“Is it possible to believe the official version, from the US government, of the events of 11 September 2001?” wrote journalist Noha Al-Sharnoubi in Al-Ahram, a major national Egyptian newspaper owned by the government.
Ms Al-Sharnoubi said the World Trade Centre and Pentagon attacks could have been premeditated to “justify the war on terror” in her column, published on 23 August.
She also cast doubt over the veracity of the actions of the so-called Islamic State, alleging the extremist group could have been made up to “trick” the world and validate US foreign policy.
Ms Al-Sharnoubi does not appear to shy away from controversial subjects. Her weekly column has recently discussed issues such as burkini bans, French military involvement in Libya and whether it is acceptable to sacrifice chickens, duck and geese.
According to an English translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri), Ms Al-Sharnoubi wrote: “Is it a coincidence that the commanders of the September 11 attack trained at American flight schools?”
“Is it conceivable that four hijacked planes flew around so freely, penetrated US airspace and hit the towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon one by one, with an interval of 15 minutes and 30 minutes between the attacks,” she added.
“All this took place without the Americans targeting the planes and downing them, despite all their intelligence, satellites and radars?
“Or was the whole thing planned [in advance] in order to justify the war on terror, the [first] episode of which [later] began in Iraq?”
Ms Al-Sharnoubi also questioned the contents of Isis propaganda videos, suggesting the militant group could be “another story that was prepared in advance [by the West] to justify the devastation, partitioning and occupation” of Middle Eastern countries.
“Does it make sense that most Isis members are foreigners [i.e., Western nationals], unless ISIS is another story that was prepared in advance [by the West] to justify the devastation, partitioning and occupation [of countries] that is taking place and will continue to take place in the Middle East?” she wrote, according to Memri.
“Those who are murdered and [then] accused of perpetrating terror attacks in the West – are they the real culprits?
“[Perhaps Western] intelligence elements are behind the attacks and the bombings, and later Muslim citizens are arrested and killed and simply accused of perpetrating [the attacks] in order to justify what is happening in the Arab countries in the name of the war on terror, and in order to justify the plan to persecute the Muslims in the U.S. and Europe and expel them? Have we really been deceived, and continue to be deceived, to such an extent?!”
Egypt is listed as number 159 out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.
According to the report, “journalists are obliged on national security grounds to report only the official version of ‘terrorist’ attacks” under an anti-terrorism law passed in 2015.