The U.S. media widely reported that the Iranian president accused the U.S. government of killing U.S. citizens in an attack on the World Trade Center in New York on the fateful day of Sept. 11, 2001.
But the world leader’s question and message were much more nuanced and important than that—his core assertion was that a horrible attack that killed some 3,000 people and the U.S. response changed the world:
• The U.S. has embarked on a bloody and expensive War on Terror that has claimed thousands of lives and cost trillions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Security measures and the specter of terrorism have changed the functioning of law enforcement and military policy worldwide, affecting immigration, communication, banking, commerce and travel.
• Restrictions on religious freedoms for Muslims have been proposed and even demanded in some Western countries.
• Civil liberties have been under assault as the nations of the earth engage in an “anti-terror” battle where the enemy is most often associated with Islam or is a shadowy assailant whose existence has been used to justify nearly anything—from torture to secret prisons to confinement without charges to the inability to confront one’s accuser or even know what one is charged with.
President Ahmadinejad argued the changes in the world were so tremendous that the United Nations should be allowed to explore what happened on Sept. 11. “It was said that some 3,000 people were killed on 11 September for which we are all very saddened. Yet, up until now, in Afghanistan and Iraq hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, millions wounded and displaced and the conflict is still going on and expanding,” he noted.
He added that there are three schools of thought about the attack, which include terrorist outsiders attacking the United States; elements within the American government who wanted justification to remake the Middle East politically and protect Israel and to use conflict as a way to help revive a sagging economy, and it was carried out by a terrorist group but was taken advantage of by the American government.
“The main evidence linking the incident was a few passports found in the huge volume of rubble and a video of an individual whose place of domicile was unknown,” Mr. Ahmadinejad noted. “Would it not have been sensible that first a thorough investigation should have been conducted by independent groups to conclusively identify the elements involved in the attack and then map out a rational plan to take measures against them?”
“It is proposed that the United Nations set up an independent fact-finding group for the event of 11 September so that in the future expressing views about it is not forbidden,” the Iranian leader said. He added that next year Iran will host a conference to study terrorism, how to confront it and invited officials, scholars, thinkers, researchers and research institutes of all countries to attend.
Following condemnation of the Iranian leader by his State Dept., President Barack Obama objected to the Sept. 23 speech in a BBC interview. “It was offensive. It was hateful. And particularly for him to make the statement here in Manhattan, just a little north of Ground Zero where families lost their loved ones,” said the American president.
President Ahmadinejad said at a Sept. 24 New York press conference that “his remarks were not meant to hurt the feelings of Americans.”
The newspaper Haaretz reported upon his return to Tehran, the Iranian president said, “The reaction (by President Obama) was very amateurish, if there is nothing to hide, just present the relevant documents to the fact-finding team so that we can all together fight against the involved terrorists. I just raised one simple question and it is not right that whoever raises a question is insulted afterwards.”
Still Mr. Ahmadinejad was mocked by most mainstream American news organizations, but not everyone accepts the “crackpot idea” characterization. Many believe a full and complete investigation of 9-11 is still needed.
“The truth is the truth regardless of the messenger; and the truth of the matter is that what really happened on September 11, 2001 is an issue that people cannot run away from,” said Ramsey Clark, a former U.S. attorney general and co-founder of the International Action Center and founder of IndictBush.org.
“I don’t think you can reject the issue because of the messenger,” Mr. Clark added. “History does require that the facts have a proper review.”
However, Mr. Clark believes the United Nations is too “fragile” an institution to conduct such an investigation. “It’s not noted for its boldness” due to American domination, he noted.
“The only public figures that are vilified by the press at the UN for raising controversial questions—the alleged enemies of the empire—are Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and Iran’s Ahmadinejad,” said Mike Berger, a spokesman for 911truth.org.
Mr. Berger said doubts” about the official explanation of the events of Sept. 11 are “increasing.”
“The speculations that surfaced on the Internet directly after the attacks were considered theories until recently,” added Mr. Berger.
“But now, nine years later people are saying that the story we have been told just isn’t true; and more and more people seem to be asking who is capable of a real investigation into what happened on 9-11—people say they don’t believe the U.S. is capable—it would take an organization such as the UN,” he said.
His organization sponsored a 2007 Zogby International poll that showed 51 percent of Americans wanted Congress to probe then President George W. Bush and his Vice President Dick Cheney and over 30 percent wanted an immediate impeachment for war crimes.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has also said the 9-11 tragedy should have a full investigation. Since 9-11, Muslims in America been watched, searched and had their homes broken into by authorities, he said in response to a question from interviewer Abderrahim Foukara of the Al-Jazreera Arab TV network.
“September 11th was very, very strange: Nineteen Muslims were put before the American public and the world two days after this heinous attack. Qur’ans were found, but before this, the neo-cons that were surrounding President Bush, who were the architects of something called a ‘Project For The New American Century,’ said that America needed something like ‘Pearl Harbor’—9/11 was America’s new Pearl Harbor—to summon the American people in their anger and horror over what happened; now there are too many strange things that we question,” the Minister continued.
“The American people, I believe, are being deceived by a government that was absolutely afraid of the growth of Islam in America. And they needed something to gather the American people, and under Zionist influence, stop the spread of Islam; stop funding for legitimate Islamic projects, and frighten the immigrant Muslims in America so that they would not speak up,” Min. Farrakhan said. (Read extended excerpt of interview.)
“Muslims should raise questions about the commonly accepted version of the events that transpired resulting in the tragic events of 9-11 which led to this iron-fisted crackdown on Muslims in America and worldwide,” said Min. Farrakhan in another September interview with Al-Jazeera.
Questions should be asked, say activists
Others say a political message was wrapped in the Iranian leader’s words. “His message is intended to improve his standing in the Muslim world,” said the Council on Foreign Relations, in a position paper published after the speech. “He has worked hard to cultivate his image as a Pan-Islamic populist leader who is not afraid to stand up to the West.”
David Slesinger, congressional team leader for Architects and Engineers for 9-11 Truth, told The Final Call the way the Iranian president phrased his argument was excellent.
“He is simply saying that it is not inappropriate for the nations of the world to ask for an international investigation. There is clearly a suppression of the facts,” Mr. David Slesinger said.
“We want to address the evidence about what caused the fall of the three towers, not conspiracy theories.”
“The media has dismissed anyone who raises questions concerning 9-11 by saying that these people are simply ‘conspiracy theorists;’ and we are responding saying, ‘if you stick to the evidence it is worthy of investigation,’ ” Mr. Slesinger said.
On Sept. 9, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth held a press conference in Washington, D.C., at the National Press Club hoping to bring awareness to 1,270 architects and engineers calling for a “new investigation,” emphasizing the importance of the discovery of chemicals used for explosives in World Trade Center dust.
On Sept. 10, the organization traveled to Capitol Hill to deliver a petition supporting a “real investigation” into the destruction of the three World Trade Center towers to each of the 541 members of Congress.
Back in April at a meeting of over 150 lawyers, legal scholars and human rights campaigners appointed Mr. Clark as the chairperson of their international campaign to investigate war crimes committed by officials from the administration of former President George W. Bush.
The coalition said that they have been driven by the fact that the U.S.-sponsored borderless war against an ill-defined enemy has expedited economic collapse, driven totalitarian legislation and generated a great deal of animosity against the U.S. throughout the world.
If we are to preserve the peace of the world, we must challenge the myths purveyed by the Bush administration about 9-11, said Mr. Berger. “The question facing our movement is how to get justice,” Mr. Berger said. “We do know that we do not have the power in the U.S. to get basic discovery of the facts; and we know this because of the fiasco of the 9-11 Commission report.”
The commission also known as the Kean-Hamilton Commission started to probe the 9-11 tragedy on Nov. 26, 2002 and released its final report, formally named “Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States” on July 22, 2004. The probe started 441 days after 9-11 and it drew some criticism.
The Council on Foreign Relations in Aug. 2004 said that the 9-11 Commission report lacked specifics. Many 9-11 survivors and many 9-11 victim family members have expressed significant criticism of the 9-11 Commission Report.
The Bush administration has never offered a detailed and documented account of its claims about the events of 9-11, Mr. Berger said.
“Both the U.S. Congress and the Kean-Hamilton Commission have protested the Bush administration’s lack of cooperation with their inquiries into 9-11,” Mr. Berger noted.
“I don’t think they are going to find much difference in any facts that the government would now release nine years later,” commented Greg Taylor of Staten Island, N.Y., who lost his brother Darryl, 52, in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.
“I have bought all of the tapes and listened to all of the studies; and I know the best time to investigate a crime is then, when it happens,” Mr. Taylor said. “All that I am sure about is that my brother is not here.”
“The whole Muslim thing is what America does best, fanning fears; that’s why people must think for themselves. I would like to see the mosque built near the site of Ground Zero. I do know that I resent anyone using my brother’s death to spread fear,” Mr. Taylor told The Final Call.
“The UN should have investigated 9-11 a long time ago,” said Larry Holmes, an organizer for the anti-war organization Bail Out the People Not the Banks. He has led “Hands off Iran” protests and anti-war protests in New York and other cities.
Mr. Holmes has also taken part in grassroots tribunals and investigations trying to uncover any role the U.S. government may have played in the attacks on 9-11.
“Until all of the facts are brought out into the light of day, we will continue to watch our government seize upon the pretext of 9-11 for U.S. campaigns of racial defamation against Arabs and Muslims, and for sweeping police state measures, and for war,” Mr. Holmes warned.
“The metaphysical significance of the speech given by President Ahmadinejad is that it represents the sentiment around the world,” Mr. Holmes said.
Ramsey Clark, a former high ranking law enforcement official, said Americans have to demand the truth and justice. “It is the imperative responsibility of the American people to relentlessly pursue investigation, indictment and prosecution of those responsible for 9-11 inside of the U.S.,” said Mr. Clark