Muslims against global crusaders – an interview with Osama Bin Laden
By Tayseer Alouni
Tayseer Alouni: Dear viewers, welcome to this much anticipated interview with the leader of the Al-Qaeda organization, Sheikh Osama Bin Laden.Sheikh, the question that is on the mind of many people around the world: America claims that it has convincing evidence of your collusion in the events in New York and Washington. What's your answer?
America has made many
accusations against us and many other Muslims around the world. Its charge that
we are carrying out acts of terrorism is an unwarranted description.
Sheikh, those who follow
your statements and speeches may link your threats to what happened in America.
To quote one of your latest statements: "I swear that America won't enjoy
security before we live it for real in Palestine." It is easy for anyone
following developments to link the acts to your threats.
Al-Qaeda is now facing a
country that leads the world militarily, politically, technologically. Surely,
the Al-Qaeda organization does not have the economic means that the United
States has. How can Al-Qaeda defeat America militarily?
Bin Laden: This battle is not between
Al-Qaeda and the US. This is a battle of Muslims against the global crusaders.
In the past when Al-Qaeda fought with the Mojahedin, we were told, "Wow,
can you defeat the Soviet Union?" The Soviet Union scared the whole world
then. NATO used to tremble with fear at the Soviet Union. Where is that power
now? We barely remember it. It broke down into many small states and Russia
Alouni: How can you explain that?
You said you want to defeat
America on this land. Don't you think that the presence of Al-Qaeda on
Afghanistan soil is costing the Afghan people a high price?
Bin Laden: This is a partial point of
view. When we came to Afghanistan to support the Mojahedin in 1979, against the
Russians, the Saudi government asked me officially not to enter Afghanistan due
to how close my family is to the Saudi leadership. They ordered me to stay in
Peshawar, because in the event the Russians arrested me that will be a proof of
our support of the Mojahedin against the Soviet Union. At that time, the whole
world was scared of the Soviet Union. I didn't obey their order. They thought my
entry into Afghanistan was damning to them. I didn't listen to them and I went
into Afghanistan for the first time.
Alouni: Let's get back to what
happened in New York and Washington. What is your assessment of the attacks on
America? What is their effect on America and the Muslim world?
The events of Tuesday,
September 11 in New York and Washington are great on all levels. Their
repercussions are not over. Although the collapse of the twin towers is huge,
but the events that followed, and I'm not just talking about the economic
repercussions, those are continuing, the events that followed are dangerous and
more enormous than the collapse of the towers.
The proof came when the US government pressured the media not to run our statements that are not longer than very few minutes. They felt that the truth started to reach the American people, the truth that we are not terrorists as they understand it but because we are being attacked in Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, Somalia, Kashmir, the Philippines and everywhere else. They understood the truth that this is a reaction from the youth of the Muslim nation against the British government. They forgot all about fair and objective reporting and reporting the other side of the issue. I tell you freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The US government will lead the American people and the West in general will enter an unbearable hell and a choking life because the Western leadership acts under the Zionist lobby's influence for the purpose of serving Israel, which kills our sons unlawfully in order for them to remain in their leadership positions.
What is your assessment of
the Arabic reaction and the effects on the Islamic world? Some were joyous.
Others said, "We can't accept this. This is terrorism, not Islam."
Bin Laden: The events proved the
extent of terrorism that America exercises in the world. Bush stated that the
world has to be divided in two: Bush and his supporters, and any country that
doesn't get into the global crusade is with the terrorists. What terrorism is
clearer than this? Many governments were forced to support this "new
terrorism". They had to go along with this although they knew that we are
defending our brothers and defending our sacred values. Many Western and Eastern
leaders have said that the true roots of terrorism should be dealt with; they
meant the Palestinian cause. Then we have a righteous cause, but they couldn't
admit this out loud of fear of America. They say we are terrorists but solve the
Palestinian cause. All of a sudden, Bush and Blair declared, "The time has
come to establish an independent state for Palestine." Throughout the past
years the time hasn't come, until after these attacks, for the establishment of
the Palestinian state. They only understand the language of attacks and
Just as they're killing us,
we have to kill them so that there will be a balance of terror. This is the
first time the balance of terror has been close between the two parties, between
Muslims and Americans, in the modern age. American politicians used to do
whatever they wanted with us. The victim was forbidden to scream or to moan.
The battle has moved to
inside America. We will work to continue this battle, God permitting, until
victory or until we meet God before that occurs.
Alouni: Sheikh, I see that most of your answers are about Palestine and the Palestinian cause. In the beginning, your focus on killing the unfaithful and the Jews ... and you specified then that the Americans should be sent out of the Arabian Peninsula. Now you're turning your attention to Palestine first and the Arabian Peninsula second. What's your comment?
Bin Laden: Jihad is a duty to liberate Al-Aqsa, and to help the powerless in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon and in every Muslim country. There is no doubt that the liberation of the Arabian Peninsula from infidels is a duty as well. But it is not right to say that Osama put the Palestinian issue first. I have given speeches in which I encourage Muslims to boycott America economically. I said Americans take our money and give it to Israel to kill our children in Palestine. I established a front a few years ago named The Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and the Crusaders. Sometimes we find the right elements to push for one cause more than the other. Last year's blessed intifada helped us to push more for the Palestinian issue. This push helps the other cause. Attacking America helps the cause of Palestine and vice versa. No conflict between the two; on the contrary, one serves the other.
Alouni: Sheikh, now let's talk about Christians and Jews. You issued a fatwa for jihad against the Christians and the Jews. As we can see, some other clerics also issued fatwas. There might be some who share your views, and some who oppose them and said this is against the teachings of Islam They ask how can you kill a Jew or a Christian or a Catholic just because of his religion? They say that your statements contradict what Muslim clerics teach.
Bin Laden: God bless Allah, many fatwas have been declared on these issues, especially in Pakistan. Sami Zai in Pakistan is a very well known authority on this. He has written many times on the subject. So did the famous Abdullah bin Ohkmah Al-Shehebi of Saudi Arabia. I read a book titled "The Truth About The New Crusades." They all wrote about and allowed the fighting of Americans and Israelis in Palestine and allowing their killings and destroying their economies and properties.
Alouni: How about the killing of innocent civilians?
Bin Laden: The killing of innocent
civilians, as America and some intellectuals claim, is really very strange talk.
Who said that our children and civilians are not innocent and that shedding
their blood is justified? That it is lesser in degree? When we kill their
innocents, the entire world from east to west screams at us, and America rallies
its allies, agents, and the sons of its agents. Who said that our blood is not
blood, but theirs is? Who made this pronouncement? Who has been getting killed
in our countries for decades? More than 1 million children, more than 1 million
children died in Iraq and others are still dying. Why do we not hear someone
screaming or condemning, or even someone's words of consolation or condolence?
How come millions of
Muslims are being killed? Where are the experts, the writers, the scholars and
the freedom fighters, where are the ones who have an ounce a faith in them? They
react only if we kill American civilians, and every day we are being killed,
children are being killed in Palestine. We should review the books. Human nature
makes people stand with the powerful without noticing it. When they talk about
us, they know we won't respond to them. In the past, an Arab king once killed an
ordinary Arab man. The people started wondering how come kings have the right to
kill people just like that. Then the victim's brother went and killed the king
in revenge. People were disappointed with the young man and asked him, "How
could you kill a king for your brother?" The man said, "My brother is
my king." We consider all our children in Palestine to be kings.
We kill the kings of the infidels, kings of the crusaders, and civilian infidels in exchange for those of our children they kill. This is permissible in law and intellectually.
Alouni: So what you are saying is that this is a type of reciprocal treatment. They kill our innocents, so we kill their innocents.
Bin Laden: So we kill their innocents, and I say it is permissible in law and intellectually, because those who spoke on this matter spoke from a juridical perspective.
Alouni: What is their position?
Bin Laden: That it is not
permissible. They spoke of evidence that the Messenger of God forbade the
killing of women and children. This is true.
Alouni: This is exactly what I'm asking about.
Bin Laden: However, this prohibition
of the killing of children and innocents is not absolute. It is not absolute.
There are other texts that restrict it.
Alouni: How about the twin towers?
Bin Laden: The towers are an economic power and not a children's school. Those that were there are men that supported the biggest economic power in the world. They have to review their books. We will do as they do. If they kill our women and our innocent people, we will kill their women and their innocent people until they stop.
Alouni: Media organizations as well as intelligence information says that you run a big network in some 40 to 50 countries. There is information that Al-Qaeda is very influential and powerful and it is behind attacks and Islamic foundations and terrorist organizations. How much is Al-Qaeda dependent on Osama Bin Laden?
Bin Laden: This has nothing to do with this poor servant of God,
nor with the Al-Qaeda organization. We are the children of an Islamic nation
whose leader is Mohammed.
Alouni: What's Al-Qaeda's strategic plan in the Arab world. Some countries had commented about what's going on while others supported the Americans in their position toward you. The Saudi interior minister warned people against you, and against what you say, and against what you do and the path you follow. What's your reaction to his statement?
Bin Laden: We are a part of that
nation. We work hard to lift it out of oppression, and to stop those who want to
manipulate its book and its God. I heard some of what the Saudi interior
minister said when he said that we are turning Muslims to atheists, God forbid.
Our goal is for our nation to unite in the face of the Christian crusade. This
is the fiercest battle. Muslims have never faced anything bigger than this. Bush
said it in his own words: "crusade." When Bush says that, they try to
cover up for him, then he said he didn't mean it. He said "crusade."
Bush divided the world into two: "either with us or with terrorism."
Bush is the leader; he carries the big cross and walks. I swear that every one
who follows Bush in his scheme has given up Islam and the word of the prophet.
This is very clear. The prophet has said, "Believers don't follow Jews or
Christians." Our wise people have said that those who follow the unfaithful
have become unfaithful themselves. Those who follow Bush in his crusade against
Muslims have denounced God.
[Bin Laden recites verses
from the Quran on same subject.]
Those who support Bush, even with one word, have fallen.
Alouni: Even with one word: You are putting a big group of Muslims in the circle.
Bin Laden: Know the truth and its roots. The book of God is our guide. Either Islam or atheism.
Alouni: Can small countries like Qatar, or Bahrain or Kuwait, which don't have much control, be excused? The Qatari foreign minister said, "I am surrounded by superpowers that will very easily wipe me off the map. That's why I have to ally myself with Americans and others."
Bin Laden: In the subject of Islam and the killing of the faithful, what those people are doing cannot be excused. If the emir of Qatar orders someone to kill your child, and you ask this person why he did it, he'll say, "Look, brother Tayseer, I like you very much, but I was forced to do it." Nothing will excuse him for aiding the tyrant to kill your child. Your child's blood goes to waste like this. They claim that they don't have much control. Their claim that they were forced into it is not considered righteous in Islam. People's blood is being wasted in this case.
Alouni: What do you think of the
so-called "war of civilizations"? You always keep repeating
"crusaders" and words like that all the time. Does that mean you
support the war of civilizations?
Bin Laden: No doubt about that: The book mentions this clearly. The Jews and the Americans made up this call for peace in the world. The peace they're calling for is a big fairy tale. They're just drugging the Muslims as they lead them to slaughter. And the slaughter is still going on. If we defend ourselves, they call us terrorists. The prophet has said, "The end won't come before the Muslims and the Jews fight each other till the Jew hides between a tree and a stone. Then the tree and stone say, "Oh, you Muslim, this is a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him." He who claims there will be a lasting peace between us and the Jews is an infidel. He'll be denouncing the book and what's in it. Begin, the leader of the massacre of Kfar Yassin, and the traitor, Anwar Sadat, who sold the land and the blood of the Mojahedin were both given the Nobel Peace Prize. There will come some deceiving times where the liars will be believed and the truthful won't be believed. That's the situation in the Arabic world with its great leadership. They are lying to people. But god's relief and victory is coming soon.
Alouni: As you call it, this is a war between the crusaders and Muslims. How do you see the way out of this crisis?
We are in a decisive battle
with the Jews and those who support them from the crusaders and the Zionists. We
won't hesitate to kill the Israelis who occupied our land and kill our children
and women day and night. And every person who will side with them should blame
themselves only. Now how we will get out of the tunnel, that is the
[unintelligible] of the other side. We were attacked, and our duty is to remove
this attack. As far as the Jews are concerned, the prophet has announced that we
will fight them under this name, on this land. America forced itself and its
people in this [unintelligible] more than 53 years ago. It recognized Israel and
supported its creation financially. In 1973, under Nixon, it supported Israel
with men, weapons and ammunition from Washington all the way to Tel Aviv. This
support helped change the course of history. It is the Muslim's duty to fight.
Alouni: Do you have anything to do with anthrax that is spreading around the world?
Bin Laden: These diseases are a punishment from God and a response to oppressed mothers' prayers in Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine. There is no wall between the prayer of the oppressed and God. This is God's response to these prayers.
Alouni: Do you have a message for the viewers of Al-Jazeera? You know Al-Jazeera is now translated into so many languages and transmitted around the world.
Bin Laden: In this fighting between
Islam and the crusaders, we will continue our jihad. We will incite the nation
for Jihad until we meet God and get his blessing. Any country that supports the
Jews can only blame itself. If Sheik Suleiman Abu Gheith spoke specifically
about America and Britain, this is only an example to give other countries the
chance to review their books.
This is a recurring war.
The original crusade brought Richard [the Lionheart] from Britain, Louis from
France, and Barbarus from Germany. Today the crusading countries rushed as soon
as Bush raised the cross. They accepted the rule of the cross.
What do the Arab countries
have to do with this crusade? Everyone that supports Bush, even with one word,
is an act of great treason. You change your name and you help the enemy to kill
our children, and you are telling me we are facilitating things between us and
the Americans. What are they talking about? Those who talk about the loss of
innocent people didn't yet taste how it feels when you lose a child, don't know
how it feels when you look in your child's eyes and all you see is fear, don't
know how it feels when, in Palestine, our brothers are being hunted by army
helicopters in the middle of their own homes with their families and children.
Everyday. They show you the injured and the dead, and they shed tears, but no
tears are shed for our women and children killed in Palestine. Are they not
afraid that one day they get the same treatment?
[Bin Laden recites verses
from the Koran on same subject.]
The Europeans are free, but
when they side with the Jews, that [unintelligible]. I tell Muslims to believe
in the victory of God and in Jihad against the infidels of the world. The
killing of Jews and Americans is one of the greatest duties.
Note: This interview was published by JUST Response on November 26 2003. It was first circulated by CNN on February 5 2002. It was originally conducted in Arabic by Al-Jazeera correspondent Tayseer Alouni in October 2001. We express our grateful acknowledgement to both Al-Jazeera and CNN . Explanations and additions in square brackets were added by the translator.