Fifteen years since the tragic attack on the World Trade Centre, America is still recovering. The effects of the wounds have manifest themselves in the form of deep rooted xenophobia, anti-Islamism and pressure on internal security. However, Americans are far from being unified in accepting the government’s version of the factors that caused the 9/11 attacks.
In the immediate aftermath of the attacks large number of conspiracy theories had been floating that either debunked the claim that the Al-Qaeda alone was responsible for the attacks or laid out that government officials acted as catalysts to the plan and had enough to gain from it. While these theories have not been proven, reports have shown that a large number of American nationals have been influenced by them. According to a New York Times and CBS news survey that was conducted in 2006, 53% of those interviewed said that the Bush government was hiding something.
Here are some of the conspiracy theories that were hatched in the years following the 9/11 attacks.
Bombs caused the demolition of the WTC towers
A question that had been doing the rounds since the attack was how could an airplane made of aluminium manage to cut through steel buildings. Conspiracy theorists claimed that it was not the plane that caused the demolition of the two towers, rather the cause of the collapse was explosives that had been placed in selected places within the building. Some witnesses reported to have heard sound explosions just preceding the collapse.
However, debunking this theory, magazine “Popular Mechanics” claimed that an investigation led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) revealed that “that plane debris sliced through the utility shafts at the North Tower’s core, creating a conduit for burning jet fuel—and fiery destruction throughout the building.”
Pentagon not attacked by Boeing 757
According to this theory the attack on the Pentagon left a hole of the size measuring 16ft. The plane that is supposed to have caused the damage was 125 ft wide and 125 ft long. The mismatch between the dimensions of the plane and that of the hole it formed in the building raised several eyebrows. Conspiracy theorists explained that the attack on the Pentagon was carried out by some other missile. French author Thierry Meyssan was of the opinion that the attack on the Pentagon was part of a US military coup.
The theory was later debunked by Popular Mechanics who explained that “A crashing jet doesn’t punch a cartoon-like outline of itself into a reinforced concrete building”. The two wings did not cut into the building after the crash. It was only the jet’s landing gear that made the hole.
Collapse of tower 7
About seven hours after the north and south blocks of the WTC came crashing down, the 47-storey building 7 also came down mysteriously. The immediate response was to blame it on a fire was caused due to the collapse of the north tower. However, scientifically it was not deemed to be an adequate cause behind the collapse. Conspiracy theorists claimed that the only way building 7 could have crashed was through planned explosives.
However when investigated further by Popular Mechanics, they found that after the collapse of the twin towers, there was a large amount of falling debris all around. That accompanied by the fire in the buildings led to damage caused to certain parts of tower 7, which eventually led to its collapse.
US defense personnel did not act upon the hijack
Another puzzle that remains to be solved is why did the United States defense personnel not act appropriately despite the knowledge of the planes having been hijacked. Conspiracy theorists have argued that the defense personnel were asked to ‘stand down’ and not act upon the hijacked planes.
Popular Mechanics debunked this theory and explained that before 9/11, the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) looked outward for threats. “Pre-9/11, flights originating in the States were not seen as threats and NORAD wasn’t prepared to track them,” said the magazine. By the time NORAD was notified of the hijack, the plane had just crashed into the south tower.
While these theories have definitely intrigued people all over the world, it is worth noting that they have not been proved in any way and are still best understood as rumours.