9/11 Cultwatch in Dumfries

By Paul Stott |

The bulk of the 9/11 Cultwatch talk at Glasgow University concentrated on the 9/11 Cultwatch paper presented to Loughborough University in September.

However, the organisers in Dumfries requested some additional information as regards background, methodology and motivations. These comments are reproduced below:

What This Talk Is

My talk is about the 9/11 ‘truth’ movement – very simply those groups, individuals and organisations who reject the view of Al Qaeda responsibility for the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks in the US. This is not a talk about 9/11 itself, or US foreign policy or Osama Bin Laden. What I will focus on is 9/11 and the Muslim world, the anti-semitism of the 9/11 truth movement and finally the offspring that 9/11 truth is nuturing – for example the 7/7 truth movement.


Two things motivated my interest in the 9/11 ‘truth’ movement. I’d been writing for many years for a magazine called Notes From the Borderland. NFB had taken a long term interest in two former MI5 officers – David Shayler and Annie Machon, who had fallen out with the Security Service and launched new careers as public figures. 

We were unhappy at the naive and unquestioning welcome many in left/liberal circles gave them, especially when they offered no substantive information on the disruption of radical political groups by the police and security services, and worse their main argument seemed to be for a more efficient MI5.

In 2005 Machon and Shayler abruptly left the anti-war movement and moved into 9/11 truth circles, even though both had written articles on the dangers of Islamist terrorism, using 9/11 as an example. Something did not ring true.

The second motivation  was the behaviour of 9/11 truth activists themselves, particularly at the 2005 Anarchist Bookfair, where they used a high degree of subterfuge, coupled with intimidation on the day, to get David Shayler and Annie Machon into an event they would never otherwise have been allowed to enter.

Something was clearly happening here, and if we did not comment on it, no one else would?


My colleague Larry O’Hara likes to use the term ‘oppositional observation’. For many years now he and I have gone to 9/11 truth meetings, spoken to their members and debated on their Internet forums. We have interviewed disillusioned truthers, and been hissed and booed by those still active in the truth movement. I have now seen nearly all of the truth movements main speakers – certainly those who have visited the UK.

We have attempted to move beyond the truth movements obsession with the Internet, trying to keep a handle on the ever shifting volume of books on Islamist terrorism and 9/11, with a desire wherever possible to look at primary sources. Whatever its faults, people do need to read the 9/11 Commission Report, they do need to look at Bin Laden’s statements since 9/11 (how many truthers have looked at either?) and they do need to compare the shifting comments of some 9/11 truthers, especially as the truth industry continues to grow.


When I spoke at Loughborough University, one questionner rightly pointed out that in my paper there were few sources from ‘radical’ publications. In a way, I am a bit of a lone wolf in the developing field of Terrorism Studies, and even more so in writing critically about Islamist organisations.

Many of those writing on this subject come from political backgrounds sympathetic to the security industry (e.g. the school at St Andrews University) or from left/liberal gackgrounds, perhaps journals such as Race & Class, where society is usually see through a prism where the only real evils come from the West, and the United States in particular. 

I have issue with both of those traditions.