Controversy Still Trails 9/11 Attacks

Fourteen years after the September 11 attacks in New York, doubts still follow the incident and the real cause of the collapse of the World Trade Centre Twin Towers and Building 7

 It is fourteen years this year that the incident happened but, like many epochal events, time has done nothing to erode the memories.  If anything, the events of that day, September 11, 2001, for many of the survivors and families of the victims, bring nothing but pain and tears each time.

The attacks on the Twin Towers, which claimed the lives of 2,996, is perhaps the single most intriguing event since the new millennium and for the United States of America, which bore the brunt of the attacks, the anniversary of the event provides another opportunity to reflect on the disaster.

As expected, names like al-Qaeda, have, since last week, come up for mention in the build up leading to the 9/11 memorial, as the terrorists that hijacked the planes that plunged into the Twin Towers are believed by American government officials, to be members of the al-Qaeda network.  Indeed, as far as the United States government is concerned, al-Qaeda, led then by Osama Bin Laden, carried out the attacks and it was in the bid to destroy the group’s network that the “war on terror” was launched by the George W. Bush’s administration.

But while the al-Qaeda link remains a credible story to many Americans and people around the world, there are some who think that the truth behind the attacks is yet to be fully known. One such cynic is Bill Macdonald, a Canadian author. In an interview with the magazine in Winnipeg, Canada, in June, Macdonald insisted that the story of the 9/11 attacks did not add up, leading him to infer that it was “an insider’s job.” Although, from the footage of the video of the attack, one is able to deduce that the Twin Towers collapsed shortly after the planes hit them, Macdonald feels that the manner the buildings fell, is suspect.  Another grey area for the writer is that, apart from the Twin Towers, another structure, called Building 7, also fell even though it wasn’t hit by a plane while there were reported presence of some people within the vicinity of the Twin Towers complex photographing the World Trade Center before the incident happened.

Macdonald said: “The buildings collapsed too quickly. Free fall collapse…the Twin Towers collapsed in ten seconds. Building Seven collapsed in just over six seconds and it wasn’t hit by a plane. Most people never heard of Building Seven. So, actually three buildings collapsed that day and the whole structure holding it (sic) up was totally undamaged and buildings don’t fall down that way. It’s impossible,” he said adding that “there were people photographing the buildings before any plane hit it (them) and this is in FBI record. They were dancing and celebrating when the buildings collapsed. They were arrested for a while and then released and were back to Isreal. And then they went on to Isreali TV and said ‘Oh, we had nothing to do with this. We were there to document the event.’ You were there to document the event? So how did you know that the event was going to happen?” Macdonald asked.

Macdonald is not the only Canadian who doubts the American government’s official account of the 9/11 incident or investigations launched by the US government agency, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, NIST which reveal that the buildings collapse was caused by the impact of the planes on them.

An Ipsos-Reid poll in September 2006, shows that 22 per cent of Canadian citizens believe “the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, had nothing to do with Osama bin Laden and were actually a plot by influential Americans.” Another poll of September 2008 by the same organisation, “showed that 39 per cent of respondents either disagree or are unsure that al-Qaeda carried out the attacks. About a third of those surveyed believed the US government allowed the attacks to happen and 16 percent believe the US government made the attacks happen.” Such opinions are not restricted to Canadians as, even in America, various opinion polls undertaken since the disaster show shifting views by the generality of the people.

While many US citizens blame al-Qaeda, others feel some government insiders had a hand in it or that the George W. Bush administration itself was not blameless given its failure to pre-empt or thwart the attack.

But beyond the matter of who actually was the brain behind the disaster, there are some who feel that, rather than the planes being responsible for the collapse of the Twin Towers, some other factor was.  Among the people or group who feel so is an American agency called Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, which is made up of architects, engineers and affiliates focused on researching and revealing what they consider the truth about the 9/11 incident.

Andrew Steele, the public relations manager and operations coordinator for the group, told the magazine recently that while Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth does not take a position on who was responsible for the attacks” it feels that the story about the Twin Towers collapsing simply as a result of the impact of the plane was untenable. “We have studied publicly available information, including videos of the event, eyewitness reports, and independent analysis of the dust, as well as the official investigations conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). We assert that the federal government’s explanation is scientifically unsound and that the strongest hypothesis, which the evidence supports, is that explosives were used to bring the three towers down,” he said.  Efforts by the magazine to speak with NIST was unsuccessful as an inquiry sent to the agency via e-mail was not responded to as at press time last week, but the institute’s final report on 9/11 is available on its website. Titled “Federal Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster: Final Report of the National Construction Safety Team on the Collapses of the World Trade Center Towers (NIST NCSTAR 1),” the report shows the summary of its findings.

It states that,  “the two aircraft hit the towers at high speed and did considerable damage to principal structural components (core columns, floors, and perimeter columns) that were directly impacted by the aircraft or associated debris. However, the towers withstood the impacts and would have remained standing were it not for the dislodged insulation (fireproofing) and the subsequent multi-floor fires.” It specifically notes that, “in WTC 1, the fires weakened the core columns and caused the floors on the south side of the building to sag. The floors pulled the heated south perimeter columns inward, reducing their capacity to support the building above,” while “in WTC 2, the core was damaged severely at the southeast corner and was restrained by the east and south walls via the hat truss and the floors. The steady burning fires on the east side of the building caused the floors there to sag.”

For Building Seven which report was released in November 25, 2008, three years after that of the twin towers were made public, NIST also identifies fire “as the primary cause for the building’s failure.” It explains that,  “the fires on multiple floors in WTC 7, which were uncontrolled but otherwise similar to fires experienced in other tall buildings, caused an extraordinary event. Heating of floor beams and girders caused a critical support column to fail, initiating a fire-induced progressive collapse that brought the building down.”

To arrive at the findings, NIST said it “complemented in-house expertise with private sector technical experts; accumulated copious documents, photographs, and videos of the disaster; established baseline performance of the WTC towers; performed computer simulations of the behaviour of each tower on September 11, 2001; combined the knowledge gained into a probable collapse sequence for each tower; conducted nearly 1,200 first-person interviews of building occupants and emergency responders; and analysed the evacuation and emergency response operations…,” and that its objectives were to determine, among others, why and how WTC 1, WTC 2 and WTC 7, all of which are located within the same vicinity, collapsed.

Contrary to some people’s claim, NIST holds that it “found no corroborating evidence for alternative hypotheses suggesting that the buildings were brought down by controlled demolition using explosives or by missiles.” To those who feel unsatisfied with its findings, the agency, in its question and answer column while acknowledging their right to hold contrary opinions stands firm on its findings and conclusions.

But Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth believes NIST’s investigation was not exhaustive. According to Steele, “NIST’s investigation failed to consider the controlled demolition hypothesis from the start, and the agency refuses to this day to run its own tests on WTC dust samples for the presences of explosives or incendiaries…the chemical signature for which was found in WTC dust by independent scientists.  As well, NIST’s investigation omitted important structural features in WTC 7 that would have prevented its theory of what initiated WTC 7’s collapse from happening.”

He further maintains that NIST “also selectively ignored observable facts, and the significance of WTC 7’s admitted free-fall for 105 feet.  Its investigation was not scientific or complete, and in the end only offered theories that don’t hold up to the most basic scientific scrutiny.” Apart from NIST, Steele feels that the Western media is lukewarm on the conspiracy theory but is rather fixated on the government angle.

“Most of the Western corporate media has not only chosen to look the other way from the glaring holes in the US government’s theories about the towers, but has collectively taken it upon itself to act as the protectors of those theories by attacking the people who openly support a new investigation, refusing to report key information related to the issue, and providing one-sided coverage of the debate.” Such mindset, he said, “along with having a chilling effect on the public’s free speech and free thought, is also disrespectful to the 9/11 victims’ family members who support us and our mission.”

To further argue its points, Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, is set to unveil a new booklet titled: “Beyond Misinformation: What Science Says About the Destruction of World Trade Center Buildings 1, 2, and 7.”

In the introduction to the book, Ted Walter, the author and director of strategy and development, Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth informs that “much of the public…including a considerable number of architects, engineers, and scientists, do not accept the official explanation” regarding the 9/11 disaster, and that “among those who reject it, the most common explanation is that WTC 1, WTC 2, and WTC 7 were destroyed in a procedure known as “controlled demolition,” whereby carefully placed explosives or other devices are detonated to bring down a structure in a desired manner.”

He further argues, that “September 11, 2001 aside, every total collapse of a steel-framed high-rise building in history has been caused by controlled demolition.” According to Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, the upcoming book is informed by the need to “move our collective understanding of the World Trade Center’s destruction beyond misinformation so that we as a society may arrive at an accurate account of one of the most important events in our recent history.”

Reacting to the controversy, Paul Obi, a lecturer in the department of architecture, University of Lagos, while choosing not to comment on TWC 7, said the collapsed Twin Towers might have been caused by fuel or explosives on the plane. “It is either the two planes had enough gasoline or they were loaded with explosives…and if the report that each of the planes was carrying about 10,000 gallons of jet fuel is anything to go by, then it is not impossible that the implosion of the building was as a result of gasoline or other explosives,” explained Obi.

On his part, Augustine Shodunke, a retired builder with the Lagos State government believes that not just are the Twin Towers collapse caused by an explosive, it is instrumental to the fall of TWC 7 too. “If we go into the nitty-gritty, you would discover that the plane was carrying some explosives. The explosives would not just face one building they strike and spread to other places. Use of explosives is one way of demolishing or deconstructing a building. If it is a controlled demolition, it affects only the ones you planned to demolish like we had in Marina, Lagos sometime ago,” he said, adding that uncontrolled demolition scatters when triggered off which is what happened on September 11, 2001.  Had the bombs been planted in the buildings, the impact, he said, wouldn’t have been that devastating.

“In construction, you take care of wind load, dead load and live load. When there is an explosion, it goes beyond those three loads. Just like earthquake; when earthquake occurs, a lot of places get distorted. What happened to the targeted buildings could have a grave spiral effect on the buildings around them. As a matter of fact, there are planes that their vibration alone can pull down a building. If such a plane should crash into a building and explodes, definitely, it will affect others in the immediate vicinity. It could be the vibration,” adduced Shodunke.

Given such divergent views, what actually happened that September 11, 2001, for many people, at best, remains controversial. Perhaps, one day, a conclusion on what exactly happened would be arrived at.

Additional reports by ADEGBOYEGA ODUMESI and MARK ITSIBOR

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