A new WorldPublicOpinion.org poll of 17 nations finds that majorities in only nine of them believe that al Qaeda was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
In no country does a majority agree on another possible perpetrator. On average, 46 percent say that al Qaeda was behind the attacks, 15 percent say the US government, seven percent Israel, and seven percent some other perpetrator. One in four say they do not know. These responses were given spontaneously to an open-ended question that did not offer response options.
"Given the extraordinary impact the 9/11 attacks have had on world affairs, it is remarkable that seven years later there is no international consensus about who was behind them," comments
Steven Kull, director of WorldPublicOpinion.org.
Even in European countries, the majorities that say al Qaeda was behind 9/11 are not overwhelming. Fifty-six percent of Britons and Italians, 63 percent of French and 64 percent of Germans cite al Qaeda. However, significant portions of Britons (26%), French (23%), and Italians (21%) say they do not know who was behind 9/11. Remarkably, 23 percent of Germans cite the US government, as do 15 percent of Italians.
Publics in the Middle East are especially likely to name a perpetrator other than al Qaeda. In Egypt 43 percent say that Israel was behind the attacks, as do 31 percent in Jordan and 19 percent in the Palestinian Territories. The US government is named by 36 percent of Turks and 27 percent of Palestinians. The numbers who say al Qaeda was behind the attacks range from 11 percent in Jordan to 42 percent in the Palestinian Territories.
The only countries with overwhelming majorities citing al Qaeda are the African countries: Kenya (77%) and Nigeria (71%).
The poll of 16,063 respondents was conducted between July 15 and August 31, 2008 by WorldPublicOpinion.org, a collaborative research project involving research centers from around the world and managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. Margins of error range from +/-3 to 4 percent.
Interviews were conducted in 17 nations: China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Indonesia, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, the Palestinian Territories, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, and the Ukraine.
For more information, visit www.WorldPublicOpinion.org.