NEW YORK – The attacks on Sept. 11 sparked chaos and confusion across the globe, as well as wave after wave of rumors.
False information spread so quickly that those cited in the rumors were shocked by the intensity and speed of the backlash.
One rumor was that Arab workers at a Cedar Grove, N.J., Dunkin' Donuts were celebrating after the towers collapsed.
The company headquarters was besieged with e-mails complaining about the cheering workers. Some customers even threatened a boycott.
"We started getting phone calls," said owner Jagdish Patel, an American citizen born in India. "Life-threatening phone calls." He added that some people even gathered in the parking lot of the shop and made threats against the workers.
In response to the complaints, Dunkin' Donuts' communications director Laurie Kylie had a team review the store's security tapes, which exonerated the workers completely.
"They clearly showed that nothing happened," Kylie said.
The communications team put the word out and once again it was time to go back to making the donuts.
But without a PR team to defend its honor, a restaurant called "The Sheik" in West Bloomfield, Mich., wasn't as lucky when faced with a similar rumor.
The restaurant's owner Dean Hachem, an American citizen born in Lebanon, said there was no celebrating or cheers at all in The Sheik that fateful day.
"It was sadness in the restaurant," he said. "Everybody is working, quiet."
And he too had security tapes from that day to prove it, but no communications team to get the word out.
"I am a U.S. citizen. I swore that I would defend the United States," he said. "So if anybody, anybody in my business did anything wrong, I would have handed them to the government."
But after Sept. 11, the restaurant changed from a bustling business to a ghost town.
And the reverberations even affected Hachem's family. "It's not easy when you get hurt and your kids go to school," he said. Hachem said he feels the backlash has made him a victim of Sept. 11. "It hurts. You live with it, it's in your life, then all of a sudden your life is changed."
So why does someone start hurtful rumors like these, which can cause real emotional and financial damage?
"The basic reason that people transmit rumors … is that they want some kind of certainty over their lives," said Gary Fine, author of Whispers on the Color Line: Rumor and Race in America.
"Rumor is a way of making sense by putting 'facts' onto things that seem uncertain," he said.
David and Barbara Mickelson debunk rumors on their Web site, Snopes.com.
"The celebrating Arabs rumors gave us a chance to give voice to a sense of unease in that these terrorists had walked among us, lived among us for years," Barbara Mickelson said.
Another rumor spawned online was that 4,000 Jews didn't show up to work in the towers on the day of the attacks.
One of the main sources of the rumor was the Web site of the Lebanese television network Al-Manar.
"The implication of this was that Israel was complicit in planning and executing the attack," said David Mickelson. "It was completely, a completely made up, fabricated piece of information."
Ambassador Alon Pinkas, Israel's consul general in New York, said some of the "ridiculous" rumors were amended to, "Jews were told not to go to work."
"I know of many Jews that were killed in the World Trade Center," Pinkas said.
More than 500 of the World Trade Center victims were Jewish, according to the Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations.
"And there were four Israelis killed," Pinkas added.
But 10 months later, this myth is still accepted as fact by some in the Arab world.
Rumors can be a way to blow off steam, said Barbara Mickelson. She explained that people think: "If only we knew every possible little detail about everything that happened on Sept. 11 … somehow we'd be able to finally come to terms with it and to achieve a sense of saying, 'Ah, now I understand.'"
Harmful to some, a balm of sorts for others, rumors spawned from Sept. 11 are not drying up.
"I think we're going to continue to hear rumors," Fine said. "Rumors about future terrorist attacks."
Fox News' Shephard Smith and Amy C. Sims contributed to this report.