Who was behind 9/11? – an interview with Osama Bin Laden
By The Daily Ummat of Karachi
You have been accused of involvement in the attacks on New York and
Washington. What do you want to say about this?
Osama Bin Laden: In the name of Allah, the most beneficent, the most merciful. Praise be to Allah, Who is the creator of the whole universe and Who made the Earth as an abode for peace for the whole of humankind. Allah is the Sustainer, who sent the Prophet Muhammad for our guidance. I am thankful to Ummat Publications for giving me the opportunity to convey my viewpoint to the people, particularly the valiant and Momin [true Muslim] people of Pakistan who refused to believe the lies of the demon [Pakistani military dictator General Pervez Musharraf].
I have already said that I am not involved in the September 11 attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge of these attacks, nor do I consider the killing of innocent women, children and other human beings as an appreciable act. Islam strictly forbids causing harm to innocent women, children and other people. Such a practice is forbidden even in the course of battle. It is the United States which is perpetrating every sort of maltreatment on women, children and common people of other faiths, particularly the followers of Islam. All that has been going on in Palestine for the last 11 months is sufficient to invoke the wrath of God upon the United States and Israel. There is also a warning for those Muslim countries that witnessed all of this as silent spectators. What had earlier been done to the innocent people of Iraq, Chechnya and Bosnia? Only one conclusion could be derived from the indifference of the United States and the West to these acts of terror and the patronage of the tyrants by these powers, namely that America is an anti-Islamic power and is patronising anti-Islamic forces. Its friendship with the Muslim countries is just show, or rather deceit. By enticing or intimidating these countries, the United States is forcing them to play a role of its choice. Cast a glance around and you will see that the slaves of the United States are either rulers or enemies of Muslims.
The US has no friends, nor does it want any because the prerequisite of friendship is to come to the level of the friend or consider him on par with yourself. America does not want to see anyone equal to it. It expects slavery from others. Therefore, other countries are either its slaves or its subordinates. However, our case is different. We have pledged slavery to God Almighty alone and after this pledge there is no possibility of becoming someone else's slave. If we did that it would be disregardful both to our Sustainer and to his fellow beings. Most of the nations of the world who are upholding their freedom are the religious ones, which are the enemies of the United States, or which the US itself considers to be its enemies.
The countries which do not agree to become US slaves are China, Iran, Libya, Cuba, Syria [Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Sudan, Indonesia, Malaysia] and Russia. Whoever committed the act of September 11 are not the friends of the American people. I have already said that we are against the American system, not against its people, whereas in these attacks, common American people have been killed. According to my information, the death toll is much higher than what the US Government has stated. But the Bush administration does not want the panic to spread. The United States should try to trace the perpetrators of these attacks within itself; the people who are a part of the US system but are dissenting against it. Or those who are working for some other system; persons who want to make the present century as a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity so that their own civilization, nation, country, or ideology can survive. They may be anyone, from Russia to Israel and from India to Serbia. In the US itself, there are dozens of well-organized and well-equipped groups capable of causing large-scale destruction. Then you cannot forget the American Jews, who have been annoyed with President Bush ever since the Florida elections and who want to avenge him.
Then there are intelligence agencies in the US, which require billions of dollars worth of funds from Congress and the government every year. This [funding issue] was not a big problem until the existence of the ex-Soviet Union but after that the budget of these agencies has been in danger. They needed an enemy. So, they first started propaganda against Osama and the Talibans and then this incident happened. You see, the Bush Administration approved a budget of 40 billion dollars. Where will this huge amount go? It will be provided to the same agencies which need huge funds and want to exert their importance. Now they will spend the money for their expansion and to increase their importance. I will give you an example. Drug smugglers from all over the world are in contact with the US secret agencies. These agencies do not want to eradicate narcotics cultivation and trafficking because their importance would be diminished. The people in the US Drug Enforcement Department are encouraging drug trade in order to show performance and get millions of dollars worth of budget. General Noriega was made a drug baron by the CIA and, in need, he was made a scapegoat. In the same way, whether it is President Bush or any other US President, they cannot bring Israel to justice for its human rights abuses or to hold it accountable for such crimes. What is this? Is it not that there exists a government within the government in the United Sates? That secret government must be asked who carried out the attacks.
Daily Ummat: A number of countries have joined the call of the United States to launch attacks on Afghanistan. These also include a number of Muslim countries. Will Al-Qaeda declare a jihad against these Islamic countries too?
Bin Laden: I must say that my duty is just to awaken the Muslims; to tell them what is good for them and what is not, what Islam says and what the enemies of Islam want. Al-Qaeda was set up to wage a jihad against infidelity, particularly to counter the onslaught of the infidel countries against the Islamic states. Jihad is the sixth undeclared pillar of Islam. [The first five being the basic holy words of Islam: that there is only one God in the entire universe and that Muhammad is the last Prophet of God; prayers; fast; pilgrimage to Mecca; and giving alms.] Every anti-Islamic person is afraid of the jihad. Al-Qaeda wants to keep the jihad alive and active and make it a part of the daily life of the Muslims. It wants to give it the status of worship. We are not against any Islamic country. We do not consider a war against an Islamic country to be a jihad. We are in favour of an armed jihad only against those infidel governments that are killing innocent Muslim men, women and children just because they are Muslims. Supporting the US act is the need of some Muslim countries and the compulsion of others. However, they should think about what will remain of their religious and moral position if they support the attack of the Christians and Jews on a Muslim country like Afghanistan. The orders of Islamic Shariah [jurisprudence] for such individuals, organizations and countries are clear and all the scholars of the Muslim brotherhood are unanimous about them. We will do the same, which is being ordered by the Ameer-ul-Momeneen [the commander of the faithful Afghans] Muhammad Omar and the Islamic scholars. The hearts of the people of Muslim countries are beating with the call of jihad. We are grateful to them.
Daily Ummat: The losses caused in the attacks in New York and Washington have proved that giving an economic blow to the US is not too difficult. US experts admit that a few more such attacks could bring down the American economy. Why is Al-Qaeda not targeting their economic pillars?
Bin Laden: I have already said that we are not hostile to the United States. We are against the [US Government] system, which makes other nations slaves of the United States, or forces them to mortgage their political and economic freedom. This system is totally under the control of American-Jews, whose first priority is Israel, not the United States. It is clear that the American people are themselves the slaves of the Jews and are forced to live according to the principles and laws laid down by them. So, the punishment should reach Israel. In fact, it is Israel, which is giving a blood bath to innocent Muslims and the US is not uttering a single word.
Daily Ummat: Why is harm not caused to the enemies of Islam through other means, apart from the armed struggle? For instance, urging the Muslims to boycott Western products, banks, shipping lines and TV channels.
Bin Laden: The first thing is that Western products could only be boycotted when the Muslim fraternity is fully awakened and organized. Secondly, the Muslim companies should become self-sufficient in producing goods equal to the products of Western companies. Economic boycot of the West is not possible unless economic self-sufficiency is attained and substitute products are brought out. You see that wealth is scattered all across the Muslim World but not a single TV channel has been acquired which can preach Islamic injunctions according to modern requirements and attain an international influence. Muslim traders and philanthropists should make it a point that if the weapon of public opinion is to be used, it is to be kept in the hand. Today's world is of public opinion and the fates of nations are determined through its pressure. Once the tools for building public opinion are obtained, everything that you asked for can be done.
Daily Ummat: The entire propaganda about your struggle has so far been made by the Western media. But no information is being received from your sources about the network of Al-Qaeda and its jihad successes. Would you like to comment on this?
Bin Laden: In fact, the Western media is left with nothing else. It has no other theme to survive for a long time. Then we have many other things to do. The struggle for jihad and the successes are for the sake of Allah and not to annoy His bondsmen. Our silence is our real propaganda. Rejections, explanations, or corrigendum only waste your time and through them, the enemy wants you to engage in things which are not of use to you. These things are pulling you away from your cause. The Western media is unleashing such a baseless propaganda, which makes us surprise but it reflects on what is in their hearts and gradually they themselves become captive of this propaganda. They become afraid of it and begin to cause harm to themselves. Terror is the most dreaded weapon in the modern age and the Western media is mercilessly using it against its own people. It can add fear and helplessness in the psyche of the people of Europe and the United States. It means that what the enemies of the United States cannot do, its media is doing for them. You can understand what will be the performance in war of a nation that suffers from fear and helplessness.
Daily Ummat: What will be the impact of the freezing of Al-Qaeda's accounts by the US?
Bin Laden: God opens up ways for those who work for Him. Freezing accounts will not make any difference for Al-Qaeda or other jihad groups. With the grace of Allah, Al-Qaeda has more than three alternative financial systems, which are all separate and totally independent from each other. This system is operating under the patronage of those who love jihad. What can we say about the United States when not even the world combined can budge these people from their path? These people are not hundreds but thousands and millions. Al-Qaeda comprises modern educated youths who are as aware of the cracks inside the Western financial system as they are aware of the lines in the palms of their hands. These are the very flaws of the Western fiscal system, which are becoming a noose for it and this system could not recuperate despite the passage of so many days.
Daily Ummat: Are there any safe areas other than Afghanistan, where you can continue jihad?
Bin Laden: There are areas in all parts of the world where strong jihadi forces are present, from Indonesia to Algeria, from Kabul to Chechnya, from Bosnia to Sudan, and from Burma to Kashmir. Then it is not the problem of my person. I am a helpless fellowman of God, constantly in the fear of my accountability before God. It is not the question of Osama but of Islam and, in Islam too, of jihad. Thanks to God, those waging a jihad can walk today with their heads raised. Jihad existed when there was no Osama and it will continue to exist even when Osama is no longer here. Allah opens up ways and creates love in the hearts of people for those who walk on the path of Allah with their lives, property and children. Believe it, through jihad, a man gets everything he desires. And the biggest desire of a Muslim is the life after death. Martyrdom is the shortest way of attaining an eternal life.
Daily Ummat: What do you have to say about the Pakistani Government policy regarding the attack on Afghanistan?
Bin Laden: We are thankful to the Momin and valiant people of Pakistan who erected a blockade before the evil forces and stood in the first line of battle. Pakistan is a great hope for the Islamic brotherhood. Its people are awakened, organized and rich in the spirit of faith. They backed Afghanistan in its war against the Soviet Union and extended all its help to the Mojahedin and Afghan people. Then these are the very Pakistanis who are standing shoulder to shoulder with the Taliban. If such people emerged in just two countries, the domination of the West would diminish in a matter of days. Our hearts beat with Pakistan and, God forbid, if a difficult time comes we will protect it with our blood. Pakistan is as sacred for us as a place of worship. We are the people of jihad and fighting for the defense of Pakistan is the best of all jihads to us. It does not matter for us as to who reforms Pakistan. The important thing is that the spirit of jihad is alive and stronger in the hearts of the Pakistani people.
Note: This interview was published by JUST Response on November 26 2003. It first appeared on September 28 2001 in the Karachi-based The Daily Ummat, Pakistan's second largest Urdu morning newspaper, to whom we express our grateful acknowledgement. Explanations and additions in square brackets were added by the translator.