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Conspiracy theories abound for alleged terror plot
By THOMAS HARGROVE
Scripps Howard News Service

 

August 12, 2006
Saturday AM


Conspiracy theorists in the "blogosphere" were quick Thursday to question British claims of foiling a terrorist plot to bomb airliners, suggesting it was really an effort by the White House to deflect attention from the bloody conflict in Lebanon.

Or maybe it's a plot "to force a wavering public" to support government policies?

Or was it yet another conspiracy to end the civil liberties of airline commuters?

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A Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll released last week found that 36 percent of adult Americans think it's likely that 9/11 was an "inside job" - that federal officials either participated in the attacks or took no action - and conspiracy theories already are in no short supply regarding the latest alleged terror plot.

Hundreds of people posted their speculations on blogs devoted to conspiracy theories or on older message posting forums on the Internet. Most expressed immediate suspicion toward British reports that 21 people have been arrested in a thwarted plot to use explosives secreted in carry-on luggage to simultaneously blow up several airliners headed for the United States.

"It's interesting to see that the discovery of a bomb plot happens at the same time as the Israeli offensive. This effectively knocked the Israel/Hezbollah War off the TV screens," wrote a conspiracy buff under the name of "George Orwell" in a conspiracy chat room.

"This 'plot' was in the works for a long time and was apparently not planned to happen soon. Why did the British decide to expose it now?" Orwell asked.

A writer who called himself "Favian" replied: "Maybe because the public's will to slaughter Arabs and Moslems is waning?"

Others saw the measure as a desperate effort by both the Bush administration and that of British Prime Minister Tony Blair to recover their sagging political support.

"This is just a scare tactic by the Bush-Blair regimes to prop up their rock-bottom poll numbers by convincing the brain-dead that they are being 'protected' from 'terror,' " wrote one conspiracy enthusiast whose Internet moniker is an obscene reference to President Bush.

"Pay no attention to this Blair-Bush media grab," he concluded.

Others suspected that the British, who've restricted passengers from any carry-on items at London's Heathrow airport, were using the claim of a bombing plot to continue a general policy of reducing civil liberties.

"The United Kingdom's government has repeatedly used scare tactics in order to restrict people's freedoms," wrote "The Freed Fighter" on a 9/11 conspiracy blog.

Others said they thought the alleged bomb conspiracy was too fanciful to be credible.

"I can not believe that a terrorist group would go to all the trouble of planning an incredibly complex attack with its associated risk of detection and immense difficulty of execution," wrote "The Happy Hippy" on another blog. "At very little cost and minimal planning, they could pick up some RPG's (rocket propelled grenades), drive to their local airport and just shoot at planes as their arrive or during take off."

The conspiracy theorists also posted hundreds of comments about the Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll released last week that found that 36 percent of Americans think it's either "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that federal officials either participated in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop them because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East.

"I don't believe these polls at all," wrote "Nunyabiz" at 911Blogger.com. "I'd lay odds they are rigged. I bet, in reality, that at least 50 percent or more of the U.S. feels this government is involved in 9/11."

But there was one finding in the Scripps poll that the bloggers seemed to like - that belief in conspiracies seems to be influenced by the kinds of news sources people use.

"The survey found that people who regularly use the Internet and not mainstream media are significantly more likely to believe in 9/11 conspiracies," wrote "TNF" on a 9/11 blog. "Ever wonder why?!!!"

 

E-mail Thomas Hargrove at hargrovet(at)shns.com
Distributed to subscribers for publication by
Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.shns.com


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