Politics & Policy

A Vast Conspiracy

Nothing funny about this top-ten list.

Abd Al-Munim Said, head of the Al-Ahram Research Center in Egypt, once said: “We thought that by the end of the 20th century, the Arab mind would be open enough not to explain everything with a ‘conspiracy theory’…the biggest problem with conspiracy theories is that they keep us not only from the truth but also from confronting our faults and problems…This way of thinking relates any given problem to external elements, and thus does not [lead] to a rational policy to confront the problem.”

#ad#Since 9/11/01, conspiracy theories against the U.S., the Jews, and the Zionists have been rampant in the Arab world. These notions are spread not only by marginal personalities and media outlets, but, more important, by prominent members of mainstream governments and media.

Some of last year’s most far-fetched conspiracy theories in the Arab world include: U.S. soldiers cannibalized Iraqi civilians; the U.S. was responsible for the car bomb that killed Iraqi Shia leader Muhammad Bakir Al-Hakim; the Jews were behind the explosion of the space shuttle Columbia; the U.S. was behind the SARS virus; and the Iraq war was launched to coincide with the Jewish holiday Purim. The following highlight the top ten Arab conspiracy theories in recent months:

10. Pakistani Jamaatud-Dawa chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed was quoted in the Islamic Republic News Agency on November 13, 2003, stating that al Qaeda was not responsible for the Riyadh bombing that month. Rather, “It is a Jewish and American conspiracy against the mujahadeen and al Qaeda.”

9. According to an editorial in the November 20 Yemen Times, the Istanbul bombings during Ramadan this past November could not have been committed by Muslims, as “the international Zionist establishment was keen on instigating this crime. This is strongly supported by the fact that no Muslim in his right mind could ever condone such crimes.”

8. The Islamic Republic News Agency reported on February 28 that the U.S. captured Osama bin Laden in a tribal region of Pakistan. It claimed that Donald Rumsfeld’s recent trip to Pakistan was related to the capture. The report said that the U.S. will announce the capture shortly before the November presidential elections.

7. Professor Galal Amin, a professor at the American University of Cairo, writing in the April 1 edition of Egypt’s Al-Ahram Weekly, explained: “There is still doubt that the September [11] attacks were the outcome of Arab and Islamic terror…. Many writers…suspect that the attacks were carried out by Americans.”

6. Writing in Kuwait’s Al-Watan on March 14, columnist Adnan Zayid Al-Kazimi identified the real culprit in the Madrid bombings: “I claim with certainty that the ones who attributed all evil to the Arabs and the Muslims are the Zionists, those who are closest to carry out such an operation like the other operations [that they carried out].”

5. Said Al-Subki, columnist for the Saudi daily Al-Watan, also blamed the Madrid bombings on the Jews in its March 19 edition. He criticized Arab intelligence services for being “incapable of discovering the hidden Zionist fingers planning many terror operations in order to entangle the Arabs and Muslims.”

4. Deputy editor of the Egyptian government daily Al-Gumhouriyya wrote an article on March 18 that accused the Jews of perpetrating every terrorist attack throughout the world. Regarding the Madrid bombings that took place March 11, Abd Al-Wahhab Adas claimed, in reference to the explosives and cassettes of the Koran found at the site, “It is obvious that the Jews are the ones who placed these things, in order to prove to the entire world that the Arabs and Muslims are behind the bombings.” Adas added about the Jews: “It is they who are behind the events of September 11.”

3. In an interview with Al-Arabiyya TV, Lebanese Druze leader and parliamentarian Walid Jumblatt stated on March 21 that, as part of a “born-again Christian” scheme that included 9/11, the CIA controls Osama bin Laden.

2. According to the Iranian Mehr News Agency, Hossein Sheikholeslam, the former Iranian ambassador to Syria, stated that the series of bombings that hit Damascus in the last week of April were “a bid to force Iraq’s neighbors to submit to their Iraq policy, the U.S. and the Zionist regimes orchestrated such terrorist attacks.” He noted, “This is not the first time that the U.S. and Israel have employed al Qaeda elements to help them reinforce their terrorist objectives.”

1. After the bombing in Yunbu, Saudi Arabia, on May 1, Crown Prince Abdullah stated: “Zionism is behind terrorist actions in the kingdom. I can say that I am 95 percent sure of that.”

Steven Stalinsky is executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute.

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