The Origins & International Declarations Of The “Almuminin”(Believers) Against The “Murtadun” (Disbelievers)
From the epoch of the “Jahiliyyah”, which is the the period of time and state of affairs in Arabia before the advent of Islam, to the present moment, the conflict between the believers of the Salafi or Wahhabi school of thought “almuminin” and the disbelievers“ murtadun’, have facilitated the sectarian conflict currently witnessed in the Middle East and parts of Southeast Asia of the last 300 years. This has allowed the Western imperialist nations, who authorized the global “war on terror”, to conduct wars in countries where previously there were no presence of Islamism. Who has been the primary influences of the Salaf and what has been the message of the Salafist organizations and it’s members past and present?
In this article i will summarize how the Salafi/Wahhabi ideology manifested into a political Islamic response to US foreign policy, and secondly, quote from those who wage ‘defensive jihad”, which is defined as aggressive jihad, a preemptive or offensive attack, commissioned from a political authority. In this case that authority comes from “uncommissioned” self appointed caliphs (rulers), not recognized overall by the ruling Islamic “ulema” or from the grand imam of the Al-Azhar Mosque and Al-Azhar University. The motivations and statements made by those who conduct acts of terrorism are from the scholars and apolitical agents of the ultra-orthodox sect, such as, Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Hanbal, to Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahab, Hassan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb to Ayman al-Zawahiri, Muhmmad Abd al-Salam Faraj, to Abd al-Aziz Ibn Baz, Mohammad Hassan to Osama Bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (Islamic State).
The general position regarding the groups and individuals from the Wahhabi sect, is to usurp secular Arab governments and to replace them with the rulers of the Shariah (religious law). The overall goal of the Wahhabi is having each Arab country governed by the Shariah and Sunnah (the traditions and practices of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, that constitute a model for Muslims to follow) which would constitute as the ruling Islamic caliphate and extend beyond the borders of the former Ottoman Empire to the lands of the ‘unbelievers”. When this is ultimately achieved, then next would be the lands of the unbelievers with the whole world under the Shariah and Sunnah. The Salafi is always under the constant threat of ‘defensive jihad’ due to the resisting countries, mainly, the polytheists, Mulhid (secularists) Yahud (Jew) and Crusaders (Christian).
The message from the recent Wahhabi adherents however have changed, no longer is there the wish to make the world Islamic but to enforce a political form of Islam which is a reaction to the current United States foreign policy of the last 80 years which has a connection to Israel, both enemies to the Salaf. However the majority of the Sunni school of thought has been noticeably critical of the Salafis and have openly condemned the terrorism enforced by these self appointed caliphs of organizations such as Al Qaeda, Islamic State and Abu Sayyaf. However, these condemnations have not been given any attention by the legacy media involved with the West, but instead have been seen as the affiliates of the terrorists in which they have condemned! Leading us to the current “war on terrorism”, which has no defined enemy, while generalizing Muslims as a whole unit endorsing terrorism.
“Salafism is an ideology that posits that Islam has strayed from its origins. The word “salaf” is Arabic for “ancient one” and refers to the companions of the Prophet Mohammed. Arguing that the faith has become decadent over the centuries, Salafists call for the restoration of authentic Islam as expressed by an adherence to its original teachings and texts.” (Gilles Kepel, French political scientist and Arabist (1–25–2005)
Nevertheless the adherents of the Salafi have made themselves clear. And it differs from the message we are told they are portraying which are from Western backed idealists. They don’t ‘hate us for our freedoms’, they “hate us’ because of the current disposition toward the Palestinian cause in Israel and Western Imperialism in Arab countries which are self governed and not affiliated with US backed interests. These are the messages from those who conduct terrorist actions and or portrayed the messages which lead to these abhorrent acts against American and their affiliates. But first, the origins of the “Salafi Jihadist” ideology and how it manifested to what we see today.
Origins of the Salafi/Wahhabi is said to come from the Sunni scholar, muhaddith, and jurist, Ibn Taymiyyah who belonged to the Hanbali school of jurisprudence. The Hanbali school derives sharia predominantly from the Quran, the Hadiths (sayings and customs of Muhammad), and the views of Sahabah (Muhammad’s companions). Ibn Taymiyyah lived in the late 12th century to early 13th, and was nonconforming to traditional Sunni doctrine and Sufi ideals and practices and considered the Shia “munafiq” (hypocrite). Ibn Taymiyyah thought of the Alawites as “more heretical yet than Jews and Christians”, his persecution of the Shia was from his belief they “were accused of collaboration with Christians and Mongols.” He also took part in conflicts against the Mongols and Alawites in Lebanon. in 1310, he would write a treatise against the visitation of the tombs of prophets and saints, in which he considered ‘sacrilegious”. In his major book “Manhaj as-sunnah an-nabawiyyah”, he argued that they should not be considered Muslims and, in fact, should be confronted by the ‘true’ Muslims. He believed that the best role models for Islamic life were the first three generations of Islam (Salaf).
“The sign of the people of Bid’ah is that they do not follow the Salaf.”
Ibn Tammiyah, Majmoo’ al-Fataawa
He would also state that “jihad’ and “martyrdom” were essential for the afterlife.
“It is in jihad that one can live and die in ultimate happiness, both in this world and in the Hereafter. Abandoning it means losing entirely or partially both kinds of happiness.”
Ibn Taymiyyah also had this to say about the nature of jihad against non-believers whose aggression against Muslims precipitated the act.
“It is allowed to fight people for (not observing) unambiguous and generally recognized obligations and prohibitions, until they undertake to perform the explicitly prescribed prayers, to pay zakat, to fast during the month of Ramadan, to make the pilgrimage to Mecca and to avoid what is prohibited, such as marrying women in spite of legal impediments, eating impure things, acting unlawfully against the lives and properties of Muslims and the like. It is obligatory to take the initiative in fighting those people, as soon as the Prophet’s summons with the reasons for which they are fought has reached them. But if they first attack the Muslims then fighting them is even more urgent, as we have mentioned when dealing with the fighting against rebellious and aggressive bandits.”
However, many Islamic Sunni jurists however, found Ibn Taymiyyah’s definitions of jihad ‘too conservative’. In an interview with CNN on October 27th, 2014, Abdallah Bin Bayyah, a Mauritanian politician and professor of Islamic studies at the King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, said this in regards to the definition of jihad.
“The truth is that the concept of jihad in Islam is not always synonymous with fighting. Jihad is a wider concept. It is a sort of defending the truth and calling to it through the tongue. Almighty Allah said in the chapter of al-Furqan “Persevere in impelling them with this [Quran], with a mighty impelling”; that is, establish the compelling arguments and present to them the proofs one after the other. Obviously, reciting the Quran does not involve military actions. Hence, not every jihad is fighting and not every fighting is jihad. Jihad is also a call for freedom.”
Seyyid Abdulhakim Arvasi, a notable Sunni scholar from the late 18th century and a “mujtahid” which is an individual who is qualified to exercise ijtihad in the evaluation of Islamic law, said this in regards to the works of Taymiyyah.
“Ibn Taymiyyah was a mulhid (heretic) who damaged the religion from within.”
Sulayman ibn Abdallah ibn Tahir, ninth century Tahirid official in the service of the Abbasid Caliphate. He was also the last Tahirid governor of Tabaristan.
“The ideas of Ibn Taymiyyah are worthless. He was misguided and misguiding Muslims. He deviated from the consensus of Muslims and took a heretical path. Islamic scholar stated in unanimity that he was a heretic. Kutbud-Bardiri wrote this in detail in his commentary on Mukhtasar.”
Yet even after Ibn Taymiyyah’s death in 1328, his works became influential which made him a venerated saint of sorts. His grave, ironically, was worshiped even after his fatwa against. 389 years later, the works of the late Sunni jurist was acknowledged by a young Arab from Najd in Arabia, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahab.
al-Wahab, was also from the Hanbali school, and opposed to many popular, yet contested, religious practices such as the visitation to and veneration of the shrines and tombs of Muslim saints, just as Ibn Taymiyyah practiced. He called for Tawhid (oneness with god) and also the Shia as “heretical”. His family disowned him for his rather uncompromising beliefs. After his expulsion from Al Uyayna in Central Arabia, he would meet with Muhammad bin Saud Al Muqrin (also known as Muhammad Bin Saud) in Diriyah. al-Wahab had started a following of sorts who traveled with him, they believed his teachings of Islam returning to the period of the Muhammad, and Quran and Haddith. Bin Saud received him and while here formed a pact, by creating the Saudi state, the Emirate of Diriyah. Where al-Wahab would be in charge of religious affairs and Al Saud military affairs. Madawi al-Rasheed author of “A History of Saudi Arabia” wrote of Ibn Saud’s declaration to al-Wahab
“ This oasis is yours, do not fear your enemies. By the name of God, if all Nejd was summoned to throw you out, we will never agree to expel you.”
Both would swear “bayat” (loyalty) to one another, and in 1744 the formation of the first Saudi state was born. The partnership lasts even after 280 years had past, in which the Wahhabi version of the Hanbali school is still the official religion within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In which this strict adherence to Wahhabi Islam offers no compromise to any “deviations” such as Shia, Sufism and other monotheism. With the negative label attributed to Wahhabism in the last 30 years, the new deference is Salafi or Muwahhidi (Unitarian). These teachings began a doctrine which has caused a major division within Islam as a whole. al-Wahab disagreed vehemently that the view that declaring the testimony of faith is sufficient in becoming a Muslim. Instead al-Wahab said those who practiced this were committing “shirk” (polytheism), which led him to declare Muslims who engaged in shirk to be apostates (takfir). To this day, those involved with groups and schools whose adherence to Wahhabi Islam, began the traditions of labeling the Shia, Twelvers and Alawites “takfiri”, which has in return witnessed the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Muslims worldwide in the last 280 years.
Groups like Al Qaeda, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Abu Sayyaf, Gamma Islamiyyah, Boko Haram, Jaysh-e-Muhammad, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and even more prominently, The Islamic State and Levant, have begun the excommunication of those against the Wahhabi/Salafi by calling them takfiri. The goal of the ultra-conservative groups mentioned above was to create a global caliphate, governed solely by the Quran and Sunnah. However to reach this vision, they must usurp the secular Arab governments and the influences of the Crusader countries. By the late 18th century one man’s vision of Islamic modernization in Egypt, while being heavily influenced by Ibn Taymiyyah and Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, would transform the Islamic world thru-ought, his name is Muhammad Rashid Rida.
Rida became a student of Egyptian jurist, author and freemason, Muhammad Abduh during the late 18th century, and was moved by the idea of revitalizing Islamic modernization in Egypt. Rida believed that the Muslim Ummah needed a Reformation to stop its decline, rid immoral and heretical practices associated with popular Sufism. It was during Rida’s period, that he would refer Wahhabis as Salafi. Henri Lauzière an assistant professor of history at Northwestern University who would author the book “The Making of Salafism: Islamic Reform in the Twentieth Century” he writes this of the Salafi movement in Egypt.
“Irrespective of Rashid Rida’s efforts to rehabilitate the Wahhabis, two conceptual developments became noticeable in the 1920s. The first was the emergence of the abstract noun “salaϮyya”, which translates as “Salafism.” The earliest incontrovertible example I have found dates from November 1926 and comes from the Algerian journal al-Shihab. In sources from the Arab East, the earliest example I was able to locate dates from February 1929. In an article about theology published in al-Islah, Muham-mad Bahjat al-Bitar wrote that the unicity of God’s names and attributes was “the chief concern and pinnacle of SalaϮsm. He used the same terminology in an undated personal letter to King Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, which, on the basis of internal evidence, must have been written sometime between 1926 and 1932. In it, al-Bitar reports that he had a conversation with Rida during which the latter sang the praises of the Saudi state and referred to it as a “religious government whose SalaϮsm presents itself in the personality of the king.”
Rida’s goal of creating a committee of ulema to reconcile various Sunni legal matters and to promote a single school of thought, from the school of Ibn Hambali. Rida was quoted as saying:
“A pure ancestral madhhab [madhhaban salafiyyan mahdan], be it in creed or in worship and other religious practices.”
Rida saw a strength, that was missing in the Islamic world when it came to fighting against imperialism, as Ibn Saud saw fit to neutralize British colonial rule in the land of Arabia. Unlike Ibn Taymiyyah, Rida argued that Salafis, Asharis, Maturidis, Mu’tazilis, Ibadis, Shi’is all were Muslims and it was the duty of the reformers to reconcile between them. Rida did not commit to labelling other Muslims, takfiri, but was adamantly supportive of the Salafi ideology. The Wahhabis were known for pious adherence to religion and hostility to foreign influence, this was one of the primary reasons that British colonial rule did not extend into the Arab Gulf in the early 20th century.
After World War 1, Rida saw the threat, not from the polytheists but from Western Islamic intelligentsia. The decade witnessed a failure of revitalizing the ulema, with the fall of the Ottoman Empire, The nations of the loss of Iraq and Greater Syria to the Mandatory Powers, and the abolition of the caliphate in 1924. With Muhammad Ibn Saud attaching Hejaz, Rida wholeheartedly supported his advance, knowing a Saudi state would bring the Salaf back to respectability within the Islamic world. British Imperialism was still prominent in after Egypt became declared independence in 1922, it would help create anonymity in the country, and with Rida’s influence, a band of young men from Ismailia, formed a group called the Jamāʿat al-Ikhwān al-Muslimīn, The Muslim Brotherhood in 1928. This was to dissuade British/Western influence finally from the country. As Ibn Saud captured Najd, the Arabs united the country, and called itself Saudi Arabia. With the consolidation of Saudi rule, the Sufi institutions in Mecca were closed and replaced with Rashid Rida’s Salafi comrades and the Najdi ulema. Sufi influence was being curtailed and Salafiyya movement was being promoted on an international scale.
The Ikhwan took a more formidable role in the region in just ten years, with Rida being his ultimate guide, Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Brotherhood became Egypt’s foremost leader of the Salaf movement. al-Banna and the university students of Al-Azhar witnessed the continued oppression of the British daily. They focused on the sovereignty of Egypt’s latest declaration of independence, but they certainly didn’t “feel” free. Egypt at this time was led by the despot secular ruler of King Farouq, along with the ruling British Mandate, the Egyptian pious became increasingly dissatisfied with how things were transpiring. Al-Banna endeavored to bring about reforms through institution-building, relentless activism at the grassroots level and a reliance on mass communication. His religion was similar to Ibn Taymiyyah, in that, jihad was not just about the conflict of the heart, but against the illegitimate colonial rulers (kafir), jihad was about the sword.
“Muslims … are compelled to humble themselves before non-Muslims, and are ruled by unbelievers. Their lands have been trampled over, and their honor besmirched. Their adversaries are in charge of their affairs, and the rites of their religion have fallen into abeyance with their own domains … Hence it has become an individual obligation, which there is no evading, on every Muslim to prepare his equipment, to make up his mind to engage in jihad, and to get ready for it until the opportunity is ripe and God decrees.”
The Brotherhood was also active in the Palestine conflict between 1936–1939. The Muslim Brothers launched a pro-Palestine campaign which contributed to making the Palestine issue a widespread Muslim concern. The Muslim Brothers carried out a fundraising campaign said to have relied upon donations from the rural and urban working classes, rather than wealthy Egyptians. Another native Egyptian from the Musha, Asyut Governate, Sayyid Qutb, had just House of Science (dar al-o’loom) College in 1934. Qutb worked in Al-Ahram newspaper. He wrote in Al-Risalah and Al-Thaqafa magazines. He worked as an Arabic teacher, then as an employee at the Council of the Ministry of Education, and after that as a technical supervisor at the ministry. While also being highly interested in Egyptian literature from the historic period. He had a special disdain, however, for schools that specialized in religious studies only, and sought to demonstrate that local schools that held regular academic classes as well as classes in religion were more beneficial to their pupils than religious schools with lopsided curricula. His position would radically change in just a few short years however.
Arab nationalism would take a strengthened position after world war one, as Britain had been a major sponsor of Arab nationalist thought and ideology, primarily as a weapon to use against the power of the Ottoman Empire. However, al-Banna was assassinated in 1949, but the brotherhood, even as it was banned in Egypt, had grown to neighboring Arab countries. Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, even in France, Germany and the United States. The growing presence of Islamic uniformity and its continuing disdain for non-Islamic governments reached countries where Islamism was not present ever before.
“The Brotherhood has become traditionalist and conservative, “being the only available outlet for those whose religious and cultural sensibilities had been outraged by the impact of Westernization” (Islam in the World by Malise Ruthven)
By 1950, after Qutb’s return from the United States, to study at the Colorado State College of Education in Greeley, Qutb was quite alarmed at what he had experienced in every day American life. He soon published “The America that I Have Seen”, where he became explicitly critical of things he had observed in the United States. In one chapter he was critical of the American arts:
“The American is primitive in his artistic taste, both in what he enjoys as art and in his own artistic works. “Jazz” music is his music of choice. This is that music that the Negroes invented to satisfy their primitive inclinations, as well as their desire to be noisy on the one hand and to excite bestial tendencies on the other. The American’s intoxication in “jazz” music does not reach its full completion until the music is accompanied by singing that is just as coarse and obnoxious as the music itself. Meanwhile, the noise of the instruments and the voices mounts, and it rings in the ears to an unbearable degree… The agitation of the multitude increases, and the voices of approval mount, and their palms ring out in vehement, continuous applause that all but deafens the ears.”
It was after this shocking experience in American lifestyle, that Qutb’s attitude toward Islamism changed. No longer did he hold previous beliefs that socialism was to be a part of the rising Islamic modernity in Arab culture, the way to saving it was thru Islam itself. With Gamel Abdel Nasser as the president of Egypt, Hafez al-Assad in Syria and Fouad Chehab in Lebanon all three would become prominent adherents of the Arab nationalist ideology, in which the Arab countries saw fit to nationalize the oil, and take away the radical influences of the United States and Great Britain. The Brotherhood was tolerated in most countries, but banned in Egypt. Qutb would later become a thorn in the side of Nasser, and was jailed for it. While at Tora prison, he would write some of his most influential works of his career. Ma’alim fi-l-Tariq (Milestones) and Fi Zilal al-Qur’an (In the Shade of the Qur’an).
After his release in 1964, he was once again jailed on the charges of attempting to overthrown the Egyptian government. He was hanged on August 29,1966. This act of martyrdom reverberated thru-ought the Islamic world, and Qutb’s works became globally known. It also became the momentum for the Islamists to rise out of obscurity. with continued subjugation of the Palestinians by Israel, the ideological threat of Nasser’s secular Arab nationalism and the Western influences within secular Arab nations, the Islamic schools of Ibn Hanbal and the Wahhabi Arabs began spending tens of millions thru local and foreign madrassas. But on June 5th 1967, the Arab governments of Egypt, Syria and Jordan attacked Israel, in just six days all three were defeated. This was the beginning of the end of Arab socialism. The fight for jihad thru the sword began, as Saudi Arabia under it’s Wahhabi school of thought, and the Gulf states with its “oil boom” financing, began the ‘dawah” (invitation) across the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
The Salafis were tasked regarding al-Banna’s primary goal of instituting the Quran and Sunnah constituting as a perfect way of life for the social and political organizations, while Islamic governments must also be based on this system and eventually unified as a Caliphate. The growth of the Salafi/Wahhabi sect in the countries of Iraq, Libya, Qatar and Egypt were much more noticeable, with the Shia minority basically stunted in overall growth. In Adeed Dawisha’s “Arab Nationalism and Islamism: Competitive Past, Uncertain Future”, the secular ideology of nationalism and Islam should have had a ‘cooperative’ relationship, not one of conflict as both sides were pan Arabic.
“Similarly, the radical and militant activists we call “Islamists” — indeed all Muslims — whether Arabs or non-Arabs, could not but admit to the central role of the Arabs to their religion. After all, Islam was born in the Arabian peninsula, the Prophet Muhammad was Arab, and god’s message was revealed in Arabic. One would think that the two radical movements would share a cooperative and complementary relationship. Instead, it has been competitive and sometimes outright hostile. The essence of the divide has not been over which narrative was the correct one; rather it has been over primordiality — which of the two ideologies was the more authentic and had pride of place in the hearts and minds of Arabs.”
With the death of Nasser in 1970, the lingering defeat of the Arab nations by Israel, and the US influence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the imams and ulema began to spread the ideology of al-Wahab, but the Qutbists (followers of Sayyid Qutb) wanted more. They wanted a true caliphate and to end the disastrous US-Israel foreign politics in the region which was growing. These were no longer just the adherents of Ibn Taymiyyah-al-Wahab, they were more “politically” inclined to use their definition of what it is to have “true Islam” in the Middle East with the Salaf as the only school. With a generations of young Salafis learning at madrasas in Riyadh and in Islamabad, Pakistan, a new generation of even more less “venerable” Islamists began to recruit all over the region. Using Islamic charities, usually funded by Saudi Arabia, like the Jamat al Tabligh, a Pakistan missionary group, the Muslim World League, a Pan-Islamic NGO based in Mecca, Saudi Arabia and the Nahdlatul Ulama, an Indonesian charitable body funding schools and hospitals as well as organizing communities to help alleviate poverty.
Saudi Arabia led by its appointed king, Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, saw fit to modernize the country by improving on its infrastructure, but the imams and Salafs thought he was a neglectful leader, ineffective at best, and too prone to deal with the Americans. Meanwhile in Egypt, Anwar Sadat was beginning to turn the country around from its former predecessor, Nasser. Sadat released many of the Muslim Brotherhood from its prisons, and wanted to improve in the relationship with them while also trying to return the favor against Israel by saving face and engaging militarily. In Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was simply seen as a “puppet” for the United States, with former Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh deposed by a CIA led coup in 1953. Mossadegh was committed to nationalizing the Iranian petroleum industry controlled by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. According to an article published by British outlet, The Guardian on August 19th 2013:
“Britain, and in particular Sir Anthony Eden, the foreign secretary, regarded Mosaddeq as a serious threat to its strategic and economic interests after the Iranian leader nationalized the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, latterly known as BP. But the UK needed US support. The Eisenhower administration in Washington was easily persuaded.”
In Egypt, Sadat’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, would enrage the fervent takfiris from the local schools in Cairo. A number of insiders from the Egyptian Army would hold secret meetings with local radical proponents of a fundamnetlist group called al-Jihad or “Tanzim al-Jihad” which was formed in 1980 from the merger of two clusters of Islamist groups: a Cairo branch, under Mohammed Abdul-Salam Farag, and a Saidi (Upper Egypt) branch under Karam Zuhdi. The “Camp David Accords” held at US President Carter’s private retreat n Maryland. The meeting was to address the issue of repairing relations between Egypt and Israel, as well as, addressing the issue of the Palestinians.
Muhammad abd-al-Salam Faraj, began operations which implanted a military strategy to take over Arab governments by force if they did not abide by the Quran and Sunnah. In his document, “Al-Farida al-gha’iba (The Neglected Duty)”. Faraj stated in the summary that the primary targets for jihad should be local regimes. He coined the term “near enemy” to describe such targets, in contrast to “far enemies” such as Israel. He built on Qutb’s idea that modern Islamic societies represented jahiliyyah (the state of ignorance that pervaded in the pre-Islamic Arab world) and used the ideas of Ibn Taymiyyah to blame this on modern “apostate” Islamic rulers.
This would be the primary ideology endorsed by one of Faraj’s closest associates and member of al-Jihad, later renamed to Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Since Sadat did not wish for Egypt to be ruled by the Shariah, he had to be executed, in which the Egyptian radicals would then take over the media and government and begin its version of a caliphate. Sadat was assassinated by members of the al-Jihad led by Khalid Islambouli a second lieutenant in the Army, along with along with Junior Sergeant Abdel Hameed Abdul Salaam, Corporal Ata Tayel Hameeda Raheel, and Corporal Hussein Abbas, who leapt from their trucks during a military procession, in which Sadat was shot numerous times until dead.
Immediately the crackdowns began, over 1,300 people arrested for even being indirectly involved with knowing their assailants. High ranking leaders of known radical groups such as Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mohammad ibn al-Salam Faraj, Essam al-Qamari, Refai Taha and Omar Abdel Rahman (Gamma Islamiyyah) were arrested and held at the infamous Tora Prison. Some of these men would later be brutally tortured by the Egyptian SSI, and would become far more radicalized into fighting against secular Arab regimes in the years to come. Egypt’s problems were just beginning, and in the next 30 years, the radical takfiris, would begin tasking terrorism operations toward the government led by Sadat’s predecessor, a much more staunch anti-Islamist than Sadat, Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak was injured during the assassination.
The Islamists with their emirs and imams were more vocal about Western Imperialism and their affiliations with secular Arab governments. The tensions in the Middle East came to an absolute peak, not seen in the modern period, and the “takfiri” awakening had reached a zenith. By 1979, the origins of radical fundamentalism, which was unheard of before, began it’s jihad with a draw of the sword. On November 20th, 1979, Juhayman al-Otaybi, a former Saudi Army and member of the al-Jamaa al-Salafiyya al-Muhtasiba (The Salafi Group which Commands Good and Forbids Evil), led a band of Salafist rebels which approximately numbered 500 and stormed the Grand Mosque prayer area which were about to be led in the Fajr Salat (dawn prayer for Sunni Muslims). They immediately locked the gates and killed two Saudi police men who were only armed with clubs at the time, as the militants armed with AK-47 under their robes stormed the compound. Immediately they controlled the large prayer area and commanded the microphone which can be heard throughout the 7 acre Grand Mosque compound.
The battle ended on December 4th, as the remaining militants were tear gassed and were eventually overtaken by the Saudi National Guard and Army. al-Otaybi was executed along with 63 rebels were publicly beheaded in the squares of eight Saudi cities so as to not attract attention on 9 January 1980. Just 3 days later this embassy cable was sent to US Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance:
“SPECULATION CONTINUES, HOWEVER, AS TO THE WHEREABOUTS OF THE RINGLEADERS OF THE MOSQUE OCCUPATION. AS REPORTED REFTEL, USDAO RECEIVED ONE REPORT ALLEDGING THAT THE PRINCIPAL LEADER, THE SELF-STYLED “MAlIDI” (APPARENTLY ONE MUHAMMAD ABDALLAH AL-QAHTANI), WAS WOUNDED AND IN A RIYADH HOSPITAL. THIS HAS NOT BEEN CONFIRMED BY SAG, AND RUMORS PERSIST THAT AL-QAHTANI, ALONG WITH THE OTHER SUPPOSED RINGLEADER, ONE JUHAYMAN BIN SAYF ALUTAYBI, ARE BOTH EITHER IN THE BASEMENT OF THE MOSQUE OR HAVE ESCAPED. DEPFONMIN AL-THUNAYAN TOLD AMB AND POLCOUNS NOV. 30 THAT BOTH LEADTILL IN MOSQUE BASEMENT. THERE ARE STILL NO ACCURATE FIGURES AS TO CASUALTIES RESULTING FROM THE MOSQUE EPISODE. EMBASSY HAS LEARNED THAT THE MODA MILITARY HOSPITAL IN RIYADH CURRENTLY HAS APPROXIMATELY 100 WOUNDED IN ITS CARE AND HAS BEEN ALERTED TO BE PREPARED TO RECEIVE UP TO 40 MORE. WOUNDED ARE BELIEVED TO BE FROM NATIONAL GUARD IN ADDITION TO REGULAR ARMY FORCES.” (US Embassy In Jeddah, December 1,1979)
But what led to this attack within the mosque by al-Otaybi? The insinuation from the radical dissenter was that the Saudi Kingdom lacked religion.
“The ruling Al-Saud dynasty had lost its legitimacy because it was corrupt, ostentatious and had destroyed Saudi culture by an aggressive policy of Westernization.” (Julayman al-Otaybi)
According to Stephane LaCroix the fundamnetlist principals were growling in the kingdom and the Salafis were unrecognized within Saudi politics.
Many of the group’s members — and especially its scholars — were either of Bedouin descent or non-Saudi residents, and were thus marginalized in the religious field. Their activism came, in part at least, as a response to their marginalization. One of the main religious figures of this group — who was “lucky” enough to have been thrown out of the Kingdom in 1978 and therefore did not take part in the 1979 events — was Muqbil al-Wadi‘i, who subsequently re-established himself in his native Yemen and became the country’s most prominent Salafi scholar.” (Al-Albani’s Revolutionary Approach to Hadith (ISIM Review, Spring 2008)
According to Middle East / Wahhabi authority, and author, David Commins, the justification for the raid comes from corruption and a betrayal against Islam.
“Juhayman said that his justification for the siege was that the house of Saud had lost its legitimacy through corruption and imitation of the West, an echo of his father’s charge in 1921 against former Saudi king Ibn Saud. Unlike earlier anti-monarchist dissidents in the kingdom, attacked the Saudi ulama for failing to protest against policies that betrayed Islam, and accused them of accepting the rule of an infidel state and offering loyalty to corrupt rulers in “exchange for honours and riches.” (The Wahhabi Mission And Saudi Arabia, page 161)
The Salafi-Wahhabi Muslims no longer were comfortable with just allowed to be free from the shackles while under the prisons of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, they wanted a fulfillment of the true Brotherhood (Ikhwan) and become a political force within the Arab political spectrum. They wanted a caliphate of their time, the goal of Ibn Taymiyyah, Mohammad ibn al-Wahab and Hassan al-Banna’s intentions all rolled into one singular Islamo-nationalist monarchy. The Saudi Kingdom were shocked to it’s core, never before had anyone openly challenged the ruling monarchy before, or since. It would change the country’s view of the religious force within the walls of the kingdom and motivate figures who were watching behind the scenes, including a young Saudi engineering student named Osama Bin Laden.
In one of his pamphlets against the Saudi ruling family, he said they had “desecrated the Haram, when this crisis could have been solved peacefully”. I still remember to this day the traces of their tracks on the Haram’s floor tiles.” It also was clear to the young Bin Laden that the Kingdom’s “Sudairi Seven”, which are the powerful alliance of seven full brothers within the Saudi royal family, that they were not representative of the true Muslims of the Salaf. Not withstanding, the continued neglect by Arab governments regarding the Palestinian problem by the Israelis and their close affiliations with the United States, was the ultimate hypocrisy witnessed by the Salaf.
In just a single month, Afghanistan would take center stage for an Islamic awakening, not seen since Ibn Saud captured the cities of Nejd and Hejaz in 1927 from the Hashemites.
When the Soviet-backed People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) revolted against the rule of Afghan President Mohammed Daoud Khan on April 27, 1978 and deposed him, the communist Pashtuns backed by the Soviets “darling”, Nur Muhammad Taraki once hailed as the “Afghanistan’s Maxim Gorky” (a Russian and Soviet writer, a founder of the socialist realism literary method) began to immediately decentralize into internal revolt leading the country into a whirlwind of clashes with a communist backed government and an open house slaughter of the native Pashtuns and religious Hanafi. The Hanafi school of Islam are from the Sunni school of thought and considered the more “liberal” of the 4 Sunni beliefs. The coup was also led by Taraki’s confidants from the PDPA, Hafizullah Amin and Babrak Karmal. However soon after Taraki positioned himself as President, Amin began to implement family members in its specific areas of government, Taraki gave thought that he could also become a victim of a coup himself. The revolution also witnessed an authoritarian led military which was used to strike out against its detractors. Mainly against the mullahs.
“The soldiers’ knock on the door in the middle of the night, so common in many Arab and African countries, was little known in Afghanistan, where a central government simply lacked the power to enforce its will outside of Kabul. Taraki’s coup changed all that. Between April 1978 and the Soviet invasion of December 1979, Afghan communists executed 27,000 political prisoners at the sprawling Pul-i-Charki prison six miles east of Kabul. Many of the victims were village mullahs and headmen who were obstructing the modernization and secularization of the intensely religious Afghan countryside. By Western standards, this was a salutary idea in the abstract. But it was carried out in such a violent way that it alarmed even the Soviets.”
(Robert Kapalan, Soldiers of God: With Islamic Warriors in Afghanistan and Pakistan)
Meanwhile the Americans criticized the coup led by the soviet backed PDPA, and became alarmed that the Soviets were trying to make a power play at a communist takeover of the Middle East. This notion was impeccably and voice fully shared by National Security Adviser under President James Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski who would late author the book which reiterated the US response to a Soviet military goal of capturing the Caspian Sea oil reserves, “The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives”. However soon after, Amin would have Taraki arrested, and later assassinated and 28 members of his family arrested, even after the Soviets had received reports that Karmal and Amin wished to forcibly expel Taraki and become the new heads of government. However, Amin was not liked by the Afghan people. During his rule, opposition to the communist regime increased, and the government lost control of the countryside even after trying to repair relations with the Afghan Hanafi movement, after years of repression under the brutal Taraki government. The United States warned China and Britain about the communists wish to take over the country, as US-Ambassador to Afghanistan, J.Bruce Armstutz, warned that the country was on the verge of a civil war.
The Soviets were still not pleased with Amin, for Taraki was the perfect choice to head the country because of his close affinity and belief in “socialist realism”. Amin was not aware of the Soviets wish to depose him, and push Karmal to lead the country back to communist control. The Soviet Politburo were guided by a Special Commission on Afghanistan, which consisted of Yuri Andropov the KGB chairman, Andrei Gromyko the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Defense Minister Dmitriy Ustinov, and Boris Ponomarev, the head of the International Department of the Central Committee who were adamantly proposed against the notion of Taraki being assassinated began to make the decision to oust Amin. Meanwhile Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) agency began training Mujaheddin in Peshawar and Islamabad, to revolt against the communist backed regime, they feared that if the Soviets took over Afghanistan, they surely would be next. This operation was led by Pakistan’s president Zia ul-Haq and ISI Lieutenant-General Akhtar Abdur Rahman. Rahman was put in charge of overall operations regarding the training of the Mujahid, it was later merged with Operation Cyclone, a program funded by the United States and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1979.
“CIA covert action worked through Pakistani intelligence services to reach Afghani rebel groups. That operation began after December 1979, when Russian forces mounted a surprise intervention in Afghanistan. Fighting between CIA-funded Afghans and the Russians with their Khalq allies continued through 1988. At that time Moscow, having suffered substantial losses and incurred excessive costs in the country, decided to withdraw. The last Soviet forces left Afghanistan in early 1989, but warfare continued as the rebel forces contested with the Khalq regime for control of Kabul.” (U.S Analysis Of The Soviet War In Afghanistan Declassified, National Security Archive, October 9, 2001)
Muhammad Haniff Bin Hassan is a Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), would pen an article about the Islamic revitalization in Afghanistan and how it would ultimately lead to apolitical fanaticism.
“The precipitant or dramatic event in this case refers to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. The invasion became a major source of grievance among Muslims. Its resulting impact on Afghan Muslims provided an opportunity for active mobilization of Muslims all over the world. The Soviet invasion also generated international support for the Afghan jihad from the US and its allies who viewed it from a strategic viewpoint as a means to contain and defeat the Soviet Union during the Cold War period.
Validation of the relationship between the success of the mobilization and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is found across many studies in the field of political violence. Tore Bjørgo’s conclusion on the root causes of terrorism is particularly instructive. He wrote in Root Causes of Terrorism that “Repression by foreign forces or occupation by colonial powers has given rise to a great many national liberation movements that have sought recourse in terrorist tactics, guerrilla warfare, and other political means. Despite their use of terrorist methods, some liberation movements enjoy considerable support and legitimacy among their own constituencies, and sometimes also from of international public opinion.” (“Mobilization of Muslims for Jihad: Insights from the Past and their Relevance Today”, International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research August 2013)
The Saudis were investing tens of millions thru the Muslim World League and its affiliates thru-ought the world, while Pakistan were providing arms and training to Afghan Mujahid. Many tribal sects such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-i-Islami, Abdul Rasul Sayyaf’s Ittehad-al-Islami, and Jalaluddin Haqqani’s Haqqani Network. Meanwhile a Texas senator, Charlie Wilson, began a conduit of funneling millions in aid, along with an array of stinger missiles thru the CIA. Some of it went to Haqqani whom Wilson revered and even exclaimed he was “goodness personified”. Many influential authors of Islamic literature and venerated imams came by the hundreds to the landing strip in Peshawar. One such leading figure was a Palestinian imam and sharia learned teacher (sheikh), Abdullah Yusuf Azzam. Who would go on and build an organizational charity called the Maktab al-Khidamat (Afghan Services Bureau), which catered to receiving, financing and training in Islamic studies to foreign Arabs coming to join the Afghans in the war. Bin Laden was the primary financier of the bureau, but Azzam and his close friend Abdullah Anas were the creators of the idea itself.
Inside the United States, many bureaus would begin opening up in the local mosques, one actual building resided in Brooklyn New York City called the Al Kifah Refugee Center located on Atlantic Ave. This foundation was created by Fawazz Darma an imam at the mosque called Al Farouq, the bureau was once located inside the Al Farouq Mosque and later became its own building. Millions of dollars funneled thru there by charitable Muslims world wide who were donating to the cause of the Afghans. It would also become host to number of former mujaheddin fighters who were still looking to spread the “offensive jihad’ they learned from their takfiri imams in Pakistan. Azzam would at times travel to the United States along with other tribal Afghans, to recruit young Muslim men to engage the Soviet enemy in Afghanistan. The intelligence services such as the FBI and CIA began drafting reports about a growing ultra-theological enemy which could be a danger to American interests abroad and even within the United States itself. As the Israeli-Palestinian issues continued to regress, with the United States supporting the Israelis, the issue would become more noticed by the one entity who wished to continue the jihad after the Soviet withdrawal. With the warring barren laden jihadis leaving for home, they were still looking to draw the sword.
Anas would later witness the turning of the Afghan cause for jihad to something far more insidious.
“It was in the fractious environment of Afghanistan’s civil war that an extreme form of Islamism — including the takfiri ideology that thrives on declaring other Muslims apostates — took root. New Arab volunteers arrived in Peshawar who had nothing to do with the original anti-Soviet jihad. Both older and newer arrivals took sides in the Afghan factionalism, ignoring advice from Azzam that they should refuse to be sucked into Afghan in-fighting. Among these was bin Laden. According to Anas, bin Laden had initially come across as “an energetic, dynamic man with exquisite manners and refinement.” Anas had started out liking him for being a rich Saudi who chose not to indulge in the life of a playboy. But somewhere along the line, bin Laden had been overtaken by hubris. Despite having played a minor role in the anti-Soviet jihad, he started to believe he was the solution not just to the Afghan conflict but to the problems of the Muslim community, or ummah, worldwide.” (“Why Did It All Go Wrong? An Arab Veteran Of The Anti-Soviet Jihad Speaks”, Myra MacDonald, March 4, 2019)
The Egyptian radicals who were imprisoned for the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981, were released from Tora Prison, they were the “takfiris” the Sunni and Shia populace warned about many years prior. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Sayyid Imam al-Sharif (who later escaped Egypt after the plot) and Abu Hafs al-Masri all devoted followers of Ibn Taymiyyah hadith and Sayyid Qutbs idea of a revolutionary jihad against the secular Arab nations. al-Sharif, also nick named “Dr. Fadl” would publish a text for jihadis to “school them in the proper way to fight battles” and preached that the real objective was not victory over the Soviets but martyrdom and eternal salvation. “The Essential Guide for Preparation,” appeared in 1988 , it became the guide to which jihadists would operate for the decades to come and in the present day.
“The “Guide” begins with the premise that jihad is the natural state of Islam. Muslims must always be in conflict with nonbelievers, Fadl asserts, resorting to peace only in moments of abject weakness. Because jihad is, above all, a religious exercise, there are divine rewards to be gained. He who gives money for jihad will be compensated in Heaven, but not as much as the person who acts. The greatest prize goes to the martyr. Every able-bodied believer is obligated to engage in jihad, since most Muslim countries are ruled by infidels who must be forcibly removed, in order to bring about an Islamic state. “The way to bring an end to the rulers’ unbelief is armed rebellion,” (Lawrence Wright, “ “The Rebellion Within: An Al Qaeda mastermind questions terrorism (New Yorker 2016)
Azzam had preached “defensive jihad” but wasn’t known for his militaristic view of what the war should be. The idea behind “defensive jihad” made it an individual duty for every Muslim to resist foreign aggression. This did not resonate with the more fresher Jihadists which were graduating from the madrassas out of Peshawar and Islamabad, Pakistan who were more inclined to follow the ideas promoted by the takfiri school reverberated by al-Zawahiri and al-Sharif. During the course of the end of the Soviet-Afghan conflict a young Pashtun, Mohammad “Mullah” Omar, was beginning his studies at the Jamia Uloom-ul-Islamia, a Deobandi learning facility where the movement is said to have been influenced by Salafism in Afghanistan and Pakistan and funded primarily from Saudi Arabia. Omar would later become the primary founder of the leading movement in Afghanistan in the years to come, called the Taliban. These takfiris from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, believed in a ultra-nationalist form of “offensive jihad” aimed at expanding the territory of Islam as a collective duty and to force the murtadun (disbeliever) to accept Islam. In direct contradiction, which according to the Quran, teaches the opposite.
“There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.” (Al-Baqara 2:256 (Sahih International)
In 1989, the Soviets, mediated by Pakistan, withdrew from the capitol of Kabul, and by 1990, the Soviets were fully withdrawn. Only the government under Mohammad Najibullah who deterred a full communist withdrawal of the country. he would end up drafting legislation which labeled Afghanistan an Islamic country. Islamic principles were embedded in the 1987 constitution, for instance, Article 2 of the constitution stated that Islam was the state religion, and Article 73 stated that the head of state had to be born into a Muslim Afghan family. The 1990 constitution stated that Afghanistan was an Islamic state, and the last references to communism were removed. Bin Laden’s heroic tales of building roads and ditches for the Afghan mujahideen fighters, weren’t forgotten. The quiet, insular Saudi returned back to his native country in Arabia. Once there he was made aware of a rumor that the Iraqi Ba'athist Army may invade the Saudi Kingdom next, after it had invaded into Kuwait.
Bin Laden went to King Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and promised a victory, just like he did against the Soviets, with the ragged jihadist mujaheddin from his Arab camp, the Al Masada (Lions Den). The offer was rejected before a high Saudi counsel meeting that included Prince Turki bin Faisal al-Saud (Head of the Saudi General Intelligence directorate). King Fahd agreed to back the U.S. during the Gulf War and his Saudi citizenship was revoked in 1994, what enraged Bin Laden more so, the unbelievers, the Crusader army was allowed to station at the holiest land in all of Islam, Mecca and Medina. An outrage which the Kingdom felt, and house arrested Bin Laden while freezing all his assets. Bin Laden was later quoted as saying in regards to the Kingdom inviting non-Muslims to enter the holy land.
“For the Muslim Saudi monarchy to invite non-Muslim American troops to fight against Muslim Iraqi soldiers was a serious violation of Islamic law”.
Bin Laden was invited to the Sudan under the authority of Hassan al-Turabi, leader of the National Islamic Front, a sharia based organization created by university students who wanted a country based on the Quran and Sunnah. Bin Laden accepted the offer, and brought his Egyptian takfiris and members of the Al Masada camp, which were in the process of creating an orgaznaition which was to train Afghans and foreign Arabs to fight against the remaining communists in Afghanistan, the name for this group, Al Qaeda (The Base). Al Masada was the base of operations in the Paktia Province, which provided military training to Arabs only. The only Arab training camp in Afghanistan.
1993. Inside the North Tower of the World Trade Center, a Ryder truck parked at Level B-2, with its passengers relocating to another vehicle. Just a short 3 minuets later a tremendous expulsion knocked out power for blocks. Killing 6 wounding over 1,000. It was the first known terrorist attack by Islamists in the United States. After an FBI investigation and subsequent arrests in less than 2 years, everyone involved was apprehended and sentenced. Ramzi Yusuf, actual name, Abdul Basit Karim, gave a pre sentencing statement. This wasn’t about the United States religious freedoms or secular law. It was something vastly different. It was a response to American imperialism.
“You were the first one who killed innocent people, and you are the first one who introduced this type of terrorism to the history of mankind when you dropped an atomic bomb which killed tens of thousands of women and children in Japan and when you killed over a hundred thousand people, most of them civilians, in Tokyo with fire bombings. You killed them by burning them to death. And you killed civilians in Vietnam with chemicals as with the so-called Orange agent. You killed civilians and innocent people, not soldiers, innocent people every single war you went. You went to wars more than any other country in this century, and then you have the nerve to talk about killing innocent people.
And now you have invented new ways to kill innocent people. You have so-called economic embargo which kills nobody other than children and elderly people, and which other than Iraq you have been placing the economic embargo on Cuba and other countries for over 35 years. … The Government in its summations and opening statement said that I was a terrorist. Yes, I am a terrorist and I am proud of it. And I support terrorism so long as it was against the United States Government and against Israel, because you are more than terrorists; you are the one who invented terrorism and using it every day. You are liars, butchers, and hypocrites.”
This was unique in regards to the earlier motivations of Ibn Taymiyyah and Muhammad Ibn abd al-Wahab who were only concerned about the propagation of the Hanbali/Salafi school of thought thru Dawah. The Salafi movement was now concerned about expanding the caliphates borders past the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf and into the lands of the Crusaders. Many of the Sunni and Shia scholars however vehemently rejected the teachings of Ibn Taymiyyah and these latest jihadis like Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri. One critic of Bin Laden came, ironically, from a Wahhabi cleric and Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz. Sheikh Ibn Baz who was called out by Bin Laden due to Ibn Baz blessing regarding the the Oslo Accords between the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Israeli government, was adamantly opposed to the use of terrorism. The letter Bin Laden wrote, which was openly critical of Ibn Baz, led the Saudi Mufti to respond in kind.
“It is obligatory to destroy and annihilate these publications that have emanated from al-Faqeeh, or from al-Mas’aree, or from others of the callers of falsehood (Bin Laden and those like him), and not to be lenient towards them. And it is obligatory to advise them, to guide them towards the truth, and to warn them against this falsehood. It is not permissible for anyone to co-operate with them in this evil. And it is obligatory upon them to be sincere and to come back to guidance and to leave alone and abandon this falsehood. So my advice to al-Mas’aree, al-Faqeeh and Bin Laden and all those who traverse their ways is to leave alone this disastrous path, and to fear Allah and to beware of His vengeance and His Anger, and to return to guidance and to repent to Allah for whatever has preceded from them. And Allah, Glorified, has promised His repentant servants that He will accept their repentance and be good to them. So Allah the Glorified said: “Say, ‘O My servants who have transgressed against themselves. Do not despair of the Mercy of Allah; verily, Allah forgives all sins.’ Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
In 1993, Omar Abdel Rahman, was arrested thru an FBI sting for his alleged participation into what is known as the “Landmarks Bombing Plot”. He too was convicted of conspiracy to murder President Mubarak, solicitation to attack a U.S. military installation, and conspiracy to conduct bombings. Rahman, like al-Zawahiri came from the Egyptian prisons where the teachings of al-Wahab and Qutb were prominent. Rahman was invested in the “near enemy” approach, which failed and caused quite the backlash by Egyptian society after his orgaznaition (Gamma Islamiyyah) mascaraed over 150 visitors to Luxor in 1997. One of Rahman’s devoted associates, was Ali Mohammed, an Egyptian born student and former US Army soldier who would later train Mujahedeen fighters in Afghanistan, all under the watchful eye of the CIA. He would also become a “triple” spy of sorts, working for the FBI, CIA and Bin Laden. He would end up living in San Francisco acting as a military trainer in small arms fire for members of the Masjid al-Salam mosque in Jersey City, New Jersey where Rahman preached and Al Farouq in Brooklyn. Rahman’s influences primarily came from Ibn Taymiyyah and Sayyid Qutb’s writings, in which he became a strict anti-Zionist while also becoming openly critical of American foreign policy. When he graduated from the Al Azhar University in 1964, he became openly critical of Egyptian President Gamel Abdel Nasser and Egypt's socialist ideals as well. A pattern was beginning to emerge with these radical takfiri Muslims, and it was in direct response to US foreign and geopolitics.
The FBI were ill-equipped to deal with Islamic fundamnetlist, and had a small unit dedicated to this task. Nobody outside the US would even know what they were about, what they wanted and why they were conducting this act of terrorism, Even after the WTC bombing in 1993, the FBI abrasively concluded the matter finished, the terrorist cell responsible diminished. They couldn’t have been anymore wrong on this assessment.
Meanwhile in the Sudan, Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri began building training camps there all under the guidance of al-Turabi. Bin Laden also spent tens of millions building infrastructure in Khartoum and Soba. the CIA began monitoring his activities there. Meanwhile the United States began it’s assault on Iraq, the Gulf War, which saw the slaughter of over 500,000 men women and children with the economic sanctions imposed by President George W. Bush. It led to a national outcry from the Muslim community, and silence from it’s Arab neighbors. This slight would not be forgotten by Bin Laden or al-Zawahiri. By 1996, after the United States forced the Sudanese government, led by President Omar al-Bashir, to evict Bin Laden from the country. US-Sudan ambassador Timothy Carney had instructions to push the al-Bashir to expel Bin Laden. Carney, however, had no legal basis to ask for more from the Sudanese since, at the time, there was no indictment outstanding against Bin Laden in any country.
Bin Laden returned back to Afghanistan, which was now in a civil war between the Taliban and warring afghan factions under Hekmatyar and Haqqani, and the communist backed Najibullah government. Islamic tradition requires a host Muslim country to always accept an Islamic visitor, it is considered an insult to deny one a home.
In the Balkans, the jihadis found solace knowing the Soviets contused their conflict in Chechnya where Al Qaeda fighters relocated to from Afghanistan. Years of influence from al-Zawahiri made Bin Laden, a reckless mindset, for now the “near enemy” would be on hold. A defat of Soviet Union meant, the United States could easily be defatted as well. History however wasn’t kind to those who foolishly believed they were bigger than their worth. In 1996, Bin Laden along with a group of Salafi leaders, declared his first fatwa against the United States, it wouldn’t be his last. Entitled “Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places”, Bin Laden’s main grievance was against the Saudi Kingdom allowing the polytheist, united States, to remain in the land of the holy. Bin Laden’s view was that “the ‘evils’ of the Middle East arose from America’s attempt to take over the region and from its support for Israel. Saudi Arabia had been turned into an American colony”.
The Saudi petrodollar helped to shape the Islamic fundamentalist landscape, influenced with it’s Salafi teaching. Tens of millions of dollars donated by those “impressed” by Bin Laden’s willingness to defy the Kingdom and fight against the United States and Mullah Omar’s Taliban fight against the communists in Afghanistan. Salafi oriented movements such as Abu Sayyaf in Philippines, Armed Islamic Group in Algeria, Hamas in Israel, Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Yet it was only Al Qaeda, which catered to Faraj’s “far enemy” approach, due in part to al-Zawahiri and the Egyptian takfiris who brought with them their vitriol against the West, their fight against Mubarak in Egypt was put on hold. In 1998, Bin Laden issued a second fatwa against the United States, entitled, “”Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places”. This time Bin Laden declared that Muslims should kill Americans and Jews ‘wherever you find them”. However his statement was clear.
“First, for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.
If some people have in the past argued about the fact of the occupation, all the people of the Peninsula have now acknowledged it. The best proof of this is the Americans’ continuing aggression against the Iraqi people using the Peninsula as a staging post, even though all its rulers are against their territories being used to that end, but they are helpless.
Second, despite the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance, and despite the huge number of those killed, which has exceeded 1 million… despite all this, the Americans are once against trying to repeat the horrific massacres, as though they are not content with the protracted blockade imposed after the ferocious war or the fragmentation and devastation.
So here they come to annihilate what is left of this people and to humiliate their Muslim neighbors.
Third, if the Americans’ aims behind these wars are religious and economic, the aim is also to serve the Jews’ petty state and divert attention from its occupation of Jerusalem and murder of Muslims there. The best proof of this is their eagerness to destroy Iraq, the strongest neighboring Arab state, and their endeavor to fragment all the states of the region such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Sudan into paper statelets and through their disunion and weakness to guarantee Israel’s survival and the continuation of the brutal crusade occupation of the Peninsula.”
The terrorism campaigns began against the United States began as two US embassies became victims of trucks bombings in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es-Salaam, Tanzania. The cause for the bombing came from Ayman al-Zawahiri’s response to members of the Egyptian Islamic jihad arrested and renditioned from Albania to Egypt, with the cooperation of the United States; the four men were accused of participating in the assassination of Rifaat el-Mahgoub (a member of the Egyptian parliament). Two days later the embassy's were bombed. The methods for terrorism were not seen before, not since Abu Nidal’s wave of bombings and assassinations in the 1970's, which paled in the broader scope of what these new terrorists were about. Just months prior to the Us Embassy bombings in an interview dated May 17 1998, granted to John Miller a reporter with ABC News, Bin Laden stated this in regards to his latest fatwa.
“The call to wage war against America was made because America has spear-headed the crusade against the Islamic nation, sending tens of thousands of its troops to the land of the two Holy Mosques over and above its meddling in its affairs and its politics, and its support of the oppressive, corrupt and tyrannical regime that is in control. These are the reasons behind the singling out of America as a target. And not exempt of responsibility are those Western regimes whose presence in the region offers support to the American troops there. We know at least one reason behind the symbolic participation of the Western forces and that is to support the Jewish and Zionist plans for expansion of what is called the Great Israel. Surely, their presence is not out of concern over their interests in the region. … Their presence has no meaning save one and that is to offer support to the Jews in Palestine who are in need of their Christian brothers to achieve full control over the Arab Peninsula which they intend to make an important part of the so called Greater Israel.”
Rahimullah Yusufzai, who reports for the News of Pakistan, as well as TIME and ABC was also granted an interview with Bin Laden on December 23rd 1998, months after the bombings. He would later be quoted with similar vitriol for the West.
“The International Islamic Front for Jihad against the U.S. and Israel has, by the grace of God, issued a crystal-clear fatwah calling on the Islamic nation to carry on jihad aimed at liberating holy sites. The nation of Muhammad has responded to this appeal. If the instigation for jihad against the Jews and the Americans in order to liberate al-Aksa Mosque and the Holy Ka’aba is considered a crime, then let history be a witness that I am a criminal. Our job is to instigate and, by the grace of God, we did that, and certain people responded to this instigation. We should fully understand our religion. Fighting is a part of our religion and our Shari’a. Those who love God and his Prophet and this religion cannot deny that. Whoever denies even a minor tenet of our religion commits the gravest sin in Islam. Those who sympathize with the infidels-such as the PLO in Palestine or the so-called Palestinian Authority — have been trying for tens of years to get back some of their rights. They laid down arms and abandoned what is called violence and tried peaceful bargaining. What did the Jews give them? They did not give them even 1% of their rights.”
Things took an expected turn for the worse however and on September 11th 2001, 4 planes were hijacked with two crashing into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon and another into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The attacks were blamed on Osama Bin Laden. Intelligence reports from CIA and the FBI, as far back as 1999, suggested that Bin Laden and Al Qaeda wanted to attack the country from within. These reports went largely ignored. Some even speculate with these reports, the CIA withheld information which could have prevented the attacks'. Meanwhile Israeli and Saudi intelligence rings were monitoring the hijackers since January 2000. In a video obtained by Al Jazeera from Al Qaeda’ media arm, As Sahab, Bin Laden praised the attacks while flanked by his closest deputies, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Suleman Abu Gaith.
“America was hit by God in one of its softest spots. America is full of fear from its north to its south, from its west to its east. Thank God for that. America is tasting now what we have tasted for decades. I say … by God the great, America will never dream… Those who live in America will never taste security and safety unless we feel security and safety in our lands and in Palestine.
He would go on to say that the military incursions of Iraq and the continuing support of Israel over Palestinians were other reasons for the attacks on its buildings.
Bin Laden also gave additional statements this time in an unpublished video given to Al Jazeera which was viewed by The Telegraph’s reporter, David Bamber, who would write an article entitled “Bin Laden: Yes I Did It”. Bin Laden is quoted as saying in regards to attacking the United States as follows
“History should be a witness that we are terrorists. Yes, we kill their innocents. The Twin Towers were legitimate targets, they were supporting US economic power. These events were great by all measurement. What was destroyed were not only the towers, but the towers of morale in that country. Blessed by Allah to destroy America’s economic and military landmarks If avenging the killing of our people is terrorism then history should be a witness that we are terrorists. Yes, we kill their innocents and this is legal religiously and logically. The towers were supposed to be filled with supporters of the economical powers of the United States who are abusing the world. Those who talk about civilians should change their stand and reconsider their position. We are treating them like they treated us. There are two types of terror, good and bad. What we are practicing is good terror. We will not stop killing them and whoever supports them. Bush and Blair don’t understand anything but the power of force. Every time they kill us, we kill them, so the balance of terror can be achieved. It is the duty of every Muslim to fight. Killing Jews is top priority. If America used chemical or nuclear weapons against us, then we may retort with chemical and nuclear weapons. We have the weapons as deterrent.”
(November 11, 2001)
However, the resounding statements against the terrorist attacks were clearly heard by the global Islamic union. Both Sunni and Shia alike.
Yusuf al-Qaradawi, chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars and leading imam in Qatar
“Islam, the religion of tolerance, holds the human soul in high esteem, and considers the attack against innocent human beings a grave sin; this is backed by the Qur’anic verse that reads: “Who so ever kills a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he has killed all mankind, and who so ever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind,” (Al-Ma’idah:32). The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, is reported to have said, ‘A believer remains within the scope of his religion as long as he doesn’t kill another person illegally.’ Islam never allows a Muslim to kill the innocent and the helpless.”
Ayatollah Ali Khameini, supreme leader in Iran also condemned the attacks
“Killing of people, in any place and with any kinds of weapons, including atomic bombs, long range missiles, biological or chemical weapons, passenger or war planes, carried out by any organization, country or individuals is condemned. It makes no difference whether such massacres happen in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Qana, Sabra, Shatila, Deir Yassin, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, or in New York and Washington.”
Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah, the spiritual adviser to Hezbollah came out against the attacks.
“Besides the fact they are forbidden by Islam, these acts do not serve those who carried them out but their victims, who will reap the sympathy of the whole world. Islamists who live according to human values could not commit such crimes.”
The United States and their coalition partners responded just as Bin Laden wanted them. To over-extend our military into the country nicknamed, “the graveyard of empires’ , while spending billions in its military and neglect their decaying society in return. But it didn’t end in Afghanistan, we are still there currently making it the longest serving war in US history. But the far reaches of empire has now extended into the Levant. Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen. The reasons for these military excursions? To fight against the ‘war on terrorism”. The countries which once held nationalist pan-Arabic beliefs are now destabilized areas, rife with Islamist groups which had never existed before.
Terrorism is reciprocated by the tens of thousands of drone strikes, bombs, missiles and the millions of bullets fired by the soldiers aiming at an enemy which was primarily created by a lone Sunni theologian who tried to bring the Muslim world back to the days of the “Salaf” while trying to unite the world thru propagation. The ideology has evolved into an ultra-orthodox, apolitical number of entities which are reacting, not according to the world’s rejection of the innovations by Ibn Taymiyyah, Muhammad Ibn abd al-Wahab or Sayyid Qutb, but to a disastrous US foreign policy which helps to facilitate the situation which gives them a reason to “keep fighting the jihad by the sword”.