In its weekly “al-Masrā” newspaper, Ansar al-Sharia released an article claiming to tell the “untold story” behind the 2001 plot that killed almost 3,000 people at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania.
Just under two years before, EgyptAir Flight 990 had crashed into the Atlantic Ocean during its journey from Los Angeles to Cairo, killing all 217 people on board – almost half of them Americans.
Egyptian investigators insisted mechanical failure was the cause but the US National Transportation Safety Board found that co-pilot Gameel Al-Batouti had deliberately downed the plane, continually repeating “Tawkalt ala Allah“ - I put my trust in God – as it plummeted.
Despite speculation over terrorism, his family and friends said he had no strong beliefs and sources said it may have been suicide or revenge against EgyptAir following disciplinary action.
Bin Laden, then the head of al-Qaeda, was apparently less interested in the motive than in how the disaster could be developed into a deadly new strategy.
On hearing about the EgyptAir crash, al-Masra claimed he asked: ”Why didn’t he crash it into a building?“
The article, published by the Jihadology website and seen by The Independent, claims that moment was the origin of the 9/11 plot.
But it says it was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, identified as the “principal architect” of the terror attacks by the 9/11 Commission Report, who had the idea to use planes from the US.
The pair then “summoned the brothers who had passports…and then sent them to America to be trained to fly planes”, the article continued, naming hijackers from American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175, American Airlines Flight 77 and United Airlines Flight 93 among those to receive pilot training.
Al-Masra is released by Ansar al-Sharia, which is an alias for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
The US State Department said it was established to attract more followers in an attempt for the group to “rebrand itself (and) manipulate people to join its terrorist cause” in Yemen.
Ansar al-Sharia has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks on Yemeni soldiers and security forces, as well as suicide bombings, as it continues to fight a bloody insurgency in the country’s ongoing civil war.