Tuesday, October 07, 2008

9/11 truthers in Russia -- and Russia's own terrorist bombing conspiracy theory

My Weekly Standard article on the broadcast of the 9/11 conspiracy "documentary" Zero, and the studio discussion that followed, is now up. It expands on my earlier blogpost on the topic, and is based on a viewing of the entire program rather than the last 20 minutes. The first half of the discussion was a little less skewed, but the result was still appalling. The article also includes an interesting quote from an interview (not mine) with the host of the program, Alexander Gordon, when he was asked whether its airing was connected to the deterioration in relations with the U.S.

Last night, after receiving a few emailed from truthers urging me to open my mind, I watched the BBC documentary "Conspiracy Files: The Third Tower." What never ceases to amaze me (apart from the belief that any group of people in the U.S. government would have the competence, coordination, and diabolical smarts to pull off this kind of vast conspiracy) is the sheer idiocy of truther arguments about the motives for various aspects of this conspiracy. The truthers argue that Tower 7 (which collapsed despite not being hit by a plane) was brought down by controlled demolition, with explosives planted inside. But why? Apparently because that's where the local office of the CIA was, and was that office that served as the secret control room for the 9/11 plot, and the evidence had to be destroyed. Really? Those plotters were so dumb that they had their super-secret control room in a CIA office right next to the WTC? And couldn't think of a better way to dispose of the evidence than creating a mystery explosion? If they were that dumb, how could they have possibly successfully carried history's biggest cover-up?

In my WS article, I refer to "the fairly credible allegations that the FSB, the KGB's post-Soviet heir, was involved in the 1999 apartment-building bombings in Russia that took nearly 300 lives and were blamed on Chechen terrorists, helping generate public support for the war in Chechnya." Why do I think these allegations, unlike the ones about 9/11, are fairly credible? Because I'm willing to believe that kind of thing about "them," but not about "us"? Well, no. As much as I loathe Russia's ruling clique, I'd rather not believe that they engineered terrorist acts against their own people. Because, if those are the kind of people who rule Russia, we are all less safe.

I think those allegations are vastly more credible than those of the 9/11 "truth" movement because of vast differences between the two situations.

One, the alleged FSB plot is fairly straightforward: explosives planted in apartment buildings. There are no bizarre claims of faked hijackings, nonexistent planes, passengers being taken to secret locations and murdered to supply the bodies, etc. etc.

Two, there was never an independent investigation of the bombings in Russia, only an FSB one; the State Duma voted against an investigation and ordered all documents pertaining to the case to be sealed for 75 years, and several MPs who tried to conduct an investigation of their own had an unfortunate tendency to get assassinated or meet with fatal accidents.

Three, no Chechen separatists ever claimed responsibility for the bombings. Four, at least one officer of the Russian secret services admitted to FSB involvement, though he made this statement in Chechen captivity and later claimed it was extracted under torture.

Five, and most damning, FSB agents were caught red-handed planting explosives with a timer in the basement of an apartment building in Ryazan. FSB director Niklai Patrushev claimed it was an "emergency readiness training exercise." After that, by the way, the bombings stopped.

Read the full story here.


Stephen Smith said...

So you don't think the Americans did 9/11, and you do think the Russians did Ryazan, but have you ever considered the possibility that the Russians did 9/11? According to Aleksandr Litvinenko (who I'm sure you know as one of the few brave Russians willing to speak out against Ryazan), Ayman al-Zawahiri was trained by the FSB right before he joined his Egyptian Islamic Jihad with bin Laden's al-Qaeda. Strange coincidence, eh?

(You also have a pretty clean motive: raising energy prices. Partially by banking on the (over)reaction of the US, and its blundering in oil-producing regions like Iraq, Iran, etc. – not to mention oil- and gas-transit points like Afghanistan.)

Cathy Young said...

A small correction:

The bombing in Ryazan was the one that didn't happen, because the explosives were found and detonated. The bombings that did happen were in Moscow and Volgodonsk. And I didn't say that I think the Russians did it; I think there is some pretty disturbing evidence pointing in that direction, but it isn't something anyone can know for sure at this point. And, given the time and opportunity the Russians have had to cover up the trail, I doubt anything will ever be known.

As for Russia's possible 9/11 involvement: I'd need to see a lot more evidence to consider this scenario.

I generally take the Occam's Razor approach: the simplest explanation that works is the correct one. It takes strong evidence (like in the apartment bombings case) for me to believe that there may be more to it.

In this case, I think the link between the act and the possible benefits to the Russians is too weak and involves too much of a "gamble" -- in other words, the Russians would have to count on a certain chain of events beyond their control in order to reap the benefits. On the other hand, the potential risks are huge; what if al-Zawahiri fell into the hands of the Americans and fingered the FSB? I don't think Russia could afford a new cold war at the time. In other words, the risk/benefit ratio seems way too high.

Stephen Smith said...

Have you ever read a supposedly complete account of al-Zawahiri's time spent in Dagestan in Russian custody right before he linked up with bin Laden to essentially create the al-Qaeda we know and love today? Al-Zawahiri's Wikipedia page has the most complete account I've ever seen of the incident, and is very well-cited. It's quite an interesting read. Also, for what it's worth (because I don't know anything about the man), defector Preobazhensky corroborated Litvinenko's story, though it's unclear if he had evidence of what happened that wasn't filtered through Litvinenko. Just something to think about.

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