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Misinformation and rumors about the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks

This page is created in the interest of having a record of some of the rumors and misinformation that can arise in the face of tragedy. It is not intended to be disrespectful of those who, perhaps innocently, might relay such information believing it to be true.

Table of contents
1 Kashmiri responsibility
2 World Trade Center survivors after September 13
3 Approximately 10000 people died in September 11
4 False Nostradamus prediction
5 The Smoke Demon
6 Passing UFO
7 CNN faking Palestinian cheers
8 False fundraising
9 A tourist was having a photograph taken of himself on top of the World Trade Center just seconds before Flight 11 struck the north tower.
10 Osama bin Laden owns part or all of Snapple soft-drinks and Citibank.
11 September 11's events generated a baby boom
12 (Jewish) Conspiracy to frame Arabs
">13 "Credible threat" against Bush
14 Osama and Evil Bert
15 Avoid malls on October 31st email
16 Atta was a known terrorist
17 Pentagon was not hit by a plane
18 US military aircraft shot down Flight 93 to stop it reaching Washington
19 The towers were blown up
20 Former Iran/Contra figure Oliver North issued a warning about Osama Bin Laden during testimony in the 1980s to the U.S. Senate.
21 Bush knew in advance that the terrorists attacks would happen
22 Celebrating Arab-Americans
23 Other incidents
24 External links

Kashmiri responsibility

Early claim of Kashmiri responsibility quickly debunked.

World Trade Center survivors after September 13

Several reported rescues from the World Trade Center on September 13 proved to be false. The only ones rescued were some firefighters who became trapped earlier that day. In addition, an office worker called Carla Guzman was rescued from the remains of the South Tower on September 12. [1]
All reports that cell phone messages were received from people trapped within the collapsed buildings have remained unconfirmed.

Approximately 10000 people died in September 11

The great volume of casualties and the chaos of the day meant that missing persons lists were greatly inflated. The true total casualty figure of the day was in fact approximately 3000.

Many of the first media reports on the matter stated that 10000 people died on September 11. Many websites also used the practice of allowing users to add victims - a method that was not reliable.

It turned out that many of the persons listed in these lists and websites as dead were fictional, counted more than once, survivors, added in error but never corrected or missing persons.

False Nostradamus prediction

The following (and variants) began to spread through the net within days of the attack:

In the city of god there will be a great thunder,
two brothers torn apart by chaos,
while the fortress endures,
the great leader will succumb.
The third big war will begin when the big city is burning
NOSTRADAMUS 1654

This is not an authentic Nostradamus quatrain. It appears nowhere in his quatrains, and at any rate Nostradamus died long before 1654.

Here's a webpage on the matter:
" class="external">http://www.snopes2.com/rumors/predict.htm

Occurrences of certain numbers (23) leading to the Illuminati.
See also numerology

The Smoke Demon

Several photographs were circulated through the Net the weekend following the tragedy, depicting smoke rising from the Twin Towers that resembled demonic heads. It has been confirmed by AP that at least one of these photos is authentic. See [1] and [1].

The pictures certainly seem to be genuine, but to say that that they portray the Devil, or that this was his direct work, is ludricous. There is nothing in the Bible that says that the Devil has horns - this is a popular perception of that entity.

It is much more reasonable to say that the resemblance is a grim coincidence.

Passing UFO

Soon after the attacks, a Japanese personal web page claimed to show 'unreleased' stills of an object claimed to be a UFO rushing past the towers, several seconds after the 2nd plane hit.

Nothing has since emerged to substantiate or confirm the existence of a mysterious flying object anywhere near the towers after the attacks.

CNN faking Palestinian cheers

There had been early rumours that the footage shown by CNN and others, depicting Palestinians cheering after the attacks, was old. This is false. The demonstrations did happen and were condemned by Arafat; the footage was current. See here.

There was indeed some footage that was faked, or rather staged, but it was actually shot by a Palestinian camera crew. The footage is of some cheering kids and a middle aged woman eating cookies. Reporters from Der Stern and Dagens Nyheter managed to trace down and interview the woman and she claimed to have no knowledge of the attack at the time she was filmed.

False fundraising

Scambusters reported instances of email fundraising scams in the wake of the tragedy, and posted tips to help consumers ensure their donations reached the right agencies.

A tourist was having a photograph taken of himself on top of the World Trade Center just seconds before Flight 11 struck the north tower.

An e-mail was circulated which showed a photograph of a tourist on top of the north tower just seconds before American Airlines flight 11 struck it. The view of the northern side of the city, and the American Airlines markings on the plane, are both unmistakable. However, this photograph is beyond any reasonable doubt a hoax.

Flight 11 was moving at hundreds of kilometres per hour just before it struck the World Trade Centre. At that speed, it ought to have been a blur. Yet the shot of the plane in the photograph is very clear - it almost seems to be stationary in the air.

The aircraft pictured is a Boeing 757, while flight 11 was a Boeing 767.

The 'tourist' seems very warmly clothed for a September morning.

The World Trade Centre did not open its observation tower facilities until 9:30 AM. The plane struck at 8:46 AM.

There is no explanation as to how the camera and the film in it could have survived a fall of 110 floors.

Finally, there was no observation deck on the north tower.

The original picture was taken when a Hungarian named Peter (who wished his last name to be withheld by the press) visited the Towers on November 28, 1997. The original picture without plane and other pictures of Peter can be found on Wired's website.

Osama bin Laden owns part or all of Snapple soft-drinks and Citibank.

He does not.

Citibank is owned in part by Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who at some point after the attacks was apparently confused with Osama bin Laden. Bin Talal has no connection with al-Qaeda whatever.

The New York Post reported the Snapple story, as part of a general story about the Saudi binLaden Group owning part of this company. The Chief Executive of Snapple, Michael Weinstein, released a statement denying it.

September 11's events generated a baby boom

There was no recorded rise in the US birth rate in June 2002, or in any other part of that year.

(Jewish) Conspiracy to frame Arabs

Various rumors circulated in the Arab world following the attack to the effect that non-Muslims, in particular Israelis or supporters of Israel, perpetrated the attack to frame Arabs and Muslims. These rumors included claims that several thousand Jews working in the World Trade Center were warned ahead of time and didn't show up for work on September 11. There is absolutely no supporting evidence. For further discussion, see Zionist conspiracy theories.

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"Credible threat" against Bush

After President Bush faced some criticism for flying around the US in Air Force One instead of returning immediately to Washington or New York, members of his administration (Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice) told the press on several occasions that there had been a "credible threat" against Bush by terrorists. Later, AP and CBS news investigated this claim and found it to be false. In response to this, the Administration officials said that there had been a "misunderstanding". White House officials also claimed that the plane which crashed into the Pentagon originally was aimed at the White House. That claim was also debunked.

Osama and Evil Bert

A photograph of a protest rally in Bangladesh supporting Osama bin Laden showed a poster of Osama bin Laden with a small but clearly identifiable images of Bert, a muppet from the children's television show Sesame Street, over his right shoulder. (Another smaller image of bin Laden is immediately to the right of Bert's image.) The photo is from Reuters, and was not doctored. In fact, the image of Osama and Bert had been created (using an image editing tool) by a humorist earlier and placed on a website, and the person who made the poster must have copied it from the World Wide Web, leaving the image of Evil Bert in.

As a response to this, the creator of the "Bert is Evil" website has taken down the site and posted a note explaining the decision. "I am doing this because I feel this has gotten too close to reality," he says, "and I choose to be responsible enough to stop it right here." For full message text, see [1]. For a detailed account of the use of the image, in South Asia as well as by Western news agencies, see [1]. (The latter also argues against the notion that inclusion of the Bert image of the photo is some kind of coded communication.)

Avoid malls on October 31st email

A number of people across the country received an email chain letter saying that an Afghan left a letter to his girl friend on Sept 10, asking her not to take any flight on Sept 11 and not to go to any shopping mall on Halloween. It was said that the letter is now in the FBI's hands. The letter implied that there is a second phase of the terrorist attacks and the targets will be the trick or treaters.

The email was traced back to a person named Laura Katsis, who apparently has no first-hand knowledge of the event and regrets passing the note along. The FBI has investigated the matter, and took the unusual step of issuing a statement on a hoax, declaring the claim to be unsubstantiated. A few variations on this message are also circulating. [1] [1] [1]

There have been several variations of this story, including one where Coca-Cola was reportedly poisoned on a certain date. All of these have been false.

Atta was a known terrorist

There have been persistent rumors that Mohammad Atta, the suspected leader of the September 11 attacks, was a known terrorist who had bombed an Israeli bus in 1986 and was freed from Israel on insistence by the US as a result of the Oslo peace accords. This is incorrect. The bus bomber is the Palestinian Mahmoud Mahmoud Atta. He is a naturalized US citizen and was extradited by the US to Israel in 1990, but freed after that extradition was held to be invalid by the Israeli supreme court. His whereabouts are unknown. He was 47 years old at the time of the September 11 attack, while Mohamad Atta was 33. [1] [1]

Pentagon was not hit by a plane

A French Web site has disputed that Flight 77 hit the Pentagon. It does not explain what happened to the plane and its crew and passengers. Its claims have now been published in a book.

The claims include that an object depicted in a photograph showing it about to strike the building has a different shape and size than that of a Boeing 757, and that photographs taken after the Pentagon was hit and before the damaged part collapsed, show the hole being less than that a 757 would produce, even assuming that most of the wings did come off.

In March 2002 the US authorities released photographs from a surveillance camera. The pictures, complete with times (set to another time zone) at the bottom corner, can be found on this BBC webpage. The first picture is timed 17:37:19 and the last 17:37:23.

This is a webpage that claims it is mathematically impossible for the plane to have hit the Pentagon in that time without moving at mach speeds.

US military aircraft shot down Flight 93 to stop it reaching Washington

US authorities have denied undertaking any such action.

One basis for the claim is the fact that wreckage (including engine wreckage) was found upwind of the crash site, and roughly in the direction from which the plane came, implying that the plane broke up at least to some degree before it crashed. However, this is ambiguous and much wreckage can be expected to be strewn as a result of the crash that occurred. Had the plane broken up in midair, at least some of the bodies would have been scattered. Instead they were all found in the crater.

Another basis for the claim is the observations by many eye witnesses who saw other aircraft in the area. US authorities have said that they have identified a civilian aircraft that was in the area, and that it had nothing to do with the downing of Flight 93. On the other hand, eyewitness reports state that the plane crashed upside down into the field, following a wobbling of its wings. No smoke from the plane or white planes shooting down Flight 93 were reported.

A statement that a sonic boom was detected shortly before the crash has now been withdrawn by its author.

Contrary to what several media reports have stated, passenger Edward Felt did not report seeing 'white smoke' pouring into the toilet from where he was making a phone call from the plane.

Speculation continues on this topic, which is discussed in several websites.

The towers were blown up

The claim is that, considering that the plane fuel after the crash quickly burned, it is surprising that the remaining fuel (that burned at a slower rate with much less oxygen) should be able to melt the vertical steel beams weighing about 200,000 tons. It continues: even if this were the case it is surprising that the fall of the towers was as controlled as it was: In tower 2 the plane crashed in a corner of the building, but the building did not fall to that side. Subsequent computer analysis has allegedly shown that the amount of jet-fuel on the fully-fueled planes was enough to distort the beams enough to cause the collapse. Inspection of the beams allegedly confirms that they were distorted by extreme heat before breaking away from each other. However, none of this information is publicly documented either in pictures or in publicly available reports.

This and video footage has led some people to believe that the buildings were demolished with explosives. A web page promoting this theory can be found at Serendipity

Some engineers believe the Twin Towers and 7 World Trade Center strangely collapsed, regarding the vertical collapse of the three buildings as an unlikely occurrence without the aid of explosives. "Explosives put in WTC concrete.."

Former Iran/Contra figure Oliver North issued a warning about Osama Bin Laden during testimony in the 1980s to the U.S. Senate.

This claim has been circulating via email since shortly after September 11. Oliver North did mention a terrorist during his testimony to the Iran/Contra committee, but the individual he mentioned was Abu Nidal, who has no connection to Bin Laden. The U.S. News and World Report looked into this urban legend and interviewed North himself, whose aides "confirmed the fake. North, in fact, suggests that at the time of the Reagan-era Senate hearings into the scandal, rebels like bin Laden were U.S. friends lined up against Soviet invaders."[1] The "Urban Legends" web site also has a page debunking the Ollie North story.[1]

Bush knew in advance that the terrorists attacks would happen

This conspiracy theory is discussed in 9/11 domestic conspiracy theory

Celebrating Arab-Americans

These claims, circulating through e-mail hold that some Americans of Arab extraction celebrated the attacks. They included calls to boycott certain businesses, like Dunkin Donuts, which supposedly had a franchise owned by Arabs. Another rumor is that American Football Hall of Famer, Terry Bradshaw, attacked 5 Arabs whom he saw celebrating that day. More information can be found at the | urban legands homepage

Other incidents

Various incidents have occurred since September 11, 2001, with no evidence to support a causal link to the terrorist attack. They include:

On September 21, 2001 a chemical factory in Toulouse, South France, exploded, causing 29 deaths. On October 4, 2001 France's environment minister declared that it may have been a terroristic attack.

In the morning of October 3, 2001, a man slit the throat of the driver of Greyhound bus No. 1115, en route from Nashville to Atlanta, 50 miles southeast of Nashville. The bus crashed, killing four of the 36 passengers. Early reports stated at least 10 were killed. Later reports assert that the bus attacker was a drug addict with a history of erratic behavior.

On October 4, 2001, a Russian jetliner en route from Tel Aviv to Siberia with 77 passengers exploded in mid-air before plunging into the Black Sea. All flights from Bengorian Airport were grounded in response. Later reports asserted that a Ukrainian missile mistakenly took down the jetliner. Missile fragments were recovered from the crash site, and the government of the Ukraine has accepted responsibility for the accidental targeting of the jet.

On October 4, 2001, it is announced that Bob Stevens, a 63-year-old Lantana, Florida resident was admitted to a hospital on Tuesday with non-contagious pulmonary anthrax. He later died. Bob Stevens, a British-born outdoorsman and gardener, was a photo editor at the supermarket tabloid The Sun. On October 8, 2001 health officials and the FBI report that they have discovered bacillus anthracis spores on a computer keyboard at the offices of The Sun and in the nose of a co-worker, who was not diagnosed with the disease. The FBI sealed the building.

On October 11, 2001, 700 pounds of explosives were discovered missing from a facility in Texas.

On October 12, 2001, a case of anthrax was reported in New York City. A female NBC Nightly News employee was reported to have been exposed to anthrax. It was believed that she received it from a letter containing powder on September 25. The powder in the letter tested negative for anthrax. A skin test of the employee by the CDC returned positive for non-contagious cutaneous anthrax. She had been exposed on September 25. She began presenting symptoms on September 28. She began receiving Cipro on October 1. A biopsy was done on October 10 and sent to the CDC.

September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack - Full Timeline
In Memoriam - Casualties - Missing Persons - Survivors - Personal experiences
Donations - Assistance - Closings and Cancellations - Memorials and Services
US Governmental Response - Responsibility - Hijackers - Political effects - Economic effects

External links