Bin Laden's declaration of jihadgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Xtra Xtra, This Is Your Place : One Thread
'Kill the Americans': Bin Laden's declaration of jihad New York Times News Service Sept. 20, 2001 12:00:00
On Feb. 23, 1998, Al-Quds al-Arabi, an Arabic newspaper published in London, printed the full text of a "Declaration of the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and the Crusaders." In it was an order to "kill the Americans."
According to the paper, the statement was faxed to them under the signatures of Osama bin Ladin, the Saudi financier blamed by the United States for masterminding some of the worst attacks against Americans, and the leaders of militant Islamist groups in Egypt, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The statement reveals a version of history that most Westerners will find unfamiliar. Bin Ladin's grievances at the time were not quite what many might expect.
The declaration begins with an exordium quoting the more militant passages in the Koran and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, then continues:
"Since God laid down the Arabian peninsula, created its desert, and surrounded it with its seas, no calamity has ever befallen it like these Crusader hosts that have spread in it like locusts, crowding its soil, eating its fruits, and destroying its verdure; and this at a time when the nations contend against the Muslims like diners jostling around a bowl of food."
The statement goes on to talk of the need to understand the situation and act to rectify it. The facts, it says, are known to everyone and fall under three main headings:
"FIRST - For more than seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of its territories, Arabia, plundering its riches, overwhelming its rulers, humiliating its people, threatening its neighbors, and using its bases in the peninsula as a spearhead to fight against the neighboring Islamic peoples.
"Though some in the past have disputed the true nature of this occupation, the people of Arabia in their entirety have now recognized it.
"There is no better proof of this than the continuing American aggression against the Iraqi people, launched from Arabia despite its rulers, who all oppose the use of their territories for this purpose but are subjugated.
"SECOND - Despite the immense destruction inflicted on the Iraqi people at the hands of the Crusader-Jewish alliance and in spite of the appalling number of dead, exceeding a million, the Americans nevertheless, in spite of all this, are trying once more to repeat this dreadful slaughter. It seems that the long blockade following a fierce war, the dismemberment and the destruction are not enough for them. So they come again today to destroy what remains of this people and to humiliate their Muslim neighbors.
"THIRD - While the purposes of the Americans in these wars are religious and economic, they also serve the petty state of the Jews, to divert attention from their occupation of Jerusalem and their killing of Muslims in it.
"There is no better proof of all this than their eagerness to destroy Iraq, the strongest of the neighboring Arab states, and their attempt to dismember all the states of the region, such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia and Egypt and Sudan, into petty states, whose division and weakness would ensure the survival of Israel and the continuation of the calamitous Crusader occupation of the lands of Arabia."
These crimes, the statement declares, amount to "a clear declaration of war by the Americans against God, his Prophet, and the Muslims." In such a situation, the declaration says, the "ulema" - authorities on theology and Islamic law, or "sharia" - throughout the centuries unanimously ruled that when enemies attack the Muslim lands, jihad becomes every Muslim's personal duty.
In the technical language of the ulema, religious duties may be collective, to be discharged by the community as a whole, or personal, incumbent on every individual Muslim. In an offensive war, the religious duty of jihad is collective and may be discharged by volunteers and professionals. When the Muslim community is defending itself, however, jihad becomes an individual obligation.
After quoting various Muslim authorities, the signatories then proceed to the final and most important part of their declaration, the fatwa, or ruling. It holds that:
"To kill Americans and their allies, both civil and military, is an individual duty of every Muslim who is able, in any country where this is possible, until the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and the Haram Mosque in Mecca are freed from their grip and until their armies, shattered and broken-winged, depart from all the lands of Islam, incapable of threatening any Muslim."
After citing some further relevant verses from the Koran, the document continues:
"By God's leave, we call on every Muslim who believes in God and hopes for reward to obey God's command to kill the Americans and plunder their possessions wherever he finds them and whenever he can. Likewise we call on the Muslim ulema and leaders and youth and soldiers to launch attacks against the armies of the American devils and against those who are allied with them from among the helpers of Satan."
The declaration and fatwa conclude with a series of further quotations from Muslim scripture.
To most Americans, the declaration is a travesty, a gross distortion of the nature and purpose of the American presence in Arabia. They should also know that for many - perhaps most - Muslims, the declaration is an equally grotesque travesty of the nature of Islam and even of its doctrine of jihad.
The Koran speaks of peace as well as of war. The hundreds of thousands of traditions and sayings attributed with varying reliability to the Prophet, interpreted in various ways by the ulema, offer a wide range of guidance. The militant and violent interpretation is one among many.
The standard juristic treatises on sharia normally contain a chapter on jihad, understood in the military sense as regular warfare against infidels and apostates. But these treatises prescribe correct behavior and respect for the rules of war in such matters as the opening and termination of hostilities and the treatment of noncombatants and prisoners, not to speak of diplomatic envoys.
The jurists also discuss - and sometimes differ on - the actual conduct of war. Some permit, some restrict, and some disapprove of the use of mangonels, poisoned arrows, and the poisoning of enemy water supplies - the missile and chemical warfare of the Middle Ages - out of concern for the indiscriminate casualties that these weapons inflict.
At no point do the basic texts of Islam enjoin terrorism and murder. At no point do they even consider the random slaughter of uninvolved bystanders.
Nevertheless, some Muslims are ready to approve, and a few of them to apply, the declaration's extreme interpretation of their religion. Terrorism requires only a few.
-- Anonymous, September 21, 2001