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Faced with an angry minority of people who believe the Sept. 11 attacks were part of a shadowy and sprawling plot run by Americans, separate reports were published this week by the State Department and a federal science agency insisting that the catastrophes were caused by hijackers who used commercial airliners as weapons.
The official narrative of the attacks has been attacked as little more than a cover story by an assortment of radio hosts, academics, amateur filmmakers and others who have spread their arguments on the Internet and cable television in America and abroad. As a motive, they suggest that the Bush administration wanted to use the attacks to justify military action in the Middle East.
Most elaborately, they propose that the collapse of the World Trade Center was actually caused by explosive charges secretly planted in the buildings, rather than by the destructive force of the airliners that thundered into the towers and set them ablaze.