On occasion of the publication of his new book “Fact Check 9/11”, German researcher Paul Schreyer gave Lars Schall an exclusive interview. He says: “One has to repeat it over and over again that 9/11 is still an unsolved crime. Before anybody can use it as an argument for anything it has to be investigated and unraveled first.”
Lars Schall: What do you have to say regarding the nexus 9/11 – NSA?
Paul Schreyer: Well, in the last weeks and months 9/11 has been constantly used as a justification for the extensive surveillance programs by the NSA. This argument has been put forward very aggressively. Recently it was revealed that there exists an internal document by the NSA, explicitly advising its officials to use 9/11 and the fear of a similar attack as justification for the mass surveillance. (1) So 9/11 remains a key tool to intimidate people via the projection of fear. To counter this attempt one has to repeat it over and over again that 9/11 is still an unsolved crime. Before anybody can use it as an argument for anything it has to be investigated and unraveled first.
Lars Schall: What is the evidence for the official narration of the 9/11 attacks? What is the foundation, for example, of the 9/11 Commission report, and what’s problematic with it?
Paul Schreyer: It´s a widely held belief that the ultimate evidence for the official account would be Bin Laden´s video confession – that he admitted to be responsible for the attacks. Yet, apart from the grave problems with the authenticity and the translation of this video (2), Bin Laden in fact publicly denied his responsibilty, via CNN in the first week after 9/11. (3) Few people know this.
Now, what is the evidence? What is the base of the 9/11 Commission Report? If you read it carefully, you´ll find out that it mentions no videos whatsoever. Instead the real foundation of the official narrative are the confessions of basically three al Qaeda operatives, who got caught in Pakistan between 2002 and 2003. These three are Abu Zubayda, Ramzi Binalshibh and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. However, the 9/11 Commission was not able to validate their statements. They had no direct access to these detainees. The Commission´s investigators were not even allowed to meet their interrogators. (4) When Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton finally went directly to CIA director George Tenet in December 2003 to ask for access to these prime witnesses he got a clear answer. Tenet simply said: “Lee, you´re not going to get access to them. It´s not going to happen. Not even the president of the United States knows where these people are. And he does not have access to them. And you´re not going to get access to them.” (5)
Lars Schall: What are your conclusions?
Paul Schreyer: As just explained, the whole story of the attack´s planning and management is based on so-called confessions of these tortured detainees, no one, except some intelligence people, heard and saw face to face at that time. So without any reliable evidence one has good reason to conclude that great parts of this story – in short: Bin Laden sent 19 suicide terrorists to crash into the Twin Towers – are made up.
Lars Schall: Are there other rather strange features involved with the 9/11 Commission? Has it been really independent and free of conflicts of interests?
Paul Schreyer: I would recommend the book of longtime New York Times author Philip Shenon, “The Commission”. He meticulously researched how the Commission operated and his findings are quite disturbing. The key person inside the 9/11 Commission of course was executive director Philip Zelikow, a close friend of Condoleezza Rice and also in touch with President Bush´s spin doctor Karl Rove at the time. Zelikow was steering the commission. In the end he decided what was included in the report and what was left out – which was a lot. “Able Danger”, “Vigilant Guardian”, the activated plans for a “Continuity of Government”, the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 – to name only a few of the key aspects of 9/11 that were not covered in the report.
Lars Schall: Did the time pressure in order to meet a deadline had consequences for the work of the 9/11 Commission?
Paul Schreyer: Of course it had. The Commission was forced to shut down in summer 2004 and the reason was a political one. Karl Rove wanted to achieve the re-election of President Bush in November of that year by focussing on the “War on Terrorism”. Any distractions by possible disclosures of a 9/11 Commission in the midst of the election campaign could have been very dangerous. That´s why the Commission hat to present its final report four months before the election, and not any later. So the final report is in fact more a preliminary report. Even the Commission´s Chairmen Kean and Hamilton themselves admitted this by saying: “We wrote a first draft of history”. However, the problem is that there was no mechanism implemented to update the report in any way. It was presented in 2004 and is officially seen as the eternal truth on the subject. This of course is ridiculous from a scientific point of view.
Lars Schall: What new did you find out about the air defense / the war games on 9/11 since our last interview? (6)
Paul Schreyer: Regarding the anomalies of the air defense an update of my 2012 paper was published last year. (7) I also continued to investigate the flight route of American 77, the third hijacked plane that morning. It turned off its transponder and changed its course exactly when it had reached a small area covered by a poorly working radar site. This enabled the vanishing of the plane on the scopes of the air traffic controllers. It was the only plane that completely vanished on 9/11. I corresponded with an experienced air traffic controller who knows the specific area there and I looked also at the documentation of the radar sites there and how they operate. I concluded in a separate paper (8) that the timing of the course change was crucial for this vanishing. Minutes earlier or later and the plane had remained fully visible, so that intercepting fighter jets could have arrived there – not to shoot it down necessarily, but at least to identify the plane and to take a look into its cockpit to see who was actually at the controls. This didn´t happen. It is also important to understand that the specific radar site´s malfunction was no publicly available knowledge at the time. Some people prefer to interpret the precise turn at this location as a coincidence. I would doubt that.
Lars Schall: In your hypothesis of what happened on 9/11, the “Able Danger“ program plays a crucial role. Why so?
Paul Schreyer: We know a lot about “Able Danger”, the intelligence program to infiltrate al Qaeda before 9/11, from Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer who blew the whistle about the program in 2005 and continued to present important infromation since then. It is clear now that U.S. intelligence circles were busy infiltrating and manipulating al Qaeda by 2000. Shaffer worked for military intelligence. But at the same time also the CIA was fighting for access and apparently managed to win the internal battle for this access to al Qaeda. (9) That was in 2000 and then the “Able Danger” program was suddenly shut down, several months before 9/11. Again, the 9/11 Commission completely failed to investigate this.
Lars Schall: How does the Saudi connection fit into the picture?
Paul Schreyer: There was some reporting in the last weeks about the famous 28 classified pages of the report by the 9/11 Inquiry, which was an earlier investigation, different from the 9/11 Commission. Some U.S. Representatives are now trying to declassify these pages. (10) Apparently they contain incriminating evidence for Saudi complicity in the attacks. But one should be careful with quick accusations here. Although it´s true that several of the alleged hijackers had ties to people with links to the Saudi government and apparently there was even some kind of Saudi support network for them in the United States. However, it should be considered that it´s up to this day not clear what the alleged hijackers really planned on 9/11. It must not necessarily have been a suicide mission. I will come back to this point in a moment. One should also contemplate about the possible motive for the Saudi government. They had absolutely no benefit from 9/11. To the contrary. In the summer of 2001 they were strongly trying to realign their position towards the United States. They even threatened Washington with a political split. This episode is largely forgotten today.
Lars Schall: What kind of re-orientation in Saudi relations to the U.S. was in preparation shortly before 9/11?
Paul Schreyer: I have written about it recently in a detailed article: “The Saudi split – A motive for 9/11?”. (11) Basically there was a conflict between Saudi Arabia and the United States in Summer 2001 about American policy towards Israel and Palestine. The Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah wanted to force President Bush to strengthen the peace process in the Middle East and to not just support one-sided Israeli Prime Minister Sharon. When Bush was reluctant, the Saudis raised the pressure. Abdullah transmitted a clear message to Bush, quote:
“The Crown Prince will not communicate in any form, type or shape with you, and Saudi Arabia will take all its political, economic and security decisions based on how it sees its own interest in the region without taking into account American interests anymore because it´s obvious that the United States has taken a strategic decision adopting Sharon´s policy.”
Only then, in August 2001, the Bush administration relented and announced concessions towards Palestinian self-determination. It is hard to imagine what might have happended if Bush had not done so. At least the Saudis were inclined to set up an urgent meeting of Arab leaders to form a coalition to completely back the Palestinians. They were also willing to seriously question the military and intelligence cooperation with the United States. (12)
But, most interestingly, all of this became history with 9/11. When news emerged that 15 of the 19 presumed hijackers had been Saudis, the attacks became a huge burden for the Saudi rulers. Their room for political maneuver was instantly reduced to a minimum. To issue any demands or to press the U.S. government to something had become totally impossible. Also a political split from the United States had become unimaginable by then. Instead the Saudis were busy to distance themselves from the attacks.
So, naturally one has to ask if it was part of the plan of the attacks´ masterminds – whoever they were – to force the Saudi Crown Prince aside the United States and to permanently stop the threat of a political split. This is a very serious question which has not yet been publicly discussed, at least to my knowledge.
Lars Schall: What is the hypothesis that you have developed in order to explain 9/11?
Paul Schreyer: Understanding that there is no real evidence for the official account of the planning of 9/11, and also considering that the story itself is not very logical and coherent – beginning with more general thoughts like the doubtful alleged motives of the accused perpetrators, and ending up with very specific facts such as the free fall of World Trade Center 7 -, sooner or later one has to come up with a story which at least makes sense and is backed by evidence.
So after years of asking questions and explaining contradictions I finally decided to build a comprehensive hypothesis and I just published it as a book with the title “Faktencheck 9/11″ here in Germany last month. (13) This is the version I would propose, ready for discussion and critique:
Bin Laden may have planned a conventional hijacking on 9/11, meaning forcing the pilot to land on an airport of choice and then issuing political demands. There is indeed quite a lot of evidence that Bin Laden and al Qaeda wanted to free Omar Abdel Rahman, the so-called “Blind Sheikh”, a fundamentalist leader imprisoned in the U.S. for terrorist charges. Zacarias Moussaoui, the “20th hijacker”, spoke about it in court testimony in 2005. (14) We also have a CIA “Senior Executive Intelligence Briefing” from May 2001, titled “Terrorist groups said cooperating on US hostage plot”, released in 2012, heavily redacted, warning that: “The conspirators, who want to force the release of “blind sheikh” Umar Abd al-Rahman and other US-held prisoners, may opt to hijack an aircraft or storm a US Embassy (–redacted–) have considered taking hostages – possibly including hijackings – to force concessions, and al-Qaida is reported to have trained personnel in kidnapping techniques (–redacted–).” (15)
By the way, even the 9/11 Commission Report mentions this CIA Briefing, however, apparently without anybody having taken further notice of it. (16) As I just said, it was released only in 2012 and the largest part of it is still blacked out.
Then, precisely fitting with these reports we have the testimony of Niaz Khan, a former al Qaeda operative who was trained in Pakistan and was sent to the United States in 2000, where he defected and went to the FBI, revealing to investigators that he had been taught how to smuggle weapons through airport security and how to overpower aircraft passengers and crew in order to get into a cockpit. According to Khan the plan he was involved with, was no suicide plot – he was asked only to join a regular hijacking. (17)
And so it goes on, we have a lot more evidence, facts that appeared in the New York Times, little pieces, no one has connected so far, (18) all pointing in this direction – a “no suicide plot” by al Qaeda. And the blueprint for these plan seems to be a successful hijacking of a large airliner by muslim fundamentalists in late 1999 – Indian Airlines Flight 814. (19) I recommend to google this flight. It´s really an eye-opener to realize that the 9/11 hijackings were preceded by something remarkable similar. Besides, the flight´s pilot talked about these parallels in detail after 9/11 on CNN. (20)
Lars Schall: You´re speaking about a “no suicide plot”, but actually the planes did fly into buildings, right?
Paul Schreyer: Absolutely. I´m not one of these “no planers”, claiming the crashes were just some weird visual effects or so. And on that note: I think that this “no plane” theory which is quite widespread over the internet, is altogether heavily supported, if not invented by people who oppose the 9/11 truth movement, in an attempt to poison it with disinformation. The same goes in my opinion for the alleged “nuclear bombs” that shall have destroyed the Twin Towers, according to some very loud and aggressive proponents.
What I think, after several years of researching, is that there was no suicide plan on 9/11, mainly because we have simply no evidence for it. There is little doubt in my mind that we have to talk about remote control here. And the basic reason to suggest this is the extreme preciseness of the planes´ final maneuvers. I would propose to see the attacks as a “hijacking of the hijackers”. This is an extensive topic for itself. We have not enough space to discuss it here. The short version is that it was technologically possible in 2001 to remotely control large airliners. It would also appear that war games like “Vigilant Guardian”, which as a matter of fact simulated a hijacking on the morning of 9/11, were supplying the perfect cover for taking over the planes. So you would have all the manpower to manage it in place without the people in the military themselves necessarily all knowing what they were actually taking part in. It might have been some kind of shell game. Really evil – and really clever.
Also important: in this view the famous dichotomy between LIHOP and MIHOP (21) becomes obsolete. If it is true, then 9/11 was LIHOP and MIHOP at the same time. There might have been a real hijacking plan that was allowed to happen and then there were crashes into buildings which supposedly were orchestrated to happen.
Lars Schall: At last, why is 9/11 still an issue for you?
Paul Schreyer: 9/11 was and will remain the political awakening for my generation. It was the starting point for taking a closer look at our political and economic system, for engaging in discussions and in politics itself. We see that the interest in 9/11 does not decline. Ever more with the 10th anniversary in 2011 an international community of researchers, journalists and activists has strengthened its interconnections and its efforts to inform the broader public about the matter. 9/11 will remain an issue as long as this crime is properly investigated – and solved.
At the same time I´d like to admit that I´m not inclined to spend all my future life investigating this horrible story. There are a lot more topics deserving attention. Also the 9/11 investigation will reach better results with more people involved. It leads to nothing if people like me keep on repeating these facts forever while the rest of the media sits aside and watches silently.
There has to be some collective endeavor including parts of the established media or nothing will change. Richard Gage and the “Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth” did a great job with their recent “Rethink 9/11″ advertising campaign, confronting also the New York Times with a billboard at their headquarters. (22) This is exactly the right direction to go.
Excerpt: “Chapters 5 and 7 rely heavily on information obtained from captured al Qaeda members. A number of these `detainees´ have firsthand knowledge of the 9/11 plot. Assessing the truth of statements by these witnesses – sworn enemies of the United States – is challenging. Our access to them has been limited to the review of intelligence reports based on communications received from the locations where the actual interrogations take place. We submitted questions for use in the interrogations, but had no control over whether, when, or how questions of particular interest would be asked. Nor were we allowed to talk to the interrogators so that we could better judge the credibility of the detainees and clarify ambiguities in the reporting. We were told that our requests might disrupt the sensitive interrogation process.”
(5) Philip Shenon, “The Commission”, New York, 2008, pp. 181-182; Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, “Without Precedent”, New York, 2006, pp. 120-124