Christopher Bollyn speaks in Jasper
A major figure in the 9/11 truth movement made an appearance at the Jasper-Yellowhead Museum and Archives Oct. 1—his only Canadian stop on a North American speaking tour.
Christopher Bollyn is somewhat of a rock star in the movement, and attracted 40 Jasperites to his talk. For years he worked as an investigative journalist, where he wrote about the 9/11 terror attacks. In the 2000s he was fired from the American Free Press, and for the last several years he’s worked as an “independent investigator,” writing extensively about 9/11, and what he feels is the conspiracy surrounding it.
The 9/11 truth movement is a grassroots one, dedicated to promoting the idea that the 9/11 terror attacks were planned and orchestrated by Western governments.
Theories as to how, why and who planned the attacks vary wildly within the movement, but they are all grounded in the idea that hijacked jumbo jets were a cover up for the controlled demolition of the World Trade Centre towers.
Bollyn, whose talk was organized by Jasper’s Monika Schaefer, is well known in the movement for his theory that Nano-thermite was used to bring down the towers as part of a controlled demolition. In his book about 9/11 he puts forward the theory that the attacks were ultimately orchestrated—and subsequently covered up—by Zionist Israelis intent on using the tragedy to further their expansionist goals in the Middle East.
It’s that theory that is responsible for much of the criticism Bollyn encounters.
The Anti Defamation League, a Jewish free speech organization, has come out strongly against Bollyn, calling him a conspiracy theorist and an anti-Semite. Although the ADL is prone to hyperbole, and while most of what Bollyn says isn’t directly anti-Semitic, it can feel like racist undertones lurk behind his message.
In his Oct. 1 talk he singled out several powerful Jewish people he believed were behind a Zionist cover-up of 9/11. Larry Silverstein, Richard Pearl and Donald Kagan are, in Bollyn’s eyes, all part of the Zionist conspiracy behind the events.
Bollyn, who has lived in Israel and married an Israeli woman, also speaks Hebrew. At one point during his talk, when quoting the former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, he slipped into a kind of caricature, hunching his shoulders and affecting a Jewish accent.
At another point, he referred to the fact that people were burned alive in the towers as “an American Holocaust.”
Bollyn is well aware of the allegations lobbed against him, and openly acknowledged them at the beginning of his talk. In his eyes, however, the challenges come primarily from an organized Zionist lobby group intent on keeping their cover-up a secret.
He pointed to the arrest that lead to his exile from America (he currently lives in Sweden) as further evidence of that.
In 2006 he was arrested by undercover police officers at his home, and in a subsequent trial he was convicted of aggravated assault and resisting a police officer.
Bollyn claims that the trial was a farce, overseen by a Zionist judge, and that the whole incident was a way to silence his writing about 9/11. He fled to Sweden rather than face sentencing in the courts.
Over the course of his talk, he presented some compelling evidence of the fishy circumstances surrounding the events of 9/11. Although a few expressed skepticism, most people seemed to agree with a large chunk of what he said.
There are zounds of commentators both arguing for, as well as against the claims of the 9/11 truth movement—far too many to explore in a single newspaper article—but there’s no doubt that there is support for the idea in Jasper.
More people showed up to hear Bollyn speak than showed up to Marmot Basin’s open house last summer or to Kinder Morgan’s meeting explaining its pipeline expansion, and by the end of the night, Bollyn sold all of his books and had a sheet full of contact information for people purchasing more.
Schaefer said she organized the event to get the message out about “the most suppressed subject on the face of this planet right now,” and that the turnout showed there is a hunger for this information.
But, although there was support for the event, there were also some people who were very concerned about the talk happening in Jasper. A few days before the event, Kai Kierferle contacted the museum to raise his concerns about Bollyn’s speech.
Kierferle has been following Bollyn’s writing for several years, and said he was uncomfortable with the museum providing him a platform.
“There’s more than a whiff of blatant prejudice and racism in what [Bollyn’s] doing,” Kieferle said.
“My primary concern with him … is that he never comes out and directly says ‘I hate Jews’ or ‘Jews are evil’—although he comes very close. Essentially [he purports that] you have to believe that Jewish people are all operating solely for their own good. And they’re involved in political manipulations and conducting state terrorism solely to benefit Israel. Even if they’re not Israeli citizens, it doesn’t matter, they’re probably involved in it.”
After his talk last week, Bollyn acknowledged similar allegations, but disagreed, saying that a majority of Jewish people living in the United States aren’t Zionists, but are “basically kind of bulldozed into accepting the state of Israel,” by their rabbis and community.
Andy Kilmach, the museum’s manager, responded to Kieferle’s concerns in an email, writing that the event was a private function and the space, which the museum makes available to anyone who would like to use it, was rented out.
“This does not mean we either endorse or support any particular function privately rented and available to the public. Nor is it our job to censor speakers—that is for the public to decide,” he wrote.
For people like Schaefer, the fact that the event took place is a victory against the forces trying to keep what she sees as a conspiracy from getting more public attention. For others like Kieferle, it was one more platform for a racist to spread prejudice.
But just as Kilmach pointed out, how the event is remembered was, and will continue to be, up to the public to decide.