On the eve of the seventh anniversary of the attacks of 9-11, a new international survey discovered that majorities in only nine of 17 countries polled believe al Qaeda attacked the United States that September morning.
If not al Qaeda, then who?
Significant minorities in many countries believe that 9-11 was a plot concocted and executed by the United States' government or Israel. The opinion that it was pulled off by the United States is held by 36 percent of Turks polled, while 43 percent of Egyptians believe it was Israel—each representing the greatest percentage of people holding that viewpoint within the poll. (For a complete breakdown by country polled, click here.)
"Given the extraordinary impact the 9-11 attacks have had on world affairs, it is remarkable that seven years later there is no intentional consensus about who was behind them," said Steve Kull, director of WorldPublicOpinion.org, which is managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland.
The two African nations polled, Kenya and Nigeria, had the strongest majorities that believed al Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that day. Seventy-seven percent of Kenyans and 71 percent of Nigerians believed al Qaeda was responsible for 9-11. (Last month, Kenyans remembered the approximately 200 who died when al Qaeda detonated a truck bomb outside the U.S. Embassy in the capital city of Nairobi.)
That significant minorities throughout the world believe that 9-11 was the cynical work of the United States or its ally Israel was seconded in The New York Times as well yesterday. According to a dispatch by Michael Slackman from Cairo:
There were many reasons people here said they believed that the attacks of 9/11 were part of a conspiracy against Muslims. Some had nothing to do with Western actions, and some had everything to do with Western policies.
Again and again, people said they simply did not believe that a group of Arabs — like themselves — could possibly have waged such a successful operation against a superpower like the United States. But they also said that Washington’s post-9/11 foreign policy proved that the United States and Israel were behind the attacks, especially with the invasion of Iraq.
According to the survey, a good predictor of whether or not someone believes al Qaeda perpetrated the terrorist attacks of 9-11is how they feel about the United States. Those that feel the United States has a positive influence in the world are more likely to believe al Qaeda did it (59 percent) than those with a negative view (40 percent).