Sunday, October 02, 2005

Sept. 11 conspiracy theories abound

Imam Intikab Habib is not alone in his beliefs about the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Jimmy Walter, a Santa Barbara, Calif., millionaire, paid $3 million to run television ads in New York and Los Angeles earlier this year that suggested the government conspired to blow up the World Trade Center.

And Web sites like 911truth.org contend that the Twin Towers were brought down by explosives, not hijacked planes.

Four years after the attacks, thousands of 9/11 conspiracy theories abound.

In his ads, Walter, who founded "Re-Open 9/11," questioned how 7 World Trade Center, which housed a diesel tank for the city's emergency headquarters, collapsed on Sept. 11.

"It was not hit by aircraft," the ad's narrator declares. "It had no significant fire ... and no explanation for its collapse has been given."

Walter could not be reached for comment Friday.

But other like-minded conspiracy theorists, such as Nicholas Levis, a founder and correspondent for 911truth.org, say a distrust of the government and a failure to comprehensively address what happened and why has fostered questions.

Levis noted that a Zogby poll, paid for by Walter and conducted last year, showed 66 percent of those questioned want the 9/11 probe reopened. He noted that the poll also showed that 49 percent of New York City residents believe federal leaders had foreknowledge of the attacks.

Levis, who said he believes that planes did bring down the Twin Towers but also believes government operatives played a role, said his site has created a clearinghouse where "skeptics and citizens can come together to discuss and work on the issue together."

"This is a widespread phenomenon," he said Friday. "There are a lot of individuals out there who think this way."

Sally Regenhard, a member of the Family Steering Committee of the 9/11 Commission and founder of the Skyscraper Safety Campaign, said she finds Habib's statements troubling.

"Certainly it seems that the Fire Department should have done a little better research on the people that they hire," she said. "But I do agree that it's unprecedented for a building like that to have come down."

Regenhard, who lost her firefighter son, Christian, on 9/11, said the failure to answer questions has allowed conspiracy theories to flourish. "There is a huge and growing number of people out there who are saying there are too many unanswered questions," she said.

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