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Sept. 11 Conspiracy Theorist Offers $100,000 Prize
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jimmy Walter has spent more than $3 million promoting a conspiracy theory the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States were "an inside job" and he is offering more cash to anyone who proves him wrong.
The millionaire activist is so convinced of a government cover-up he is offering a $100,000 reward to any engineering student who can prove the World Trade Center buildings crashed the way the government says.
"Of course, we expect no winners," Walter, 57, heir to an $11 million fortune from his father's home building business, said in a telephone interview from California on Wednesday.
He said a panel of expert engineers would judge submissions from the students.
Next month, he also launches a nationwide contest seeking alternative theories from college and high school students about why New York's World Trade Center collapsed. The contest offers $10,000 to the best alternative theory, with 100 runner-up awards of $1,000. Winners will be chosen next June.
The World Trade Center's twin towers were destroyed after hijackers slammed two commercial airliners into them. The attack in New York killed 2,749 people.
Various official investigations give no credence to Walter's theory. A Sept. 11 commission spokesman did not return calls seeking comment.
Walter insists there had to be explosives planted in the twin towers to cause them to fall as they did, and also rejects the official explanation for the damage done at the Pentagon.
"We have all the proof," said Walter, citing videotapes and testimony from witnesses.
"It wasn't 19 screw-ups from Saudi Arabia who couldn't pass flight school who defeated the United States with a set of box cutters," he said. He dismissed the official Sept. 11 commission report, saying, "I don't trust any of these 'facts."'
Walter has spent millions of dollars to bolster support for his case, running full-page ads in The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker and Newsweek, as well as alternative newspapers and 30-second TV spots.
He points to a Zogby poll he commissioned last summer that showed 66 percent of New Yorkers wanted the 9/11 investigation reopened.
Walter has spent about 30 percent of his net worth on his efforts.
"I am a patriot fighting the real traitors who are destroying our democracy. I resent it when they call me delusional," he said.