Paul Salo is an man with questions.
Questions like: "Will people give me oodles of cash to smash a jumbo jet into a building, all in the name uncovering the truth, man?" (I'm paraphrasing here.)
Let me explain.
Salo, an American-born businessman currently living in Asia, is crowdfunding at least $300,000 in order to "recreate 9-11 to the best of our ability given the funds raised."
As his indiegogo campaign explains:
Many people want to know more about 9-11. We are like a Mythbusters for September 11th. It's an important project for many reasons. Many people doubt various details of 9-11. As the world has changed our trust in government and media has declined significantly. We want to see for ourselves. We don't need people to guide our thinking.
Why listen to experts when you could just slam an airplane into a skyscraper yourself, right?
Salo's proposal, which he's titled simply "September 11th Redux," involves the purchase of both a soon-to-be torn down building, and a soon-to-be decommissioned 747, the later of which will be flown, via auto-pilot, into the former at 500 miles per hour, as cameras mounted inside the plane, building, and along the flight path record everything.
"Everything that was in 9/11 we're putting in this one," enthuses Salo in a video introducing the project. "So, we're putting passports, the old passports we're gonna put around the airplane."
To finance the collision ("The fuel alone is over $100,000!") Salo's crowdfunding campaign offers donors everything from "9-11: The Redux" T-shirts ($125) to chunks of rubble from the collision ($1,000). Those who give $5,000 or more are promised "front row seat[s]" and the opportunity to "attend the event, record anywhere you like inside the plane or building, see the actual event live and get a special early release recording from our film crew."
At best, the whole project seems to have an unmistakably odious air of stunning insensitivity; Salo has been referred to in various publications as both "delusional" and a "possible super villain." But as he explained to Coconuts Bangkok, "I'm not worried at all. We deserve to find out what happened." Any offense taken, it seems, is worth the risk. And as he says on the crowdfunding page:
"I have total respect for the firefighters and police that gave their lives on September 11th. And for the victims of that tragedy. I have no desire to downplay the heroism on that fateful day."
"We aren't trying to prove anything either way," Salo writes, lest you think there's an overt agenda being pushed here. "We will recreate the event and let the chips fall where they may."
Reaction to Salo's plan has been decidedly, if predictably, mixed. Writes one commenter: "Excellent use of $300,000. Don't donate it to the families of 9/11 first responders who have died/are dying of aggressive cancer from cleaning the disaster site. Just give it to some guy who spends way too much time on Reddit and InfoWars."
Another simply asked, "Are you a con man?"
Despite the criticism, Salo seems undeterred. Responding to the above comment, he writes: "I'm quite serious about this project. We are working on locations and buildings now as I think that will be the most difficult part. Of course the amount we raise will affect the size and type of building but with the world as a canvas, I'm sure we can secure a reasonable location."
Frugality seems key here. As Salo told Coconuts Bangkok, "Several people have estimated costs to recreate 9/11 and they usually are about USD3 million. We are trying to do it for 10 percent of that." While his crowdfunding video sets the price point at $300,000, Salo's indiegogo campaign is actually asking for a full $1.5 million dollars.
As of Tuesday morning, the project has raised $155.
UPDATE: Indiegogo has reportedly canceled Salo’s crowdfunding campaign