I have just finished drafting the outline for a lecture on Terrorism and 'Conspiracy' Theory for the Terrorism module I convene at the University of East Anglia.
Whilst preparing the readling list and module guide I came across this leader from the Economist of September 3rd:
Messing with the mind of Islam
Al-Qaeda has not just poisoned relations between countries. It has poisoned minds as well. In all of the Muslim countries polled recently by the Pew Global Attitudes project, majorities still refuse to believe that the perpetrators were Arabs.
I am not sure The Economist is correct to blame Al-Qaeda for this, indeed their strategists expressed considerable irritation that the 'credit' for 9/11 did not always go to them. This anger even amounted to seeing such views as a plot by Shia Iran to discredit Al Qaeda with Sunni Muslims. Al Qaeda also claimed responsibility for the attacks, and released propaganda to that effect. How is that consistent with 'poisoning minds' in the opposite direction?
Sadly more significant explanations for these attitudes may be found in the war-weariness of much of the Muslim world, which means some can arguably believe virtually anything of the West. Equally historical anti-Semitism, the propagation of conspiracy theories by a host of Muslim governments for a generation and a refusal to grapple with the extremists that have emerged with the Islamic resurgence all combine to give the message 'it can't be us, so it must have been you'.
In 9/11 truth circles such as Ian Henshall's Reinvestigate 9/11, there is excitement at opinion poll data which they argue shows increasing evidence in Europe that their message is getting through. A recent email to supporters was headed 'Breakthroughs in UK, France, Italy and Canada for 9/11 Truth Movement' thanks to what they see as a succesful media offensive. There tends to be little or no attention to what evidence such as The Pew Global Attitudes survey may indicate, or what such 'breakthroughs' in Muslim majority countries may signify in practice. To quote from Pew:
"There is no Muslim public in which even 30% accept that Arabs conducted the attacks. Indeed, Muslims in Jordan, Egypt and Turkey are less likely to accept this today than in 2006."
If such figures eventually emerge in the UK, US and across the European Union - does that constitute success? Progress? Does that take us closer to a better society, where politicians and the powerful are accountable for their actions? It does not. But I suspect it does to the 'truth' movement.