Publicity-hungry Dr M accuses US of staging 9/11

In a move dismissed by his detractors as a publicity stunt with perhaps a calculated ulterior motive, former premier Mahathir Mohamad has accused the United States of staging the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001.

By Wong Choon Mei, Harakah

“As usual, Dr Mahathir is trying to seeking international attention,” Tian Chua, PKR strategist, told Harakahdaily. “On the other hand, it might be a deliberate move, calculated to warn Prime Minister Najib Razak not to be too friendly with the US.”

“It is indeed a strange time to rehash this particular conspiracy theory. Frankly, this has been the talk since the attacks occurred in 2001. Why is Mahathir helping himself to this story after all these years is anyone’s guess but definitely, there must be elements of self-interest,” Dr Syed Azman, head of PAS international bureau, told Harakahdaily.

The 85-year Mahathir, who ruled Malaysia with a fist of iron from 1981 to 2003, was delivering a speech at the General Conference for the Support of Al-Quds (the Arabic name for Jerusalem), which is being held in Kuala Lumpur.

“In September 2001, the World Trade Centre was attacked allegedly by terrorists. I am not sure now that Muslim terrorists carried out these attacks. There is strong evidence that the attacks were staged. If they can make Avatar, they can make anything,” Mahathir said.

“Killing innocent people to provide an excuse for war is not new to the US but whether the real or staged 9/11 attacks have served the United States and Western countries well. They have an excuse to mount attacks on the Muslim world,” he added.

Who’s hypocritical?

But political watchers point out that during his own 22-year rule, Mahathir did not hesitate to roll out the red carpet or to close an eye to big business dealings with Washington. The US is Malayisa’s top trading partner and has been so for decades.

“This is Dr M. He will just shoot off his mouth and accuse others of hypocrisy. He will lash out at the US and try to play hero to the Islamic world. But frankly, how much does the Islamic world acknowledge him,” said Syed Azman.

“While he screams at US injustice and blind support for the Zionist Israel, he still opens our doors wide to business ties. He still paid huge sums to lobbyists just so they can arrange a meeting with former president George W Bush. Is this consistent or is this sheer hypocrisy?

“PAS has always been critical of US foreign policy and favoritism towards Israel. We have never shifted our stand and are not afraid to condemn fairly and openly. We have made it clear that so long as the US does not change its attitude towards Israel, the Muslim world will never be comfortable with it.”

Time to let go

Mahathir also expressed disappointment in President Barack Obama, who celebrates his first year in office today. “I am disappointed with him. He has failed. He did not keep his word,” said the Malaysian leader, who was once described as a ‘recalcitrant’ by former Australian prime minister Paul Keating.

More recently, Mahathir has been the object of interest of another Australian – former Asian Wall Street Journal managing editor Barry Wain. In his book Malaysian Maverick, Wain accused Mahathir of squandering US$100 billion on corrupt and wasteful mega deals.

Despite retiring in 2003, Mahathir has not been shy to offer advice to his successors. Whilst insisting that he did not wish for any Cabinet position – such as the Minister Mentor post created for Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew – he has been quick to take offense when his advice was not heeded.

His immediate successor Abdullah Badawi bore the brunt of his anger and ridicule. According to political watchers, Najib – who took over from Abdullah in 2009 – is now feeling the same sort of heat.

Like Abdullah, they believe the 56-year old Najib may also buckle under relentless pressure from Mahathir not to change the system or style of governance that he laid down during his two decades long tenure.

However, such adherence would certainly restrict the broad ranging reforms needed by Malaysia to stay in the global game. Mahathir, who commands the respect of the hardliners in their nationalist Umno party, still wields considerable influence in the government machinery. But many believe he has overstayed his welcome.

“His politics is the politics of yesteryears. The world has changed and he should let go gracefully,” said Tian.