On WTC destruction and professional bias

Why Mohammed Atta should have assumed the planes would bring down the towers of the World Trade Center?

Even if the conclusion of the NIST-Report is valid and planes could have brought down the towers of the World Trade Center – the Attackers did not know about this possibility. Naturally, the report was not available prior to the attacks. Prior to the attacks experts deemed any attempt fruitless to bring down the towers by the means of planes.

This post uses popular language. It avoids mathematics. A follow-up (german language only) does use Mathematics (Bayes-Theorem) to attribute numbers (=probabilities) to relevant possibilities (=hypothesis). A german version of this post can be found here.

When the Towers collapsed, it was obvious to experts that there existed two reasonable explanations:

  1. The Towers collapsed because of the planes
  2. the Towers were destroyed by a controlled demolition.

Strong evidence in favour of the first explanation: The planes crashed into the Towers. Strong evidence in favour of the second explanation: The Towers came down. Controlled demolitions were known to be the only way to bring down the towers. The man who explained this in 1993, John Skilling, was expert on the matter. He explained it to Eric Nalder, Seattle Times, who has won pulitzer prices. In Journalism, Pulitzer prices are like Oscars in acting. Nalder was a serious guy and he felt sure when he choose following headline: Twin Towers Engineered To Withstand Jet Collision.

A proper criminal investigation would have focussed on two hypothesis:

  1. did John Skilling made an error? If so, what would be the probability of a plane to bring down a Tower?
  2. Has there been a controlled demolition? If so, for what purpose the planes?

Regarding the first option, NIST made much effort to find theoretical possibilities how fire caused by planes could have brought down Towers. But NIST neither discussed nor answered the Probability of this outcome (would one in a Million trials succeed or one in two trials?)

The second option, seemingly, never has been discussed seriously. Otherwise some clever kid would have realized: Hey, Mohammed Atta knew about this Interview with John Skilling as well! He knew a plane could not bring down a Tower. But despite of this prior knowledge he flew a plane into one – and then the Tower goes down, which – the experts tell – is impossible???

This reasoning would have replaced a big mistery by an even bigger mistery. But this reasoning would have given further motivation to work on the second hypothesis.

Supposedly the Investigators had a blind spot. A hidden Assumption. That is what I call the strong #Neuland-Assumption:

In 2013 the Internet has been „Neuland“ to Germans, and in 2001 there has been no internet in germany at all. That’s why Mohammed Atta did not have access to the Interview. That’s why he could not study the science on skyscrapers and demolition of skyscrapers. (German Chancellor Merkel first explained the #Neuland-Assumption in 2013. Watch at 2:33 in this video. She explained that the internet was a new and strange territory to the german people in 2013)

Or may be they followed the Dictator in a cave assumption

Usama had no internet in his cave, but he had a Top-Down appoach of dictatorship. The Hamburg cell did a 9 to 5 job waiting for instructions from the man in the cave. No independant reasoning. So they hardly went to the universities library. And as Usama went into the old, dusty library in kabul (no water, no electricity, no books) he did not find any sience on demolition of skyscrapers. So he decided: Let’s try airplanes!

What we know for sure

  • The Towers WTC 1 und WTC 2 were hit by one plane each.
  • WTC 1, WTC 2 and WTC 7 collapsed.
  • Passanger lists of the airplanes, supposed terrorists on board of the airplanes and their biographical data.
  • superabundance of Terrorists and disponible planes. There have been 19 Suiciders and 4 planes available. Apparantly two times more then needed to destroy WTC. The Terrorists gave a clear assertion that they were not short on planes.

plausible assumptions

The following assumptions seem plausible to me. But I cannot deliver formal proof. It is up to the reader to check plausibility of these assumptions and validity of the reasoning which I derive therefrom.

  • There was only one criminal group which conspired to commit enormous crimes.
  • Motivation of the criminals was terrorism. They were terrorists.
  • There was no conspiracy embedded within the obvious conspiracy. There have not been public agents infiltrating the terrorists. There has not been a state organized contribution which enabled the crimes. So the crime did not ressemble the Celler Loch (Wikipedia on celle holereport on this state organized crime in german only)
  • The crimes were not consciously admitted and thus enabled by public agents. So the crime did not ressemble the RAF bombing of a newly built prison in Weiterstadt in 1993. (report on this state enabled crime in german only) I already wrote about consciously admitted terror (in german only) and I cannot proof that the crimes of 11th of september 2001 were not of that sort. But I can find explanations which come without any assumption of state involvement in preparation and execution of the crimes.
  • There was no unknown accidental event which contributed to the action. There was no sort of invisible meteorite.
  • There was no involement of supernatural powers like „god“ or „devil“.
  • The Attackers wanted to destroy WTC. They did not just want to pierce the towers, but they wanted to bring them down. Planecrashes into towers were well known beforehand. Planes already had crashed into skyscrapers without leaving any permanent imprint in collective memory. The attackers wanted to go far beyond the crash of a bomber into the Empire State Building in 1945
  • From attackers point of view an immediate collapse of the Towers would have been more attractive than just causing heavy damage beyond possibility of repair, which consequently would have forced the port authority to demolish the structures afterwards.
  • The Attackers were not hostile toward scientific knowledge. They studied to acquire knowledge, to acquire scientific methods like systematic research methods.
  • The Attackers were not hostile towards media, news and newspapers.

What we can assume to be nearly sure

  • The Attackers studied the subject matter of possible destruction of skyscrapers in general and the World Trade Center in particular.
  • The Attackers did find and read this publication: Twin Towers Engineered To Withstand Jet Collision
  • They learned the (according to NIST: false) knowledge, that controlled demolitions were the only means to bring down the Towers
  • The Attackers decided to focus on controlled demolitions. (Why shouldn’t they have tried to do this?)

In the german only post Engineering scenario I present an estimate of 95% of such a decision. But I did recalculate with much lower assumed propability of such a decision. I showed that really strange assumptions are needed to disregard a controlled demolition as an explanation of the outcome of 3 demolished buildings.


What would habe been the Probability of success regarding an attempt to bring down the Towers by the means of planes?

What would habe been the Probability of success regarding an attempt to bring down the Towers by the means of controlled demolitions?

In case the Terrorists tried controlled demolitions  – what was the purpose of the planes crashing into the buildings?

Possible effects of Attacks

An attack, seemingly executed by the means of planes would send the following message: „look, we can hit you anywere. You cannot protect yourselves.“

An attack, obviously carried out by the means of thermite and explosives would have sent the following message: „we are able to destroy your biggest, most iconic structures. We are able to carry out such elaborate operations.“

From my personal point of view, the former seems even more frightening than the latter.

Reconstruction of development process

As an Engineer I assume the pack of criminal students in engineering solved the technical task like engineers are trained to do. They employed a systematic approach. Search, elaboration and validation of plans until a good plan is found. While starting with simple and obvious plans an engineer would proceed with more complex plans only if neccessary.

Controlled demolitions would have been neither simple nor obvious. But hijacking of commercial aircrafts has been an established means to carry out terrorist attacks. They were a  tool well known to terrorists. Possibly the terrorists already had established some detailed planning on hijackings when they came across John Skillings interview.

This would have been a natural moment to consider alternative means. In case they found a solution based on controlled demolition, they could have dumped the Hijacking effort. But maybe somebody stated: „I don’t like the appearance of this demolition thing. It’s too technical. The plane would be much more beautiful.“ Or: „The plane thing may be a little bit oversized to provoke an evacuation, but it would empty the buildings for hours while diverting any interest from the floors below the fires.“

Assuming a lack of attackers or of planes ready to be hijacked, assisting attacks by the means of planes would seem a Priory improbable. But the known facts hint to an overabundance of planes.

This means:

From the observation of planes crashing into the towers we can not seriously conclude that there were no controlled demolitions. The Hijackings don’t proof that the attackers were a bunch of dumb, uninformed amateurs, who by unmerited luck succeeded in an absurd venture.

To derive conclusions from the biggest piece of evidence – the fact that both towers and the highrise WTC 7 collapsed – one has just to answer the following questions:

  • What was the a Priory probability of Attackers to bring down the structures by the means of planes (Given the fact, that the Hijacking and the flying succeeded well)?
  • What was the a Priory probability of Attackers to bring down the structures by the means of controlled demolition?

Before entering the microscopic level, investigators should have contemplated both questions. My answers to these questions under a variety of different assumtions can be found here. (German only)

official approach

The probability of plane induced fires to bring down the structures may be very small, but it does exist. Thus it must have been the fire!

What can be derived from the unsaid in the NIST-report:

The probability of a controlled demolition attack equals zero. Because of the strong #Neuland-Assumption. Attackers did no research, knew nothing about the Interview and did not have the slightest idea there existed such a thing as a controlled demolition.

more on the NIST-report

The NIST-Report does not discuss probabilities in any meaningful manner. The term „probable“ can be found 27 times. But never the term „probability“. The Term „Bayes“ is missing as well. Don’t the authors know that there exist ways to do calculations regarding probabilities?

The Report does not contain a single statement concerning probabilities in the language of science, of mathematics.

Neither NIST-Rport nor the commissions final report hint to any attempt to reconstruct the attackers level of expertise. Nor did they seriously discuss aims, motivations and strategy based on such reconstructions. The ony known effort in this direction was carried out by George W. Bush himself. He personally constructed a psychological model of the attackers. He simply uttered: „Cowards.“ By contrast, the official report avoids any impression, that the investigators had reasoned on the matter of the attackers psychology. The term „psychological“ appears only one single time, on page 740 of the report, to discuss the following theory: „⌈Usama Bin Laden⌋ wants to inflict maximum casualities, cause massive panic, and score a psychological victory…“ I did not find any other usage of any term containing „psy“ within all the other pages. How hostile an administration must be biased towards the science of psycholgy, if it attributes an interest in this science to its enemy, Usama Bin Laden, and ignores its methods and wisdom throughout the rest of 858 pages of report?

The official efforts seem insufficient in a tragic way. In fact, investigators missed a lead which would have suited to the interests of the US-Administration. If controlled demolitions were needed to bring down WTC, this finding would have supported the official claim that Al-Qaida Involvement was essential. By contrast, the fire by plane hypothesis does not explain at all why Al-Qaida should have been neccessary to bring down the towers. May be the Hamburg Cell could have achieved this without any Al-Qaida support.

This post does not present any kind of proof that the NIST-Reports conclusion (= fire caused by planes caused the collapses) is wrong. I just found evidence that the official Reports are poor.


There is shame on NIST because they did bad science and overlooked a rather obvious explanation of the crimes. If their favorite explanation should proof to be a fake this would put even greater shame on the NIST.

But my biggest fear is a lack of logical reasoning and expertise in the US-Administration in general. 

I have bad dreams of ignorant people believing in computer output in a naive way. And the computers may output death sentences. So innocent people may be executed by the means of Drones as computers declare these innocent people a „probable“ danger to the USA.

But a conspiracy of the researchers would lack any plausibility. Why should the Authors present insufficient Reports for purpose? Why they should put shame on themselves for purpose?