While searching for the video of Palestinians celebrating the 9/11 attacks, I discovered an urban legend that seems to be popular in certain circles. It says that the video was not from 9/11 as CNN and other major new outlets claimed, but it was actually from 1991, celebrating Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. This YouTube comment is typical:
This footage was later proven to be from the 1990s so it had absolutely nothing to do with 911.
Snopes has the legend’s long version:
All around the world we are subjected to 3 or 4 huge news distributors, and one of them – as you well know – is CNN. Very well, I guess all of you have been seeing (just as I’ve been) images from this company. In particular, one set of images called my attencion: the Palestinians celebrating the bombing, out on the streets, eating some cake and making funny faces for the camera. Well, THOSE IMAGES WERE SHOT BACK IN 1991!!! Those are images of Palestinians celebrating the invasion of Kuwait! It’s simply unacceptable that a super-power of cumminications as CNN uses images which do not correspond to the reality in talking about so serious an issue. A teacher of mine, here in Brazil, has videotapes recorded in 1991, with the very same images; he’s been sending emails to CNN, Globo (the major TV network in Brazil) and newspapers, denouncing what I myself classify as a crime against the public opinion. If anyone of you has access to this kind of files, serch for it. In the meanwhile, I’ll try to ‘put my hands’ on a copy of this tape.
Snopes does a good job of debunking the legend, including statements from Reuters, CNN, and the Brazilian university where the legend originated, and also listing several other news outlets that carried the same story.
The debunking hasn’t stopped the Palestinians from promoting it. Here’s a video of Manuel Hassassian, the official Palestinian “Ambassador/General Delegate” to the United Kingdom, telling the story. (His version is a little bit different. Predictably, he blames Israel rather than CNN for the fraud.)
Given how incendiary the video is, it’s not surprising that the Palestinians would like to discredit it. Their first effort was to suppress such videos entirely, by threatening journalists if the media ran them. For instance:
Encouraging the Associated Press in Jerusalem not to air the footage [of a September 12th rally in Nablus], Ahmed Abdel Rahman, Arafat’s cabinet secretary, said that the Palestinian Authority “cannot guarantee the life” of the cameraman if his film was broadcast.
Unfortunately for us (but fortunately for the cameraman) the AP folded. That particular video was never broadcast.
UPDATE: I found the original JPost story at the Wayback Machine. It’s a little different; it suggests that the AP producers, not the cameraman, were the ones being threatened.