Those making – or hinting at – the claims would have the world believe that U.S. or Israeli intelligence services were behind the attacks on the offices of the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and a kosher supermarket, which together with a street shooting left 17 victims and three terrorists dead over three days.
A mass circulation Russian newspaper, Komsomolskaya Pravda, ran a front-page headline Monday asking whether “the Americans” were behind the Paris terror attacks.
In the related story, a political analyst, Col. Alexander Zhilin, linked his theory to differences between the U.S. and European Union over sanctions against Russia in response to the Ukraine crisis.
Zhilin, who heads a body called the Moscow Center for the Study of Applied Problems, said immediately after French President Francois Hollande on January 5 raised doubts about continuing with the sanctions, he – Zhilin – had predicted that terror attacks could now be expected in France.
The U.S. needed a way to consolidate U.S.-E.U. unity over the sanctions, he said, and planning a terror attack was a “cheap and effective” option.
Separately, Komsomolskaya Pravda interviewed Russian economist Mikhail Khazin, head of a consulting firm called Neoconomics. He wondered who benefited most from the Paris attacks, and concluded that the primary beneficiary was the United States.
“Let me add that in the elite of the United States there are several groups, each of which has its own opportunities to promote and organize such attacks,” he was quoted as saying.
Khazin went on to list others who, in his view, could also benefit from the attacks, including Britain, Saudi Arabia and “Islamic State, al-Qaeda and so on” – although he added that the latter possibility was “the least likely.”
Other reports in the paper highlighted skepticism expressed by some quarters over the attacks, with one headline highlighting a comment by an Arab café waiter in Paris: “Someone needs a war between Muslims and Christians …”
In Iran, the Press TV broadcaster ran on its website an article by Paul Craig Roberts, a columnist, former U.S. Treasury official, and 9/11 conspiracy theorist, who wrote that one way of seeing the attack on Charlie Hebdo “is as an attack designed to shore up France’s vassal status to Washington.”
“The suspects can be both guilty and patsies,” said Roberts. “Just remember all the terrorist plots created by the FBI that served to make the terrorism threat real to Americans.”
On Roberts’ own website, he also highlights reports from other sources suggesting that the Paris attacks were a “false flag operation” – that is, a covert operation designed to point a finger at a purported perpetrator, while the actual mastermind’s identity remains hidden.
“Whether or not it is a false flag operation, the shootings are being used for a wider purpose or purposes,” he said.
Those purposes could include “bringing France back into Washington’s orbit,” stifling “the growing European sympathy for the Palestinians,” and countering “the rising opposition in Europe to more Middle Eastern wars,” Roberts charged.
‘A plot against the Islamic world’
Meanwhile Melih Gokcek, the veteran mayor of the Turkish capital, Ankara, raised the specter of the Mossad’s involvement, while speaking at a youth congress of the Islamist ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Sunday.
According to a report by the official Anadolu news agency, Gokcek laid the blame on Israel’s security agency, charging that Israel was angry by a recent vote by French lawmakers supportive of Palestinian statehood.
“Israel certainly doesn’t want this [pro-Palestinian independence] sentiment to expand in Europe,” he said. “That’s why it is certain that Mossad is behind these kinds of incidents. Mossad enflames Islamophobia by causing such incidents.”
Turkish lawmaker Ali Sahin, a senior AKP member, was quoted as saying in Twitter messages that the attack on Charlie Hebdo was “staged like a scene from a movie,” by forces determined to discredit Islam.
The most senior figure to insinuate that all was not as it appeared in the Paris attacks – although he did also condemn them – was Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“Take note that the acts of terror are not carried out in a vacuum,” he said during a joint press conference in Ankara with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas “The acts follow a predetermined script and we should be alive to a plot against the Islamic world.”
Erdogan, an arch-critic of Israel and key supporter of Hamas – a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization – also used the opportunity to slam Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s participation with other leaders in a mass anti-terror rally in Paris on Sunday.
“I also hardly understand how he dared to go there,” Anadolu quoted Erdogan as saying, accusing Netanyahu of carrying out “state terrorism by massacring 2,500 people in Gaza.”