The 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon were a horrific event that spawned a panoply of rumors and conspiracy theories, perhaps greater in number and scope than those prompted by any other event in human history. On the 14th anniversary of that tragic occurrence, we present a list of the ten most widely circulated entries from our collection of 9/11-related items.
This claim about French physician and astrologer Nostradamus’ supposedly having predicted the September 11 attacks is the granddaddy of all 9/11 rumors, the first one to hit big and go viral, winging its way all over the Internet by the end of that awful day.
We all wanted to believe in, and be reassured by, the thought of courageous rescuers risking their own lives to gallantly save countless souls from the burning, shattered buildings of the World Trade Center on 9/11. This popular tale of one such putative rescuer by the name of Daisy tugged at heartstrings all the more for featuring a canine hero.
Tales of Arabs living in America supposedly celebrating the 9/11 attacks were legion in the aftermath of September 11, and the “Budweiser Story” legend resonated with many people for its plot of a beer distributor striking back against such celebrants.
For two months after the 9/11 attacks, the Internet was tantalized by an image of a jetliner bearing down on a doomed tourist standing atop a World Trade Center observation deck. Long after the photo was debunked as a digital manipulation, the burning question remained: Just who was the ‘tourist guy’ pictured in that image?
One of the more bizarre post-9/11 rumors held that Microsoft’s Webdings and Wingdings fonts included hidden anti-Semitic and 9/11-referential messages.
Rumors of potential schemes for future terrorist attacks were rampant after 9/11, and one of the most prominent held that a large number of “missing” UPS uniforms had been acquired by persons with bad intentions.
7) Atta Boy
Finger-pointing was a common pastime after 9/11, and one popular partisan political rumor sought to blame either Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan for insisting that Israel release convicted bus bomber Mohammed Atta from life imprisonment, thus freeing him to mastermind the September 11 attacks years later.
From the “We should have listened” file: Popular rumor claimed that back in 1987 Col. Oliver North had warned Congress that Osama bin Laden was “the most evil person alive” and advocated his assassination, but Congress didn’t heed him. But that wasn’t really what he said.
Every September since 2009 has seen the circulation of a signed displayed by Perfume Planet store at the Harwin Central Mart in Houston, Texas, supposedly informing customers that the store would be closed on September 11 to honor one of the terrorists martyred in the 9/11 attacks.
Many 9/11 conspiracy theories focused on persons or groups who supposedly had foreknowledge of the September 11 attacks. The most prevalent rumor of this ilk held that 4,000 Israelis employed in the World Trade Center all mysteriously stayed home from work on September 11.