Reuters North American News Service
Sep 10, 2008 08:28 EST
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Seven years after the Sept. 11 attacks, there is no consensus outside the United States that Islamist militants from al Qaeda were responsible, according to an international poll published Wednesday.
The survey of 16,063 people in 17 nations found majorities in only nine countries believe al Qaeda was behind the attacks on New York and Washington that killed about 3,000 people in 2001.
U.S. officials squarely blame al Qaeda, whose leader Osama bin Laden has boasted of organizing the suicide attacks by his followers using hijacked commercial airliners.
On average, 46 percent of those surveyed said al Qaeda was responsible, 15 percent said the U.S. government, 7 percent said Israel and 7 percent said some other perpetrator. One in four people said they did not know who was behind the attacks.
The poll was conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org, a collaborative project of research centers in various countries managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland in the United States.
In Europe, al Qaeda was cited by 56 percent of Britons and Italians, 63 percent of French and 64 percent of Germans. The U.S. government was to blame, according to 23 percent of Germans and 15 percent of Italians.
Respondents in the Middle East were especially likely to name a perpetrator other than al Qaeda, the poll found.
Israel was behind the attacks, said 43 percent of people in Egypt, 31 percent in Jordan and 19 percent in the Palestinian Territories. The U.S. government was blamed by 36 percent of Turks and 27 percent of Palestinians.
In Mexico, 30 percent cited the U.S. government and 33 percent named al Qaeda.
The only countries with overwhelming majorities blaming al Qaeda were Kenya with 77 percent and Nigeria with 71 percent.
Interviews were conducted in China, Indonesia, Nigeria, Russia, Egypt, France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, the Palestinian Territories, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey and Ukraine.
The poll, taken between July 15 and Aug. 31, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 to 4 percent. (Reporting by JoAnne Allen; Editing by John O'Callaghan)