London (CNSNews.com) - A book claiming that the plane that crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11 never existed has hit best-seller lists in France despite condemnation from the U.S. military and the French media.
"The Frightening Fraud" by French think-tank leader Thierry Meyssan argues that the crash of American Airlines Flight 77, which killed 189 people, was really a hoax dreamed up by the U.S. government.
The book sold out its original print run of 20,000 copies within hours of going on sale last month. On Friday morning, it was at the top of the book charts on the French-language site of online bookseller Amazon.com.
Meyssan alleges that eyewitness accounts of the crash conflict and that there are suspiciously few photos of the disaster - even though U.S. officials recently released security camera footage of the terrorist atrocity. The author also questions why the Pentagon did not collapse after the crash.
"I believe the American government is lying," Meyssan told television station France 2. "No plane crashed into the Pentagon."
The book also alleges that there was a secret CIA base in the World Trade Center and that Osama bin Laden is a "hired agent" of the U.S. government.
The theory that the Pentagon attack was faked apparently began as an internet rumor, but the book's success has been helped along by Meyssan's position as the leader of the Voltaire Network, a left-leaning think tank that has in the past been known for its reasonable policy studies.
A website hosted by Meyssan's son, Hunt the Boeing, has been set up to outline the author's claims. It says that "The Associated Press first reported that a booby-trapped truck had caused the explosion" and shows a series of pictures that supposedly demonstrate that an airplane would have caused much more damage to a building than what was recorded after the Pentagon crash.
"Can you still defend the official version of events?" the site asks. "Well done! Remember to get in touch with master of illusion, David Copperfield. He'll be glad to hear from you!"
In the book, Meyssan does not offer an alternative explanation to the fate of those on board Flight 77 or those who were killed in the Pentagon.
A Pentagon spokesman called the book "a slap in the face" to the American people and to the victims of Sept. 11. The book has also been debunked in the French media.
"This theory suits everyone - there are no Islamic extremists and everyone is happy. It eliminates reality," said Le Nouvel Observateur
Liberation labeled the book "The Frightening Confidence Trick."
"A tissue of wild and irresponsible allegations, entirely without foundation," the paper said.
Officials at the Voltaire Network's Paris offices said Meyssan was traveling Friday and was not available for comment.
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