I have a good friend–let’s call him Mr. Habbib–who is a devote Muslim. He lives in a Muslim country, and is trying to emigrate with his family. However, for a variety of reasons, he cannot get a job or qualify for a visa overseas.
He wants to leave his home country because armed thugs have taken over the streets, and are using terror to force others to conform to their brand of Islamism. My friend and his wife simply want to have a normal life. They can remember a time when they could go out to the movies together, or go on a date to a restaurant. However, those days are over. They cannot even go to the park as a family without facing some form of harassment and threats. His wife is well-educated, but suddenly she cannot safely leave the house alone to go shopping, much less get a job. While they are all prisoners in their own home because of these thugs roaming the streets, she is effectively in solitary confinement.
Apart from worry about his family’s safety, Mr. Habbib is concerned for his children, that in this atmosphere, they may not have a life or future. Or, worse yet, that they may succumb to the extreme pressure of the Islamic thugs, and join them.
Instead of leaving, Mr. Habbib and his family could fight the madness, but that would be death, and they just want to live, and live in peace. This in and of itself is a tall order, as they regularly hear gunfire at night, and still have AK-47 rounds imbedded in their ceiling from a nearby gunfight that went awry.
There is much more that I want to say about Mr. Habbib and his situation, but I cannot, as his life might be in danger if he were found out as my friend.
Somehow, there is still a controversy as to why 9/11 occurred. It should be obvious that it happened because a handful of madmen who called themselves Muslims hijacked some airplanes and flew them into buildings. The very act of committing suicide to kill 3,000 innocent civilians is insane. And insanity is inherently unreasonable. It need not be explained further.
Blaming US policy for the acts of madmen against the US is very much like blaming a battered spouse for her beating, or a woman for her rape. Evil men need little excuse for their crimes.
However, since some people want to find a root cause for 9/11 which goes beyond the simple explanation above, it would help if they would actually go to the source. Osama Bin Laden told us why he orchestrated 9/11, and his reasons have little to do with poverty or ignorance, which are the reasons most often given by his terrorist apologists at home.
Here is what Bin Laden said when he took credit for 9/11:
God knows it did not cross our minds to attack the towers but after the situation became unbearable and we witnessed the injustice and tyranny of the American-Israeli alliance against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, I thought about it. And the events that affected me directly were that of 1982 and the events that followed – when America allowed the Israelis to invade Lebanon, helped by the US sixth fleet.
In those difficult moments many emotions came over me which are hard to describe, but which produced an overwhelming feeling to reject injustice and a strong determination to punish the unjust.
As I watched the destroyed towers in Lebanon, it occurred to me punish the unjust the same way [and] to destroy towers in America so it could taste some of what we are tasting and to stop killing our children and women.
Thus, Bin Laden’s desire to destroy the US stemmed from US support of Israel in 1982. In his 2002 letter to the American people, Bin Laden made it clear that the very existence of Israel–along with American support for Israel–was one of the main sticking points.
Yet, there is more to this story. Bin Laden issued two fatwas against the US. Both gave the US “occupation” of Saudi Arabia as the reason for the fatwa. However, the word “occupation” should raise questions right there. The US had a rather minimal presence in Saudi Arabia, so he was essentially saying that he hated the Saudi government and therefore hated the US because we were allies.
Assuming that Bin Laden was telling the truth in everything that he said, is it reasonable to cut off ties with Israel, Saudi Arabia, and any number of other countries simply because it displeases a terrorist madman who delights in killing innocents? Do we really want to outsource our foreign policy to someone like Bin Laden?
Yet, Bin Laden was being less than honest in his statements as to why he was attacking the US. The first fatwa was issued in 1996, but Bin Laden was already targeting the US as early as 1990. It is also worth pointing out that prior to 9/11, Bin Laden had helped organize terrorist operations against Muslims in Egypt, Algeria, and Afghanistan. In addition, Bin Laden was actively involved in organizing and funding a mujahideen unit fighting in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In short, if we limit Bin Laden’s issues to Saudi Arabia and Israel, as his apologists are wont to do, we miss the big picture.
Bin Laden was a follower of an Egyptian theologian named Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966). In 1948, Qutb visited the US on a two-year study program, and was incensed by what he saw. While Qutb had numerous issues with the US and the American culture, his biggest issue was that he saw the freedom and optimism of the US as a threat to his vision of an Islamic world:
The core problem with the United States, for Qutb, was not something Americans did, but simply what America was—“the New World…is spellbinding.” It was more than a land of pleasures without limit. In America, unlike in Egypt, dreams could come true. Qutb understood the danger this posed: America’s dazzle had the power to blind people to the real zenith of civilization, which for Qutb began with Muhammad in the seventh century and reached its apex in the Middle Ages, carried triumphantly by Muslim armies.
After Qutb returned to Egypt in 1951, he developed a religious and political philosophy that was at war with every bit of modernism, religion, culture, and life that had occurred in the world after the 7th century AD:
Virtually the entire modern world, Qutb theorized, is jahiliyya, that barbarous state that existed before Muhammad. Only the strict, unchanging law of the prophet can redeem this uncivilized condition. Nearly a millennium of history became, to the radicalized Qutb, an offense wrought by the violence of jahili “Crusaders” and the supposed perfidy of the Jews. And Muslim leaders allied with the West were no better than the Crusaders themselves. Therefore, Qutb called all true Muslims to jihad, or Holy War, against jahiliyya—which is to say, against modernity, which America so powerfully represents.
Qutb became one of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and spent most of what remained of his life either in prison or plotting the violent overthrow of the Egyptian government. For his efforts, he was executed in 1966, and immediately became a martyr to his followers.
This movement uses … physical power and Jihaad for abolishing the organizations and authorities of the jahili system which prevents people from reforming their ideas and beliefs but forces them to obey their erroneous ways and make them serve human lords instead of the Almighty Lord.
The Islamic society is, by its very nature, the only civilized society, and the jahili societies, in all their various forms, are backward societies. It is necessary to elucidate this great truth.
The Western ways of thought … [have] an enmity toward all religion, and in particular with greater hostility toward Islam. This enmity toward Islam is especially pronounced and many times is the result of a well-thought-out scheme the object of which is first to shake the foundations of Islamic beliefs and then gradually to demolish the structure of Muslim society.
In an Islamic system there is room for all kinds of people to follow their own beliefs, [as long as they are] obeying the laws of the [Islamically-ruled] country which are themselves based on the Divine authority.
Any place where the Islamic Shari’ah is not enforced and where Islam is not dominant becomes the Home of Hostility (Dar-ul-Harb) … A Muslim will remain prepared to fight against it, whether it be his birthplace or a place where his relatives reside or where his property or any other material interest are located.
The peace which Islam desires is that the religion (i.e. the Law of the society) be purified for God, that the obedience of all people be for God alone.
Islam has the right to take the initiative … this is God’s religion and it is for the whole world. It has the right to destroy all obstacles in the form of institutions and traditions … it attacks institutions and traditions to release human beings from their poisonous influences, which distort human nature and curtail human freedom.
Those who say that Islamic Jihaad was merely for the defense of the `homeland of Islam` diminish the greatness of the Islamic way of life.
Islam provides a legal basis for the relationship of the Muslim community with other groups … This legal formulation is based on the principle that Islam – that is, submission to God-is a universal Message which the whole of mankind should accept or make peace with. No political system or material power should put hindrances in the way of preaching Islam. It should leave every individual free to accept or reject it, and if someone wants to accept it, it should not prevent him or fight against him. If someone does this, then it is the duty of Islam to fight him until either he is killed or until he declares his submission.
Thus, Qutb was at war not just with the West, but against any society which did not enforce Sharia law, and he saw it as a holy duty to overthrow–with violent means if necessary–any country, system, culture, or ideology which stood in the way of mankind’s complete submission to Allah throughout the earth.
Bin Laden adhered to this message and view of the world. He saw the clash of cultures as an apocalyptic struggle between true Muslims (those who followed Sharia law) and the Zionist-Crusader alliance, which was led by Israel and the US:
It should not be hidden from you that the people of Islam had suffered from aggression, iniquity and injustice imposed on them by the Zionist-Crusaders alliance and their collaborators; to the extent that the Muslims blood became the cheapest and their wealth as loot in the hands of the enemies. Their blood was spilled in Palestine and Iraq. The horrifying pictures of the massacre of Qana, in Lebanon are still fresh in our memory. Massacres in Tajakestan, Burma, Cashmere, Assam, Philippine, Fatani, Ogadin, Somalia, Erithria, Chechnia and in Bosnia-Herzegovina took place, massacres that send shivers in the body and shake the conscience. All of this and the world watch and hear, and not only didn’t respond to these atrocities, but also with a clear conspiracy between the USA and its’ allies and under the cover of the iniquitous United Nations, the dispossessed people were even prevented from obtaining arms to defend themselves.
The people of Islam awakened and realised that they are the main target for the aggression of the Zionist-Crusaders alliance. All false claims and propaganda about “Human Rights” were hammered down and exposed by the massacres that took place against the Muslims in every part of the world.
Bin Laden cut his teeth on the Soviet-Afghan War, and thought of himself as instrumental in defeating the Soviets. After the Soviet pull out from Afghanistan in 1989 and the subsequent demise of the Soviet Union (which arguably was in part due to their failure in Afghanistan), was there anything that the most powerful nation in the world–a nation he considered to be the leading atheist nation–could have done that would have prevented Bin Laden from making it into a target?
Indeed, Bin Laden saw the US as a country which had lost its will to fight, and as a country about ready to crumble:
Few days ago the news agencies had reported that the Defence Secretary of the Crusading Americans had said that “the explosion at Riyadh and Al-Khobar had taught him one lesson: that is not to withdraw when attacked by coward terrorists”.
We say to the Defence Secretary that his talk can induce a grieving mother to laughter! and shows the fears that had enshrined you all. Where was this false courage of yours when the explosion in Beirut took place on 1983 AD (1403 A.H). You were turned into scattered pits and pieces at that time; 241 mainly marines solders were killed. And where was this courage of yours when two explosions made you to leave Aden in lees than twenty four hours!
But your most disgraceful case was in Somalia; where- after vigorous propaganda about the power of the USA and its post cold war leadership of the new world order- you moved tens of thousands of international force, including twenty eight thousands American solders into Somalia. However, when tens of your solders were killed in minor battles and one American Pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadishu you left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you. Clinton appeared in front of the whole world threatening and promising revenge , but these threats were merely a preparation for withdrawal. You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew; the extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear. It was a pleasure for the “heart” of every Muslim and a remedy to the “chests” of believing nations to see you defeated in the three Islamic cities of Beirut , Aden and Mogadishu.
I say to Secretary of Defence: The sons of the land of the two Holy Places had come out to fight against the Russian in Afghanistan, the Serb in Bosnia-Herzegovina and today they are fighting in Chechenia and -by the Permission of Allah- they have been made victorious over your partner, the Russians. By the command of Allah, they are also fighting in Tajakistan.
I say: … the sons of the land of the two Holy Places feel and strongly believe that fighting (Jihad) against the Kuffar in every part of the world, is absolutely essential.
Thus, he saw himself and his movement as having defeated the Russians–the second most powerful nation on earth–in Afghanistan. This, along with his view that the American culture was weak and decadent, emboldened him to make the US his next target.
While it may be true that 9/11 could have been prevented by greater vigilance on our part, there is nothing that could have been done that would have made Bin Laden avert his gaze elsewhere. It was only a matter of time before he was going to attack the US homeland.
Bin Laden’s impulse came not from any substantive economic or political grievances: He was motivated purely by his faulty view of his own religion. Everything else was a pretext.
One great tragedy of Qutb and his followers is that devote Muslims have suffered the most from his teachings. While we in the West focus on 9/11, along with the London, Madrid, and Bali bombings, by far the greatest victims of violent jihad have been Muslims.
Some people, despite all the evidence, still believe that somehow the US is at fault for Bin Laden’s attack. To those people, it needs to be asked, how is the US responsible for multiple Islamic terrorist attacks against Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bangladesh, among many other places in the world? If it was poverty and ignorance that caused this syndrome, why is it that Qutb, Bin Laden, the 9/11 terrorists, and the leaders of the various terrorist cells of violent jihad around the world were all educated and from middle to upper class backgrounds?
In truth, these men are nothing but crazy thugs who want to enforce their murderous vision of Islam on everyone else by any means necessary. They are willing to die and kill for what they believe.
We can choose to defend ourselves or stick our heads in the sand.
Yes, there are hard choices to be made, and we cannot fight every battle in the world and save every person who needs to be saved from tyranny. However, we have an obligation to ourselves to be engaged with the rest of the world, to be responsive to threats against us, and to try to be a force for good in the world even when our options are limited. By defending ourselves and our way of life, we not only save ourselves, but we become the last, best hope in the world.
For people like my friend Mr. Habbib, the US may be the only real hope they have.