The Cause of Terrorism
by Jim Walker
- Originated: 15 Sep. 2001
- Additions: 07 Oct. 2001
Belief causes terrorism. There you have it put to its shortest form.
The heartbreaking terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the obliteration of four airliners resulted in around 3,000 deaths. My heart sank, as did millions of people around the world as rescue efforts tried to find and save lives amongst the rubble of the destruction. No other external attack on the U.S. resulted in so many deaths.
By comparison the Revolutionary War resulted in approximately 4,400 battle deaths, and the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 caused approximately 2,300 deaths. If the estimated death toll holds, this makes the September 11th terrorist attacks the greatest death toll on U.S. soil due to human design since the Civil War.
U.S. officials claim that at least 19 Islamic men orchestrated the suicidal hijacking of four Boeing jets who had connections to the fanatical religious leader, Osama bin Laden. At least one of the hijackers owned a copy of the Koran, which authorities found in a bag that didn't make the flight. They also found pages of spiritual instructions which contained statements such as: "You're doing a job which is loved by God, and you will end your day in heavens where you will join the virgins," and "I pray to you God to forgive me from all my sins, to allow me to glorify you in every possible way." The Koran, their faith and their will to die for their beliefs provide important clues as to the reason for their actions. Apparently these clues has yet to affect the minds of our military and political leaders.
The Koran and Holy War (Jihad)
According to legend, in 623 C.E., Muhammad, the founder of Islam, gathered a group of about three hundred followers and led them in a mounted attack against a caravan guarded by almost a thousand men in a place called Badr. In the battle of Badr, Muhammad lost only fourteen men in his first decisive military victory. He had no trouble from then on in recruiting future converts to join him. After two more years of fighting, Muhammad assembled an army of ten thousand strong, an army that fought for God and His prophet. They took Mecca with no trouble. Thus Mecca (also the birthplace of Muhammad) became the holiest place in all Islam. In 630 C.E., Muhammad went to Medina where he concentrated on setting down his revelations for the last remaining years of his life. His revelations came known as the Koran (Quran), a book of God's commands as to belief, prayer, conduct and matters of law. When Muhammad died in 632 his friend and father-in-law, Abu Bekr, became the leader of Islam and the first caliph, or "successor," but a rift in the movement began as members started to drift away after realizing that there lived no Prophet to authorize their military actions. Abu Bekr selected a younger more vigorous man for the task, a skilled fighter named Khalid ibn-al-Walid, whose string of victories for the faith earned him the tittle of "Sword of Allah." Khalid swiftly defeated all of the enemies of Islam in Arabia in the first jihad, or War for the Faith. [Robinson] Thus Islam began, just as did orthodox Christianity, with violence and holy terror. The Koran has served as the guide and justification for violent acts against infidels and oppressors ever since.
[Note, in 1998 when the U.S. sent cruise missiles in an attempt to destroy Osama bin Laden, two of the terrorist camps went by the name of the Al Badr camp and the Khalid bin Walid camp.]
The concept of Holy War or Jihad comes right from of the heart of extremist Muslims who base their beliefs on the Koran. The idea of receiving rewards in heaven for those who kill an enemy of God comes from a legend of a Shiite leader, Hassan-Ben-Sabah, of the sect at Alamut (Alamut served as a fortress in Persia less than ten years before the First crusade) who had a private garden of infinite beauty, with the sparkling fountains so precious to the desert dweller and a selection of the most beautiful and most sexually accomplished young women in the land. A young member of the sect received hashish to numb his mind to the point of unconsciousness. When he awoke, he found himself in the fabled garden, where the young women fed him morsels of the most delicious foods. They treated him to every sexual delight he had ever heard of, and to some that he had never imagined. When he awoke the next morning to his usual surroundings he recounted his adventure. Someone told him that he had received a gift from Allah by allowing him a glimpse of the highest level of heaven reserved for those martyrs who die for their faith. The delights he had experienced so briefly would happen to him through all eternity if he met the test for his faith. Now he begged for nothing more in the world than to die in the service of Allah. In answer to his plea, he received intense training to kill an enemy of God, identified by his leader, a grand master. His training included the techniques of the dagger, where and how to strike and how to circumvent armor (sound familiar?). Thus he would earn eternal bliss in paradise for his suicide mission. Based on their alleged use of hashish to trick young followers, the sect became known as the Hashshashin. This proved a difficult world for the Crusaders to pronounce so they took the closest Church Latin term, Assassini which later evolved into the English form, Assassins. [Robinson]
A long dispute over the succession after Muhammad's death continues to split the Muslim world into Shiites, who make up about 10 percent of Muslims, and the majority of Sunnis. Shiites believe Ali, the prophet's son-in-law, served as Muhammad's rightful heir; Sunnis believe Abu Bakr as the successor. Most of the Arab world thinks of themselves as Sunni (as in Afghanistan), while most Iran Muslims consider themselves Shiite.
In the late 20th century, extremist Islamic terrorist organizations began to form "cells" in many countries throughout the world and they came from both Sunni and Shiite factions. All these groups traditionally shared a fundamentalist Islamic ideology which espouses holy war against oppressors and disbelievers who fight against Islam. The Islamic Jihad recruits young men by means of religious indoctrination, and bases its terror strategy on the willingness of these young people to lay down their lives for what they see as a divine command. They sincerely believe that their god will reward them in heaven. They perform these suicides, not out of forced coercion, but from their own will and faith in God.
The belief in the Koran with the concept of Jihad serves as just one example for the justification of terrorist attacks. Their religious beliefs point to the root cause of terrorism. Unfortunately, our political leaders either don't understand this or refuse to acknowledge this very simple fact because to acknowledge belief as a root cause hits at their own faith and religious justification.
In spite of the many Islamic leaders who today claim that suicide and Holy War goes against the "essence" of Islam of "true" Islam (disregarding its historical roots), there occurs many ideas expressed in the Koran that provide all the justification necessary for a believer to carry out such atrocities.
Below serve as just a few sample verses from one of the more benign translated versions of the Koran:
[2.191] And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out, and persecution is severer than slaughter, and do not fight with them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight with you in it, but if they do fight you, then slay them; such is the recompense of the unbelievers.
[4.74] Therefore let those fight in the way of Allah, who sell this world's life for the hereafter; and whoever fights in the way of Allah, then be he slain or be he victorious, We shall grant him a mighty reward.
[6.162] Say. Surely my prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are (all) for Allah, the Lord of the worlds.
[7.41] They shall have a bed of hell-fire and from above them coverings (of it); and thus do We reward the unjust.
[9.14] Fight them, Allah will punish them by your hands and bring them to disgrace, and assist you against them and heal the hearts of a believing people.
[16.31] The gardens of perpetuity, they shall enter them, rivers flowing beneath them; they shall have in them what they please. Thus does Allah reward those who guard (against evil)...
[16.41] And those who fly for Allah's sake after they are oppressed, We will most certainly give them a good abode in the world, and the reward of the hereafter is certainly much greater, did they but know;
[22.39] Permission (to fight) is given to those upon whom war is made because they are oppressed, and most surely Allah is well able to assist them;
[40.35] Those who dispute concerning the communications of Allah without any authority that He has given them; greatly hated is it by Allah and by-those who believe. Thus does Allah set a seal over the heart of every proud, haughty one.
[52.42] Or do they desire a war? But those who disbelieve shall be the vanquished ones in war.
Dying for one's belief
"A man does not die for something which he himself does not believe in."
-motto of believers throughout history
On the day of the attack, George Bush described the terrorists as "the faceless coward" and vowed to "hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly attacks." [AP 11 Sep. 2001]
Sadly the first words of President Bush and many other political figures in regards to the terrorist actions against the U.S. completely missed the mark.
To sacrifice one's life for a belief hardly serves as a cowardly act. On the contrary, to die for one's belief has served as a clarion call for believers throughout history as a duty to one's faith. (The motto quote above actually came from Hitler [Mein Kampf, Chapter 3])
Whatever serves as a description for their acts, "cowardly" simply does not fit. Criminal, inhumane, despicable, faithful fearlessness, or fanatical, give far better descriptions but certainly not "cowardly." Nor did these fanatical terrorists attempt to remain faceless. All of them left obvious and intended traces to their identities. After only a few days, investigators claimed to have discovered their names and their photos. Although most people will agree that these terrorists acted out of fanaticism, remember that a fanatic serves only as a relative term for a person who possesses more zeal in their beliefs than you.
The intent of George Bush's words, of course, did not aim for accuracy, but rather to prepare the citizens of the United States for war. To malign the enemy has always served as an effective propaganda tool to justify future actions.
Preparing for War
"Today our nation saw evil."
-George Bush (AP 11 Sep. 2001)
"This will be a monumental struggle of good versus evil,"
-George Bush (AP 12 Sep. 2001)
- "This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while."
- -George Bush (AP 16 Sep. 2001)
- "There's an old poster out west, that I recall, said, 'Wanted, Dead or Alive.'"
- -George Bush (AP 17 Sep. 2001)
Many have claimed that one of the purposes of history aims to prevent the errors of the past, yet here we have the continuation of the same kind of rhetoric used by war starters throughout history. George W. Bush has resorted to ancient Bronze Age thinking and appealed to Biblical beliefs of "war," "punishment," and "evil." Bush vowed that the United States would find and punish "those behind these evil acts," and any country that harbors them. Even the Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stated his desire to "punish the perpetrators as soon as they are identified." [AP, Sept. 15]
Note that within the United States, we claim to live by the Rule of Law. In the United States we treat criminals and terrorists by the justice of law, but those outside of the United States we treat with punishment or war. War serves as a word that justifies murderous actions outside the Rule of Law with religious belief to serve as its main justification.
George Bush declared September 14th as a day for "Prayer and Remembrance" to prepare the minds of U.S. citizens for the future. Moreover Bush asked the nation to pray for the families of the victims and quoted the Book of Psalms, "And I pray they will be comforted by a power greater than any of us spoken through the ages in Psalm 23. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for you are with me."
The implied meaning of course puts God on the side of the United States. But remember, the Islamic terrorists feel that God stands on their side.
George Bush, speaking like a medieval war lord, told reporters: "This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while." This dangerous and unthoughtful comment stoked suspicion in Arab and Muslim quarters where crusade describes a loaded term that recalls the Christian wars against Muslims in the Holy Land. Bush has since had to apologize for the statement, but apologies come cheap and many Islamic people will not have heard his apology nor believe him even if they had heard it. Beliefs connected to words have consequences. Who knows how many fence-sitting Muslims will side with the terrorists simply because of that one careless word, a word that could have consequences in the lives civilians and our military men? On September 21, Sheik Maher Hammoud responded with: "It is a war against Islam, even though the White House had apologized for Bush's statements of them being a crusade," On September 24, Osama bin Laden addressing the defenders of Islam said,"We hope that these brothers are among the first martyrs in Islam's battle in this era against the new Christian-Jewish crusade led by the big crusader Bush under the flag of the Cross; this battle is considered one of Islam's battles."
It takes two to tangle
In spite of the terrible atrocities committed by the terrorists against the U.S., you will find few if any of our political leaders asking why the terrorists committed these acts. Calling them evil and cowardly simply will not resolve the question. Some have even gone so far to accuse the terrorists as harboring jealousy against the United States because we live in a free country and they do not. I cannot imagine a more insidious and ignorant response to the situation. In a speech to Congress on September 21st, Bush responding to the American question of why they hate us said, "They hate what they see right here in this chamber: a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other." I have read many answers to the American question from Muslim extremists, including bin Laden, and I have yet to hear anything resembling Bush's statement. Bin Laden, the son of a billionaire, and a multimillionaire himself hardly needs to feel jealous of Americans.
Even the most fanatical suicidal terrorist does not perform his acts from a vacuum. Terrorists do not commit acts out of pure insanity or jealousy. It took patience, planning and a concerted effort to carry out these atrocities. What possibly could have triggered them to act so violently against the United States? It takes an enemy to justify such actions and it might behoove us to understand why they think of us as the enemy. Do you suppose the United States past foreign policies might have something to do with it? I have yet to find any of our political leaders to explore this question to any depth.
- In time of war, the first casualty is truth.
- -Boake Carter
Part of the problem comes with the language that we use to conceal our actual intentions. Slowly over the years, our way of life and government has undergone a vast religious and conservative turn toward a direction away from the liberal and secular foundations of the United States. Our political thrust, Pledge of Allegiance, and even our money now has the stamp of God on them where they never existed originally. Our military has shifted its purpose toward a more militant and offensive aim than ever before, while at the same time changed the language to make it seem acceptable.
In the 1940's, America changed the name of the War Department to the Department of Defense. Under the Reagan Administration, they renamed the MX-Missile to "The Peacekeeper." The Pentagon called the F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft a fighter instead of a bomber even though its only mission aims to bomb targets. During war the military refers to "liquidation" as a synonym for murder and invented the term "collateral damage," to refer to civilian casualties. Since George Bush's apology for his crusade statement, he and his policy makers now use the word "campaign" instead of "crusade."
One of the meanings of campaign has the definition of: An operation undertaken as by means of propaganda, to attain some political, social, or commercial goal. [American Heritage Dictionary]
On September 19th the Pentagon ordered combat aircraft to bases in the Persian Gulf region as Bush urged world leaders to aid the United States openly or even secretly in a "campaign" against terrorism wherever it occurs in the world, but does this campaign include Christian terrorists such as those in Northern Ireland, or only Islamic terrorists? They named the deployment, "Operation Infinite Justice." In spite of its vast military power, even the United States has limited power. Only an alleged and supernatural God could dispense Infinite Justice. Just as Bush has gotten around the separation of Church and State issues by employing the term "faith based organizations," the US called for Operation Infinite Justice which can only mean an implied religious implication (the Pentagon has since renamed the operation "Enduring Freedom" because of complaints from allied Islamic governments for the very reasons stated above).
How can we possibly understand the motives of our leaders when they shift around words or invent phrases for the purpose of subduing criticism from its citizens?
- Kill them all, God will recognize his own.
- -Arnald-Amalric, 1208 (when asked by the Crusaders what to do with the citizens of Beziers who were a mixture of Catholics and Cathars)
The Pentagon came up with the sterile phrase Collateral Damage during the Gulf War to describe the deaths of innocent Iraqis during the massive bombing campaign in 1991. Collateral means: "Situated or running side by side; parallel," and "Of a secondary nature; subordinate" [American Heritage Dictionary]
What the military does not like to specify, of course, comes to the horrific fact that the secondary damage includes not only civilian buildings but innocent human beings who live in or around them. When asked about the extent of Iraqi casualties toward the end of the Gulf War, then-military Chief of Staff Colin Powell blandly remarked: "That is really not a matter I am terribly interested in."
Interestingly, Timothy McVeigh the Oklahoma City bomber who the United States executed (but not punished) though our justice system had incorporated the term from his Gulf War experience as a soldier. In an interview before his execution, he outraged the American public when he described the 19 dead children among his 168 victims as "collateral damage." How easy to feel outraged when collateral damage goes against Americans, but how sad the same does not apply when our government does exactly the same thing to people in other countries.
Do you suppose there might live a few Islamic believers who felt horrified about the death of their friends which we call "collateral damage"? Do you think that the citizens of Iraqi may have felt extremely terrorized during the U.S. onslaught? In what sense then, can we call their actions terrorist and ours not?
The Persian Gulf War
The Gulf War began with the same kind of religious bell ringing as our political leaders today perform in an attempt to rally the American people against the terrorists. In 1991 George Bush senior, with Billy Graham by his side, declared the military action against Iraq, just and moral. Conservative religious organizations throughout the country rallied around the President and spoke about the evils of Iraqi and Saddam Hussein. Please understand that Iraqi now stands in the same location as Babylon of the Bible. War against Babylon serves as a biblical mandate. Any military soldier or bomber pilot who harbored misgivings about the morality of war needed only to consult a military minister or priest.
"And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground." -Isaiah 21:9
I recall a newsreel segment showing an F-16 fighter/bomber with "Isaiah 21:9" written on one of its bombs.
As far as I know, there has not occurred a single instance of Islamic terrorism on United States soil before the Gulf War. However, since the 1991 war there have occurred not only the escalation of hijacking and bombings of American aircraft and embassies but several attempts have aimed to destroy buildings in the United States, one of which proved partially successful in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that killed several people and caused considerable ground damage. The 2001 destruction of the two WTC towers and the Pentagon made it the most extensive terrorist action to this day.
Yet the totals of all the terrorist actions against the United States pale by comparison to the damage that the United States caused to Muslim human beings during the Gulf War and this does not include our previous attacks in other Islamic countries. Few Americans have awareness of this, nor do they seem the least bit concerned when told of this fact. The consensus seems to hold on to the idea that the Islamic terrorists serve as the bad guys who have done the most damage and present the strongest threat, and that the United States stands on the side of freedom and goodness with God on their side. We seem to have forgotten that our past foreign policies against certain Islamic factions have included using counter-terrorist acts as for example during the Reagan administration when the CIA attempted to kill the Hezbollah spiritual leader, Sheikh Fadlallah, by using a car bomb to blow up a building near a Beirut mosque that killed over 80 people and wounded 200 (Fadlallah escaped). Fadlallah responded, "I realized that America which boasts about combating terrorism in the world is in fact carrying out terrorist acts through its intelligence services in the ugliest of ways." The Gulf War escalated our terrorist actions (called war) to an extreme degree by carpet bombing Iraq for an entire month before we sent in our tanks and artillery.
I very well remember the reactions of my friends and coworkers during the days of "victory" while the United States freed Kuwait. Their attitude toward Iraqis approached a fever pitch of hatred and blood thirst just as those Palestinians who celebrated the World Trade Center attacks by passing out candy to passers-by, even as their leader, Yasser Arafat, expressed horror over the attacks. Not one of my faithful American friends expressed remorse at those who died on the Iraqi side. At the time of the declaration of war by George Bush, not only did most Americans not know the reasons for the war, but they hadn't a clue as to where the tiny country of Kuwait existed on the map. They simply accepted our political leaders reasoning without question and rallied around the flag.
The U.S. military, like no other war before, denied the freedom of the press to our war correspondents and kept the numbers of Iraqis killed a secret (either that or they never bothered to estimate the dead). To this day no one knows the real number. Does any American care? But of course Americans held great concern over U.S. deaths. At the time, according to the Washington Post, the U.S. losses numbered 55 killed, 155 wounded, and 30 missing while Iraqi losses numbered 2,085 tanks, 962 armored vehicles, 1005 artillery pieces, and 103 aircraft destroyed. According to Robert Wilson, "Either the Post believed nobody got hurt on the Iraqi side, or they don't count Arabs as human beings, I guess." [Wilson] (My 2001 World Almanac has since updated the American deaths to 299, but still no mention of Iraqi deaths.)
You had to consult foreign sources to get estimates of the Iraqi dead. The London Observer for March 5 put the death-toll at around 100,000. The International Red Cross/Red Crescent numbered at least 200,000 deaths including 70,000 children. According to Dr. Helen Caldecott of Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Iraqis lost 250,000. According to Wilson, "Any of these numbers staggers the imagination. Hitler's death camps never achieved that "speed," "precision," and choreography. Considering the hour-after-hour bombardment for more than a month, which figure seems most plausible?" [Wilson]
Our unfortunate war history records that the first atomic bomb dropped on human beings in Hiroshima resulted in at about 75,000 deaths and the Nagasaki bomb resulted in about 40,000 deaths [World Almanac figures]. Compared to the Japanese death toll this would make the Gulf War debacle more destructive than a single atomic bomb, or at worst, three atomic bombs.
Also consider that most of the Iraqi destruction came from faceless American and British pilots who flew stealth bombers or used cruise missiles to wreck havoc upon a country that hadn't a chance to defend itself. Do you suppose they might have thought of our attacks as faceless and cowardly? Try to put yourself in their position.
Does any American today care about the Iraqi deaths? Amazingly some American think that the Islamic terrorists and Iraqis don't care either. Yet on Sept. 11th 2001, the day of the attack on the World Trade Towers, the Iraqi television played a patriotic song that began with "Down with America!" Do you suppose they might still feel some resentment for the deaths due to "collateral damage" in order to destroy one person named Saddam Hussein?
Unfortunately at the time of this writing, polls indicate that our political leaders have managed to convince 85% of American citizens that war appears justified and 65% agree to collateral damage even if it includes children. So much for family values.
Osama bin Laden
U.S. officials claim to have evidence directly connecting bin Laden to the terrorist attacks on the 2001 attacks. There exists many Islamic jihad organizations throughout the world and bin Laden's al-Qaida represents only one faction. But his public opinions and high profile made him one of the most interviewed jihad leaders in the world. To understand bin Laden's views gives us a glimpse as to how he and other fanatical Islamic groups view the United States.
The Saudi born millionaire, Osama bin Laden, served as a veteran of the 1979-89 Afghan war against the Soviets where he came to "understand" the conflict in the light of Muslim vs. heretics based on the Koran. Interestingly, in the late 1980s the U.S. government supplied arms worth $500 million a year to Muslim fighters in Afghanistan, including Osama bin Laden and the Taliban rulers. The arms included high powered sniper rifles and shoulder-fired Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.
In order to further his religious "duties," bin Laden founded the "International Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and the Crusaders." Bin Laden's name has come up in connection with a number of terror attacks around the world, among them the attacks in Riyadh (November 95) and Dhahran (June 96), that left about 30 people dead, including 24 Americans. Some have also implicated him in the attacks on a Yeminite hotel (December 92) that injured several tourists; the assassination attempt on Egyptian president Mubarak in Ethiopia (June 95); the World Trade Center bombing (February 93) that killed 3 and injured hundreds; the Somali attack on American forces that left hundreds wounded; and the Yeman attack on the U.S.S. Cole (October 2000) that killed 17 sailors and injured 39. Note that all these attacks occurred after the Gulf War.
If you wish to understand the reason behind these terrorist attacks, it bears importance that bin Laden accused the United States as responsible for the most reprehensible acts of world terrorism, such as the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and carpet bombing in Iraq. On May 28 1998, in an interview by correspondent John Miller, bin Laden made these statements:
"Praise be to Allah. It does not worry us what the Americans think. What worries us is pleasing Allah. The Americans impose themselves on everyone who believes in his religion and his rights. They accuse our children in Palestine of being terrorists. Those children that have no weapons and have not even reached maturity. At the same time they defend a country with its airplanes and tanks, and the state of the Jews, that has a policy to destroy the future of these children. "
"We as Muslims believe that our fate is set. If the whole world decides to get together and kill us before our time has come, we will not die, our livelihood is set. No matter how much pressure America places on the regime in Riyadh to freeze our assets and to prevent people from contributing to this great cause, we rely on Allah."
"Allah ordered us in this religion to purify Muslim land of all non-believers, and especially the Arabian Peninsula where the Ke'ba is. After WWII, the Americans became more aggressive and oppressive, especially in the Muslim world."
When Miller asked if his fatwa aimed at all Americans, just American military, or Just Americans in Saudi Arabia, bin Laden responded:
"As we mentioned before, Allah ordered us in this religion to purify Muslim land of all non-believers, and especially the Arabian Peninsula where the Ke'ba is. After WWII, the Americans became more aggressive and oppressive, especially in the Muslim world. We are surprised this question is coming from Americans. Each action will solicit a similar reaction. We must use such punishment to keep your evil away from Muslims, Muslim children and women. American history does not distinguish between civilians and military, and not even women and children. They are the ones who used the bombs against Nagasaki. Can these bombs distinguish between infants and military? America does not have a religion that will prevent it from destroying all people. Your situation with Muslims in Palestine is shameful, if there is any shame left in America. In the Sabra and Shatilla massacre, a cooperation between Zionist and Christian forces, houses were demolished over the heads of children. Also, by testimony of relief workers in Iraq, the American led sanctions resulted in the death of over 1 million Iraqi children. All of this was done in the name of American interests. We believe that the biggest thieves in the world and the terrorists are the Americans. The only way for us to fend off these assaults is to use similar means. We do not differentiate between those dressed in military uniforms and civilians; they are all targets in this fatwa. Especially since American officials were released after the Khobar bombing, asking all American civilians to contact the security department in the embassy with information on Muslims and activists. The fatwa includes all that share or take part in killing of Muslims, assaulting holy places, or those who help the Jews occupy Muslim land."
When asked if there existed a high council of the leaders of different groups that decides on ways and means to attack Americans, bin Laden said:
"After the Americans entered the Holy Land, many emotions were roused in the Muslim world, more than we have seen before. A great meeting took a place a few days ago in Pakistan, and it was attended by 150 scholars in Pakistan. The goal of the meeting was to work toward liberating the Holy Land and coordinate efforts between Muslim masses in the area. Also, with Allah's blessings, scholars from Afghanistan, India and other Muslim nations' individual fatwas were passed, but here great joint fatwas were passed. The cooperation is expanding between general supporters of this religion. From this effort, the International Islamic Front for the Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders was formed, which we are a member of with other groups. It has a higher council to coordinate rousing the Muslim nation to carry out jihad against the Jews and the crusaders."
"The continuation of the tyranny will bring the fighting to America, like Ramzi Yousef and others. This is my message to the American people to look for a serious government that looks out for their interest and does not attack others, their lands or their honor."
[All bold caps, mine. For the entire bin Laden interview, click here]
On October 7, 2001, the United States began bombing Taliban targets in Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden responded to the attack with a taped television broadcast. The translation of bin Laden's words began with:
"This is America, God has sent one of the attacks by God and has attacked one of its best buildings. And this is America filled with fear from the north, south, east and west, thank God. And what America is facing today is something very little of what we have tasted for decades. Our nation, since nearly 80 years is tasting this humility. Sons are killed, and nobody answers the call. . ."
"And there are civilians, innocent children being killed every day in Iraq without any guilt, and we never hear anybody. We never hear any (inaudible) from the clergymen of the government (ph). . ."
He concluded with:
"And to America, I stay to it and to its people this: I swear by God the Great, America will never dream nor those who live in America will never taste security and safety unless we feel security and safety in our land and in Palestine."
Bin Laden's front and/or other jihad fronts began its Holy War against the United States mainland after the U.S. occupation in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf war. Considering that George Bush's son now sits as the leader of the free-world along with Colin Powell, and Dick Cheney who once took orders from George's dad in the Gulf War, there stands little chance for them to see their past foreign policies against Muslims as a miscalculation.
Putting aside what you may think justifies killing thousands of innocent foreign people, how long do you suppose it will take our Islamic enemies to forget the Gulf War? If protection against foreign enemies serves as the goal, how do we prevent possible actions from Muslim family members who feel ill will toward the United States who killed their loved ones due to collateral damage? If history shows us anything, it will take generations of time for them to subside their hatred toward America, if ever, regardless of how we abstain from future foreign conflict. Moreover, how will attacks against Afghanistan, or other Islamic countries (as politicians now propose as a possible move), solve future terrorist attacks? We may very well eradicate Osama bin Laden and all of his cells but what about the many other fanatical Islamic and Palestine groups who will, no doubt, treat bin Laden as a martyr and will spawn future terrorist recruits? Now what do we do?
The number of terrorist groups have grown over a decade. According to the U.S. Department of State on a 2001 Report on Foreign Terrorist Organizations, there exist twenty-eight foreign terrorist organizations, most of them Islamic in origin.
Moreover, even if we completely prevent the hijacking of future airliners, what do you suppose future terrorists might turn to instead of using American aircraft? Let me take a few guesses:
Regardless of how tight the American security, future terrorists might very well train to become actual foreign pilots for legitimate airlines. What if one of these pilots decides to steer his plane into a filled football stadium or a U.S. landmark instead of landing at an American airport? Do we prevent Muslims from becoming pilots throughout the world?
How would we combat, say, dozens of Muslim terrorists who live in the United States, who purchase weapons from American gun stores, and then on a command from their leader, attempt to kill as many Americans as they can before swat teams kill them? Would the NRA feel willing to sacrifice the freedom to bear arms?
How can we prevent suicide bombers from carrying plastic explosives into large public areas such as malls, free open concerts, parks, etc.?
What would prevent a speed boat, loaded with explosives, traveling in the open ocean from hitting a cruise ship?
Imagine dozens or perhaps hundreds of future terrorists using bombs delivered through the U.S. mail. Recall that it took years before they captured Theodore Kaczynski, the unibomber, and only from a lead from his brother who recognized his writing.
How could we stop the many ways of delivering biological agents such as anthrax or sarin or future agents not yet designed?
What if future terrorists decide to use nuclear weapons? The delivery method might consist of a simple barge or boat coasting into any one of the numerous harbors on a a United States coast line. What then?
If justifying the killing of others though collateral damage, still hasn't hit home yet, try to imagine the United States using exactly the same kind of war reasoning against our own home bred terrorists. If George Bush and company really intend to wipe out terrorism throughout the world, do you think that the U.S. will also wipe out abortion clinic terrorists with the same military fever? And what about American right-wing religious militia groups who have expressed a will to overthrow the government? Imagine for a moment George Bush considering sending out cruse missiles to bomb a town where American terrorists reside with the excuse of allowing collateral damage to justify the killing of innocent U.S. citizens. Yet the very same reasoning applies to people of other countries. This gives a clue as to how the United States views humans, not of their culture. Also consider what Americans might do if a foreign country gained a military advantage over us and decided to bomb our cities and citizens. Do you think for one moment that Americans would not sacrifice their lives through terrorist actions? You only need to look historically at the United States first strike against Japan after Pearl harbor when Jimmy Dolittle's Raiders flew their B-25s in a semi-suicidal mission to bomb Tokyo. Consider that Hawaii had not yet become a state. Imagine if our mainland got attacked by a powerful force using smart weapons and stealth technology.
The idea of terrorism does not reside only in Islamic countries. It occurs right here on United States soil. Regardless of how successful we eradicate terrorism in other countries, how in the world will we combat future terrorist attacks that might occur from our own citizens? If foreigners can take flying lessons from American flight simulator schools, how much easier do you suppose a born bred American might do the job? Recall that Eric Rudolph, the suspected American terrorist who allegedly bombed the Atlanta Olympics and bombed at least one abortion clinic, eluded capture for five years.
- Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety
- -Benjamin Franklin (Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759)
To protect ourselves against terrorism by the use of collateral violence and punishment will only lead to a loss of freedoms for which our government once protected. The government would have to counter virtually every possible means of attack. This not only means limiting airline travel and cruse ships but providing defenses for all American icons which would include, sports stadiums, monuments, parks, and capital and commercial buildings. It would mean violations of privacy, random searches, and eavesdropping of our internet, and phone conversations and perhaps home invasions. We would have to authorize officials of government and cooperating corporations to perform such defenses which would open the door to larger government, and the possibility for political corruption. We would no longer manage our lives the way we wish through the Rule of Law. For to provide an adequate defence, our government spies would require autonomy and could change the defensive laws at the whim of those in power.
What to do?
If my appeal against war, which includes collateral damage, suggests to you that we should do nothing, then you have missed the point and invented a straw man. On the contrary, of course, the world governments must find criminals of any nature around the world that do harm to others and serve them justice. However, to do it through the language of war and ancient drum beating for the purpose of punishment will only exacerbate the problem and limit our freedoms. If we appeal to the very kind of belief as the terrorists (with only a difference in phraseology) then we must consider ourselves as terrorists also.
If we wish to protect our democratic way of life, we would indeed have to sacrifice something, but not necessarily our freedoms. For if belief serves as the foundation for terrorism, then we must address the problem squarely where it resides, in the way humans think and of the special kind of thinking which we call belief and faith. To sacrifice superstitious thinking means sacrificing nothing but a form of dangerous thought. This includes not only Islamic religions but all belief-sets, including Christianity, Judaism, political ideologies and even some forms of Atheism (when expressed through faith and belief). The fanatical superstitious beliefs of Osama bin Laden and his blind followers gives us a prime example of the dangers of faith. Education through observation and reason serves as the tool and we must educate not only our own children but the world. This sacrifice to eliminate faith cannot come from a political mandates or military means; it must come from self-realization by using reason instead of belief.
We must appeal to humanitarian goals rather than to superstitious promises. We should apologize to the world for our own terrorist actions. Give them examples of our own excision of violent beliefs. Pay the for the damages we caused.
Of course we must have a strong defense but not the kind of defense that in secret gets designed for offensive purposes. The Star Wars missile defense programs come to mind here. For if we have the ability to zap outgoing missiles from their launch pads, we would also have a convenient means to target cities against our self-made enemies. Our defense must aim for safety and protection of lives, and the freedom of choice in how we wish to live, without harming or threatening others.
As I write this, I feel a complete loss to suggest any remedy because I have long observed that belief stands as the most powerful instrument against change in the world. Belief comes easy without the slightest effort. Most people inherit their beliefs from the parents and culture. Friedrich Heyek put it well: "Probably it is true enough that the great majority are rarely capable of thinking independently, that on most questions they accept views which they find ready-made, and that they will be equally content if born or coaxed into one set of beliefs or another." [Heyek] Belief has no bounds; faith has no limits. Many people will defend their beliefs at all costs, including their own lives, the lives of their families, the lives of friends and or anyone else in the world. So powerful does belief stand in the world that a fanatical believer would willingly destroy the earth to meet the end for a belief in religious prophesy. If enough power existed to destroy the universe, you will find a believer with the willpower to carry it out. It only takes a few to destroy the many. Our technology has evolved far past the knowledge of our thought process and we have yet to undertake a comprehensive look at the dangers of belief. Instead, our political and religious leaders place barriers against this investigation. Regardless of how many orthodox religions or political leaders proclaim their faith's aim as peaceful, as long as violent memes exist in sacred Bibles, Korans, or political manifestos you will always find a number of people who will recognize and act on its horrific words in the name of their faith.
I can only throw this out with the uselessness of a message in a bottle because I fully realize that I act as an infidel and a disbeliever of which both the Bible and Koran insist on executing. At best this serves as cathartic, at worst, ignored without consideration. All parties view me as the enemy. I see that both America and the fanatical Islamic groups act as terrorists. I base this on simple observation without a cloud of belief to obscure the view. I seriously doubt that they will see their own beliefs as part of the problem, so I may as well put it in its shortest form and leave it at that: belief causes terrorism.
Hayek, Friedrich A. "The Road to Serfdom," University of Chicago Press, 1994
Robinson, John J., "Dungeon, Fire and Sword: The Knights Templar in the Crusades," M. Evans & Co., 1991
Wilson, Robert Anton, "Chaos and Beyond: The Best of Trajectories," Permanent Press, 1994
"The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 2001," World Almanac Books
The truth about Islam. Institure for the Secularisation of Islamic Society: http://www.secularislam.org/call.htm
JIHAD: The Holy War of Islam and Its Legitimacy in the Quran: http://www.al-islam.org/short/jihad/toc.html
Islamic History from 570 to 1000: http://www.angelfire.com/ny/dawahpage/hist.html
Osama Bin Laden: How the U.S. Helped Midwife a Terrorist: http://www.public-i.org/excerpts_01_091301.htm
...and the dirty little weapons: http://www.bullatomsci.org/issues/1991/may91/may91walker.html
The Islamic Legitimacy of The "Martyrdom Operations": http://www.islam.org.au/articles/16/martyrdom.htm
An E-prime document