Tonight's Conspiracy Files: 7/7 examined some of the alternative "answers" proffered mainly by the conspiracy film 7/7 Ripple Effect. Like all conspiracy theories it picks on alleged inconsistencies in the official narrative, exposes them and spins off all kinds of conclusions - most usually in the complete absence of any evidence.
A typical example of conspiracy theorising comes courtesy of Dr Mohammad Naseem of Birmingham Central Mosque. He, like a reported one in four British Muslims, doubts that four young Muslim men met at Luton station early on July 7th, 2005 and went on to murder 52 people and injure a further 780 between 8.50 and 9.50 that morning. One item that planted the seed of doubt in his mind (leaving aside, of course, the desire of wanting to believe the British government were behind the atrocities) was the retrieval of documents identifying the bombers from the scene. He reckoned these could not have withstood an explosive force responsible for the bomb damage. They had to be like the hijacker's passport recovered from the scene of the Twin Towers: planted evidence (yes, Dr Naseem is a 9/11 Truth'er too). That both attacks used similar documentation to establish the identities of the terrorists is too much of a coincidence - it had to be an inside job. The more sensible explanation that the bombers left documentation nearby identifying themselves (after all, they wanted the world to know what they had done) does not appear to trouble the good doctor.
A second string to the idea 7/7 was an inside job is Tony Blair's statement, delivered eight hours after the bombings. He noted:
I welcome the statement put out by the Muslim Council who know that those people acted in the name of Islam but who also know that the vast and overwhelming majority of Muslims, here and abroad, are decent and law-abiding people who abhor this act of terrorism every bit as much as we do.Did you see what Tony Blair did? He mentioned Islam before any evidence had been recovered implicating the four men. It might have been politically unwise to immediately and publicly assume Muslim extremists were behind the bombs, but nevertheless it was a reasonable assumption to make thanks to Blair's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However for Ripple Effect this was no heat of the moment slip but damning evidence he had foreknowledge of the attacks.
And so the charges go on. The official report originally claimed the bombers caught the 7:40 train from Luton, but it was later discovered not to have run. A miscommunication on the part of the police? Or evidence of a lazy cover story, as the Holocaust-denying Nick Kollerstom likes to claim? And how about that dodgy CCTV? (drag down to the fourth chapter title). Are the railings that appear through the face and body of one of the bombers evidence of fakery - as Kollerstrom claims - or a result of taking stills from a low resolution camera?
Another absurdity spun by Ripple Effect is its belief the bombs were planted beneath the train. This is based on eyewitness interviews with The Graun that claimed the explosions appeared to erupt from under the floor. The film argues these were set off remotely and the men then framed. There are a couple of problems with this thesis. First, according to the testimony of 7/7 survivor, Rachel North the trains were packed that morning - so much so two went by her before she could get on. Presumably our shadowy conspirators knew this too - so they must have had preternatural cunning to guess in advance which trains the "patsies" were going to board. Second, it turned out the eyewitness statements were contradicted by those closer to the explosion, who said the opposite. Plus all photos of the craters left behind show the direction of the explosions pointing downwards. But best not let the facts get in the way of the theory, eh?
These are just some of the theories comprehensively debunked in the documentary. Unfortunately, as I've noted before programmes of this sort are required viewing for socialists because of the influence organised conspiracy-mongers try and exert in radical and anti-war politics. But this is not the only danger. Rachel North has taken a stand against the conspiratorial accounts of 7/7. Not only does she find it disgusting and upsetting to be told her experience is not valid and that criticising the truth'ers makes her a government stooge, an islamophobe and a zionist, she believes the conspiracy theories help legitimate the arguments of extremists in Muslim communities. Ripple Effect's claim 7/7 was orchestrated by the British government and/or MI5 and Mossad to demonise Muslims and win support for an unpopular war is music to extremist ears.
Everyone leaning toward the conspirtorial understanding of 7/7 should see this documentary. I'm pretty sure anyone who doesn't believe the evidence presented here by the BBC is part of the cover up will find the case for the official account compelling.
Lenin once likened nationalism to the outer shell of an immature Bolshevism, and the same could be said of conspiracy theorising. Raising doubts and subjecting government pronouncements to detailed critique is welcome in as far as they illuminate what's really going on. Unfortunately the weaving of conspiracies on the flimsiest of pretexts wraps existing accounts and evidence in an extra layer of mystification, which can by association serve to discredit genuine criticisms of a government's or institution's actions over a particular matter. It also offers nothing but a council of despair. They conceive history not as a set of complex social processes as Marxists do, but as the outcomes of an unceasing sequence of manipulations by an all-powerful shadowy elite. If they can assassinate JFK, fake the moon landings and pull off the 9/11 attacks, what hope for their overthrow? As a radical and anti-establishment narrative, the conspiratorial view of history is risible, potentially dangerous and should be shown no quarter.