The Magazine

Jew-Hatred and Jihad

The Nazi roots of the 9/11 attack.

Sep 17, 2007, Vol. 13, No. 01 • By MATTHIAS KüNTZEL
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The idea of using suicide pilots to obliterate the skyscrapers of Manhattan originated in 1940s Berlin. "In the latter stages of the war, I never saw Hitler so beside himself as when, as if in a delirium, he was picturing to himself and to us the downfall of New York in towers of flame," wrote Albert Speer in his diary. "He described the skyscrapers turning into huge burning torches and falling hither and thither, and the reflection of the disintegrating city in the dark sky."

Not only Hitler's fantasy but also his plan of action foreshadowed September 11: He envisioned having kamikaze pilots fly light aircraft packed with explosives and with no landing gear into Manhattan skyscrapers. The drawings for the Daimler-Benz Amerikabomber from the spring of 1944 show giant four-engine planes with raised undercarriages for transporting small bombers. The bombers would be released shortly before the planes reached the East Coast, after which the mother plane would return to Europe.

Hitler's rapture at the thought of Manhattan in flames indicates his underlying motive: not merely to fight a military adversary, but to kill all Jews everywhere. Possessed of the notion that the whole of the Second World War was a struggle against an imaginary Jewish enemy, he deemed "the USA a Jewish state" and New York the center of world Jewry. "Wall Street," as a popular book published in Munich in 1919 put it, "is, so to speak, the Military Headquarters of Judas. From there his threads radiate out across the entire world." From 1941 on, Hitler pushed to get the bombers into production, in order to "be able to teach the Jews a lesson in the form of terror attacks on American metropolises." Towards the end of the war this idea became an obsession.

Sixty years later, it so happens, the assault on the World Trade Center was coordinated from Germany. Mohamed Atta, the Egyptian who piloted the plane that struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center; Marwan al--Shehhi, from the United Arab Emirates, who steered the plane into the South Tower; Ziad Jarrah, from Lebanon, who crashed United Airlines Flight 93 near Shanksville, Pennsylvania; and their friends Ramzi Binalshibh, a Yemeni, and the Moroccan student Mounir al-Motassedeq had formed an al Qaeda cell in Hamburg, where they held regular "Koran circle" meetings with sympathizers.

What ideas propelled Atta and the others to act? Witnesses provided part of the answer at the world's first 9/11-related trial, the prosecution of al-Motassedeq, which took place in Hamburg between October 2002 and February 2003. One participant in the Koran circle meetings, Shahid Nickels, said Atta's Weltanschauung was based on a "National Socialist way of thinking." Atta was convinced that the Jews were striving for world domination and considered New York City the center of world Jewry, which was, in his opinion, Enemy No. 1. Fellow students who lived in Motassedeq's dormitory testified that he shared these views and waxed enthusiastic about a forthcoming "big action." One student quoted Motassedeq as saying, "The Jews will burn and in the end we will dance on their graves."

Amazingly, neither the American media nor the international press took much notice of this testimony, largely refusing to report on Atta's and Motassedeq's explicit Jew-hatred. The above quotations come from the weekly Der Spiegel and from the detailed notes of the trial taken by journalist Michael Eggers, who attended every session and wrote about it for Reuters. If this had been the trial of a Ku Klux Klan member or someone from the far right such as Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, reports of Nazi-like dreams of exterminating the Jews would probably have made the headlines. But in this case, involving attackers of Arab background, journalists apparently found the issue irrelevant. Moreover, this Jew-hatred was no quirk of the Hamburg cell. Osama bin Laden himself declared in 1998, "The enmity between us and the Jews goes back far in time and is deep rooted. There is no question that war between us is inevitable. . . . The Hour of Resurrection shall not come before Muslims fight Jews."