- Associated Press - Thursday, September 29, 2011

CAIRO — Al Qaeda has sharply criticized Iran’s president over his suggestions that the U.S. government was behind the Sept. 11 attacks and not al Qaeda, dismissing the comments as “ridiculous.”

During his trip to New York last week for the U.N. General Assembly, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed in an interview with the Associated Press that explosive material and not planes brought down the World Trade Center.

He stopped short of saying the United States staged the disaster, but said that as an engineer, he’s sure New York’s twin towers were not brought down by jetliners.

“A few airplanes without previous coordination known to the security forces and the intelligence community in the United States cannot become missiles and target the heart of the United States,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said.

In an article posted online Wednesday in the terror network’s English-language Internet magazine Inspire, al Qaeda rejected the Iranian leader’s suggestions.

“Why would Iran ascribe to such a ridiculous belief that stands in the face of all logic and evidence?” asked the article’s author, Abu Suhail.

He said Iran wants to portray itself as a country that stands up to the U.S.

“For Iran, anti-Americanism is merely a game of politics. It is anti-American when its suits it, and it is a collaborator with the U.S. when it suits it,” Abu Suhail said.

He cited several examples of when Iran allegedly cooperated with the U.S., including in the invasion of Afghanistan. He also said the Shiites in Iraq, who are supported by Iran, “brought the American forces to the country and welcome them with open arms.”

Abu Suhail said Iran is jealous of al Qaeda’s “success” in the Sept. 11 attacks, saying that because Tehran couldn’t strike at the U.S. itself, the Iranians want to “to discredit Sept. 11 and what better way to do so than conspiracy theories.”

He said Iran and the Shiites opposed giving al Qaeda credit for the 9/11 attacks “because this would expose their lip-service to jihad [holy war] against the Great Satan,” a term Iranian officials have used to describe the U.S.

Al Qaeda mainly embraces Sunni militants, and is bitterly hostile toward Shiites, who make up the vast majority of Iran.

Late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in his many audio and video messages praised the attacks several times. In 2004 he publicly acknowledged al Qaeda’s involvement and two years later asserted his responsibility for the attacks in an audio message defending Zacarias Moussaoui, who was on trial for his participation in the attacks.

In the U.S., the National Institute of Standards and Technology conducted a probe that took six years to complete of the tower collapses. The last report found that fire caused the collapse of 7 World Trade Center, a skyscraper north of the twin towers.

In the case of the twin towers, the agency found that extreme heat from the jetliner crashes caused some steel beams to lose strength, causing further failures until the entire structure succumbed.

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