Did 9/11 really change the world as much as journalists claim?

5:03 pm - May 2nd 2011

by Sunder Katwala    

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September 11th 2001 was the day the world changed.

That journalistic truism will be endlessly repeated this week in the wake of the killing of Bin Laden, some 3520 days after Al Qaeda’s terrorist attacks on New York on Washington. This will now symbolise closure for many people on those terrible and shocking events.

Yet, at a stroke, this Autumn’s retrospectives on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 will now become ever more an exercise in contemporary history, rather than current affairs. The political protagonists – Osama bin Laden, as well as Bush, Cheney, Giuliani, Blair and the rest – now belong to the history books.

Yet perhaps bin Laden’s death can bring a sense of closure partly because, a decade later, 9/11 changed the world rather less than we intuitively think that it did. If we ask the ‘what if?’ question, and try to gauge the shape of our world if 9/11 had never happened?

The geopolitical and public mood of the last ten years would have been dramatically different. Yet the forces doing most to reshape our world now – the global shift in power eastwards to China and India, the consequences of the financial crash of 2008, and the shifting demographics of western societies – were little affected by the disruptive impact of 9/11, and their impacts seem likely to long outlast it.

If 9/11 had been prevented, certainly much would have been different in the short-term. It shaped the international politics of a decade, but it no longer looks as transformative as 1917, 1945 or 1989.

Al Qaeda itself would have not had the need nor notoreity to catalyse its shift so quickly from organisation to ‘brand’, where followers might attempt to emulate the achievements of bin Laden, without central direction or control.

What really changed the geopolitical scene was less the Afghanistan war – which had extremely broad international support, and was unimpeachable in international law- but than the war with Iraq.

My strong hunch is that the Bush administration would have found a route to Baghdad, though they may have needed to secure a second term to do that, perhaps closer to 2005 rather than 2003. If that is the case, then perhaps the confrontation with Saddam and the missing WMD, the impact of the Bush-Blair alliance, Europe divided, and the rise of Obama would indeed occur anyway.

But it would not then have taken the terrorism of Osama bin Laden to provoke it. This is not to argue that Osama bin Laden didn’t matter. Nobody ever did more to promote a ‘clash of civilisations’ between the Islamic world and the west.

Citizens of the west have had good reason to fear our societies becoming more fractured, as extremist Islamist and white far right minorities put effort into mutually stoking and fuelling each other’s fears and grievances.

But one of the many reasons to take hope from the Arab Spring is that the protests ultimately increase the possibility of bin Laden’s Islamist extremism being marginalised across the Middle East too, as popular grievances take a genuinely democratic form.

We can be somewhat secure that bin Laden’s failure if we can indeed demonstrate that his vision of fear and conflict is further away from being realised in 2011 than it was in September 2001.

A longer version is at Next Left

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About the author
Sunder Katwala is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He is the director of British Future, a think-tank addressing identity and integration, migration and opportunity. He was formerly secretary-general of the Fabian Society.
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Reader comments

Yet the forces doing most to reshape our world now – the global shift in power eastwards to China and India, the consequences of the financial crash of 2008, and the shifting demographics of western societies – were little affected by the disruptive impact of 9/11, and their impacts seem likely to long outlast it.

Very true, however is not the legacy of 9/11 the assault on civil liberties perpetrated by western governments jumping when security contractors shouted BOO!? Would the last election, for example, have had Labour being assailed from both left & right for excessive authoritarian intrusion, without the catalysing threat of terrorism? I would say that 9/11 had more effect on domestic social policy than geopolitics.

In all that I’ve read since this morning about that raid by American special forces to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden, I’ve not come across references to the bombing on 7 August 1998 of the US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, three years before the 9/11 attacks and which yield instructive insights into the mindsets of those who work for the al-Qaeda organisation that Bin Laden created and inspired: http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/august/7/newsid_3131000/3131709.stm

Whatever harm those al-Qaeda organised terrorist attacks inflicted on Americans and American assets, the fact is that scores of Africans were killed and hundreds more injured for no better reason that they were in the wrong place at the wrong moment.

As for Bin Laden, I’m minded of that line in Mark Anthony’s speech in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: The evil that men do lives after them

Would have preferred it if it had been our domestic economic terrorists David Cameron, Gideon Osborne, Ian Demon Smith, Baroness Warsi, Theresa May and Chris Grayling.

Not sure what good there is to be interred with his bones, though.

It changed the world beyond anything known since WW2.

And it unleashed the full force of Islam, the most barbaric religion in the world.
And YOU fucks helped it.

‘Far Right’ (unless you count ISlam as that..which is fair) did nothing. They blew up no one.
Muslim, on a Jihadist crusade did.

And since 9/11 the attacks, barbarity on a global scale and colonisation of the infidel’s lands has steamrolled on beyond anything in living memory.

And again…the Left helped it all.

6. Richard W

I don’t think 9/11 changed the world as much as it changed Americans perception of themselves. A superpower will always be attacked by those who have a nationalist or ideological objection to the superpower. Attacks against US interests overseas was nothing new and was just part and parcel of having lots of overseas military and economic interests. However, 9/11 was different because it made Americans feel for the first time in living memory vulnerable in their homeland to external threats. Moreover, a huge defence budget and military superiority offered little protection against the new threat.

The subsequent events merely confirmed to the W neo-cons what they already believed. They were always of the view that the UN was ineffective, discredited and heading the way of the League of Nations. Hence, the development of the Bush Doctrine. That does look like a lasting change because President Obama has continued with the BD. In fact, one could argue taking out bin Laden in Pakistan without the knowledge of Pakistan was the BD in action.

The geopolitical and economic trends that were happening anyway were certainly not transformed by following a new path after 9/11. The economic centre of power in term of output is shifting eastwards and Europe is turning into an old folks home. However, the political and global institutions power as yet has not shifted. A divided Europe was transient and had no real lasting effect. Sarkozy does nothing but suck up to the Americans now so there was no lasting division between ‘old Europe’ and the new world. Considering the W administration walked into every trap that bin Laden set for them, it is remarkable how little the event transformed the world.

For those who haven’t seen it, IMO it’s worth watching this BBC2 TV documentary, The Power of Nightmares 1/3, by Adam Curtis on the origins of the Islamist al-Qaeda ideology – which, in its modern phase, goes back to Sayeed Kobt, who was executed for treason in Egypt in 1966 when Nasser was the president there:

As a teenager, Ayman al Zawahiri became an admirer and follower of Kobt and went on, much later, to become the deputy leader of al-Qaeda after Bin Laden.

A long Wiki biog entry for Kobt (Sayyid Qutb) here:

Kobt’s ideology was supposedly a reversion to a pure form of Islam, in contrast to the Islamic beliefs of modern rulers of Islamic countries which had become corrupted. This explains why al-Qaeda is willing to kill muslims and muslim rulers who don’t conform with its interpretation of Islam.

If 9/11 is to be taken as more significant to Americans and American domestic politics than as a global jihadist movement, I doubt that al-Qaeda sees it that way and nor do western intelligence agencies.

Try this report in today’s news:

A “high-ranking” al Qaeda member in Afghanistan had planned major terror attacks in Germany with at least three recruits who were recently arrested, German authorities said Saturday.

The mastermind had been making plans as early as the beginning of last year and “recruited several dedicated personnel” who were trained along the Afghan-Pakistani border and “plotted to commit at least two attacks in Germany,” said federal prosecutor Rainer Griesbaum after the three made an initial court appearance Saturday in Karlsruhe.

8. Billy Bob Huggie Bear

“””But one of the many reasons to take hope from the Arab Spring is that the protests ultimately increase the possibility of bin Laden’s Islamist extremism being marginalised across the Middle East too”””

The rise of Islamic fanaticism in Egypt and the HUGE and direct links with Al Queda and the so called rebels in Libya really show up this whitewashing of this supposed ‘Spring’ for what it is; Yet more apologist/appeasement for a very dangerous religious zealotry.

Harmless to The West regional despots are being replaced by West hating Islamist Governments who are in fact far closer to Bin Ladin in thought and potential deed!

“””This explains why al-Qaeda is willing to kill muslims and muslim rulers who don’t conform with its interpretation of Islam.”””

You mean that don’t conform to the TRUE interpretation of Islam!
Unless you know of a mysterious version of Islam that has gone through a reformation!
Or a version of the Quran that has undergone the same , as in the New Testament!
But you don’t….Because no such things exist!

9. Barrington Womble

9/11 changed the world because the Western leaders allowed it to. It should have been treated as any other terrorist attack. A big one, yes, and one that got incredibly lucky by bringing down both buildings, but a terrorist attack nonetheless.

There was nothing inevitable about 9/11 creating two wars and the loss of civil liberties that followed. It was a choice. It should have been punished and punished hard but as today’s news made clear, we could and should have focused more attention on Pakistan than on Iraq. This is not just hindsight talking; it was known to be a more likely hiding place all along.

What the world would have been like without 9/11, I don’t know, but Bush and Blair had the option of saying “we will deal with this, but it changes nothing.”

(I second Bob B’s recommendation of Curtis’s documentary. One of the best things to be on TV in the last 10 years.)

I wrote this on a rival site. It relates to the question of the historical significance of al Qaeda. It does not refer to militant Islamist activity in general, that could well continue, especially if Western policies towards the Middle East give it an excuse to revive, which is very likely knowing how bone-headed our politicians are, or if the democratic movements of the recent anti-government activity in the Middle East are defeated or are compromised (as is likely in Libya) by being coopted by Western powers. Al Qaeda was pretty much in decline long before its leader was shot today; indeed, these days its very name and the name of its leader seem, well, almost passé.

Did 11 September 2001 really change the world? No, but the US response to it did. But that’s another story.


When al Qaeda didn’t follow up demolishing the World Trade Center with, say, motor-borne bombs every month in major US cities or other similar acts, I reckoned on its being a one-shot outfit, with the WTC being its peak point. Yes, it has subsequently committed atrocities in some major cities, including London where I live, but has only really established itself in one place — Iraq — and that as a direct result of the chaos ensuing from the US-led invasion (talk about an irony of history).

For all the publicity generated by it and about it, the countless speeches by politicians and experts, and despite the personal tragedies of its victims, on an historical scale al Qaeda is a footnote. I wondered shortly after the WTC went down if the footage would in 50 years’ time be like the Hindenberg crash — a televisual spectacle, an horrific image, but meaning little else. Terror groups, some more destructive than al Qaeda, have come and gone leaving little trace.

Al Qaeda could not establish what any effective political group requires: a national base. It was tolerated in some places for a while, but that’s not the same thing. Its modus operandi of exclusively terror activities precluded its ever being a mass movement, or even any size of movement working in the open; its clerical obscurantism precluded any real support outwith the most harsh parts of the Islamic world, and beyond the bounds of the most extreme Islamists. It had no way of connecting its immediate demands about the Middle East, which are not unexceptional, with its maximum programme of a World Caliphate — it had no transitional strategy from one to the other.

Al Qaeda was always and is more so today only of nuisance value to the big powers. Even had the WTC bombing been followed up by regular attacks, it could not destabilise the US state. Will it outlive its leader’s death? Almost certainly. Its ascetic, violent brand of Islamism will continue to appeal to a tiny number of young Islamists around the world, and it might pick up some support if Libya and Yemen disintegrate à la Iraq. Whilst manifestations of Islamist politics and violence will continue to occur, not least in response to ill-advised Western policies in the Middle East and beyond, will al Qaeda be anything more than an historical footnote? I very much doubt it.

A few memories here need some jogging IMO. Try these news reports of convictions for terrorist offences in British courts :

Britain’s youngest terrorist

Three men have been jailed for life for plotting to murder as suicide bombers

Terror plot BA man Rajib Karim gets 30 years

The FT is carrying an article: Tracking Al-Qaeda’s other leaders

12. the a&e charge nurse

I agree – taking out OBL will have virtually no effect on the trends that are certain to doom billions of people.

Unsustainable population growth, irreversible loss of the planet’s biodiversity and climate change will reach a tipping point so that international conflict over dwindling food and energy resources will become very ugly indeed.

Perhaps it’s a sign of the times that the Prez, and his mates could watch the killings unfurl on telly?

I wonder if he shouted out “git-sum” when the bullets hit?

I think the OP is stretching things a bit to claim Iraq would have been invaded without the WTC attacks. Similalrly we would not have had the Patriot act and other authoritarian legislation that are still having a sinister and corrosive effect. Afghanistan is also unlikely to have been invaded.

In short, 9/11 did lead to world-changing events.

“the Left helped it all”

Well, it excused much of it.

15. Cynical/Realist?

Looking for reasons that underpin the radicalisation of so many and attempting to understand concerns held by a large proportion of the world’s population isn’t the same excusing or helping murderous violence or hate. You are of course free to believe and argue that the left is wrong in many ways – but its not on to say that the left (or anyone) has excused murder or such a hateful ideology.

Exactly which leftist regimes do you believe supported and helped this ideology of hate and violence anyway? Labour? Who were neither ‘left’, and who introduced a range of controls and laws which were so repressive that the ‘right’ condemed them as much as the left did (until they claimed power, since when they’ve gone a bit quiet on the matter).

Extraordinary endeavours – as well as financial resources – went into organising al-Qaeda’s terrorism across a global landscape, both before and since 9/11 in 2001.

Thousands have been killed in consequence. Bin Laden was – and probably remains – an iconic inspiration. That – with the commitment to promoting Islamic jihad – is the defining charateristic of al-Qaeda. IMO the world would have been far more impressed had as much effort been directed at reducing poverty in countries with Islamic populations by promoting business development. Instead, al-Qaeda regarded the slaughter of mostly ordinary people as its achievement.

Dr Paul: “Did 11 September 2001 really change the world? No, but the US response to it did.”

Quite. Ditto the UK response to the US response.

Some of the papers from the Chilcot Inquiry show that Blair was talking about Iraq with Bush in late 2001, and that within a few days in early December 2001 the tone changed from restraining the US to getting involved in planning the invasion.


Instead of focusing on international terrorism, the US started a War on Terror even though terrorism cannot be dealt with by wars. The invasion of Iraq was irrelevant (or even counterproductive) and may have been what OBL was trying to lead the US to do. And the UK PM was there from the very beginning, not constraining the US from this mis-step but deeply involved in it.

@ 8 Bill Bob

“The rise of Islamic fanaticism in Egypt and the HUGE and direct links with Al Queda and the so called rebels in Libya really show up this whitewashing of this supposed ‘Spring’ for what it is; Yet more apologist/appeasement for a very dangerous religious zealotry.”

I realise that evidence isn’t actually “your thing”, but other than the voices in your head, or the last EDL pamphlet you swallowed whole…. what actual back up do you have for any of that? Every report coming out of Egypt and Tunisia at the time of their revolutions (because that is what they really were) talked about them being devoid of religious zealotry or islamic fundamentalism.

The Muslim brotherhood was certainly wrong footed by the uprising against Mubarak, and not pulling the strings. It seems a tad too early to figure out what will happen in either country… but your rabid imaginings are only really interesting as comedy, not analysis.

“Unless you know of a mysterious version of Islam that has gone through a reformation!”

Yes, yes… ALL Muslims MUST be the same, musn’t they? They all believe in exactly the same things, and act and speak with one voice on every issue…… sheesh…. No doubt you believe that ALL Catholics do the same, or ALL fundamentalist Christians?

@17: “Some of the papers from the Chilcot Inquiry show that Blair was talking about Iraq with Bush in late 2001, and that within a few days in early December 2001 the tone changed from restraining the US to getting involved in planning the invasion. ”

The testimony from insiders in the Bush administration is that planning for the invasion of Iraq started months before 9/11, right at the beginning of the Bush administration in January 2001. Try this CBS interview in 2004 with Paul O’Neill, Bush’s first Treasury Secretary:

And what happened at President Bush’s very first National Security Council meeting is one of O’Neill’s most startling revelations.

“From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go,” says O’Neill, who adds that going after Saddam was topic “A” 10 days after the inauguration – eight months before Sept. 11.

“From the very first instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we can do to change this regime,” says Suskind. “Day one, these things were laid and sealed.”

As treasury secretary, O’Neill was a permanent member of the National Security Council. He says in the book he was surprised at the meeting that questions such as “Why Saddam?” and “Why now?” were never asked.

[Richard] Clarke [Bush’s adviser on terrorism] says that as early as the day after the [9/11] attacks, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was pushing for retaliatory strikes on Iraq, even though al Qaeda was based in Afghanistan. [March 2004]

There is still an unresolved mystery about what happened to the missing billions of US Dollars:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Nearly $9 billion of money spent on Iraqi reconstruction is unaccounted for because of inefficiencies and bad management, according to a watchdog report published Sunday.

An inspector general’s report said the U.S.-led administration that ran Iraq until June 2004 is unable to account for the funds.

20. Bill Bob's Return

What evidence Galen?

Well just do a Google search…”Libya, Islamists, Al Qaeda”

The screen will fill with almost endless reports of who a large proportion of the rebels are, especially their leaders.


IF he can still hear…ask the Christian guy in Egypt who had his ear hacked off by (your typical) Muslim mobs because he was seeing a Muslim woman how his ‘Arab Spring’ is going

I could fill the place with links, but your mods would only delete it all as usual.

@20 Bill Bob’s

If the mods delete it, it is because it is hysterical clap trap, usually in trollish capitals liberally laced with swear words; you can hardly be surprised at that.

Once again, your (obviously intentional) mistake is to make the standard troll leap from “Oh, look…. this incident happened, therefore ALL Muslims everywhere must be responsible, and agree, and be guilty”. The fact that bad things happen does mean that your paranoid fantasies are about to be realised, you do see that life doesn’t work that way yes?

One might as well insist that the crimes of the IRA demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that Popery is a clear and present danger; even Ian Paisley doesn’t honestly believe that any more. Similarly, the fact that some Libyans may be implicated in terrorism doesn’t mean we should take your analysis of the Arab Spring at all seriously, any more than the identities of the 7/7 bombers in the UK allows us to write off all their co-religionists here.

@20 Moron’s Return

Also… apart from the fact that google searches =/= research and analysis, trolls like you can’t have it both ways; on the one hand we aren’t supposed to get involved because we don’t know who the opposition are, but on the other, we’re supposed to be dupes because they are all being controlled by militant islamists.

Much the same (specious) argument was used at the beginning of the uprising in Egypt about the Muslim Brotherhood…. and lo and behold, they were nowhere to be seen.

Still, I don’t expect you to let facts on the ground, and the reporting of people actually in the countries, to get in the way of your prejudices; it’s so much more comforting for you to believe that we’re the dupes, and that we really are bent on enabling Green flags to fly over westminster and shari’a law to be imposed.

@22 Leave it, mate, he’s not worth it…

There may be some truth in what you say; the rise of global financial capital occurred in parallel with the War on Terror and hardly anyone noticed, although it has had just as profound an effect. The shift in geo-political power to the East is another profound change, but it is in some ways the underlying cause of the increasingly bellicose and desperate response of the US to its shrinking global power. Still, 9/11 was equally profound in its own way.

Bin Laden and the War on Terror were nothing more than convenient myths (as the Adam Curtis films show), in order for the Western nations to sell war and internal repression to their increasingly fearful and discontented populations, and partly as a distraction to the fact that a tiny elite was scoffing more and more of their national cakes.

What evidence was there to connect Bin Laden to 9/11? Nothing but a video ‘confession’ of very dubious authenticity; not exactly a strong case. But no matter: we had our Goldstein and the media fuelled the 2 minute hate sessions every time anything bad happened anywhere: the Madrid bombings, 7/7, Indonesia, Chechnya, etc. There’s no evidence of Bin Laden’s involvement in any of these, and no evidence that Al-Qaeda even exists in any meaningful sense, beyond a CIA document referring to a database of assets connected to the Afghan mujahideen. Even now, why has Kalid Sheikh Mohammed never been put on trial for 9/11? Because any such trial would turn into a major embarassment for the US, as the paucity of evidence would become very apparent.

In spite of the lack of any credible evidence of real threats, we had 6 terrorism acts in the space of 8 years in Britain, plus countless other attacks on our civil liberties, all in the name of protecting us. Irish Republicans have killed far more people in the UK, but we never talked about bombing Dublin, control orders or 90 day detention without charge. All for what? A chimera. In that sense, 9/11 has been a very effective tool for keeping people under control, as well as justifying endless foreign wars.

What about the Afghan War? In 2002 I believed, like most people, that this was a war to protect our security and liberate an oppressed nation. I was a fool. Subsequent events have shown it to be a war for access to Caspian oil fields and regional influence – as shown by Lutz Kleveman in his book ‘The New Great Game: Blood & Oil in Central Asia’ (2003). The latest stage-managed ‘death’ of Osama Bin Laden is an attempt to spin a defeat in that war as some kind of victory. It allows the US to disengage from Afghanistan at last, without inviting comparisons to the ignominious retreat from Saigon.

More about the Bin Laden hysteria on my blog: http://sodiumchorus.blogspot.com/2011/05/bin-laden-buried-at-sea-skepticism.html

25. Davey MAN

Chris Whitrow…..Blithering idiot.
“Twas the Jews and the Americans what done it! 9/11 was too violent to be done by dem Muslims me like”.


@24 Chris

Hmmnn.. I wondered how long it would take for the crazies to come up with the denial that OBL was dead, or in anyway connected to 9/11….

…isn’t there some variant of Godwin’s Law to cover nuttery like yours?

@26 He was never alive, ZOG created him…

28. DaveyBoyManToy

Obama still trots out the same apologist shit even now;

“”””Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims.
Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.””””

If he was not a Muslim leader. Why bury him like one?

And Obama fails to see how actually he goes to show, while bending over backwards to try and distance Muslims from Bin Ladin, how Bin Ladin was very much to do with Islam and those that follow it.

Or else why would a UK Muslim leader ever have to say this:
“”I am appealing publicly to all Muslim communities wherever they may be that there is no backlash””

I guess because in reality…and even this Muslim leader has just fucking admitted it by even having to make such a statement…far too many Muslims in The West are indeed exactly NOT what OBAMA himself just described;
“believers in peace and human dignity”.
As according TO him;
his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.
But seemingly there is a good chance in the UK British Muslims will not welcome it that way.
And a Muslim leader just said so!
Or why would there be any chance of any backlash?

It’s hysterical.

29. DaveyBoyManToy

You have to laugh.

So Obama and all the other quisling apologists on The Left bleat on and on about Bin Ladin supposedly not representing Islam, and that the mass of true and moderate Muslims would never side with him and that he did not represent them.
And also that he did what he did because he was simply any old terrorist…not a Muslim.

And yet…It seems the truth will out at last. And it comes via the Islamic con job itself.

Jerusalem: Muslims riot over bin Laden’s death


UK Muslim leader: “I am appealing publicly to all Muslim communities wherever they may be that there is no backlash” over bin Laden death
http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/UK-New … ists_Death


Pro-Osama rally in Pakistan: “Bin Laden was the hero of the Muslim world and after his martyrdom he has won the title of great mujahed”
http://tribune.com.pk/story/161126/hund … bin-laden/


Archbishop emeritus of Lahore: Christians an “easy target” for revenge attacks after bin Laden’s death
http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Christia … 21448.html


@28 DaveyBoyManToy (no..really..that’s the best your random name generator could come up with…?…. hysterical!)

Oh do keep up.. *sighs*. Obama no doubt meant he wasn’t a leader to be emulated; he was representative of a tiny fraction of Muslims worldwide, in just the same way that the whack job Christian with a penchant for burning Koran’s is representative of a tiny fraction of Christians.

No doubt they buried him like a Muslim, because it means they can feel superior in that they gave him a decent burial according to the rights of his made up religion. No dount many people would have been happier if they’d wrapped him in a pig skin and asked the Chief Rabbi to consign him to the depths of hell.

Random Muslim nutters in the West aren’t representative of all Muslims, any more than football hooligans are representative of all fans; not a difficult concept to grasp, even for someone with the obviously shaky grasp on reality evidenced by your posts.

If you are going to troll, at least try and make more of an effort….

31. Watchman

Chris Whitrow,

Irish Republicans have killed far more people in the UK, but we never talked about bombing Dublin, control orders or 90 day detention without charge. All for what?

Maybe because Ireland was not harbouring the IRA, and indeed would actually arrest them if it could, at least officially (check out Irish history if you want to know why).

Although I do seem to remember internment and various other similiar devices were used against the IRA. So maybe you need to check your facts.

Hang on, that lack of fact checking suggests the rest of your comment might also be light on factual sense and full of the sort of unsubstantiated idiocy you see on the internet. Well I never…


I knew that there would be the usual accusations of ‘conspiracy theorist’, ‘tin-foil hat brigade’, blah blah. I didn’t even deny that Bin Laden was dead, but some people never listen to reason. They prefer to believe the conspiracy theories handed to them by their governments and intelligence agencies, without a jot of evidence.

But of course the CIA and US government would never lie about anything, would they? They always tell the truth.


I’m well aware that internment was used in Northern Ireland only, in response to Republican terrorism, but than abandoned. Your criticism is childish in the extreme and I won’t stoop to the same level. My point is simply that the threat from Islamic terrorism has been hugely inflated by both the media and government.

As for fact-checking, you don’t seem very keen to check the ‘facts’ given to us by security agencies or the corporate media. Fox News, among others, reported Bin Laden’s death in December 2001, and that report is no less credible than the latest one:


Did you know that ‘fact’? Now which one do you believe, and why? Alternatively, just carry on hurling vacuous insults …

@32 & 33 Chris

“I knew that there would be the usual accusations of ‘conspiracy theorist’, ‘tin-foil hat brigade’, blah blah. ”

If the “tin” hat fits Chris, why are you so afraid to wear it? On the one hand you try to insist you are not one of the voodoo history brigade, and then you come out with:

“I didn’t even deny that Bin Laden was dead, but some people never listen to reason. They prefer to believe the conspiracy theories handed to them by their governments and intelligence agencies, without a jot of evidence.”

and of course your knock out blow:

“But of course the CIA and US government would never lie about anything, would they? They always tell the truth.”

This isn’t some zero-sum game; one can mistrust the motives of intelligence agencies, and still accept that on balance OBL is dead as a result of the recent action in Pakistan. Conspiracy theorists will by their very nature prefer a good story, however improbable, to “facts”; they will never be satisfied until the “facts” can be shoe horned into their pre-existing fixed agenda.

If pictures of OBL’s body are produced, some will claim they are faked; if DNA tests are performed, some will insist they were swapped. Some people will give credence to this, in the same way they will insist Obama’s birth certificate was faked.

Your not just credulous, but you actually glory in your ignorance. Well done.. another fantasist we can safely dismiss for having zero evidence for any of his pet theories, in much the same way we can dismiss those who “just know” God exists.

@ Galen / 34:

So, where are your ‘facts’? I’m just sitting here, waiting to be shown one single, verifiable fact, preferably from an independent source. Show me something credible that isn’t just an unsupported statement by the US government or its allies.

My position is one of relative uncertainty. I think it is reasonable to assume that OBL is dead, because otherwise he would probably be jumping up and down on Al-Jazeera by now. He isn’t, so I assume he’s probably dead; let’s say we’re 90% sure of that.

Given that OBL is dead, there are two competing theories:

1) He died some years ago. This is strongly supported by evidence going back to December 2001 and given credence by the fact that Bin Laden was in the latter stages of renal failure at that time: he needed regular kidney dialysis and expert medical attention, which is most unlikely to have been available to him in the caves of Tora Bora. Even the establishment-loving Daily Mail has taken this theory very seriously and published this summary of the evidence in 2009:


Indeed (as I’ve already pointed out), OBL’s death was reported by several mainstream media outlets on in December 2001, e.g.:


This is not a crackpot fantasy; it is a theory taken seriousy by many well-informed observers, which has evidence to back it up. If you want to knock this theory down, you need to come up with something pretty good.

2) He was killed in a raid by US forces on 30th April, 2011. This theory has no independent evidence behind it at all. Even the official story keeps changing: first he was armed, then he wasn’t; he used his wife as a shield, then he didn’t. Amazingly, we are told the body was ‘buried at sea’. This in itself is so extraordinary that it casts considerable doubt on the veracity of the official statements.

In short, theory 2) is very weak in scientific terms; it lacks internal consistency as well as any hard evidence. Compared to theory 1), it is theory 2) which looks like a crackpot fantasy. That’s the objective judgement.

Personally, I remain uncertain, because neither theory has conclusive support, but theory 1) is definitely the more credible. Right now, if I had to put numbers on them, I’d support theory 1) with 75% certainty, leaving theory 2) with 25%.

Of course, I’m willing to change my position if and when new evidence emerges, just as a scientist must revise his theories in the light of new knowledge. If the US can produce a body, that would be great. If they can’t, then they need to prove conclusively that Bin Laden was living in the compound they raided. That shouldn’t be too hard, should it? I mean, how did THEY even know they had the right man?

@35 Chris

I refer you to the earlier post relating to voodoo history; you, and the minority of misguided people like you will never be satisfied, because no matter how much evidence is produced, you will always come up with another “ah, but… whaddabout…. [insert nonsense of choice].

He was buried at sea to avoid his place of burial becoming a shrine; that’s hardly surprising.

Many people “sincerely” believe he was killed ages ago; it doesn’t make them right, and it strains credulity to believe that Geroge W and his cronies whouldn’t have been whooping it up if they’d been able to produce the body.

Any “independent” evidence you calim to want would in the end be insufficient for the conspiracy theorists. Pictures, video, DNA, the word of close relatives or people who knew him? They’d all be rubbished and called into question, because that’s a lot more exciting than simply accepting the fact that he managed to evade capture for a long time, got unlucky when one of his couriers got “made”, and then got taken out.

For what it’s worth, I think they probably should have made identification of the body by “outside” sources a priority, specifically to head off the crazies like you. But let’s face it, you and your ilk would probably insist the people had been knobbled, just as many will insist any pictures or videos are faked.

Twas ever thus.

37. Richard W

” This is strongly supported by evidence going back to December 2001…”

You then cite the Daily Mail and Faux Snooze. One could not make this stuff up. We have had the birthers and now we will get the deathers.

Governments sometimes lie is a shock to no one. Moreover, they sometimes use events to further their interests that would not be possible in the absence of the said event is a surprise to no one. The W administration definitely used 9/11 to further their wider policy agenda. Our present government are using the 2008 crash for their policy agenda that would not possible without the crash. However, there is a considerable leap from that into the land of tinfoil hats. Do not beat about the bush citing others. If you believe bin Laden died years ago just come out and say President Obama stood up on Sunday evening and lied to the whole world. There is nothing ambiguous about it he either lied and covered up a heinous W administration deceit or he did not.

In case readers inadvertently miss this illuminating video clip: Rally in Pakistan after Osama bin Laden is killed

Lashkar-e-Taiba supporters take to streets of Karachi to protest Osama bin Ladens’s death

Lashkar-e-Taiba has been implicated in the massacre at Mumbai on 27-28 November 2008:

@ Richard w / 37:

1) The DM and Fox News are wrong about many things, and right occasionally. Why do you believe them now, but not in 2009 or 2001? The original report actually comes from an Egyptian paper called al-Wafd, but you wouldn’t know that because facts don’t matter to you. Furthermore, I’ve not said I believe those reports are true: I just find them to be more credible than current US government statements (which are not even self-consistent).

Note, I said ‘more credible’: do you understand the subtleties of the English language?

2) The birthers made extraordinary claims, without good evidence and they were wrong. I never took them remotely seriously. You think that’s a good reason now to believe that Obama is incapable of lying? If so, it’s you who is the fool.

3) Obama is now making equally extraordinary claims, also without good evidence. Do you see a similarity, because I do:

People who make extraordinary claims without good evidence in order to further their own interests may reasonably be suspected of lying and asked to produce proof of their assertions, especially when the current weight of evidence is against them.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a ‘birther’ or the President of the US. Everyone has an agenda and everyone must be held to the same standard.

40. Mr S. Pill


Why would Dubya have covered up the death of Osama?

Personally, I found the evidence presented in this American video linking President George H Bush with the assassination of President Kennedy on 22 November 1963 very convincing:

But then in the 1930s, Senator Prescott Bush was a fund raiser for the Nazis:

How Bush’s grandfather helped Hitler’s rise to power

42. Charlieman

@Chris Whitrow

Assume, for the sake of argument, that OBL died several years ago and that this information was known to the US government and to senior figures in AQ.

There are theoretical advantages in sustaining belief in OBL’s continued existence for both parties; for AQ, it maintains their credibility as a terrorist organisation with a strong leader; for the US government, it can be used to justify military intervention and abuse of civil rights etc.

But if US forces kill not-OBL and claim it to be true, this would be a propaganda win for AQ. AQ would be able to demonstrate that OBL had already been dead for years and that the US government had been fooled into killing a look-alike (with matching DNA). Egg on face for the US government.

Thus far, the US government claim to have killed OBL holds true. Suggestions that he was dead already belong with the tin foil hat brigade.

43. Richard W

@ 39. Chris Whitrow

You are the one who is implying that the President of the US in the biggest story of the century so far was lying to the world and making the story up on Sunday evening. Now who is the one making an extraordinarily claim? Hey, you read something in an Egyptian newspaper once and that counts as a fact to you. No amount of evidence will ever suffice for you or people like the birthers. You do not want evidence you want your preconceived prejudices reinforced.

@ Charlieman / 42:

AQ can claim anything they like, but it wouldn’t change a single opinion. As it happens, very few people in most of the world actually believe Obama’s claims. Most people I’ve spoken to are highly skeptical of the story we’ve been told by the US, and rightly so.

Also, what exactly is Al-Qaeda? The Al-Qaeda myth is the biggest conspiracy theory of the 21st century thus far. The tin-foil hats should be worn by those who believe this myth. Also, how would ‘they’ prove that OBL has been dead for years? It’s probable but difficult to prove to anyone’s satisfaction (including mine).

@ Richard W / 43:

I’m definitely not the only one. If we’re looking at the world as a whole, it’s you who is in a tiny minority. Long may you glory in your parochial bubble.

45. Sam's big nose

“The Al-Qaeda myth”

You freakoid.

If it had been a white supremacist organisation you would have no problem believing it.
But no…Anything to do with Islam, said by The West (esp that hated America, right?) is all nonsense and lies.

You are a waste blockage. A fetid, stinking, blockage of the foulest waste in life’s plumbing.

@ 44 & 45

Oh great… a freak fight!

It’s like watching two bald men fight over a comb.

@ 45 & 46:

Well, thanks for those very rational and truly enlightening contributions. I do find these debates always bring out the best in people.

Strangely, I’m the only one here who refuses to believe in any story at all with any certainty. I genuinely don’t know the truth. But you apparently do. Because some important men told you. Well done you.

@ 47 Chris

Chris, your contributions have been as far away from rational or enlightening as Nick Clegg is from becoming Prime Minister.

You are a fully paid up, tin hat wearing fruit loop, more to be pitied than censored. you do have a certain fascinating comedy value, but only as a demonstration as to how freaky people can be, even if it is at the polar extreme from Sam and his many avatars.

There is no conspiracy. OBL is dead, because he was shot twice by US navy seals last week. This isn’t the X-files, it’s real life…. you know, the kind of thing you seem divorced from.

@ 48 / Galen10:

Your idea of ‘real life’ is a professional liar in a suit, spouting crap on TV. You are so vacuous, even intergalactic space would abhor you.

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  1. Liberal Conspiracy

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    RT @libcon: Did 9/11 really change the world as much as journalists claim? http://bit.ly/k2DiA8

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