As the world marks the tenth anniversary of the tragic events in the United States on September 11, 2001, the Russian segment of the online community is also very much involved in the discussion, both in terms of analyzing the changes that have taken place in the world in the past ten years and in plumbing the circumstances surrounding the terrorist acts themselves.
The latter is fertile ground for conspiracy theories of all kinds on both sides of the Atlantic. I am not trying to conduct a comparative analysis of the number of their adherents in the United States (of which there are plenty, suffice it to watch Michael Moore’s documentary Fahrenheit 911) with that in other countries, but Russia has its own share, the most vocal being the “told you so!” warriors of the mouse and keyboard who think that America is the source of all the global (and Russian) woes.
According to polling data from VTSiOM, Russia’s state polling agency, fewer Russians now think that America’s fight against terrorism is just propaganda that is being used to cover up the problems that the United States and its allies are facing (down to 29 percent from 32 percent five years ago), but most Russians still think that the United States is the most vulnerable country to terrorism (really?).
Conspiracy theorists the world over are rarely given airtime in traditional mass media outlets, but the internet is devoid of all limitations. “The main terrorists in the world are a Zionist gang of cowboy bandits, the owners of the printing press who fully control the U.S., UK and EU governments and almost all mass media, while NATO, the UN, the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO are just their organizations that they use for their own purposes. Their main goal now is to create a world government and a new world currency that they will also control,” wrote a user by the nickname of Sergekamayev in comments on Youtube to a Russian translation of a U.S. documentary film, Loose Change, produced by Dylan Avery in 2006. The film’s main focus is promoting the theory that the Twin Towers could not have possibly crumbled on their own, and were blown up from the inside after the planes hit.
A superficial glance over threads dedicated to the September 11 attacks on Russian online message boards yields even more spine-chilling results. One such typical forum is the Global Adventure open research and discussion center message board (http://www.avanturist.org/), where the September 11 conspiracy theory topic has gathered over 400 comments. These range from the relatively mild and not so far-fetched “the towers were poorly built, as are many other buildings in the United States, but this is being kept a secret,” or “no new attacks have taken place in the United States since September 11, therefore Al Qaeda doesn’t exist,” to a true Kunstcamera collection of curiosities: the plane that supposedly hit the Pentagon was never there – no plane is visible on photos of the debris and the Pentagon was most likely hit by a rocket of some kind; the fact that the towers collapsed inward, rather than toppling over, means that they were blown up in a controlled and calculated manner from the inside; the planes were piloted by special services kamikazes and were directed by radars installed inside the Twin Towers themselves; the plane that went down in Pennsylvania “had to be sacrificed” because it was running too late to hit the WTC7 building in time for the explosion that took it down; or, the crowning jewel of them all, the Israelis are behind the attacks – Mossad agents warned all Jews not to come to work that day, and now America is bombing Israel’s enemies.
All of the above theories, of course, have the right to existence. Those who don’t want to go into the minutiae of the attacks themselves or don’t want to pin the blame on anyone in particular think on a much bigger scale: “In the summer of 2001, the United States was on the brink of a financial crisis, and a terrorist attack was a very convenient way out in terms of finger-pointing and changing the rules of the game by the U.S. elite,” wrote Mikhail Khazin in his post on Worldcrisis.ru. “Terrorist acts in the United States on September 11, 2001, are nothing but a large-scale provocation, aimed at building a new world order and shifting from democracy to a dictatorship on a global scale,” said Dmitry Sedov in his article “American Dream. A Crime Without Punishment” in the Fund for Strategic Culture online publication. Americans never helped Russians to fight terrorists in the Caucasus, so that means that they are in cahoots with the terrorists themselves, the author claims. “For ten years following the U.S. announcement of a ‘crusade’ against ‘world terrorism,’ Russia has been forced to deflect Wahhabist expansion and incur considerable losses all on its own. For the umpteenth time in [the] newest history, the Anglo-Saxons have hypocritically and brazenly left Russia one on one with its misfortune. Moreover, in the anti-Russian direction that terrorism is taking they saw a force they could find some use for.” One can only imagine what the pundits would have to say if America got in involved in the Caucasus. And then there are ubiquitous warnings of the impeding doom: another terrorist attack if not on September 11, 2011, then some time very soon.
But if you are just as skeptical of this fear mongering as I am, here is the savior: I had to specifically dig up these theories to retell them – they are not at the top of the most read or popular discussions on RuNet, and there has to be a reason for that. “Dozens of films and TV shows, hundreds of articles and books have already been dedicated to the 9/11 terrorist attack. The official version of what happened has been examined in detail and contested by its opponents, the arguments of these opponents have been lambasted by those who stick to Washington’s version and don’t like conspiracy theories. I myself am not a big fan of conspiracies, but I still can’t understand why the WTC towers, meant to withstand much greater pressures, fell, and where the plane that hit the wall of the Pentagon went,” wrote LiveJournal user Drugoi, one of Russia’s top-rated bloggers. “But the most important is not this, but of course the people who perished and the eternal pain that now lives in the hearts of their loved ones. And also the fear that now permeates us all that changed the world we live in. I’m now not only afraid of terrorists, but of those who fight them, too. And I can’t tell which I fear more.”
If indeed the U.S. government conspired to carry out the attacks on September 11, then to think of all the people who must have been involved in the planning and delivery, and have been keeping quiet about it for ten long years, is mind-boggling. As the example of WikiLeaks shows, even strictly confidential information is not safe in our digital day and age, but I can’t possibly wrap my mind around the fact that for ten years, no one who could theoretically be involved in such a ploy would have the conscience to speak up. Call me naïve, but I am convinced that a silence surrounding the real perpetrators of September 11 (if there is indeed such a silence) would mean that the United States is a place full of people devoid of any kind of moral values. In that, I refuse to believe.