Third public hearing of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
Statement of Steven Emerson to the
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
July 9, 2003
Overview: The Rampant Allure of Jihad in the Muslim World
Chairman Kean, Vice-Chairman Hamilton, and distinguished Members of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States: Thank you for inviting me to testify today about the societal factors in the Muslim world that support terrorism and justify violence.
It is important that this hearing and this commission never lose sight of the fact the killers behind the murder of 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001 were not generic terrorists without clear political and religious motives. The terrorists were not simply a band of fanatics who, as so many officials and pundits had repeatedly stated, after 9/11, had simply "hijacked a religion." Because of a fear of engendering charges of racism by Muslim leaders, a charge that is routinely applied to anything critical of militant Islam, there has been an assiduous effort to avoid labeling the terrorists of 9/11 for what they were: militant Islamic terrorists. Their behavior was informed and guided by their misguided interpretation of Islam. Unfortunately, efforts to sanitize the discussion of Islamic terrorism has led to explanations of 9/11 that exonerate the masterminds and ideological perpetrators of any responsibility for their actions: A special Hollywood broadcast after 9/11 noted that the attack of 9/11 was simply "pure evil" and had nothing to do with religion.
In fact, the 9/11 attack had everything to do with religion-- it had to with the doctrinal interpretation of Islam by militants. At the outset, it is critical to point out that militant Islam does not equal Islam. Islam as a religion, like Christianity and Judaism, does not endorse violence. Islam is a vibrant religion that gives spiritual comfort and meaning to its vast number of practitioners around the world. And there are Islamic writers, intellectuals and clerics who openly and unambiguously repudiate violent Islamic militant ideology. For the peaceful majority of Muslims around the world, it is imperative that these distinctions be made. But in the end, it is not the West that is avoiding these distinctions. It is the militants who are trying to erase these distinctions; by claiming there is no such thing as Islamic extremism, the militants have tried to hide under the protection of the mainstream majority.
Anti-American radicalism was pervasive in the Muslim world long before the events of September 11, 2001, and is not limited to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. One need only read translations of the Muslim media in many parts of the world, including the West, to see the resentment, hatred and anger, even in countries that are our strategic "allies." The persistent denial that radical Muslims were responsible for the September 11 attacks, with the belief that Israel or the United States had secretly launched the attacks, is further evidence of the rampant radicalism. The extent of radicalism in the Muslim world has gone unrecognized because of premeditated deception, a cloak of religiosity, intimidation, and a tendency by many in the West to dismiss radical statements as nothing more than mere rhetorical posturing.
Often one cannot draw a clear line between fundamentalist religious dogma and radical action or between the West and the Muslim world. Indeed many of these militants have been educated in the West. Such a belief system, in which anti-Western animus is so entrenched, cannot be remedied by a public relations program launched by outsiders. Rather, any hope for change must come from within the Muslim world itself. As Professors Fouad Ajami and Bernard Lewis have long argued, the roots of Arab and Islamic belligerency towards the US are found in the failure of those regimes to adequately meet the needs of their people. A democratic modernization of the Islamic world, mounted from within, is the only way to defuse these murderous emotions.
In the last two years, there has been a genuine, although belated, recognition in the United States that the problem and threat posed by Al-Qaeda is not limited to card carrying members of this terrorist group. Although Al-Qaeda carried out the horrific terrorist attack of 9/11, the larger problem the US faces is the militant Islamic culture and mindset that gave birth to Al-Qaeda. In this regard, Al-Qaeda is shorthand for a much larger religious phenomena - militant Islamic fundamentalism - that has spawned violence and terrorism against the United States, the West or western-allied states that are deemed to be the "enemies of Islam." Within the framework of militant Islamic fundamentalism, a culture of violent "jihad" has become a common denominator, sanctioning violence and terrorism against moderate and secular Muslims, Americans, Westerners, Christians, Jews, and other "infidels."
To be sure, the Muslim world is not the only religious umbrella under which religious-sanctioned terrorism takes place. There have been Christian, Jewish, Sikh and Hindu terrorists for example.
But today no other religious-inspired violence matches the scope and transnational breadth of militant Islamic fundamentalism. According to research we have conducted, Islamist terrorist attacks have now occurred in or been planned and supported from more than 100 countries around the globe in the past 10 years.
One of the basic problems when confronting radicalism in the Muslim world is the unwillingness by some Western academicians, editorialists and leaders to recognize the pervasive institutionalized support for and dissemination of jihadist ideology. In the West, the concept of Islamic extremism is automatically associated with relatively small portions of Muslim society.
The undeniable fact is that Islamic militants dominate or exercise disproportionate influence over the religious, academic, and media institutions in the Muslim world, with the notable exception of several countries such as Turkey and Indonesia. Within the Muslim world, the religious hierarchy has been traditionally controlled by Islamic fundamentalists; major Islamic media institutions, from newspapers to television, mirror the Islamic fundamentalist influence over the message dictated to the masses.
The Appeal of Al Qaeda
In attacks in Saudi Arabia, Bali, Morocco, and Tunisia, Al-Qaeda cells have demonstrated an ability to strike western interests despite intensive multilateral efforts to dismantle the organization since September 11. Military strikes, law enforcement actions, financial seizures, and international cooperation have severely curtailed bin Laden's ability to operate, but the damage done to Al-Qaeda's present military and financial interests does not address bin Laden's political capabilities, and leaves intact Al-Qaeda's recruitment infrastructure and ideological support system.
Al-Qaeda's most serious challenge to international security lies in its ability to quickly replenish its ranks with dedicated operatives. Underpinning this challenge is an abstract and hate-based ideology of "jihad." Based on an absolutist interpretation of Islamic law, and cloaked in a veneer of extremist terminology, this ideology harnesses and directs angry and alienated people in the Muslim world against non-Muslim scapegoats.
Al-Qaeda's culture of "jihad' engenders a breeding ground for new acts of international terrorism. Al-Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist movements are entirely dependent on their potent ideological message to attract fresh recruits. Under the guise of a social program, Islamic radical movements generate moral and political support in Muslim communities worldwide. The jihadist ideology mandates that "true" believers oppose the "enemies" of Islam and spread Islamic sovereignty, thus breeding violence and terrorism.
The typical path of indoctrination in the Islamic radical worldview starts at the fundamentalist mosque. Radical imams from Long Beach, California to Long Island, New York use passionate religious rhetoric to criticize the West and proclaim the "universal victimhood of Islam." In lectures and study circles, these imams teach students that since Islam is a total system, offering solutions to every problem, the current hardships of Muslim societies are a direct result of Christian or Zionist conspiracies. Islamic bookstores from Falls Church, Virginia to London, UK provide reading materials to substantiate these claims. Acquainted with the radical texts, students form study groups and learn of further options to continue their indoctrination in Islamic theology. These options usually include travel to madrassahs in the Arabian Gulf or South Asia and training camps in Afghanistan or other 'lands of jihad.' There young Muslims pass through the first level of recruitment into Al-Qaeda.
Sociology of Muslim Enmity Toward the West
In Muslim countries, widespread resentment and envy of the West and the United States create a fertile ground for the growth of terrorist movements. Political leaders often fan the flames of hatred to divert popular wrath from grotesque levels of misgovernment. Opposition figures and dissident groups, particularly those with religious pretensions, have leaped at the chance to profit from this rancor.
For centuries Muslims had good reason to consider themselves at the vanguard of civilization. They had conquered much of the Old World, beaten off the Crusaders and absorbed the Mongols.
But beginning with Napoleon's invasion and conquest of Egypt in 1798, the Muslim world found the Christians of Europe had advanced by leaps and bounds. Many humiliations followed on both the military and technological fronts.
Bernard Lewis, the premier scholar of the Muslim world, has written:
In the course of the twentieth century it became abundantly clear that things had gone badly wrong in the Middle East-and, indeed, in all the lands of Islam. Compared with Christendom, its rival for more than a millennium, the world of Islam had become poor, weak, and ignorant.
Attempts were made to reform and catch up, but:
The results achieved were, to say the least, disappointing. The quest for victory by updated armies brought a series of humiliating defeats. The quest for prosperity through development brought in some countries impoverished and corrupt economies in recurring need of external aid, in others an unhealthy dependence on a single resource - oil.
Worst of all are the political results: the long quest for freedom has left a string of shabby tyrannies, ranging from traditional autocracies to dictatorships that are modern only in their apparatus of repression and indoctrination.
'Who did this to us?' is of course a common human response when things are going badly, and many in the Middle East, past and present, have asked this question. They have found several different answers. It is usually easier and always more satisfying to blame others for one's misfortunes.
The obvious scapegoat is the West, now led by the United States.
Teaching Hate in Schools
It should not come as a surprise that educational institutions provide the most effective mechanism to teach, indoctrinate and perpetuate the culture of jihad. The Saudi government distributes textbooks to Islamic schools in Pakistan, the United States, and elsewhere around the world. These books incite hatred of Jews and Christians and praise Jihad.
For instance, a single exercise in one eighth-grade Arabic grammar book-a book which has been distributed by the Saudi Embassy in Washington to Islamic schools in the United States-- has students repeating the following sentences:
- I said to my sister: "We have triumphed over our unjust enemy."
- Our two armies wiped out the enemy and won a great victory.
- The Muslims achieved a great victory.
- The female Mujahideen won by the grace of God.
- The two commanders said to the troops: "You are fighting for our dignity, and making your nation last forever."
- Oh, female Mujahideen, you have obtained from us the best praise.
- Oh, sister, say, "Praise be to Allah for this clear-cut victory."
An 11th grade textbook states:
Since friendship with infidels is forbidden in the religion of Allah, no one will do this unless he has a sickness in his heart. There are hypocrites who profess Islam, but their hearts are sick and empty of faith. They are afraid of the infidel and fear them. They take their side, and appoint them over the Muslims to confirm their victory over the Muslims.
Since the hypocrites love the infidels and take them as friends, the believer must do the opposite and love his believing brother, make friends with him, and show him affection and love. He must show the infidels rudeness and violence, and wage Jihad in the way of Allah without fear of the Infidels and hypocrites, or terror of their arms and numbers.
Preaching Hate from the Pulpit
Islamic fundamentalist preachers continue the Saudi government's inculcation of anti-Western and intolerant attitudes in schools and add to it a layer of Islamic theory.
Shaykh Abdulaziz Bin Baz
Shaykh Abdulaziz Bin Baz, the late Grand Mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one example of religious leaders preaching hate.
As the chief sanctioned religious voice of the Saudi Kingdom, Bin Baz's words carried the weight of the Saudi government. Though Bin Baz was attacked by the most stringent of Salafi Muslim radicals as a munafiq (traitor) for his cooperation with the Saudis, Bin Baz himself backed militant confrontation with the West.
In his 1999 book, The Ideological Attack, Bin Baz states explicitly that non-Muslim peoples are attacking the Muslim world. Bin Baz writes:
Yes, the Muslims in general…are all subject to a great ideological attack from the various nations of kufr [infidels] from both the east and the west. The severest and most serious of these attacks are: the attack of the Christian crusaders; the Zionist attack; the communist and atheistic attack.
[t]he attack of the Christian crusaders is today at its most intense…The Muslim whose mind has not been corrupted cannot bear to see the infidels wielding authority…[t]herefore such a Muslim strives [to] his utmost to expel and distance them-even if he has to sacrifice his own life, or his most cherished possession for this cause.
Bin Baz goes on to describe the parallel "Zionist plot" against Islam, saying, "The Jews scheme and crave after possessing the Muslim lands, as well as the lands of others. They have fulfilled some of their plans and continue striving hard to implement the rest of them."
Between 1993 and 1998, Shaykh Bin Baz appeared repeatedly as a featured guest at the International Islamic Relief Organization's (IIRO) annual donors conferences in Saudi Arabia. At the 1996 conference, Bin Baz donated 10,000 Saudi Riyals to IIRO and, speaking before attendees, congratulated the efforts of IIRO officials and thanked the Saudi royal family for supporting IIRO's activities. In 1998, Bin Baz again donated 10,000 Saudi Riyals to IIRO, urging others at that event "to donate generously… and earn manifold reward in the process." The Canadian government has said IIRO "secretly fund[s] terrorism." According to Canadian officials, Mahmoud Jaballah, a suspected Egyptian Al-Jihad member jailed in Canada and accused of having contact with Al-Qaeda agents, spent at least 3 years working for IIRO in North America. Indian intelligence has reported that IIRO financed a military training camp in Kunduz, Afghanistan for "holy warriors" preparing for combat in Bosnia, Chechnya, and Kashmir. When leaving home, September 11 hijacker Fayez Ahmed Al-Shehri told his father he was going to work for IIRO and subsequently joined Al-Qaeda.
Grand Mufti Bin Baz himself had contacts with various prominent members and supporters of Al-Qaeda. Hassan Al-Suraihi (a.k.a. Abu Abdelrahman) is a former Imam of Shaykh Abdelaziz Bin Baz's mosque in the Al-Shashah neighborhood of Mecca. Al-Suraihi is a veteran Arab-Afghan, having fought alongside Usama Bin Laden in Afghanistan and "witnessed the birth" of Al-Qaeda. Al-Suraihi later served six years in a Saudi jail for an undisclosed number of "state security violations."
When senior Al-Qaeda recruiter Shaykh Abu Abdel Aziz Barbaros was interviewed in 1994 about his experiences organizing the Arab-Afghan jihad in Bosnia, he explained:
I-alhamdulillah-met several prominent Ulema. Among them…Sheikh Abdel Aziz Bin Baz…and others in the Gulf area. Alhamdulillah, all grace be to Allah, they all support the religious dictum that "the fighting in Bosnia is a fight to make the word of Allah supreme and protect the chastity of Muslims."
Yusuf al Qaradawi
Perhaps the most prominent living Islamist is Yusuf al Qaradawi. Qaradawi fled his native Egypt in 1962 and has lived in Qatar ever since. He is a longtime leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Qaradawi's popular weekly television show on al-Jazeera satellite television enables him to spread Islamist teachings to a vast audience.
Qaradawi has from time to time issued fatwas or given speeches diverging from traditional hard-line teachings, and several US journalists have taken to referring to him as a "moderate." However, even a cursory examination of his statements reveals a committed Islamist, a supporter of terrorism, and an advocate of violence.
In December, 2001 the highest religious authority in Egypt, the Sheikh of Azhar, issued a fatwa condemning attacks on civilians in response to a wave of suicide bombings which killed 25 Israelis. Qaradawi immediately issued a refutation, describing the attacks as "acts of martyrdom." Qaradawi appeared on al-Jazeera asserting the fatwa did not apply to Palestinians because they were the victims, not the aggressors. He further claimed that since Palestinians were defenseless in confronting an enemy with a sophisticated military arsenal, terrorism was "their only weapon."
Qaradawi reasons that the Palestinians "have every right to defend themselves with any means at their disposal," and that since, "in Israel, all men and women are soldiers…They are [therefore] all occupying troops." Thus Qaradawi denies that any Israeli is truly innocent. He concludes that suicide bombings are "effective because they frighten Israelis."
In an interview with the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram Al-Arabi, Qaradawi expanded upon his reasons for supporting suicide bombings:
He who commits suicide kills himself for his own benefit, while he who commits martyrdom sacrifices himself for the sake of his religion and his nation…He fights his enemy and the enemy of Allah with this new weapon [suicide bombing], which destiny has put in the hands of the weak, so that they would fight against the evil of the strong and arrogant.
Qaradawi rejects the fundamental tenets of separation of church and state, saying:
Secularism may be accepted in a Christian society but it can never enjoy a general acceptance in an Islamic society.
Islam is a comprehensive system of worship ('ibadah) and legislation (Shari'ah), the acceptance of secularism means abandonment of Shari'ah, a denial of the divine guidance and a rejection of Allah's injunctions; it is indeed a false claim that Shari'ah is not proper to the requirements of the present age.
For this reason, the call for secularism among Muslims is atheism and a rejection of Islam…
Qaradawi also rejects democracy as a whole:
Islam wants this nation to consult with each other, and stand as a united body, so no enemy can penetrate it. This is not what democracy is for. Democracy is a system that can't solve all societal problems. Democracy itself also can make whatever it wants as lawful, or prohibit anything it does not like...Our society should abide by what have been made lawful by Allah SW and abide by what also made unlawful by him SW. In comparison democracy, with a slim majority can cancel all laws and rules…I want [to] draw the attention to the issue of the spread of deviance in the democratic societies. We should take the "good", and abandon the "bad". For instance, many democratic countries have allowed types of sexual deviance to spread, and even legalized such behavior. Gays and Lesbians now can marry each other legally.
In another sermon, Qaradawi charged that any US war against Iraq is in fact intended to benefit Israel, saying "they want to actually wipe out Iraq to help Israel." He also demanded that no country in the region allow their bases to be used for an attack on Iraq.
Finally, Qaradawi issued a fatwa urging Muslim soldiers in the US military to attempt to avoid if at all possible taking part in fighting against other Muslims, i.e. in Afghanistan or Iraq.
World Assembly of Muslim Youth
The jihadist lessons taught by the governments and preachers in the Muslim world are then incorporated by youth organizations into their itinerary.
The World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) is the world's largest Muslim youth organization. WAMY was founded in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 1972. According to a letter signed by WAMY Assistant Secretary General Dr. Hameed al Shaygi, WAMY has offices in London, Washington DC, Kuala Lampur, Auckland, Dhaka, Nairobi, Dakar, Moscow, Cordoba (Argentina), and headquarters in Riyadh. WAMY's US website, www.wamyusa.org, says "WAMY has 66 regional, local offices and representatives in the five continents." WAMY's US office was incorporated in Falls Church, Virginia in 1992 by Osama bin Laden's brother, Abdullah bin Laden.
WAMY's goal, according to its pamphlet "Islam at a glance" is to "arm the Muslim youth with full confidence in the supremacy of the Islamic system over other systems."
While claiming to Western audiences that it seeks coexistence with the West, WAMY has a comprehensive program for supporting the Jihad. WAMY literature and lectures teach young people that non-Muslims are abhorrent to God, WAMY pays for promising students to continue their Islamic education at radical madrassahs in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and the affiliates of WAMY have been used provide cover or logistical support to Islamic terrorists.
WAMY Books and Publications
WAMY produces books and pamphlets, some in conjunction with the Saudi government, to spread its message.
Islamic Views is an Arabic language book written by WAMY and printed by the Saudi Government's Armed Forces Printing Press. Under the heading "The Prophet asks for Jihad," Islamic Views says, "The Prophet Mohammad fought against the infidels and the Jews till he triumphed over them and conducted himself about twenty invasions and he sent tens of regiments led by his companions for Jihad…Damn from Allah to the Jews who made graves of their prophets as Masjid."
Later, Islamic Views says Islam "is a religion of Jihad" and that Jihad "was an answer for the Jews, the liars."
[T]each our children to love taking revenge on the Jews and the oppressors, and teach them that our youngsters will liberate Palestine and al-Quds when they go back to Islam and make Jihad for the sake of Allah.
Islamic Views exhorts Muslims to wage "Jihad against the Satan," and that "You should not back the Jews and the Christians and the Communists against the Muslims; the Communists, the Infidels, the Jews, and the Christians, those who do not believe in Mohammed. You should say they are infidels."
Additionally, WAMY runs camps on six continents to recruit and teach young Muslims, and has produced a handbook entitled, Islamic Camps: Objectives, Program Outlines, Preparatory Steps, as a guide for other Muslim groups planning camps. The book lists steps for starting a camp, creating a program, inviting participants, establishing goals, and other technical advice. The book includes sample schedules, sports to play, lectures, meals, and free time. In the index, Islamic Camps suggests chants such as "Hail! Hail! O Sacrificing Soldiers! / To Us! To Us! So we may defend the flag / on this Day of Jihad, are you miserly with your blood?!…Come! So we may revive the times the times of our predecessors!"
Finally, WAMY produced, A Handy Encyclopedia of Contemporary Religions and Sects, a tract of anti-Semitism comparable to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
The book purports to describe various Jewish sects such as "Al-Sabi'a: these are the followers of Abdullah ibn Sab'a, entered (sic) Islam to destroy it from within;" "The Rotaries…a Masonic organization dominated by the Jews of the world. The real objective of these organizations is for the Jews to have an opportunity to mingle with others, this would afford them the chance to gather crucial information needed for their economical and political success as well as to influence the society;" The "Lions' Club…looks like it is a benevolent organization but undoubtedly, it is a member of the Masonic group and the Jewish hands are in it because their objectives are also to dominate the world. They teach Zionist ideology to their members;" "The Dogha Jews" are "[a] group of Jews [who] have joined Islam but actually they remained Jews at heart; they planned to hurt Islam. They dominate the economy, education, and the media. They took part in undermining the Ottoman state and caliphate."
Freemasonry is "Traditionally the name of a secret Jewish terrorist organization; it is well known and works for the domination of the Jews in the world. It promotes atheism and immorality." The "Encyclopedia" goes on to describe the freemasons:
Their ideology includes: Denying God's existence, plotting to being (sic) down all legitimate governments; using women and sex to achieve their objectives, creating divisions among the gentiles in order to better dominate them, working toward controlling the heads of states or changing them, controlling the major media and using it to steer the professional leaders, promoting volunteer vasectomy and pushing for Muslim's birth control, controlling the international organizations such as the UN and other youth and educational entities.
The international (Universal) Masonry is the highest of all entities; the Jewish leaders in it are above the World emperors, kings and presidents; they all plan ahead through the organization for the well being of Israel.
Masonry is a hunting weapon on (sic) the hands of the Jews to exert their influence over the uneducated people. The Masonry was behind all the woes that plagued the Muslim world. They were behind the French Revolution, Russian revolution and the British.
The Masonries have a wide international influence through the world leaders that they have entangled; they became like puppets in the organization's hands. It dominates the major world media. It controls most of the international economic resources. It has many terrorist gangs to carry out the criminal tasks and to eliminate anyone who stands in its way.
Under "Animosity toward the Jews," WAMY lists reasons for Muslims to hate Jews:
the seed of the Gulf-war was planted by a Jew; the Jews are enemies of the faithful, God and the angels; The Jews are humanity's enemies; they foment immorality in this world; The Jews are deceitful, they say something but mean the exact opposite; Who was behind the biological crisis which became like brain washing? A Jew; Who was behind the disintegration of family life and values? A Jew; The one that stirred-up hate and turned the individuals against their Muslim governments in the Arab peninsula - a Jew; Who promoted Atheism and made the countries thrive on Muslims' blood? The Jews; Every tragedy that inflicts the Muslims is caused by the Jews.
WAMY's Support for Terror
Spreading its message, WAMY supports jihad in Israel, Kashmir, Bosnia, and the Philippines, among others.
Terrorism Against Israel
WAMY supports terrorist attacks against Israel financially and ideologically. WAMY invited Khaled Mishaal, Political Head of HAMAS, to be the featured guest at the "Muslim Youth and Globalization" conference on October 29, 2002. According to Agence France Presse, "[Mishaal] was hugged and kissed by hundreds of participants."
The Arab News of April 12, 2002 reported, "The World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) has decided to raise its monthly contribution to Palestinian Intifada from [$800,000] to [$2.7 million]…" The increase in monthly aid to the Intifada was "in addition to the over $70 million they had collected from donations through WAMY offices abroad and on special occasions." In addition, WAMY, according to intelligence sources, has provided financial assistance to Hamas.
Terrorism Against India
According to a Pakistan Government website WAMY is located at PO Box 1055 is Peshawar. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) lists PO Box 1055, Peshawar, Pakistan as an address of the Specially Designated Global Terrorist Organization, Benevolence International Foundation (BIF).
The Associated Press and CBS News report that WAMY's Peshawar office was raided in November, 2001 in a joint FBI-Pakistan intelligence operation. A WAMY employee was subsequently questioned for hand delivering a recorded message from Osama bin Laden to local media. In that tape, Bin Laden praised various terrorist attacks, including the Bali nightclub bombing that killed over 200 people, and the Chechen takeover of a theatre in Moscow that led to over 150 deaths.
Nazir Qureshi is assistant Secretary-General of WAMY. He has been accused by the Indian government of supplying money to Kashmiri terrorist groups headed by Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
The Pakistani paper The News reported on March 25, 2001 that the Pakistani youth organization Jamiat Taleba Arabia is the only Pakistan-based member organization of WAMY. The article continued, "WAMY is also involved in religious and Jehadi training for its member organizations." According to The News, Jamiat Taleba Arabia, the WAMY member-organization, was:
involved in Afghanistan from the very beginning. It joined the Jehad in Kashmir as soon as the Kashmiris started their armed struggle in 1990 and was fully involved by 1993. The members of the Jamiat Taleba Arabia fought under the umbrella of Gulbadin Hakmatyar's Hizbe Islami in Afghanistan and, in Occupied Kashmir, under the discipline of the hizbul Mujahideen …Jehad has become the focus of the Jamiat's activities in the last two decades.
According to the Indian magazine Frontline, Mohammed Ayyub Thukar, President of the World Kashmir Freedom Movement, was a financier of Hizbul Mujahideen, a Kashmiri terror organization. During his exile in Saudi Arabia, Thukar was affiliated with Muslim World League, WAMY, and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Sardar Ija Afzal Khan, Amir of Jamaat-e-Islami since early June, 2002, "highlighted [the] freedom struggle of the Kashmiris at the forums of World Assembly of Muslim Youth…"
The Indian government contends that "90 percent of the funding [for Kashmir militants] is from other countries and Islamic organizations like the World Association of Muslim Youth…"
Beyond the Middle East and India, WAMY works to immerse its students in its hateful ideology. For example, Philippine resident Zam Amputan told the Christian Science Monitor that WAMY paid for him to attend a madrassah in Peshawar in 1987. According to the Monitor, "There he was exposed to the Wahhabi ideology." Amputan told the Monitor he returned to the Philippines "thinking of ways to create a separate Islamic state in the Southern Philippines." The Washington Quarterly reports that "IIRO is not the only charitable organization in the Philippines suspected of financing terrorism. Manila is investigating five other Muslim charities active in the Philippines [including] the World Alliance of Muslim Youth…"
Similarly, according to Professor S.V. Seshagiri Rao, the organization Deendar Anjuman "was involved in militant activity in Bosnia, Kosovo and Chechnya through the World Association of Muslim Youth (WAMY), a Saudi Arabia based fundamentalist outfit." Deendar Anjuman is banned by the Indian government.
Likewise, the Romanian newspaper, Bucharest Ziua, reported on February 12, 2002 that "the Muslim Brotherhood organization operates under the screen of the Islamic and Cultural League in Romania [LICR], the 'al-Taiba' humanitarian foundation, the Crescent humanitarian society, and the 'As Salam' association. The vast majority of its funds come from the World Association of Muslim Youth [WAMY], with its headquarters in Riyad, Saudi Arabia, and from the al-Taiba humanitarian foundation, with its headquarters in the United States."
Ahmed Ajaj's Military Manual
WAMY's education is not limited to Islamic theology. When Ahmed Ajaj was arrested in 1992 investigators confiscated his belongings. Among them was an official WAMY envelope printed with the organizations's return address in Saudi Arabia. After serving a six month prison term for attempting to enter the country with a false passport, Ajaj was released. Ajaj was rearrested and convicted in connection to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing on March 4, 1994. He was sentenced to 240 years in prison on May 24, 1994.
The envelope marked WAMY contained a manual detailing how to establish and maintain clandestine cells titled "Military Lessons in the Jihad Against the Tyrants." Another version of the same manual, with several added sections, was found in the London apartment of African Embassy bomber Khalid al-Fawwaz in 1998. Fawwaz has since been indicted, and the United States is seeking his extradition from England.
The Ajaj manual refers repeatedly to the role and importance of the "youth" in carrying out Jihad and re-establishing Muslim rule. The manual's "dedication" says, "what [the apostate regimes] know is the dialogue of bullets, the ideals of assassination, explosion and destruction, and the politics of the machine gun." It continues:
An Islamic state has not and will not be formed through peaceful solutions or through the Assemblies of Polytheism. It will be formed as it did through the written words and the gun, through the word and the bullet.
The manual instructs "the principal mission for the military organization is to overthrow the atheist regimes and replace them with Islamic ones," and lists strategies such as kidnapping enemy soldiers, assassinating personnel and foreign tourists, spreading rumors, and blowing up, destroying, and sabotaging places of entertainment as secondary duties of the military organization. The ultimate goal, repeated over and over, is "get[ting] rid of people who stand in the way of the Islamic Call," and "establishing an Islamic State."
The manual goes on to provide in-depth instructions for obtaining and storing false documents, finding housing, obtaining and storing weapons, conducting reconnaissance, planning attacks, carrying out attacks, avoiding detection, and using other tactics.
Public Opinion Polls in the Muslim World
The effect of the constant recitation of these lessons has been profound, even on Muslims living in the West. Opinion polls conducted since September 11 illustrate the continuing impact such widespread teachings have had on Muslim populations throughout the world. Ultimately, the constant vilification of Jews, Christians and others has led populations in the Muslim world to believe they are the target of a vast conspiracy.
For example, between November 2nd and 11th, 2001, ICM conducted a telephone survey of 500 British Muslims on behalf of the BBC. ICM reported the following results:
- Q: "From what you have seen or heard, do you think the USA are justified in blaming Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda Group for the attacks in America on September 11th?"
- 67% replied "unjustified"
- Q: "Taking all things into account, do you think the military action by the United States and Afghanistan is justified or unjustified?"
- 80% replied "unjustified"
- Q: "Some people we have spoken to have said they approve of British Muslims going to fight America and its allies in Afghanistan. Do you approve or disapprove of Muslims going to Afghanistan to fight America and its allies?"
- Q: "Do you think military action in Afghanistan should…"
In 2002, Gallup conducted a poll in conjunction with USA Today in which Gallup interviewed nearly 10,000 people in nine mostly Muslim countries: Turkey, Kuwait, Iran, Indonesia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, and Lebanon.
- 77% said that "U.S. military action in Afghanistan [is] morally unjustifiable."
- 61% said that Arabs did not carry out the September 11th attacks.
- More specifically: 86% of Pakistanis and 89% of Kuwaitis do not believe that Arabs were responsible for the attacks.
Without a doubt, the last result is the most troubling (especially viewed in conjunction with the BBC survey), for many in the Arab world continually refuse to acknowledge the overwhelming evidence that links bin Laden and his terror network to the September 11 attacks. As a CBS News report has documented, much of the Arab world believes instead that the Mossad carried out the attacks, and that 4000 Israelis who allegedly worked in World Trade Center stayed home on 9/11.
Indeed, governments in the Arab world have propagated this view. By refuting Arab involvement in 9/11, proponents of the Jewish conspiracy theory avoid confronting the deep-rooted problems that exist in their own societies. Their failure to inspect the domestic issues that lead to terrorism makes them unable, and in some cases unwilling, to prevent future 9/11-style attacks.
For example, Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass, has voiced his support for the Mossad theory, and the Saudi government has encouraged speculation that Saudi citizens were not really involved.
Also in 2002, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press conducted its Global Attitudes Survey. Surveyors asked this question: "Some people think that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilian targets are justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies. Other people believe that, no matter what the reason, this kind of violence is never justified. Do you personally feel that this kind of violence is often justified to defend Islam, sometimes justified, rarely justified, or never justified?" Pew reported the following results:
- More than 25% of those in Indonesia (88% Muslim ), Pakistan (97% Muslim ), and Mali (90% Muslim ) felt "this kind of violence" was "often justified" or "sometimes justified."
- More than 40% of those in Jordan (approximately 92% Muslim ) and Bangladesh (83% Muslim ) felt "this kind of violence" was "often justified" or "sometimes justified."
- And an astonishing 73% of those in Lebanon (70% Muslim ) felt "this kind of violence" was "often justified" or "sometimes justified."
These results reflect the Muslim world's failure to draw a sharp contrast between support for "legitimate resistance" and support for terrorist actions.
The same 2002 Pew Global Attitudes Survey asked respondents in a number of countries: "And which comes closer to describing your view? I favor the US-led efforts to fight terrorism, OR I oppose the US-led efforts to fight terrorism." Pew reported the following results:
- More than 50% of those in Indonesia, Turkey (99.8% Muslim ), and Senegal (94% Muslim ) "oppose the US-led efforts to fight terrorism."
- 79% of those in Egypt (94% Muslim ) and 85% of those in Jordan "oppose the US-led efforts to fight terrorism."
The latest Pew poll illustrates the growing anti-Western view among Muslims throughout the world. This year's Pew Global Attitudes Survey involved 16,000 interviewees in 20 countries and the Palestinian territories. Surveyors asked respondents to rate their "confidence in world figures to do the right thing regarding world affairs." Pew reported that Osama bin Laden is one of the three most trusted leaders in Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, and the Palestinian Authority. Respondents in the PA trusted bin Laden the most.
When asked about the US war in Iraq, "Overwhelming majorities in Morocco (93%), Jordan (91%), Lebanon (82%), Turkey (82%), Indonesia (82%), and the Palestinian Authority (81%) say they are disappointed the Iraqi military put up so little resistance."
The magnitude of hostility and hatred towards the United States in the Muslim world has led some editorialists and policymakers to conclude that the United States is to blame for incurring Muslim wrath-that the anger is the result of bad US policies or ineffective public relations marketing programs. In fact, no matter what policies or pr programs the US adopted, the anger and hatred of the Muslim world would still be pervasive. It is the very success of the United States as a world power and the pluralist principles underling our country that menaces Islamic fundamentalists.
Al-Qaeda's Ties to Western Society
In the United States and Europe, militant Islamic leaders and groups, often operating under the false guise of serving as "civil rights" groups or "religious action" monikers, have fueled the ideology of jihad by promoting support for the various mujahideen around the world. In other cases, "mainstream" Islamic leaders here have facilitated the ideology of terrorism by creating a grey area between legitimate and extremist discourse. While First Amendment protections guarantee the rights of these leaders to spread their message, this periphery enables militant Islam to maintain ties with Western society and recruit sympathizers, financial and logistical supporters, and ultimately, members.
A review of several prominent Islamic conferences, bookstores and relief organizations reveals a campaign of deception and indoctrination which strengthens Al-Qaeda at home and abroad.
Non-Profits and NGOs support Terror
An analysis of reactions from "moderate" Muslim leaders in the US to domestic counter-terrorism efforts since 9/11 illustrates an ingrained distrust for US actions, and a policy of inculcating the Muslim population in anti-government and anti-integrationist propaganda.
It is tempting to believe that these speakers, conventions and bookstores are aberrations, that they do not represent any significant portion of the population. However, while it is more common for speakers to couch their support for terror in terms of human rights, freedom of speech, and ultimately self-determination, a large portion of US Muslim leaders refuse to condemn terrorist groups by name, or even acknowledge the existence of "Islamic fundamentalism," a term they claim is an invective and racist concoction against the Muslim world. When terrorist arrests have been made since 9/11 or the assets of terrorist groups frozen, these same Islamic leaders-many of whom have been invited to the White House in recent years or to Congress-have condemned government actions as "anti-Islam" and even as part of the on-going "crusades" against Islam. Perpetuating this victimhood mentality that Islam is under attack is the same ideological mechanism used by Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezzbollah and every other militant Islamic group to justify their terrorist attacks
Even regarding the horrors of September 11, US Muslim and Arab leaders have been reluctant to accept that Muslims were responsible for the attacks. Some US Muslim leaders and organizations actually joined with fringe and racist groups in formulating elaborate conspiracy theories claiming that Israel was behind the attacks, possibly with US government complicity. After the release of a video in which bin Laden took credit for the attacks, some leaders claimed the tape was a U.S. government forgery.
Even when finally accepting Osama bin Laden's responsibility for the attacks, some of these organizations offer only partial condemnations of terrorism. For years, groups have justified terrorist acts against Israel, saying Israel's actions in Lebanon and against Palestinian terrorists make Israel a deserving target. Since September 11, various leaders and groups have argued that attacks on US interests are an extension of the same justifiable conflict, as the US supports Israel and undemocratic Middle Eastern regimes.
Islamic Assembly of North America
Some groups, though, do actively and openly support terror. The Islamic Assembly of North America (IANA) was incorporated on December 8, 1993 in Aurora, Colorado. According to the IANA website, the founders established the group in order to "reviv[e] the Islamic nation to its proper state and condition" by "engag[ing] in a complete and comprehensive form of Islamic work…based on the principles of [Sunni Islam]…aim[ed] at bringing together the efforts of many dawah [missionary] activities and coordinating the activities of different Islamic centers and groups." As stated by IANA, one of the central efforts in that regard is to "[o]bserve and analyze the current events in the Muslim world" and to "[a]ssist the oppressed and tyrannized scholars, Islamic workers, and Muslim masses in any locality."
In order to achieve its goal of promoting the spread of fundamentalist Islam, IANA and its officers have spent large sums of money on sponsoring extremist political conferences in the United States, publishing websites, books, and magazines written by radical anti-American (predominantly Saudi and Kuwaiti) clerics, and by obtaining controlling stakes in a number of prominent American mosques. IANA was the only American Muslim organization promoted on Azzam Publication's website, which itself was considered the premier English-language mouthpiece for Al-Qaeda.
In December 1993, senior Al-Qaeda recruiter Shaykh Abu Abdel Aziz Barbaros was the featured speaker at IANA's third annual convention. In Barbaros's speech at the Arabic-language session he said:
Allah is going to help certain people to control the world and this control will come according to certain Quranic verses and as we know Allah said be prepared for the enemy by all means. Also, Allah said he is going to give us Tamkeen [control over the world]… it is a promise from Allah that those that believe in Allah and wage Jihad will go to Paradise. So to wage Jihad is one of the most important characteristics of the Believer… Whenever there is a pure Islam, there will be blessing or we will always be fighting with the enemy. Even the Prophet (SWS) participated in 27 battles and now we say that we are believers. Tell me Brothers, how many times you participated in Jihad or even thought about it? …this western tool, democracy, is not our way to have the Tamkeen. We have to follow the path of Allah and listen to his word, 'Make ready against [the enemies of Allah] with the utmost of your power.'
IANA is also responsible for publishing an online Arabic-language magazine, Al-Asr ("The Era"). In May 2001 - just months before the September 11 terrorist attacks - Al-Asr published three fatwas (Islamic legal opinions) endorsing so-called "martyrdom attacks." Among the examples sanctioned by one fatwa was the crashing of an airplane into an enemy target. The fatwa was issued by extremist spiritual leader Sheikh Hamid Al-Ali of Kuwait, who as of 1999 was under investigation by Kuwait's state prosecutor. Sheikh Al-Ali's fatwa discussed different kinds of justifiable suicide operations such as "storming enemy lines without hope of survival" or dying "to destroy a vital enemy command post." Al-Ali's fatwa concluded that, "The modern version of that is to use bombing methods or to crash one's plane on a crucial target to cause great casualties."
IANA is the exception, though, and most US-based organizations prefer to support Jihadist causes by maligning US counter-terror efforts and arguing that terrorism is the inevitable result of US support for Israel.
Council on American Islamic Relations
CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, is the largest American Muslim civil rights organization. Given its growing prominence, CAIR is in a position to mold U.S. Muslim opinion.
Prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, CAIR attempted to shield Osama bin Laden from US attention. In 1998 a Los Angeles television station put up billboards showing people in the news, including a picture of bin Laden labeling him "the sworn enemy." CAIR called the depiction "offensive to Muslims." Following the 1998 bombing of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, CAIR issued a press release, "American Muslims ask journalists to exercise restraint in reporting on embassy bombings."
Even in the weeks after the 9/11 attacks, CAIR showed great reluctance to accept bin Laden's involvement. Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR's Communications Director, refused to condemn Bin Laden outright for the attacks. He would only say, "if Osama bin Laden was behind it, we condemn him by name."
More explicitly, Al-Haj Ghazi Khankan, Executive Director of CAIR's New York chapter, told The New York Times more than a week after the attacks that the United State government had not proven Usama bin Laden's role in the terrorism. "We need to have proof. We need to have facts. If there is something wrong, let's get together through the United Nations, not act as a lynch mob."
On September 15, 2001, Khankan appeared on an ABC News Special "Answering Kids' Questions," saying:
I am sure that if we have full evidence and proof that Osama bin Laden is guilty of these atrocious terrorist acts, he will be brought to justice. America is great because a person is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law - not by assumptions and speculations.
When we can prove that bin Laden is guilty, then he should be brought to trial. But to stoop to the lower level of uncivilized behavior and go bomb other countries, we could be accused of behaving like those terrorists.
A member of Khankan's congregation told the reporter in Khankan's presence that Bin Laden was a Muslim equivalent of David Koresh. The reporter replied that Koresh had no international network plotting suicide missions against the U.S. Khankan responded, "What about the world Zionist network? Why are you in the media not looking at them?"
On October 7 at CAIR's annual fundraising dinner held in Vienna, Virginia, Khankan asked his audience:
Why is it assumed that Muslims were behind the attack on September 11? We know at least three people supposed to be hijackers, who are still alive in the Middle East. The question is, who is impersonating these Muslim names? Who benefits from assuming that Muslims are behind this tragedy, and who benefits from this tragedy? I think the media should seriously go and investigate these 3 and find out if they are really the 3 hijackers, or someone else is impersonating them. I think it is a very important thing that we insist that the media not cover up these facts.
Khankan has also sought to link 9/11 to U.S. foreign policy. On the September ABC Program, he told a young questioner who asked why terrorists hate the United States, "Look what our country has done overseas to other countries. These terrorists do not hate the American people, but they might hate what the government has done to their people and their families." Specifically linking the attacks to U.S. support for Israel, Mr. Khankan went on to say,
We need to reexamine our foreign policy in the world, especially in the sensitive area of the Palestine question. We know from statistics, for example, we have given the Israeli governments, since 1949, $134 billion and helped them take over the homes of the Palestinian people, and made them refugees.
The U.S.-made F-16s and helicopters that shoot rockets are being used by the Israelis to kill more Palestinians. And so the Palestinians think that we are in cahoots with the Israelis against the Palestinians.
Nihad Awad, CAIR's founder and Executive Director, has also attempted to relate terrorism against the U.S. to American foreign policy. After September 11, he said, "We can suppress terrorism by force, but not eliminate it except by justice. We have to understand when people abroad are angry with this country and come up with solutions."
CAIR officials, together with virtually every top "mainstream" Islamic organization in the United States, with several notable and courageous exceptions, have attacked the freezing of Hamas and Al-Qaeda assets in the United States as well as the Justice Department's indictment of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader Sami al-Arian in Tampa Florida. The evidence in the public domain showing the ties between terrorist groups and the Holy Land Foundation, Benevolence International and Global Relief-the three non-governmental groups whose assets were frozen by the US Government-is massive and overwhelming as is the case against Al Arian.
Muslim Public Affairs Council
The Muslim Public Affairs Council, MPAC, is another large Muslim American group that has failed to unequivocally condemn terrorism. Like CAIR, MPAC refuses to consider Muslim culpability in anti-US terror, and has implied that US support for Israel caused the 9/11 attacks.
On August 13, 1998, five days after the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania MPAC Director Salam al-Marayati wrote in the Los Angeles Times, "Hostility toward Islam is rising in light of speculation (emphasis added) that Muslim groups comprise the main suspect list in the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam bombings."
Speaking on the Los Angeles radio station KCRW only hours after the September 11 attacks, al-Marayati immediately blamed Israel for the attack. "If we're going to look at suspects we should look to the groups that benefit the most from these kinds of incidents, and I think we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list because I think this diverts attention from what's happening in the Palestinian territories so that they can go on with their aggression and occupation and apartheid policies."
The next day, Al-Marayati said, "It's still early, all the facts are not in yet. The concern is that there will be opportunists trying to slam Islam, so we always have our doubts until all the facts are known." Likewise, in a Live Dialogue on IslamOnline, October 22, 2001, Mahdi Bray, National Political Director of MPAC, refused to blame Bin Laden for 9/11, saying only that, "I cannot speak for Bin Laden, but I can speak to the horrific events of September 11th, which the media and the government have attributed (emphasis added) to Bin Laden."
On October 9, 2001 in response to a statement from bin Laden supporting the September 11 attacks, MPAC did issue a condemnation. However, the statement implicitly rejects US military action against terror, saying, "it is MPAC's position that the eradication of terrorism must be predicated on a careful attention to the root causes of it. We encourage the president to peruse the course of action he has endorsed to combat terrorism, which includes an analysis and consideration of root causes of terrorism."
Also in October, 2001 MPAC ran advertisements on a Los Angeles radio station resorting to blaming the US-Israel relationship for anti-US terrorism. The ad said "United States intervention in the Middle East had inflamed anti-America sentiment in the region."
Salam al-Marayati has made statements in defense of Hezbollah as well, despite the group's official designation as a terrorist organization. In November, 1999, appearing on the "News Hour with Jim Lehrer," al-Marayati said:
If the Lebanese people are resisting Israeli intransigence on Lebanese soil, then that is the right of resistance and they have the right to target Israeli soldiers in this conflict. That is not terrorism. That is a legitimate resistance. That could be called liberation movement, that could be called anything, but it's not terrorism.
In a June, 1999 "position paper" MPAC justified Hezbollah's suicide bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut:
Hezbollah organized the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in October 1983 killing 241 marines, the largest number of American troops killed in a single operation since the end of the Vietnam War. Yet this attack, for all the pain it caused, was not in a strict sense, a terrorist operation. It was a military operation, producing no civilian casualties -- exactly the kind of attack that Americans might have lauded had it been directed against Washington's enemies."
Margaret Zaknoen, MPAC's Communications Director and Program Director for American Muslims for Jerusalem (AMJ), wrote Congress Holds Israel Pep Rally, Calls It 'Hearing' about the September 25 House International Relations Subcommittee on the Middle East and Asia hearing on U.S policy toward the Palestinians. The article finds U.S. foreign policy the cause of anti-American terrorism:
One after another, these distinguished lawmakers lambasted those who recommend that the U.S. reexamine its place in the world in the wake of this national tragedy. These people would have us believe that there is no connection between America's behavior abroad and the world's perception of America. While there can be no justification for terrorism at any level, by anyone, what is clear to the vast majority of observers is that these atrocities and the hatred that produced them do not exist in a vacuum.
Members' wholesale dismissal of those who point to America's extreme pro-Israel bias as a cause of anti-American sentiment is misguided. It is done not to safeguard American policy, but to protect Israel from scrutiny.
Islamic Society of North America
Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Board of Directors and current member of the Majlis al-Shura (conslutative counsel) of the Islamic Society of North America, has articulated his doubt about Bin Laden's involvement in the September 11 terrorist attacks. He told CNN on September 23, 2001:
If Osama bin Laden and his group are the criminals, they are the ones that have done this, then they should be punished, and those who harbor them should be punished. But, it has to be proved.
In September 2002, a full year after the 9/11 attacks, speakers at ISNA's annual conference still refused to acknowledge Bin Laden's role in the terrorist attacks. According to conference proceedings, Jamal Barzinji, Director of International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), said, "It is not only that we don't have any proof (of Bin Laden's guilt), but the FBI doesn't have any proof. They are still looking." Muzammil Siddiqi, former President of ISNA, added, "We did not say it is Muslims who did it. We did not say this and that. But the point is that whosoever did it, it was wrong."
At the same conference, Suhail al Ganouchi, President of the Muslim American Society (MAS), commented, "Probably we'll never know who actually did it, or who, what, or what groups." Zulfiqar Shah, President of ICNA, refused to comment on Bin Laden's guilt.
Opposition to Counter-Terrorism Measures
Radical U.S. Muslim organizations have fought nearly every counter-terrorism measure the United States has undertaken since September 11. In addition to opposing domestic legislation, they have also spoken out against military operations abroad.
Soon after the attacks, on September 21, a group of U.S. Muslim organizations issued a statement, American Muslim Response to the September Attacks, articulating a general opposition to counterterrorism efforts:
We urge the U.S. government not to abandon the due process of law in determining responsibility for the attacks and punishing the guilty parties.
We are saddened by the possibility of military action, as we do not believe that terrorism can be eliminated solely or even effectively through military force. Rather we call upon our leaders to recognize that in order to rid the world of the ugliness of terrorism, our nation must understand its root causes. We hold out the hope that these root causes can be addressed through non-violent means, in a way that promotes peace and harmony between the nations of the world.
On February 20, 2003, the US Department of Justice released a 50-count, 121-page federal indictment describing in extraordinary detail Sami al-Arian's tenure as head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in North America. In response, American Muslim organizations decried the "persecution" of "innocent" Muslims. A statement by the American Muslim Political Coordination Council (AMPCC), which is comprised of the American Muslim Council (AMC), Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), American Muslim Alliance (AMA) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), stated:
The community is gaining the perception that people are rounded up and targeted because of their political opinions and because they exercise their right to dissent on current US policy. Our community is in dire need to understand how these charges are founded on concrete evidence of criminal activity and not guilt by association or political association…It was disturbing that Attorney General John Ashcroft inserted religious expressions, like Jihad and martyrdom, to a major federal investigation and indictment…Our security policy should not be driven by the turmoil of the Middle-East but rather by seeking the interest and protection of the United States of America.
The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) separately released the same statement.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) released a statement saying, "The ADC notes that Sami Al-Arian has been under heavy investigation for many years, and that thus far no evidence has ever been presented suggesting his involvement with any illegal activity…Prof. Al-Arian's case has become heavily politicized."
Omar Ahmad, the chairman of CAIR's board commented, "We are very concerned that the government would bring charges after investigating an individual for many years without offering any evidence of criminal activity. This action could leave the impression that Al-Arian's arrest is based on political considerations, not legitimate national security concerns."
The day of the indictment, CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper appeared on the MSNBC show, Buchanan and Press:
Patrick Buchanan: Is Sami Al-Arian associated with a group which is responsible for killing individuals, civilians, for political motives?
Hooper: I don't believe he is. Let's see the evidence. Let's see them bring evidence that shows that he's given material support. But the idea of material support to terrorism is getting very broad…He's actively supported Islamic causes and the struggle of the Palestinian people to be free of Israeli occupation. That gets you into trouble."
Bill Press: Islamic Jihad is a terrorist organization. Would you admit to that?
Hooper: Islamic Jihad is a terrorist organization. It's yet to be shown he is any way supportive of it…
Press: Well, here's one of the pieces of evidence which is not a secret. It's Mr. Al-Arian himself on a videotape, where he is saying - quote - "Jihad is our path. Victory to Islam. Death to Israel. Revolution, revolution until victory, rolling, rolling to Jerusalem.
Hooper: You may not like those views, but it's not criminal speech, not yet, at least.
Press: …Mr. Hooper, help me out with this. The war on terror started 9/12, 2001, against the al Qaeda terrorist network. Sami Al-Arian is accused of supporting the Islamic Jihad. What is the equivalence or are they the same, the al Qaeda terrorists and the Palestinian, let's call them, terrorist organizations fighting for different causes? Are they the same?…
Hooper: …I think the problem we're seeing is that the Israelization of American policy and procedures, the failed tactics of the Israelis, where, if you just kill a few more people, destroy a few more homes, seize a few more acres, everything will be OK. We don't want to take that and translate it into the American setting. And I think that's what we're seeing happening.
Press: So, do you think that the United States, with this arrest, is doing Ariel Sharon's dirty work?
Hooper: The entire controversy began with the attack dogs of the pro-Israel lobby going after Sami Al-Arian, the Holy Land Foundation, other groups in the United States. They wanted to shut them down because they oppose the occupation in Palestine. After more than a decade, they're finally getting their wish."
Finally, in March 2003, Agha Saed, national chairman of the American Muslim Alliance, testified at Al-Arian's bail hearing, noting that Al-Arian's "…role has been one of senior statesman in the community.'' (It should also be noted that one of the top Islamic chaplains in the US military, Yahya Hendi, also testified as a character witness on al-Arian's behalf)
The Holy Land Foundation
On Dec. 4, 2001, the Bush administration froze the assets of three groups accused of financing Hamas, including the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF). Several major U.S. Muslim organizations asked President Bush to reconsider his decision to freeze HLF's assets, including AMA, AMC, CAIR, ISNA, ICNA, MAS, MPAC, and MSA:
American Muslims support President Bush's effort to cut off funding for terrorism and we call for a peaceful resolution to the Middle East conflict. These goals will not be achieved by taking food out of the mouths of Palestinian orphans or by succumbing to politically-motivated smear campaigns by those who would perpetuate Israel's brutal occupation.
We ask that President Bush reconsider what we believe is an unjust and counterproductive move that can only damage America's credibility with Muslims in this country and around the world and could create the impression that there has been a shift from a war on terrorism to an attack on Islam.
Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR's spokesman added, "This action is really creating outrage in the Muslim community."
On November 22, MPAC issued a press statement:
American Muslims consider the diversion of the funds of these charities...a clear violation of our 1st Amendment right for the free exercise of religion.
Congress, in passing this unconscionable legislation, has enabled the public to confuse zakat from American Muslims, intended for the most poor and destitute (Muslims make up the largest percentage of the refugee population in the world) for terrorist funds. Our zakat money had nothing to do with September 11. Our zakat money does not cause suicide bombings. Our zakat money is intended for the poor and destitute, and any diversion of that money to sources other than the needy (high-priced Washington D.C. attorneys not included) is an outrageous violation of our first amendment rights that American Muslims will fight tooth and nail. The war on terrorism has been exploited by special interest groups to create an industry that funnels charitable donations to more lobbyists and lawyers.
The US-Israel Relationship
The dominant theme among apologists for terror against the United States is that bin Laden only hates the United States because of our support for Israel. Bin Laden's own words refute this assertion.
In a statement issued on February 23, 1998, bin Laden explicitly links his war against the United States to the American military presence in Saudi Arabia. In his fatwa declaring Jihad against the West, bin Laden says, "…for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula…All these crimes are sins committed by the Americans are a clear declaration of war on Allah, his messenger, and Muslims." Bin Laden later repeats his opposition to the US military presence in Muslim lands:
The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies - civilian and military - is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it…and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is accordance with the words of Almighty Allah, 'and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together,' and 'fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah'
Bin Laden concludes the fatwa by stating that it is God's will that Muslims kill Americans:
We with Allah's help call on every Muslim who believes in Allah and wishes to be rewarded to comply with Allah's order to kill the Americans…We also call on Muslim Ulema (scholars), leaders, youths, and soldiers to launch the raid on Satan's U.S. troops and the devil's supporters allying with them, and to displace those who are behind them so that they may learn a lesson."
It is telling that in his most influential sermon, bin Laden declared the presence of kufr (infidels) soldiers on Saudi soil to be the ultimate source of his wrath. This led to his contention that "there is no more important duty than pushing the American enemy out of the holy land" as "the occupying American enemy is the principle and the main cause of the situation."
In a January, 1999 interview published in TIME Magazine, bin Laden claims even that, "hostility toward America is a religious duty, and we hope to be rewarded for it by God." In the same interview, bin Laden expresses his personal pride in killing Americans, saying, "the U.S. knows that I have attacked it, by the grace of God, for more than 10 years now…America has been trying ever since to tighten its economic blockade against us and to arrest me. It has failed…We expect to be rewarded by God."
As accustomed to creating solutions for every problem Americans face, the reality is that there are no silver bullets in the challenges posed by Islamic radicalism. All solutions are going to painstakingly slow but we need to abide by a set of principles.
- The first requirement for any hope of change is that we all recognize who and what the enemy is -- it is not an amorphous group of "terrorists," but rather it is those who work to advance the cause of global militant Islam through the spread of its ideology and violence. Unless we can name the enemy without fear, we cannot construct effective ways to counter its strategy. As described by Daniel Pipes, "It is not a war on terrorism, nor a war on Islam. It is a war on a terroristic version of Islam." (Daniel Pipes, "A War Against What?", New York Post, Oct. 1, 2002)
- Second, we must act consistently in our approach to fighting the battle. Changing our behavior, our policies, our democratic belief system to conform to militant Islamists' "wish list" will not serve our purpose of eradicating the violence. Rather, accommodating their demands will only empower those who wish to see the West fall. The religious dogma that is the underpinning of militant Islam will not change, regardless of our actions.
- Third, we must continue to provide law enforcement with effective tools to shut down the financing and training of terrorist networks, working with other countries around the world at all levels. The actions taken by the FBI, Department of Justice, Treasury, CIA, Homeland Security and other agencies in shutting down terrorist conduits must be supported on a long term basis-and not have powers suddenly withdrawn because of the false perception that the threat is declining.
- We must empower genuine moderates in the Islamic world. At the same time, this means not legitimizing militant purveyors of hatred and violence. In practical terms, this means that the United States truly has to stop allowing the State Department the continued license to invite Islamic militants to the United States under the guise of "outreach"; it means that the United States has to stop pandering to Saudi Arabia and demand that they truly cease supporting and financing Islamic militant groups. In the United States, militant Islamic leaders who only pretend to be moderate should not be afforded political legitimacy by being embraced by the White House, Congress or other governmental agencies. This sends a terrible message to the community of genuinely moderate Muslims.
- The US , should help create the seed money for endowed chairs at universities around the world that would sponsor genuine Islamic moderates. Today, much of Middle Eastern academia is dominated by the ideology of militant Islam or anti-Americanism.
- And finally, we must be learn to be patient and strong. The resentment of militant Islam has festered for many years and will not diminish over night. Anti-Americanism in the Muslim world stems from the anger that many who live in that world cannot freely express toward their ruling governments. The cancerous spread of the ideology and violence from the Middle East to Muslim societies of Africa, Asia and the Pacific is further evidence of the growing extent of the problem. We must stay the course for as long as it will take.
Executive Director, The Investigatvie Project
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