Top Egyptian presidential candidate doubts al Qaeda role in 9/11

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Egypt’s likely next president has long called for the U.S. to hold a “scientific conference” to determine the real culprits of the Sept. 11 attacks, having cast doubt on al Qaeda’s role in 9/11 for years.

“The U.S. administration has never presented any evidences on the identity of those who committed that incident,” longtime Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi is quoted as saying in a 2007 posting on Ikhwanweb, the Islamist group’s official English website.

“The Muslim Brotherhood and others demanded a transparent trial with clear evidence and to have court rulings,” he said after the sixth anniversary of the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. “We confirm that this isn’t a defense to those who committed these actions, but we only seek the truth.”

Mr. Morsi last week won the most votes in the first round of Egypt’s presidential election, and he is heavily favored to win a runoff this month against secular former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik.

He is not the only candidate to have floated conspiracy theories about the Sept. 11 attacks: Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh - a former Brotherhood figure who finished fourth in last week’s race - said last year that he believed 9/11 was “part of a conspiracy.”

Mr. Morsi’s remarks underscore the challenges the U.S. likely will face in a Brotherhood-dominated Egypt. The group’s Freedom and Justice Party won 47 percent of the seats in Egypt’s parliamentary elections and is expected to play a dominant role in crafting a new constitution.

A call for proof

While condemning the 9/11 attack “regardless of its doer,” Mr. Morsi lambasted the U.S. response to them, calling the Bush administration “the world’s terrorism leader” and accusing it of getting “in line with Israeli occupation forces in aggression, injustice, encroaching lands and raping women.”

According to the Brotherhood website’s characterization of his 9/11 remarks, Mr. Morsi said the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and Iraq “due to the U.S. administration claims that the doers of the 11 September attacks [were] Muslims, without proving such a thing until now.”

In 2008, Mr. Morsi called on the U.S. to provide “scientific” proof for its account of events.

“We have officially demanded a fair trial for 9/11 suspects and the issuance of a detailed scientific report about the attacks, but the U.S. administration did not respond till now,” Mr. Morsi told Ikhwanweb.

“This requires a huge scientific conference that is devoted to analyzing what caused the attack against a massive structure like the two WTC towers,” he said, referring to the World Trade Center. “Should this happen, we will stand firmly against whoever committed this horrific crime against innocent civilians.”

However, Osama bin Laden, the late al Qaeda leader, admitted his terror group’s involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks in a videotaped message in October 2004.

Actions and rhetoric

Mr. Morsi, 60, has long been regarded as one of the Brotherhood’s more conservative leaders. He was instrumental in sidelining Mr. Aboul Fotouh and other reformist voices within the group.

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About the Author

Ben Birnbaum

Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.

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