by Grant Smith of antiwar.com
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump set off a firestorm when he claimed that “thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.” Trump was referring to the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001. Debunkers subsequently swept in, such as Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post, quoting Trump “doubling down” and insisting that “There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population, that were cheering as the buildings came down. Not good.”
No, not good, if it were the product of a real memory. But Trump’s recollection does not appear to be a real memory, though it contained a germ of truth.
In a series of updates to his “debunking” story Kessler then referred to reporting of “FBI probes in northern New Jersey after the attacks, saying in the 15th paragraph that ‘law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river.’” Kessler avers that “The reporters who wrote the story do not recall whether the allegations were ever confirmed.”
No need for their memories either. The story the Washington Post and others left behind did not die. It was confirmed. According to FBI files released in 2013 in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, not only were five individuals arrested for their suspiciously “joyous celebration” of the 9/11 twin towers attack, they indeed did so from a perfect vantage point in New Jersey. In subsequent FBI interviews and polygraphs, the detained individuals, many who overstayed visas after entering the U.S., “showed deception” when asked about whether they were involved in undercover operations or intelligence gathering. They were ultimately released back to their country of origin.
However, none of these FBI files or the uncomfortable questions they raise is of any use to Trump, the mainstream media “debunkers” or the growing post-Paris movement dedicated to casting suspicions on Arabs or Muslims as possible terrorist conspirators. That is because the highly documented five celebrants – later joined by two more from the same company apprehended after giving false information to law enforcement – were not Arab or Muslim.
The celebrants were – as noted here – all Israelis.