9/11 conspiracy theories thrive 10 years on
Washington: For some Americans, the deaths of nearly 3,000 people was not the scariest thing about 9/11. It was realising who carried out the attacks: yes, the American government.
Defying countless official and non-governmental enquiries, media reporting, and often common sense, a significant number of people fervently disbelieve that Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda sent 19 hijackers to execute the September 11, 2001 massacre.
Instead, elements within George W Bush's administration -- or perhaps Israeli agents -- used pre-placed explosives and missiles to blow up the World Trade Centre and Pentagon.
A relatively milder version is that the US government didn't actually blow up its citizens, but knew full well the attacks were coming, then did nothing to stop them.
In both cases, the reasoning is that Bush's team sought to justify the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a domestic clampdown on civil liberties.
Wild as they might sound, the conspiracy theorists are not just some tiny fringe.
A 2006 Scripps Howard poll found 36 percent of Americans believed in some form of government 9/11 conspiracy. Other polls have found widespread support not only in the Arab world, but also in France, where a book called "Horrifying Fraud" sold 200,000 copies shortly after 9/11.
Even a decade later, the conspiracy movement is alive and kicking in the United States.
Groups such as Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice, or Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, see themselves as serious researchers exposing perhaps the biggest cover-up in US history.
In fact the real loonies, says David Ray Griffin, author of "The New Pearl Harbor" and "Cognitive Infiltration”, are those who believe the government version about the World Trade Centre and Pentagon.
"If we define miracles as a violation of scientific principles, in particular the principles of physics and chemistry, there are about a dozen miracles in the official story," he told KPFA, a liberal radio station in California.
A summary of the leading theories is contained in "Loose Change”, a homemade documentary viewed nearly 125 million times on Google and some 30 million worldwide on YouTube, according to director Dylan Avery.
Splicing news footage and interviews, all set to a catchy music beat, "Loose Change" collates and expands on all the urban legends about 9/11.