The example cited most often is the 1967 attack on the U.S.S. Liberty, an American naval vessel that Israel mistakenly targeted in the Six Days War. Over 30 American servicemen stationed on the ship were killed in what official inquiries determined was a tragic accident.
Many conspiracists focus on the alleged brutality of the Mossad in carrying out secret plots to benefit Israel and the Jews. In his newsletter, David Duke asserted to his followers that the Mossad is "the most ruthless terrorist organization in the entire world." He added that the Mossad prides itself on "infiltrating every sizable militant Palestinian and Arabic organization on earth" and therefore it was likely that it had infiltrated the Al Qaeda network and knew about the 9/11 attacks in advance. Duke and other far-right conspiracy theorists pointed to an article that appeared in The Washington Times the day before the attacks. The article reported on a study done by the Army School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) that assessed the problems an international peacekeeping force would face if the U.N. authorized such a force after Israelis and the Palestinians reached a peace agreement. According to the article, the SAMS report characterized the Mossad as: "Wildcard. Ruthless and cunning. Has the capability to target U.S. forces and make it look like a Palestinian/Arab act." For many conspiracists, this article was a premonition of the events of September 11, and confirmation of the Mossad’s role in them.
A number of 9/11 conspiracy theoriests use statements made by people with an alleged former association with the intelligence community, the implication being that they, by virtue of their knowledge of undercover operations, would know who was behind the attacks. In every case, these "experts" asserted that the Mossad was the likely perpetrator because it was Israel that would benefit from an anti-Arab, anti-Muslim backlash in the U.S. A number of anti-Semitic publications and Web sites quoted Andreas von Bulow, identified as a former member of the German parliament who served on a commission overseeing three branches of the German secret service, as saying to a reporter that the Mossad carried out the 9/11 attacks "to turn The Arabic wording in this cartoon from the newspaper Al Watan (Oman) reads: "The American September 11."
public opinion against the Arabs and boost military and security spending." The Arab media also joined the chorus of voices blaming the Mossad. Amin Hweidi, the ex-chief of the Egyptian Intelligence Service, said in an article in the Syrian Times, that "he did not rule out an Israeli role in the US bombings…because Israel is the only beneficiary of all what
[sic] has taken place." A columnist in an Egyptian newspaper focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as Israel’s motivation, claiming that the Mossad might be involved as part of "an attempt to shift attention from greater Israeli atrocities in the Palestinian territories."
Another Egyptian reporter for El-Osboa (The Week) made similar remarks when interviewing Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Arab-American organization, CAIR (Council on AmericanIslamic Relations) in June 2002. According to The Weekly Standard, the reporter, Sanaa Al Said, said, "My belief is that the beneficiary is behind the attack and the biggest beneficiary of the September 11th event is certainly Israel, as it took advantage of it in a wide scale." Awad replied that "there are theories leading in this direction." He also claimed to have had a discussion with President George W. Bush about the improbability of Muslims carrying out these attacks. Awad reportedly stated that "Bush said, ‘This means that if those that carried out the attack were Arabs, then non-Arabs and non-Muslims could be behind them.'" According to The Weekly Standard, the White House "denied the content of this conversation."
Some conspiracists concede that while Muslims may have carried out the 9/11 attacks, in actuality they were working — knowingly or unknowingly — for the Mossad. The American Free Press and another anti-Semitic, far-right publication, the Free American Newsmagazine, admitted that "Muslim extremists" hijacked the planes that rammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon but claimed that they were actually trained by the Mossad. "The truth is that Muslim extremists have proven useful (if often unwitting) tools in advancing Israel’s own geopolitical agenda," wrote Michael Collins Piper in the American Free Press. In a later article, Piper claimed that "these hijackers could well have been Israeli-sponsored fundamentalist Jewish fanatics (posing as ‘bin Laden Arabs’) hoping to instigate an all-out U.S. war against the Arab world."
Some conspiracy theorists contend that the U.S. government was complicit with Israel in the attacks while others, by contrast, said that Israel betrayed the U.S. government for its own purposes. In an article reprinted in Free American Newsmagazine, General Hameed Gul, identified as the former head of the Pakistani intelligence agency, explained that "the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks…were perpetrated by renegade U.S. Air Force elements working in conjunction with Mossad…." The Free American also presented other elaborate conspiracy theories involving a 9/11 plot by Israeli and American agents. One contributor, for instance, speculated that the Mossad and the CIA were involved in the "Afghan-opium-derived" heroin trade in order to protect "the multi-trillion-dollar money-laundered deposits backing the global investments of American and British merchant banks." In other words, the attacks provided a pretext for an American overthrow of the Taliban, which gave the U.S. control of the country's opium production.
This contributor also reported that the FBI offices at the World Trade Center needed to be destroyed because evidence of the attempts by Russian and Kazakh mafias to establish pipelines in Central Asia, and of the plans of powerful American financial figures and institutions (all Jewish) to fix gold prices, was stored there.
Other conspiracy theorists claim the U.S. government wanted the attacks to happen so that it could wage a war against its enemies in the Middle East, enemies it shared with Israel. As one writer for the anti-government Militia of Montana newsletter, Taking Aim, argued, "the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center Towers were carried out for the purpose of preparing the American people to accept a major military action in the middle east [sic] in conjunction with Israel."
More than a year after September 11, one anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist found a novel way to trumpet the supposed involvement of Israel and Jews in the attacks to a larger audience. Jim Condit, Jr., a long-time right-wing activist, repeated many elements of the above-mentioned conspiracy theories in radio ads that were run ostensibly to support his November 2002 bid for Congress in Ohio. In an e-mail to supporters, Condit explained that the law allows and guarantees federal candidates the right to run ads without censorship on FCC-licensed radio and TV stations. He also revealed that his real motivation for running the ads was to expose "Zionist" control of major TV and radio stations in the U.S. and the 9/11 attacks as a plot hatched by an "Israeli/Anglo-Secret-Society," rather than by Muslims. Condit saw the attacks as part of a plot by the government and the Jews to impose on unsuspecting citizens a "New World Order" that would ultimately lead to the destruction of the United States. He encouraged people who were "serious about fighting the Zionist/Bush plans for World War III" to contribute to his campaign.
Condit ran 13 different ads, many of them dealing with the role of the Jews and the government in the 9/11 attacks. One ad discussed the possibility that government traitors operated remote control planes that destroyed the World Trade Center: "9-11 was an inside job, pulled off most likely by well placed pro-Israeli, pro-New World Order traitors right here at home, using remote control technology." Another ad explained that 9/11 was just a prelude to a second attack that would allow the Jews to control Arab oil and create a "world tyranny," including a police state in the U.S.:
Many competent researchers believe that pro-Israeli, pro-New World Order traitors pulled off the 9-11 terror attacks, and that these same traitors are also planning a 2nd COMING terrorist attack — this time a nuclear attack on Ukraine to make war with Russia or a bio-nuclear war against America — designed to enrage Americans against the Arab world, trigger a massive war in the Middle East to destroy all the Arab states, grab Arab oil, greatly expand Israeli territory, lay the groundwork for a world tyranny headquartered in Jerusalem, and begin instituting police state rule here in the USA.
Condit was by no means the only person promoting the involvement of the Jews in the 9/11 attacks as its one-year anniversary passed. The U.S. media reported, in December 2002, that the Saudi interior minister, Prince Nayef Ibn Abd Al-Aziz, told a Kuwaiti newspaper that "we put big question marks and ask who committed the events of September 11 and who benefited from them. Who benefited from the events of 11/9? [sic] I think they [the Jews] are behind these events." In the same interview, Prince Nayef told the newspaper that it was impossible for 19 young men to "carry out the operation of Sept. 11." The interview with the prince was later reprinted in Ain-Al-Yaqin, an online Saudi publication.
'Corroborating' Conspiracy Theories
"Four thousand Israelis told to stay home"
Of the many conspiracy theories about Jewish/Israeli involvement in the 9/11 attacks, none has received more attention than the allegation that 4,000 Israelis who worked at the
World Trade Center were warned by Israeli intelligence to stay home on 9/11, thus implying, at the very least, that Israel had foreknowledge of the terrorist attacks. This story reportedly began on Al-Manar, a Lebanese TV station, and, within a very short time, spread to newspapers and the Internet, from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, and was then picked up in white supremacist and far-right circles in the United States. The conspiracy theory about the 4,000 Israelis was repeated in many far-right publications, including The David Duke Report, The Aryan Eagle, David Irving’s on-line Action Report, and The American’s Bulletin. Even though there isn't a grain of truth in this theory, for many conspiracists, the story became "proof" that Muslims were not involved in the WTC attack, but were being blamed by the "Zionist" press in order to provoke an attack against the Arab and Muslim world.
Anti-Semites quickly tried to capitalize on the "4,000 Israelis" hoax. When conspiracists realized that it was unlikely that 4,000 Israelis actually worked at the WTC, many transformed the story to include American Jews being warned about the attacks. An article posted to the Islamweb site claimed that "another extremely important information [sic] leaked out was that around 4,000 Israelis working in the World Trade Centre [sic] had been issued a secret directive before the incident not to report for duty on September 11 which they complied with. This is evident from the fact that not a single Israeli or American Jew working in the WTC was reported killed or missing." The Tehran Times and the Islamic Republic News Agency reported that the Syrian Ambassador to Tehran, Turki Mohammad Saqar, said that there is "reliable evidence to prove that the Israelis have been involved in these incidents, and he "added that no Jewish employee was present in the World Trade Organization [sic] buildings on the day of the attack, and Sharon’s visit to the U.S. was postponed before the incident." Saqar's last point was in reference to another story circulating about the 9/11 attacks — that Ariel Sharon had cancelled a planned trip to New York on September 11 because he knew what would happen that day. Sharon was scheduled to visit New York on September 23 to participate in a pro-Israel rally being held by various Jewish organizations. Like many New York events, the rally — and Sharon's trip — was cancelled in the wake of 9/11.
Anti-Semites at home also exploited the "4,000 Israelis" rumor. To demonstrate the authenticity of this conspiracy theory, David Duke claimed that on September 12 the Jerusalem Post, a well-known Israeli newspaper, had reported that 4,000 Israelis were missing in the WTC attack. Yet, according to Duke, only one Israeli had died in the attack. (The Israeli Consulate later confirmed that 7 Israeli citizens died in the 9/11 attacks.)
The actual article in the Jerusalem:
“No Jewish employee was present in the World Trade Organization [sic] buildings on the day of the attack.”
Post was quite different from Duke’s characterization of it; it simply reported that worried Israelis had contacted the Israeli Foreign Ministry with about 4,000 names of relatives and friends from whom they had not heard and who might have been in the area of the WTC and the Pentagon on 9/11. Subsequent reports in the paper noted that many of the relatives and friends who could not be reached in the first hours after the attack were later located. Distorting facts from the September 12 Jerusalem Post article, Duke sent a letter to his followers to let them know that he had "convincing evidence" that Israel knew about the attack in advance: "Logic alone would tell you that there would be many hundreds, if not thousands of Israelis in the World Trade Center at the time of the attacks," he wrote, given that "the international Jewish involvement in banking and finance is legendary." The small number of Israeli deaths cited by Duke was irrefutable proof for him that the Israelis who worked at the World Trade Center had received a warning to stay home on 9/11.
Since these reports first appeared in the days and months after the 9/11 attacks, the theories involving the missing 4,000 Israelis/Jews and Sharon’s cancelled trip have continued
to gain currency and, more disturbingly, even to seep into mainstream discussions. For example, in October 2002, Amiri Baraka, the African-American former poet laureate of New Jersey, recited a poem, "Somebody Blew Up America," at a poetry festival in New Jersey, which repeated the claim that 4,000 Israelis stayed home from the WTC on 9/11 and that Ariel Sharon also stayed away from New York City that day. The stanzas ask, "Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed/ Who told 4000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers/ To stay home that day/ Why did Sharon stay away." Despite criticism from community leaders, politicians, and Jewish organizations, Baraka refused to back down from this claim, saying that he had verified the allegation by checking the Internet. In defending his allegations, Baraka used arguments similar to the ones David Duke offered to his followers. In an interview with The Times (London) Baraka said, "We know 81 nationalities died. But tell me why the conspicuous absence of Israeli workers." He rejected charges of anti-Semitism by asserting that Israelis were not the only party with foreknowledge of the attack: "And the point I’m making then is not that I’m saying Israel planned it, but that Israel knew, just like Bush knew, and that will obviously come out."
Other prominent personalities repeated the 4,000 Israelis hoax in mainstream venues. According to the JTA [Jewish Telegraph Agency] Daily News Bulletin, Yorgos Karatzaferis, the leader of the far-right Popular Rally Party and the owner of a Greek TV station, also propagated the theory. Karatzaferis sent a letter to the Greek Parliament "asking the foreign minister if he was aware that the Israeli press had published articles claiming that Jews had not gone to work on Sept. 11 after they were forewarned about the attacks on the Twin Towers." A number of rightwing publications in Greece subsequently published Karatzaferis' remarks without any comment.
Cartoon from the Arabic newspaper Al Watan (Qatar) implies that Ariel Sharon and Israel were responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
In addition, editorials citing the 4,000 Israelis rumor were even printed in the official magazine of the Technical Chamber of Greece, a government body that oversees the work of Greek industrialists. This magazine is handed out to thousands of Greek businessmen. Some anti-Semites combined the 4,000 Israelis rumor with other, similar ideas to generate
more "evidence" of Israeli involvement. Far-right conspiracist Michael Collins Piper, for instance, conceded that it was unlikely that 4,000 Israelis were warned not to come to work, but suggested in the American Free Press that the story "may have been deliberate disinformation to muddy the waters and distort the big picture." He went on to say that the Zim Israel, "a shipping concern founded by long-time Mossad figure Shaul Eisenberg," abandoned its offices at the World Trade Center just weeks before the attacks. In addition, Piper claimed that Israeli employees of Odigo, a New York-based software design company with offices in Israel, received e-mail messages warning of an impending attack two hours before the airplanes crashed into the WTC.
Both of these stories were in fact reported in the mainstream media. The Israeli press reported that Zim Israel Navigation Company moved out of its offices on the WTC two weeks
before the 9/11 attacks, and employees of the company said afterwards they felt lucky to have escaped the disaster. Employees at Odigo's Israel office did receive e-mail messages on 9/11 warning of an impending attack but the messages were vague and made no references to the World Trade Center or the Pentagon. Nor were the employees familiar with the sender of the emails. Odigo passed the information on to Israeli authorities and the FBI, which investigated the messages (their origin was never explained). Nonetheless, other far-right publications, including Media Bypass, cited the circumstances of these two companies as evidence of Israel’s foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks.
Five Israeli 'spies' found taping the WTC disaster
In addition to the story of the 4,000 Israelis/Jews absent from the World Trade Center, another conspiracy theory that circulates widely involves five so-called Israeli "spies" caught videotaping and celebrating the destruction of the Twin Towers. In the days after the attacks, the mainstream media was filled with reports of five Middle Eastern-looking men who were seen documenting and celebrating the burning Twin Towers either from their van or the roof of a building in New Jersey, depending on the source. According to these reports, onlookers reported the incident to the police, who later arrested the men. Part of these accounts is factual: five men, who later turned out to be Israelis, were indeed arrested after they drove their van toward Manhattan hours after the World Trade Center attack. Inside the van, police reportedly found multiple passports, box cutters and a large amount of cash. In addition, one of the men had a camera that contained newly taken photos of the men standing and allegedly smiling as the Twin Towers
burned in the background. As reported, the incident was mysterious, at the very least. For conspiracy theorists, the fact that five Israelis were arrested for allegedly documenting and celebrating the WTC attack became yet more "proof" of Israel's involvement in the attack. The incident was widely reported in the Arab/Muslim press and in far-right publications.
A few weeks after the arrests of the Israelis was reported, the FBI announced that it had investigated but found no connection between the five men and the World Trade Center attack.
Authorities did discover, however, that all of them had worked illegally for a moving van company, Urban Moving Systems, and had violated their tourist visas. According to various newspapers, including The New York Times and the Forward, after being held in prison for over two months all five signed papers acknowledging their immigration violations and were then deported back to Israel. The FBI also cleared them of any involvement in the terrorist attacks. Nonetheless, far-right publications continued to promote the story, or exaggerated versions of it, as evidence of a greater plot.
The American Free Press was one of the most energetic exploiters of this theory. Writer Christopher Bollyn reported that, according to New Jersey and New York newspapers, "At least three different groups of Israelis — some of whom may have ties to Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad — were taken into custody after eyewitnesses reported seeing them celebrating in several locations across the river from lower Manhattan in New Jersey." Bollyn, basing his article on a report in the Bergen, New Jersey-based Record, also reported that the five Israelis arrested "were found carrying maps linking them to the blasts," and that "bomb-sniffing dogs reacted as if they had detected explosives," although none were found, according to unnamed sources "close to the investigation." Even though the information in The Record and Bollyn's article was later debunked, months after the Israelis’ deportation, Michael Collins Piper of the American Free Press was still promoting the theory: Piper said that the Forward, "America's oldest and most prestigious Jewish newspaper," had reported that the FBI "came to the conclusion… that the five Israelis arrested in New Jersey last September were conducting a Mossad surveillance mission and that their employer, Urban Moving Systems of Weehawken, N.J., served as a front." The Forward claimed, according to Piper, that while the FBI considered two of the five Israelis to be Mossad operatives who had been spying on local Arabs, they were allowed to leave because they knew nothing about the 9/11 attacks. Piper said the Forward also reported that "the names of two of the five Israelis showed up on a CIA-FBI database of foreign intelligence operatives." In fact, Mark Perelman, writing for the Forward in March 2002, did indeed make the claims that Piper reported to his readers. Perelman based his information on talks with an unnamed "former high-ranking American intelligence official." Because the Forward reported the story, people on the far right asserted that it had to be true because the Forward was a paper of record in the Jewish community.
In June 2002, ABC News picked up the story of the five Israelis again via an investigative report on its newsmagazine show, "20/20." According to Vince Cannistraro, a former chief of operations for counterterrorism with the CIA and later a consultant for ABC, the FBI and CIA allegedly believed that the men were part of an Israeli intelligence operation. The "20/20"
The white supremacist publication Aryan Eagle claims that the Jews and the U.S. government are hiding the truth about 9/11.
report stated that after the FBI questioned the owner of Urban Moving Systems, he quickly fled the U.S. and went back to Israel, leaving behind phones, equipment, and clients’ furniture, thus implying he had something to hide. Even though "20/20" made a case that the men were probably spies, the show also stated admitted that "there was no evidence to conclude they had advanced [sic] knowledge of the terrorist attacks of 9/11."
These stories in the mainstream press media gave legitimacy to the claim that the five men were spies, although the deported Israelis continue to deny it, as do both the Israeli and U.S. governments, and no one involved in the investigation has connected them in any way to the events of 9/11. Yet, anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists seized on the press accounts as validation for their theories of Israeli involvement in the attacks. The various rumors of espionage surrounding the five Israelis deepened the conviction of many anti-Semites that Jews were behind the 9/11 tragedy, reinforcing the canard that Jews are innately treacherous and evil.
Anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists have gone beyond just alleging that Israel was behind the 9/11 attacks. They have focused on Israel as an evil force ready to destroy anyone who gets in the way of its interests. In their conspiracy theories, the Mossad is akin to the fabricated Elders of Zion, a secret, powerful group that carries out illicit, deceitful action to gain power. Israel's involvement in the attacks is seen as a centuries-old continuation of the Jews’ alleged desire to control and manipulate world events. In this sense, the 9/11 conspiracy theories represent the most modern manifestation of some of the oldest and most-repeated anti-Semitic attacks.
But if this reasoning is not new, theories about the 9/11 attacks are novel in that they have united disparate groups of Jew haters. In an unprecedented and very disturbing way, white supremacists, far-right extremists and Muslim and Arab propagandists are exchanging and echoing information, ideas and conspiracy theories regarding the attacks, particularly through the Internet. Their increased communication may lead to more cooperation between groups which have previously had very little in common except for a shared hatred of Jews.
Moreover, the 9/11 conspiracy theories show no sign of losing their unifying power in the near future. These ideas will continue to be used to demonize Jews and Israel, and will allow antiSemites to blame Jews for terrorism on a massive scale; they might even be used as justification for future acts of violence. Although anti-Semitic conspiracy theories have not been widely accepted by the mainstream population, particularly in the U.S., their repetition can eventually allow them to seep into the mainstream and be accepted as having some validity. This has already happened on a fairly large scale in Arab/Muslim countries where there is considerable belief that Israel and the Jews were behind the 9/11 attacks. Exposing the falsehoods behind these theories is the best way to prevent them from gaining more acceptance in other parts of the world.