The War On Freedom: How and Why America was Attacked September 11, 2001 by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed (Tree of Life), 400 pages, $19.95 paper. Rating: NNN
Two months before September 11, Osama bin Laden flew to the Arab emirate of Dubai, where he checked into the American Hospital for kidney treatment. During his 10-day stay, one of his visitors was the local CIA agent. What the two men talked about remains, to this day, unknown.This story first appeared in the French newspaper Le Figaro, and is one of many tantalizing bits of history connected to the World Trade Center's destruction. Such revelations make up the backbone of The War On Freedom, a new book that lays out an alternative history to the accepted explanation for what happened a year ago this week.
British political scientist Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed's thesis is that the U.S. political, military and intelligence establishment played a role in the terrorist attack, with the ultimate purpose of waging war in Afghanistan to secure the region's oil and gas supplies and giving the Bush administration draconian new powers to stifle dissent.
It should be said that this is not a new assertion. It emerged on the Web soon after September 11, and its local champions include Barrie Zwicker, Vision TV's media critic.
In any hands, the idea alleges a massive conspiracy. Ahmed examines U.S. ties to the Taliban, bin Laden and the September 11 terrorists themselves, along with the Bush family's links to Saudi Arabia, where most of the terrorists came from. He discusses the many ignored warnings that an attack was imminent, as well as what he considers the mysterious failure of the U.S. air defence system to prevent the planes from reaching their targets on September 11.
The problem is that this book contains no original reporting and is based entirely on previously published newspaper, academic and other accounts.
Consequently, it repeats many factual errors. For example, while it's true that the American energy company Unocal signed an agreement in 1998 with the Taliban to build a natural gas pipeline across Afghanistan, it gave up the project in 1998 because of political instability and now pipes Caspian oil to the Mediterranean.
Despite its flaws, Ahmed raises an array of important political and historical issues that should be discussed.
He just goes one conspiratorial step further than the research actually suggests.
Bruce Livesey is a reporter for The Fifth Estate.