ZAHN: We have all heard some absolutely incredible 9/11 conspiracy theories.
The web of course is full of them. But tonight we're bringing one out that
feeds on racism out in the open. We were absolutely shocked by one recent poll
that found out that one in every three Americans believe the terror attacks
were not the work of America's enemies, but some sort of inside job.
And Deborah Feyerick found a smaller percentage who believe an even
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This 9/11 attack was not by 19 Arabs. It was not by Muslims.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):
They talk about a Jewish plot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everywhere you look you find a Zionist agent.
FEYERICK: A conspiracy by Zionist Israeli intelligence or by Zionist moles
in the Bush administration allegedly calling the shots in the Middle East.
Websites, magazines, documentaries, radio programs, dozens of them disputing
the fact that al Qaeda was behind the 9/11 attacks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was done by a group of Zionists.
FEYERICK: Are you suggesting that al Qaeda had nothing to do with it,
that this was all part of a large conspiracy, Zionist or otherwise?
CHRISTOPHER BOLLYN, WRITER: Al Qaeda is in my opinion -- has been exploited.
I question whether such a group even exists.
FEYERICK: Chicago writer Christopher Bollyn is one of the conspiracy theorists.
BOLLYN: I believe that there are Israeli elements that are connected to the
Mossad, that are involved in this attack.
FEYERICK: There's no physical evidence to support claims that Jews were behind
9/11, but the speculation and rumors, mostly discounted here in the U.S.,
have gained momentum in Muslim countries where they're discussed and believed.
Deborah Lauder is with the Jewish run Anti-Defamation League.
DEBORAH LAUTER, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: What's most puzzling is when it
reaches the Internet and goes into the Muslim-Arab world, we have this
cross-fertilization of hate and this is something we've never seen before.
FEYERICK: A whole web of beliefs has grown to support this conspiracy theory.
Listen to these Americans interviewed on Iranian television.
VOICE OF ERIC HUFSCHMID: This is a big plot to take control of us,
to start war.
FEYERICK: One of the beliefs is that some 4,000 Israelis or Jews
in the New York City area were warned by instant messages not to go to work
on 9/11. For Wilton Sekzer, a retired police sergeant who is Jewish,
the claim is outrageous.
WILTON SEKZER, FATHER OF WTC 9/11 VICTIM: The remains consistent of a piece
of bone two and a half inches long and about an inch long, about the size
of your index finger.
FEYERICK: And that's all they ever found?
SEKZER: That's all they ever found.
FEYERICK: Sekzer's son Jason died in the towers. He says Jason received
no warning. Neither did some 400 Jews who died in the tragedy.
SEKZER: Give me the names of the 4,000 Jews who stayed home. Show me something.
There is nothing to show. This is a total, ridiculous, asinine rumor that
was started by anti-Semites.
MARK POTOK, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: I think the conspiracy theories
in general really do work a bit like a game of telephone. They are told
and retold and tend to get more and more far out in the telling.
FEYERICK: When you imply that somehow Israelis were involved in the attack
on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, people are going to look at you,
critics will say you are an anti-Semite. Are you?
BOLLYN: No, I'm not an anti-Semite. This is the main charge that's leveled
against me and has been for years, even before 9/11, because I am a critic
of Zionist policies.
LAUTER: That's a very common technique among anti-Semites.
They will twist things. I'm not an anti-Semite. I just believe XYZ.
FEYERICK: Anti-Semitic or not, the question now, will this 9/11 conspiracy
theory become like the Kennedy assassination, analyzed for generations
as an unsolved mystery? Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.
ZAHN: Time to check with our out in the open panel. I'm sure they have
plenty to say about this. Lauren, Michael, Deroy, welcome back. All right.
So let's start with the resident Jew on our panel here. You hear this stuff
and it just makes you sick to your stomach. There is absolutely no evidence
that anybody, other than al Qaeda, was involved with this attack.
How upsetting is this to you?
GROSS: Look, we've been kicked around for 2,000 years. The face you're
looking at has got a lot of anger in it because of that. That's not a way
to live, wandering around the globe never having a home. It's pretty difficult
because every time there's trouble, we're scapegoated.
We're not the only ones that are scapegoated, but we're scapegoated by people
who are frightened. They don't care. They are paranoid.
You can't debunk this theory. It's madness as well as idiocy to think that
the Jews brought down the World Trade Center on 9/11, but you cannot argue
logic to someone who is mentally ill. What frightens me is that the
whole nation is frightened and that fear is being fueled
by this administration and by the media -- not you, just the opposite.
I congratulate you and I'm grateful for you seriously, to bring this stuff out,
because it is in those times that Jews like other minorities better get scared,
better get angry, better fight for what's right and try and convince people
courage is the cure for paranoia, not racism.
ZAHN: Is this just a smear campaign for anti-Semites?
MURDOCK: I agree with Michael. The blame the Jews theme is something
that goes back about 2,000 years. It's a really hardy varietal.
But look, I mean we know who pulled off 9/11. Richard Minard (ph)
writes about it in his book, the disinformation. He quotes directly
from Osama bin Laden who says on a tape we found,
we calculated an advanced the number of casualties from the enemy
who would be killed based on the position of the tower.
We had notification since the previous Thursday that the event would
take place that day, unquote, says Osama bin Laden himself.
LAKE: We have a government that has led us into a war and most Americans,
even the smartest of us, sit around and go why, again, are we here in the war?
When there are blanks, we often fill in the blanks and those blanks are filled
in by misinformation, urban legends.
We create stories and people believe things.
ZAHN: You're talking about a very unpopular war. We're talking about 9/11.
LAKE: What I'm talking about is the war is based upon what our government
told us, this fear that we have from 9/11.
GROSS: This will get worse as the unrest in the Middle East gets worse.
This problem will not go away. The reason it wasn't go away is because
we don't have an administration as we once did that said and counseled us,
we have nothing to fear but fear itself. We have just the opposite.
We have an administration that fuels fear, that puts up the sign every day
that tells us be frightened, stay scared, be worried, and so we are suspicious.
We are xenophobic and we don't like anybody that's different from us.
ZAHN: How concerned are you that these conspiracy theories will take
even deeper hold?
MURDOCK: Look, I think it's entirely possible. The kind of people who
are spreading this sort of stuff will continue to blame the Jews
for anything that can go wrong. I think it's very important as this
war on terror continues to point out exactly who the bad guys are
which are Islamo-fascists who want you, you, you and me dead and want people
dead around the country and they're engaged in tremendous violence,
killing thousands all around the world starting even before 9/11.
The '93 attack, the attack on the U.S.S. Cole. This is a really serious enemy
and we need to identify it and we need to educate people.
LAKE: That's my point. There are reasons why people are open to belief
theories and these reasons will not change unless our government more actively
works to inform us of what the real truth is so people are not just playing
ZAHN: Lauren Lake, Michael Gross, Deroy Murdock, fascinating discussion.
Your anger was palpable during that piece as well. Well understood.
Larry king live is coming up just in a few minutes. Hey Larry.
You're going to talk to the owners of Barbaro tonight?
LARRY KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, well, who wouldn't be angry
with that last story?
ZAHN: I know. I know, but it's astonishing, wasn't it, the statistic that
one in three Americans believe not that particular conspiracy theory,
but one of many?
KING: The old Goebbels theory, you tell a lie long enough, more people will
believe it. ...