Recently, on the eve of the 22nd anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington DC, an influential Chinese social media user claimed that American Airline Flight 77 never crashed into the Pentagon. Instead, he said, it was shot down by U.S. fighter jets.
The claim is false. Airplane debris was found at the Pentagon, as confirmed by images and videos from the scene and an array of eyewitness accounts. The Pentagon also released security camera footage from the attack in 2006.
The claim was shared here on the popular Chinese social media platform Weibo on Sept. 10 by a user with more than 3 million followers.
“Today in history: Who is responsible for the 911 incident? / Media won’t tell the truth,” the claim reads in part.
The claim was shared alongside a two-minute, 39-second clip that shows an old lecture given by Ai Yuejin, a former professor of military thinking at China’s Nankai University.
Citing the bestselling book “9/11: The Big Lie” written by the far-left French journalist Thierry Meyssan, Ai claimed that no wreckage or witnesses at the scene of the Pentagon attack were found and that the U.S. government anticipated and allowed 9/11 to happen as a means to justify its later invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
The 9/11 attacks were a series of coordinated terrorist suicide plane hijackings by al-Qaeda operatives on Sept. 11, 2001, targeting landmarks in New York and Washington, leading to the deaths of nearly 3,000 people.
Most were killed when two passenger planes were flown into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers on the southern tip of Manhattan. A third jet, American Airlines Flight 77, was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon, killing all onboard and many inside the building. And a fourth jet that appeared to be bound for Washington crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers broke into the cockpit, where the hijackers had taken control of the plane.
However, the claims by Meyssan and other conspiracy theorists are false.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation released several photos of the Pentagon wreckage, while a Department of Defence investigative report released in 2007 published Flight 77’s entire course, along with records showing that three F-16 military aircraft deployed to intercept the hijacked plane were unable to prevent it from crashing into the Pentagon.
The DOD also released footage from car park monitors at the site which captured the actual collision of the plane into the Pentagon.
Translated by Shen Ke. Edited by Taejun Kang and Malcolm Foster.
Asia Fact Check Lab (AFCL) is a branch of RFA established to counter disinformation in today’s complex media environment. Our journalists publish both daily and special reports that aim to sharpen and deepen our readers’ understanding of public issues.
This content originally appeared on Radio Free Asia and was authored by By Rita Cheng for Asia Fact Check Lab.