THIS was the story to match the spirit of the times.
Osama Bin Laden, the evil genius behind the terrorist attacks of September 11, was not content with bringing mayhem to Manhattan and Washington.
He and his allies and note that it is never made clear where the limits of that circle of allies should be drawn also sought to profit from their terrorism.
The cynicism of it all was appalling a willingness to make money out of the death of thousands plus, of course, the chilling prospect that profits would be ploughed back into the coffers of Bin Laden's organisation to finance yet more attacks against the people, buildings and organisations he hated.
Hence, last weekend, newspapers were full of reports about the concerns of authorities on both sides of the Atlantic that there had been suspiciously large amounts of shortselling of shares (in effect, selling shares you don't really own in order to profit from a future fall in their price) ahead of the attacks.
These trades, it was said, were so significant, so cleverly timed that they must have been carried out with inside knowledge. And the only people with the knowledge that the Pentagon and World Trade Centre were going to be attacked that fateful day were the hijackers and their associates.
The FBI let the world know that it certainly believed the theory. Ernst Welteke, president of the Bundesbank a man, let's face it, who has pretty limited career prospects with the introduction of the euro gave the story further credibility when he said that, yes, 'the suspicion is that there have been noticeable market movements ahead of the attacks'.
And to add spice to this dish, promoters of the insider-dealing theory pointedly remarked that there had been sudden bursts of activity in the market for options on airline shares ahead of September 11. In particular, there had been an upsurge in sales of 'put' options bets on a fall in share prices.
By the start of last week, authorities in America, Canada, Britain, Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy and Japan were all combing records of deals in shares and options in search of dealers who had known too much.
And what have they come up with?
In London, those splendid folk at the Financial Services Authority have burrowed around in the paperwork to see if there was anything rum going on ahead of September 11.
As we report today, they have uncovered fascinating information about Lufthansa's activity in BA put options. You may well think this was a strange thing for an airline to do albeit profitable, given that BA shares have fallen from 264p on the eve of the hijacks to below 180p. But even Lufthansa's worst enemy wouldn't suggest that the Germans had prior knowledge of the attacks in America.
And despite all its efforts, the FSA has found nothing to suggest that people who were short-selling shares or buying put options before the attacks were doing anything fishy.
Put bluntly, there was not one jot of evidence that Bin Laden and his evil acolytes had been anywhere near the stock markets. And elsewhere? From the US, as well as the other countries that were meant to be investigating the FBI's suspicions, there is a deafening silence. In the current climate, silence is highly significant. If the US had indeed found evidence of terrorist involvement in share sales, wouldn't George W. have told us all about it?
Choose the right options contracts, choose the right period over which to study the period of trades and, yes, you can just about construct a case to suggest that some dealers discovered a curiously vigorous desire to sell shares in airlines in the days before the attacks.
BA put options saw an upsurge in activity. So did those in KLM, United and American Airlines.
BUT trade in options is always very irregular. There have been spikes in activity before that have had nothing to do with anticipated terrorism. And even before September 11 there was much speculation about the fragility of airlines' finances good reason for canny investors to guard against the likelihood of the airline sector falling out of bed.
No one needed Osama Bin Laden or his friends to warn of tough times ahead.
Anyway, if terrorist associates had been clodhopping around the options market, how would they have collected their winnings without revealing themselves?