Was 9/11 an Inside Job?


This video is brought to you by your contributions on Patreon. Click here to lend your support to history education online. Hey folks, As a few of you may know, I am currently knee deep in my PhD. What you may not know is what I work on. My research is on the September 11th attacks, specifically about their legacy. I study how events are remembered and how that congeals into a shared history. Now, when I mention this to people at dinner parties, because I love to keep things light and fluffy, I get two major responses. The first is people who want to tell me their own flashbulb memories of the day of the attack. I’m okay with this. I nod along and try to forget all the literature that shows that flashbulb memories are almost universally wrong, but hey it’s a party and we’re all having fun talking about 9/11. The second major reaction I get is people asking me THAT question. “Was 9/11 an inside job?” Given that we’re coming up to the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and the one year anniversary of my first Step Back video about conspiracy theories, I think that it’s time to answer question number two for everyone. So all aboard our hologram plane missile full of lizard aliens, and let’s do this. For anyone who doesn’t remember, the attacks I am talking about were when in September of 2001, hijackers from the Islamic radical terrorist group al-Qaeda coordinated four simultaneous terrorist attacks, crashing commercial airplanes into the Pentagon and each of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. The passengers and crew of the fourth plane managed to subdue the hijackers, and crashed into a rural field in Shanksville Pennsylvania instead of the intended target which some think was either the White House or the Capitol building. Someone get on THAT alternate history novel. This tragedy was a live media disaster. People were glued to their televisions. Over the next few months the US government led a UN invasion of Afghanistan. Just a year after that, the US was considering an invasion of Iraq. For… reasons. This was the beginning of what we now call the global war on terror, and no matter what your political leaning it is hard to deny the impact the 9/11 attacks and subsequent war on terror have had on our modern world. They are a little quieter today, but at the time there were plenty of media and protesters out there who argued that what we saw on September 11th was not all it appeared to be. From the day of the attacks, media ambiguities, dodgy reports, and the sheer gravity of the event led many to formulate all sorts of conspiracy theories against whatever group they wanted. So to begin digging in, let’s look at all the theories that conspiracy theorists have made over the years. They range from highly technical questions about structural engineering, to literal accusations of lizard aliens orchestrating the attacks from their moon base. Some conspiracy theorists say that the US government intentionally looked the other way and let the attacks happen. Claims to this extent mention that the 9/11 plans had been on the CIA’s list of potential plots, but that the Bush administration had ignored it. The Air Force had also been conveniently doing air drills that day, meaning that the military was hobbled, and was too slow to intercept the hijacked airplanes. Others point to insider trading that happened before the attack as “evidence” that it was premeditated. For example, there were a number of odd stock decisions made just before the attacks. American Airlines had spent the last few days receiving a large amount of put options on their stock. This is when stock traders bet on a stock going down. It seems suspicious if you don’t mention that the company a few days earlier reported losses, and no other airline seemed to receive these options. Larry Silverstein, the owner of the World Trade Center, had just renewed the insurance contract on the towers a few months earlier. After the 1994 bombing of these same towers, he included protection against terrorism as part of the contract. Also looks suspicious. There were even claims of secret gold being moved out of World trade Center 7 just days before. Going even bigger, some claim that the attacks were in themselves a staged event. Some making the argument that the towers themselves were demolished in a controlled explosion rather than a plane crash. This theory is supported either by misinterpreting Larry Silverstein’s choice to let building 7 collapse rather than risk any more firefighters dying to save it, or by noting a bunch of weird structural details that many experts have since refuted. I will give a link to a nice nerdy description down below in the comments, but I will point out one major thing. Thermite doesn’t explode… It can’t really be used for demolishing buildings. It’s designed for disabling vehicles. But to address all these claims in this video would be a logistical nightmare as many are highly technical. A lot of books have been written addressing these claims, including a really good one published by Popular Mechanics, I suggest you start there. Again, I’ll put all this info down below. Some theorists, such as conspiracy media darling Alex Jones speculated that flight 93 was suspicious. This is the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. Jones claims it looks like a coverup because the debris field was too big. But, this was soundly denied by an airline accident expert who worked on a similar crash back in 1996. Sometimes a small logistical error can explode into a new conspiracy claim, such as accusations that Flight 93 landed safely in Ohio. These types of claims come from some sort of organizational error on the day. Which is to be expected of course because it was chaotic. Pointing out that logistical errors are not unusual typically results in a “nuh uh” response, and so you’re left in an empty debate. In such a situation, I pick the side that has the least assumptions. Going abroad, some theorists accuse that other governments knew about the plot, but withheld information to the US allowing it to occur. Some argue that Pakistan’s intelligence service, or Israel’s Mossad knew about the attacks, or that Saudi Arabia funded them. The former head of Pakistani intelligence is actually a believer in the conspiracy theories, as is the former president of Italy Francesco Cossiga. Let’s break these theories about foreign governments down. Did Pakistani intelligence know ahead of time? Maybe. However, at any given time in any given intelligence agency there are so many potential plots all with differing levels of credibility. Like with the CIA’s missing warnings about the attacks, it could have easily been overlooked by the Pakistanis as well. I imagine Mossad might be a similar story. As far as Saudi Arabia, it has such a giant royal family, and so much money flowing in and out of its government, that some of that money could definitely have wound up in al-Qaeda’s coffers. Whether this was part of official Saudi government policy is quite a heavy charge without anything but circumstantial evidence. And, Cossiga rescinded his trutherism. So here the conspiracy people might be right. There might be a log in some intelligence database about the 9/11 plot and Saudi money probably did get into al-Qaeda bank accounts, but it’s just a tad more complex than that. Some theorists claim that the forensic evidence of the attacks was covered up. These theories range from denying that the Flight 77 black box was irreparably damaged to the idea that Osama Bin Laden’s video taking credit for the attacks was a forgery. Some conspiracy theorists focus on this tape, and not the 2007 tape by Bin Laden taking responsibility in order to absolve the Taliban, or the al-Jazeera interview with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, the two men who planned the attacks, confessing their involvement. The US has arrested quite a few people who have laid out the story of the attacks rather well by this point. Inevitably there are also claims that the attacks were conducted by Israeli agents rather than extremist Islamic militants, and of course that theory comes with the very charming accusation that many Jews working in the towers didn’t show up for work… You can’t have a conspiracy movement without someone blaming Jews… There are also a few theories that get a little more… fanciful. There is of course the claim that the planes used in the attacks were not planes at all, but missiles covered in a hologram. Or my favourite conspiracy guru himself, David Icke’s positing that the attacks were orchestrated by lizard aliens that live on the moon. No joke, it’s… a real thing. So we have all of these claims the conspiracy theorists have laid down, but why do they think the attacks were ordered? There is the Pax Americana conspiracy theorists who claim that the attacks were orchestrated by Neo-Conservatives set on world dominance. Given their completely illegal war in Iraq, and dubious claims to get there, they aren’t doing themselves any favors here. However, the haphazard planning of these wars, and the long-term disaster it has been for Neo-conservatives who have really lost their grip on power in the last decade or so, don’t really point to an all-powerful group. Capitalizing on tragedy doesn’t necessarily point to conspiracy. The second explanation is that the attacks were orchestrated in order to launch a series of wars to seize the global oil supply. The problem here, is that unless they found a way to make oil from opium, nuts, or rugs, Afghanistan was not a wise place to start. Iraq is rich in oil, but not the richest. The US has plenty of states in the Middle-East that are both friendly, and have plenty of oil. If I were to posit a reason for the Iraq war, it was because the moment they were in they felt they could expand US interests in the region by taking out leaders that oppose US hegemony in the region. Like say… Saddam Hussein. The third major explanation is that the attacks were meant to bring about the New World Order. This is a favorite of Alex Jones, who claims a disparate network of banks, corporations, globalists, and military folks wanted a war to establish a world government. These theories are older than 9/11, but in the conspiracy world, everything finds its way back to the New World Order. It’s like a Saturday morning cartoon super-villain version of Neo-liberalism. Seriously guys, just read some David Harvey. You totally don’t need elaborate schemes for rich elites to take over the planet. The 9/11 truth movement really peaked around the Bush years. And in many ways it stood as a resistance to Bush and the War on Terror, rather than a serious allegation. There were a few big media products such as the movies Loose Change and Zeitgeist, but they don’t get up to as much trouble as they used to. Belief in 9/11 conspiracies is almost a relic, and now we have a whole new set of conspiracies to define our age. Why did these conspiracies spread so rapidly? Well it doesn’t help that many people watched the 9/11 attacks live. When watching a media event like this live, we find lots of ambiguous, and conflicting reports as things unfold in real time. It happened during the terrorist attacks in Paris last fall. Maybe it’s just a trade-off of our desire for immediate information. Many people have studied the role of hearsay and folklore in developing conspiracy theories. Many 9/11 conspiracies have their roots in urban legends, which in the age of the internet spread much faster than we can fact check, no matter how hard Snopes tries. There are, of course, millennialists who are always on the look out for the latest sign of the end of the world, which leads to a lot of people pushing the envelope in order to justify their Revelations canned food collection. And of course many people are just drawn to the occult and mystical answers. It surprises me not one bit that people have tried to pull out Nostradamus to retroactively predict the future. As I mentioned in my first video on this channel, creating an overarching plan makes people comfortable. It means that we don’t have to worry that a few people with box-cutters can massacre 3,000 people, because only big government orchestrated operations can wreak that sort of havoc. It sucks a lot of the ambiguity out of the world, and lets the theorist be the hero in their own David and Goliath story. I’d have been more surprised if there wasn’t a conspiracy theory or seven about these attacks. The events were so big it brought out every corner of the conspiracy realm. There are both left and right wing conspiracy theorists who either believe that the attacks were to act as casus belli for a warmongering neo-liberal, or for the nanny state to take over our lives and take our guns. We can’t forget that there is always a sci-fi contingency, and for some reason a bunch of people who just really really hate Jews. The attacks were a tragedy, and terrorism does just what the name implies. 9/11 made us feel vulnerable, when in the west we have been so comfy and safe from afar. It brought the conflicts and violence that we are not innocent of to our front door, and that makes us uneasy. It makes sense then that we can take comfort in thinking it was all a cover up. I know I’m going to regret this, but if you have anything to add to this conversation please let me know down below. 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