This post is also available in: heעברית (Hebrew)

Osama bin Laden was “inspired” to concoct the 9/11 plot during a chance conversation about a plane crash into the Atlantic Ocean. While discussing EgyptAir Flight 990 – that crashed into the Atlantic during a flight from Los Angeles to Cairo, with all 217 people on board perishing – bin Laden asked “Why didn’t he crash it into a building?”

The revelation comes from al-Masrā, weekly newspaper of jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia, that published an article claiming to disclose the “untold story” behind the 9/11 attacks.

EgyptAir Flight 990 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean during a routine flight from Los Angeles to Cairo in October 1999. Of the 217 passengers on board – all perished – nearly half were American. The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation concluded that the downing of the plane was a deliberate act by the plane’s co-pilot, Gameel Al-Batouti, who continually repeated the phrase “Tawkalt ala Allah” – I put my trust in God – as the plane fell.

Egyptian authorities, on the other hand, concluded that the plane crashed due to mechanical failure.

Al-Batouti’s friends and family said he didn’t hold strong religious beliefs. Sources within Egypt hypothesised that his actions were either suicide, or an act of revenge against EgyptAir due to disciplinary action against him.

Bin Laden was less interested in the motives of the co-pilot than in how to exploit the disaster to form the basis of a new terror strategy, according to the International Business Times. On hearing of the tragedy he asked “Why didn’t he crash it into a building?” according to al-Masrā.

This moment was the plot for 9/11 was born, according to an article on Jihadology.

The International Business Times notes that Ansar al-Sharia is an alias for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).