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Those who carried out the 11 September 2001 attacks, were they extremist Serbian nationalists, no it was the Israeli Mossad, no, pardon me, it was a US group of Seventh Day Adventists! Not at all, the one who carried out the terrible attacks was the US Central Intelligence Agency [CIA]!

The suggestions and imaginary illusions continue to pour in the direction of evading the real consequences of the reality, which is that those who carried out the 11 September attacks were Muslim youths who believe in a hard-line interpretation of Islam, who are led by Osama Bin Laden, and who are encouraged and were then encouraged by millions of Muslims.

The idea that the Serbs were the ones who carried out the 11 September attacks to take revenge for US interference in the Serbs’ war against Bosnia and the Croats was pronounced by Hasanayn Haykal, symbol of Arab political journalists who follow the pan-Arab direction. He said it days after the explosions took place (Lebanese Al-Safir newspaper 1 October 2001).

The idea that the attacks were carried out by the Israeli Mossad (the source of all evils and mysterious events that some people do not have the stamina to investigate and scrutinize) was suggested by the Islamist writer Fahmi Huwaydi, who believed that Al-Qaeda could not carry out such an operation, but the Mossad could (Kuwaiti Al-Watan newspaper 25 September 2001).

As for the idea that the explosions were carried out by a US group called the Seventh Day Adventists, it was pronounced by the presenter of the Science and Belief program, Mustafa Mahmud (Al-Ahram 22 September 2001)

All these suggestions and scenarios indicate the extent of the control of wishful thinking over us. This is because the common factor among all these ideas is to put the responsibility on the shoulders of a party other than the Arab and Muslim party, i.e. a party that is not us. I remember that there were some who spoke of the involvement of the Colombian drug cartels in these attacks. What is important is that the involved side is someone other than us, even if this one is a blue jinn. The owners of these suggestions do not burden themselves with thinking of the events and analyzing them in order to reach the closest possible point to the truth, as the researcher Saqr Abu-Fakhr says in his book, “Religion and the Mob.”

From this we can understand the enthusiastic celebrations with which our Arab media, and our semi- and even quarter-intellectuals met the delusions of the French journalist Thierry Missan that what took place on 11 September was merely a “terrifying deception” carried out by the United States itself, and hence it killed 5,000 people, and bombed the Defense Department building and the World Trade Center twin towers!

The main purpose of all these contorted ideas is to kill the questions, and to exonerate the cultural self from responsibility. If the ones who carried out these explosions were Serbs, Mossad, Seventh Day Adventists, Colombian gangs, or the CIA, it would be meaningless to question us about extremism, the culture of fanaticism and religious excess, the need to revise the concepts that establish religious violence, and all this continuous headache of questions that keep hammering on the mind of the society. The matter is easy with these conspiratorial illusions, and presenting critical questions becomes meaningless “intellectual luxury” and verbosity.

With these images, the entire issue is reduced to saying that there are conspiracies that no one knows about except those in the know, but we are a perfect nation with a healthy society, culture, and civilization (where are all these now?!). However, we are targeted and warred upon. We are the main preoccupation of the world. The world wants to oppress us, prevent us from rising, and rob our wealth.

Conspiracy is neither an illusion nor an abstract idea; it is part of the world of politics, and it has happened, and still is happening. The aim is not to deny its existence or to ridicule that it has taken place at certain periods and in specific cases, and that it will take place again, because conspiracy is a part of the practice of political wars. Many people in the world are obsessed by the conspiracy theories, and there are films and novels about this group of people, who do not see anything in front of them other than a conspiracy or a potential conspiracy.

However, in the societies that are free from injured pride, historic-role complex, and regrets of being backward in civilization, they do not allow such group of people to undertake the decision making in important and sensitive issues; in these societies such issues are studied with complete, or as close as possible to complete, objectivity in order to protect the state and the decision making from the impact of fleeting emotional feelings. Even if some hysterical people, such as the journalist Thierry Missan, were to emerge at certain times, as a fleeting fit of hysteria, they soon would fade away in the sea of the ruling rationalism.

However, our situation is the opposite of their situation. We continuously enable these people, listen to them, and rely on anything that anyone says that would tickle our sentiments, and inflame our imagination with sensational conspiracies. The defeat of 1967 was a foreign conspiracy, so were the 1956 aggression and the 1948 catastrophe. The appointment of Anwar al-Sadat as president of Egypt was a conspiracy. Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait was a conspiracy, and the west deliberately enticed Saddam into it. Osama Bin Laden is a conspiracy. All the religious fanaticism, and the dozens, even hundreds of suicide bombers, who flood our land with blood and torn bodies, are nothing but tools of a conspiracy that is managed from abroad (the nature and type of this abroad vary according to the prevailing circumstances and enemies).

This type of thinking reflects a deep-rooted perplexity, and a continuous fear of facing up to the naked truth. It is true that facing up to the truth is bitter and painful, but this is temporary bitterness and pain that soon will go away, and putting up with this is better and more beneficial than resorting to intellectual drugs and evasion tricks.

Does this mean self-hatred and shedding one’s identity and culture? This question is meaningless, because man cannot shed his skin; if he did he would turn into an appalling freak, or perhaps he would die completely, because the skin is what protects the body, and hence the soul that uses the parts of the body.

Therefore, this question, which is presented always whenever the idea of self-criticism is put forward, is meaningless. If our problem with our prevailing way of thinking were restricted to the 11 September explosions, the situation would be easy, and we would believe the conspiracy theories, be they the Serbian scenario, the Mossad scenario, the Colombian scenario, or even the blue jinn scenario. However, our problem has not been restricted to the story of 11 September. Before and after the 11 September events we have gone through dozens of crises that have led us to this reality, which I do not think pleases any rational Muslim or Arab.

In a nutshell: The solution before we go through any talk or sidelines is that if we do not change our way of thinking we will continue to repeat these saddening distractions in an absurd and tragic way. We repeat the same words at every problem. It is said that you will not get a different result if you are using the same method!

I say these words as in a few days we will commemorate the eighth anniversary of 11 September 2001. We will remember that many of us celebrated it and its deeds, while at the same time the ideas of the conspiracy and the foreign side became widespread. I do not know how we can take pride in a deed, and at the same time we are pleased that someone tells us that there are foreign sides that did that deed, and it was not us!

Abu-al-Ala al-Maarri [famous Arab poet 973-1057 AD] was right when he said: In every generation there are falsehoods to condemn it, has any generation ever been uniquely well-guided?

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi is a Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism, as well as on Saudi affairs. He is Asharq Al-Awsat’s opinion page editor. Mr. Zaydi has worked for the local Saudi press, and has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.

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