Sept. 11 theorizing professor speaks out

ANNA CHANG-YEN - Daily Herald

A BYU physics professor said a group he co-founded will ask for a Watergate-style special federal prosecutor to look into unanswered questions surrounding the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Steven E. Jones gave a presentation at Brigham Young University on Thursday about his theory that World Trade Center Building 7 was destroyed by controlled demolition rather than a terrorist attack. Scholars for 9/11 Truth, which Jones co-founded, is putting together a list of questions and will ask for a special prosecutor like the one used to probe the Watergate scandal, he said.

"Remember, I'm not alone anymore. I've got over 100 plus," he said, referring to the jump in membership in the Scholars group from about 40 to more than 140 since he spoke at Utah Valley State College on Feb. 1.

The presentation, made at the Marion K. Smith Science Fiction Symposium, relied more on faith than his speech at UVSC. He quoted biblical and Mormon scriptures that he said warn against pre-emptive wars, and at one point read from the Book of Mormon.

Among Jones's tenets -- fueled by research from engineers, scientists and government reports -- is that the Osama bin Laden "smoking gun" confession tape is a fake and that slag from the WTC7 building will prove it was felled by thermite, an explosive combination of aluminum powder and a metal oxide. He also contends that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were contrived to gain access to oil there. Jones said he will soon receive a sample of the slag, and he believes analysis of the sample using an electron microscope will prove his thermite theory.

As part of his presentation, Jones briefly displayed a slide with a statement from BYU's Fulton College of Engineering, saying the department does not back his hypotheses.

When Jones presented information about the maximum temperature at which jet fuel can burn -- 1,000 degrees centigrade, he said -- an audience member shouted out, "It's 3,500. You're lying!" That data is crucial to government contentions that intense fires fed by jet fuel caused the buildings to fall.

During a question-and-answer period, one audience member asked why Jones gave "such a one-sided presentation" and did not expose his political leanings. Jones replied, "These are the facts," and said he does not identify himself as a Democrat or Republican but does support the Constitution.

Another audience member wanted to know what additional evidence is needed to prove Jones's theories. The slag analysis is key, Jones said. "With aluminum oxide entrained with iron, then that is the true smoking gun for thermite. That would prove the demolition hypothesis."

Dan Peterson, a senior economics major at BYU, said he would like to know what church leaders think. He brought along copies of speeches by LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley to compare with Jones's talk. "He's a man of faith, but he's also a man of science. Some of the statements President Hinckley's made are about how we need to ferret out terrorist organizations. Well, what does he mean? What does Dr. Jones as a man of science looking at scientific data, and also a religious person, what does he think about that?"

Dave Doering, a symposium organizer and Jones supporter, explained the presentation's fit at the event. "I laughed because I said, 'Someone is telling a science fiction story. It's either that man right there or it's some people in Washington.' " He sides with Jones but wants others to decide for themselves. "I leave it up to the audience to make this judgment."

Anna Chang-Yen can be reached at 344-2549 or

This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page D1.