A poll of inhabitants of Muslim countries around the world revealed the unsurprising fact that Muslims don't like us. A couple of surprises, however, stood out as worthy of note.
The Jews Did It
About a fifth of the represented population thinks Arabs pulled off the attacks, and about a tenth thinks that the war is justified. So you can come close to saying that, of Muslims worldwide who understand that it indeed was Arabs who attacked the US on September 11, about half of them think the war in Afghanistan is justified. Muslim opposition to the war is not about opinion, it's about wrong facts.
Who could possibly have carried out the attack if not Arabs?
The understanding is that it was the Israelis. There's even a popular rumor that 4,000 Jews who worked in the WTC got phone calls on September 10 telling them not to show up for work the next day. This conspiracy theory is part of the whole "Jews control worldwide media" idea, which plays big in Muslim countries. (Anti-Semitism in general is big in Muslims nations. Recall the Palestinian radio station misquoting the Koran as saying that Jews are pigs and monkeys.)
The US government is trying to tell our side of the story to the Muslim world, but their news media are so inaccurate and their anti-Semitic conspiracy theories so thick that we have little chance of getting through. The goal of prosperous co-existence seems far off.
Our Friends, Our Enemies
That's what we get for supporting dictators. In Iran, we supported a dictator and forced student revolutionaries to find common cause with repressive fundamentalist clerics. Only recently are the Iranians struggling out from under the religious regime that we virtually put in place. In Kuwait, we put a king back on his throne, one who enjoys the custom by which families send their fourteen-year old daughters to him to be deflowered. In Saudi Arabia we support a corrupt, anti-democratic, theocratic, sexist regime which has been a pillar of support for Wahhabism ever since it was founded. Saudi Arabia has long channeled funds into extremist Pakistani schools so that its brand of Muslim extremism would dominate. Remember those guys in Pakistan volunteering to fight the US in Afghanistan? Lots of them came from Saudi-supported schools. It's our chummy relations with the evil Saudi dictators that brought airplanes crashing into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Bin Laden made noise about the Palestinians, but only as a way of garnering global Muslim support. US troops in Saudi Arabia was his issue.
We should tell Saddam Hussein that we're sorry about the Gulf War. He can have Kuwait for all we care, and we wouldn't mind seeing him roll over Saudi Arabia while he's at it. We'll get our troops out of there, and we'll never bring them back to defend a dictatorship again.
Update: The lie that Arabs didn't execute 9-11 endures. It's frustrating to see citizens of Muslim countries avoid confronting the implications of 9-11 by imagining that Arabs didn't hijack the planes. It might, however, be a positive sign. At least it means that Muslims perceive the terrorist attacks as so heinous that they refuse to believe that Muslims were responsible. I suppose it would be even worse if the idea of Muslims slaughtering thousands of innocents didn't faze Muslims.
Update: Osama bin Laden finally came out and admitted his role in masterminding 9/11. One wonders what the "Jews did it" conspiracy theorists make of that.