After the 9/11 attacks, international investigations were launched into financial transactions that seemed to indicate foreknowledge about the coming catastrophe.1 For its part, a technology firm named Convar, located in Pirmasens, Germany, had been tasked by the U.S. Department of Defense to restore data on damaged hard drives gathered from the ruins of the destroyed WTC skyscrapers. These investigations stemmed from suspicious and untracked transactions – up to 100 million dollars – carried out using WTC computers right before the attack, pointing to foreknowledge of the total destruction of the evidence.
In what follows it will be demonstrated that Convar’s investigations were followed and reported by global media in 2001–2002, and that in 2003 the FBI denied that they had ever been carried out. Pliantly, the media became silent about the investigations, and the 9/11 Commission did not mention them at all in its report.
Media Reports about the Investigations
Reuters2, CNN3, Der Spiegel4 and others reported about the progress of this computer forensics5 investigation.
In the Reuters article, FBI was named as a client. Convar’s director Peter Henschel is quoted as saying that
”the companies in the United States were working together with the FBI to piece together what happened Sept 11 and that he was confident the destination of the dubious transactions would one day be tracked down.”
News coverage continued into 2002. Four months after the disaster, Germany’s TV channel ProSieben visited Convar’s laboratory6 and documented the process of restoring data from one WTC hard drive.
In March 2002, Germany’s ZDF (Zweite Deutsche Fernsehen) in their ”Heute Journal” program visited Convar’s laboratory, interviewing the employees and documenting the examination of WTC hard drives.7 It was reported that, by then, the company had already succeeded in restoring data from over 400 hard drives and that the drives had been sent by the U.S. Department of Defense (”Verteidigungsministerium”).
According to an article in German technology magazine Techfieber, the hard drives were sent from the USA to Ramstein, Germany, and from there in a special transport to Pirmasens.8 The article notes that, on average, about 400 hard drives are processed in the laboratory every month.
”Per Flugzeug wurden sie aus den USA nach Ramstein und danach mit einem Spezialtransporter in das westpfälzische Pirmasens gebracht. […] Rund 400 Datenrettungen werden pro Monat bei Convar in Pirmasens abgewickelt.”
A German press portal notes that by September 2002, the company had been provided 1,250 hard drives from WTC, with the assignment ”restore all data that can be restored”.9 (”Dies soll nun die deutsche Firma Convar mit Sitz in Pirmasens verhindern, ihr liegen 1250 Festplatten aus dem World Trade Center vor. Der Auftrag der amerikanischen Ämter lautet: retten, was zu retten ist.”)
On September 11, 2002, German radio aired a program in which their team visited Convar’s laboratory and interviewed the company’s employees.10 The team understood that the employees were not allowed to mention Convar’s U.S. partners, but they noted that the U.S. Department of Defense was marked as the sender of a hard drive shipment they saw.
The FBI’s Denial
Fast forward to 2003, when the 9/11 Commission had a briefing about the 9/11 insider trading investigations with the FBI. The members of the Commission asked the FBI, perhaps somewhat leadingly, about
”persistent press reports that a [sic] certain damaged hard-drives had been recovered from the WTC site and sent to Germany, where a company was working to restore them. These press reports contend that large volumes of suspicious transactions flowed through computers housed in the WTC on the morning of 9/11 as part of some illicit but ill-defined effort to profit from the attacks”.11
In its briefing memorandum, the Commission states that the
”assembled [FBI] agents expressed no knowledge of the reported hard-drive recovery effort or the alleged scheme. Moreover, one of the New York agents pointed out, from personal experience, that everything at the WTC was pulverized to near power [sic], making it extremely unlikely that any hard-drives survived to the extent they [sic] data be recovered.”
Based on the FBI’s statement, in its final report published in 2004, the Commission did not mention Convar’s widely publicized WTC hard drive investigations. The topic was also never again addressed officially, and it was dropped from mainstream media reporting.
However, in September 10, 2006, the Dutch investigative program Zembla resurrected the issue by interviewing Convar’s spokesperson, who replied that the company cannot give any further information but made ”creatively” clear that it sticks with its earlier reports. One of Convar’s early press reports, from February 14, 2002, notes:
”In mid-November, CONVAR Deutschland started work on the recovery of data from hard disks from the World Trade Center and neighbouring buildings. The use of the latest techniques, the long experience of the German specialists and the high security standards of the Data Recovery Center in Germany led many US companies and state institutions to decide to entrust CONVAR with the recovery of sensitive data. (see. SAT1 video – On the Traces of 11th September / Galileo – FBI Investigators Waiting for Data)”12
Convar is not shy about its WTC hard drive restoration assignment – see the introduction video on the company’s main page.14 The U.S. Department of Defense is stated as the client of the operation here.15
Later Developments Contradicting the Commission’s Conclusions
The 9/11 Commission famously stated that ”Ultimately the question [of who financed the 9/11 attacks] is of little practical significance” and that the financial transactions, suspicious on their face, had innocent explanations. The Commission also determined that their
”investigation has uncovered no credible evidence that any person in the United States gave the hijackers substantial financial assistance. Similarly, we have seen no evidence that any foreign government – or foreign government official – supplied any funding.”16
In 2015, several congressmen have supported resolution HR 428 by representatives Walter Jones and Stephen Lynch, which upon passing would obligate President Obama to declassify the 28 redacted pages in the congressional 9/11 report from 2002. Congressmen who have been allowed to read the censored pages have testified that the pages describe the participation of ”specific foreign governments” in the attacks. In particular, leaks from the censored pages concern financial and other support by Saudi government officials living in the United States to the alleged hijackers.17
Also contrary to the 9/11 Commission’s conclusions, several more recent academic analyses have confirmed the original suspicions of trading with foreknowledge of the attacks. In 2006, California University Press published a peer-reviewed analysis by Allen Poteshman, Professor of Economics at Illinois University, about the put options placed on United and American Airlines. The study concludes that there is ”evidence of unusual option market activity in the days leading up to September 11 that is consistent with investors trading on advance knowledge of the attacks”.18
In January 2010, a group of Swiss economics experts published a study19 concluding that some investors had advance knowledge of the attacks in at least 13 stock trades, and in April of the same year an international group of economics experts demonstrated that just before the 9/11 attacks there was a spike in trade volume deviating from long-term trading volume, leading the researchers to conclude that some investors were acting on inside information about the coming catastrophic events.20
In line with the ”forgotten” Convar investigations, these research results have not even been discussed in mainstream media, let alone inspired any well-funded or well-publicized investigative journalism.
- ProSieben / Galileo: Aus den Ruinen des WTC, https://datenretter.de/default.htm?language=1 (the link is on the left side with the title Pro 7 / Galileo: ”From the ruins…”)
- ZDF Heute Journal: Geheimsache World Trade Center, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uGMmo1Fm3o
- Deutsche Firma spürt verlorene Daten des 11. Septembers auf, http://www.presseportal.de/pm/25171/378819/deutsche-firma-spuert-verlorene-daten-des-11-septembers-auf
- Click ”SWR – Slow motion: SWR report in the Slow motion programme of 11 September 2002” at https://datenretter.de/audio.htm?po=5&media=3&language=1#totop
- FBI Briefing on Trading, http://media.nara.gov/9-11/MFR/t-0148-911MFR-00269.pdf
- National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States: Al Qaeda Aims at the American Homeland,http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report_Ch5.htm
Former Senator Bob Graham told IBTimes that, based on his involvement in the 9/11 investigation and on the classified information in the document that his committee produced, he is convinced that “the Saudi government without question was supporting the hijackers who lived in San Diego…. You can’t have 19 people living in the United States for, in some cases, almost two years, taking flight lessons and other preparations, without someone paying for it. But I think it goes much broader than that. The agencies from CIA and FBI have suppressed that information so American people don’t have the facts.”
- Allen M. Poteshman (2006): Unusual Option Market Activity and the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001, http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/503645
- Marc Chesney et al (2010): Detecting Informed Trading Activities in the Options Markets,http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1522157
- Wing-Keung Wong et al (2010): Was there Abnormal Trading in the S&P 500 Index Options Prior to the September 11 Attacks?