Conspiracy theories have been around since mankind first started forming groups and questioning the intentions of other groups they could see on the horizon.  Paranoia, it could be argued, is an ingrained survival trait that has helped us to become the dominant species on this planet, but in the relative safety and comfort of modern-day America, that same inherent desire to look for threats even when there are none can be responsible for some pretty off-the-wall lines of thought.  In some people, that paranoia manifests itself as anxiety or depression, in others, in a desire to prepare for potential threats before they come–for a large sect of the internet, that paranoia bubbles to the surface in the form of conspiracy theories.

“Conspiracy theories” is a loaded phrase, of course, because the connotation seems to infer a lack of credibility, and let’s be honest, not every conspiracy theory is created equal.  Over the years, real conspiracies have been discovered, often ones that, in some way, paralleled the lunatic ravings of internet mad men that maintain the types of blogs that feature neon green text against a black screen.  Sometimes, this is because a paranoid fellow came across some damning evidence, but more often than not it’s because if you spend years of your life blindly throwing conspiracy spaghetti at the wall, sooner or later something will stick.

Nonetheless, these victories have bolstered the conspiracy theorist communities the world over, and thanks to our modern click-bait mentality, new conspiracies really require only a loose basis in fact to garner a great deal of attention.  In what would certainly make for an interesting (and morbid) case study into human nature, it would seem that the more traumatic an event or tragedy is for a community, the more fervor that event will be met with in conspiracy-minded circles.  If you’re not sure I’m right about that, grab a bottle of whiskey and type “Sandy Hook conspiracy” into Google.  You’ll need the whiskey to get through the slew of lunatics accusing parents of dead children of not showing enough grief on television, thereby proving that they’re all lying about the shooting even taking place.

Yeah, the internet’s a pretty crappy place sometimes, and nowhere is that more evident than on the thousands of web pages devoted to the idea that 9/11 was an “inside job.”

Now, I’m not going to go toe to toe with the commenters that will undoubtedly provide a dozen links about how jet fuel can’t melt steel beams (because it doesn’t have to melt them to compromise their structural integrity), nor will I stand and swing with the guy that wants to claim the very real war profiteering that went on after 9/11 is enough evidence to suggest America let it happen on purpose (which is like saying I lost weight with the flu, so I must have gotten sick on purpose too).

Instead, I’ll leave it up to some horrible, despicable human beings to make my point for me, because this is the internet, and when it’s not a porn repository or a way for the President to argue with foreign leaders, it’s chock-full of monsters that are eager for the spotlight.

The bin Laden papers: Paranoia and conspiracies in Arab culture

Read Next: The bin Laden papers: Paranoia and conspiracies in Arab culture

You see, in 2011, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who you may already recognize as not a particular fan of the United States, appeared before the United Nations General Assembly and accused the U.S. government of planning and executing the 9/11 terror attacks themselves, and then killing Bin Laden as a part of the conspiracy to hide the real perpetrators.  That’s right, 9/11 truthers, your theories did convince one world leader–it just so happened to be a guy that’s not too into things like sound reasoning or human rights.

Not exactly the guy you want in your corner. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Sure, the United States rebuked these claims as ludicrous, but, of course, that’s just what an evil empire that planned terrorist attacks against its own people would do in this situation, right?  The thing is, the 9/11 attacks involved two groups–the victims (the United States) and the perpetrators, al Qaeda.  The U.S. can claim they didn’t do it until the president turns blue in the face, but it was actually al Qaeda that stepped up to call Ahmadinejad out for his lunacy: “The Iranian government has professed on the tongue of its president Ahmadinejad that it does not believe Al Qaeda was behind 9/11 but rather, the U.S. government,” al Qaeda wrote in their English-language magazine “Inspire,” which usually devotes its pages to offering useful advice to aspiring terrorists.  “So we may ask the question: why would Iran ascribe to such a ridiculous belief that stands in the face of all logic and evidence?”

So, when 9/11 truthers got their wish and had a prominent figure stand before all the world’s leaders and claim that 9/11 was an inside job… even al Qaeda couldn’t help but roll their eyes.  The article went on to resort to playground insults, effectively calling Ahmadinejad and Iran posers for not hating America as hard as they do.

“If Iran was genuine in its animosity towards the U.S., it would be pleased to see another entity striking a blow at the Great Satan but that’s not the case. For Iran, anti-Americanism is merely a game of politics.”

As the article goes on, it reads a bit like a Twitter beef, in which al Qaeda accuses Iran of trying to discredit their work against the United States because they were successful in accomplishing what Iran couldn’t–killing thousands of Americans on our own soil.

For them, Al Qaeda was a competitor for the hearts and minds of the disenfranchised Muslims around the world. Al Qaeda, an organization under fire, with no state, succeeded in what Iran couldn’t. Therefore it was necessary for the Iranians to discredit 9/11 and what better way to do so? Conspiracy theories… Iran and the Shi’a in general do not want to give Al Qaeda credit for the greatest and biggest operation ever committed against America because this would expose their lip-service jihad against the Great Satan.” – Abu Suhail

Although ISIS has made a career out of claiming responsibility for every violent incident they can, in order to try to make their overall influence seem larger, it’s important to note that these claims by al Qaeda are not merely terrorist bloviation, they’re supported by the collective efforts of America’s defense and intelligence experts over the span of nearly two decades.

Of course, to those convinced that the United States has long maintained a secret relationship with the terrorist groups we’ve been embroiled in fighting for seventeen years now, the same groups that are responsible for the deaths of thousands more American service members along the way, there is little even al Qaeda can do to convince you that the American government didn’t perpetrate or willingly permit the 9/11 terror attacks. However, if that’s the case, it might be worth reevaluating the motives behind your “truth seeking.”

Are you trying to discover the truth about a horrific tragedy that led to years of war and pain, or is it possible that you’re just still one of those cavemen, huddled around a fire with like-minded bloggers, staring off at the horizon and letting your paranoia get the best of you?

 

Image courtesy of the Associated Press