Some think Israel's Mossad behind Sept. 11 attacks
CAIRO, Egypt - Every Egyptian has an opinion on who masterminded the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America. Their answers indicate how far the U.S. government has to go if it is to convince people in the region that Saudi multimillionaire Osama bin Laden is guilty.
Conspiracy theories long have been part of political conversations in the Middle East. Today they fly fast and furious through the land of the Pharaohs.
On a daily basis, newspapers and television here report extensively that U.S. authorities believe bin Laden and his al-Qaida group are behind the attacks. Yet many here hold tenaciously to the theory that the Israeli intelligence agency, the Mossad, had a hand in the massacre.
Mohammed Al Amir, a lawyer and the father of suspected hijacker Mohammed Atta, says he is firmly convinced that Israel is the only country that benefits from the devastating attacks. 'If not the Mossad, how would you explain how most of the Jewish workers in the World Trade Center did not show up the day of the attack?' he shouted at reporters during a recent news conference.
The rumor repeated by Amir holds that 4,000 Jews who normally work in the two towers received messages telling them not to go to work on Sept. 11. This, even though 113 Israelis died in the massacre. Perhaps they forgot to look at their secret messages that morning.
'SIGNAL FROM GOD'
Kamal Prince, owner of the Carnival Prince Clothing store in a working-class section of Cairo, called the strikes against America a 'signal from God' so that 'Americans will feel the suffering of the Palestinians.'
He, too, believes, somewhat contradictorily, that Israel had a hand in the attacks. The motive, he contended, was to 'create hatred against everything that is Arab and Muslim.'
Prince asserted that Israel controls America and world capital, and only Israel has the money to afford such a sophisticated operation. When pressed again, he allowed as how Osama bin Laden or the Japanese Red Army, as well as Mossad, could have been behind the attacks.
Carpet-trader Mahmoud Ramadan is waiting for all the information to come out. 'We read the press everyday, but we can't catch the thread of ... who did this,' he said.
Architect Mamdouh Farrag, however, said he and his friends have no doubt that bin Laden was behind the attacks. 'This was not a religious act of any kind - this was the work of an absolute terrorist,' Farrag declared. Bin Laden 'should be the first suspect. He is the only guy to have the potential to do this, and he has done this two or three times before.' He recalled bin Laden's alleged role in simultaneous attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen just a year ago.
'I just don't know why they didn't do anything against him two or three years ago?' Farrag asked rhetorically.
And he fears this attack will encourage others to plan additional terrorist acts around the world: 'We had the Islamic Jihad movement here, and maybe this will encourage them to do something. This could create internal chaos here in Egypt.'
Despite the conflicting opinions of who is responsible for the horrific events of Sept. 11, all agree that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would go a long way to improving America's image in the region.
'Then America would rightfully be the superpower because it would be helping the weak,' Prince said.
Betsy Hiel is a Cairo-based correspondent for the Trib. Her articles and analyses from the region can be read online at tribLIVE.com . E-mail her at: firstname.lastname@example.org