Bin Laden’s Manifesto

American leaders, including United States Senators, who are supposed to be knowledgeable about foreign affairs, need to be more candid with the American public about Islamic terrorists’ goals and aspirations. The plain fact is that Islamic terrorists are out to destroy Americans and their civilization.

And how do we know this? Osama Bin Laden himself tells us this in his 1996 “Declaration of War Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places,” printed for everyone to read here.

Comments on Islamic goals are not clearly stated by leaders whether Democrat or Republican. But Osama is clear in what he says and has in mind. He and his followers are at war; a special kind of war, one whose aim is to kill all the infidels (Americans) and their allies — Jews are always mentioned as allies.

How did Osama, a Yemeni-born, Arabian-nurtured Muslim come to see this war as his religious duty? Why does he want to kill all Americans?

His principal motivation is twofold. First, he is deeply disturbed by the fact that 80 years ago the last great remnant of Islamic power was defeated when the Ottoman Empire fell in 1918 and its capital, Constantinople, was occupied by European infidel Christians. Americans chuckle, of course, at this reliance on what to them is an obscure historical incident as a motivation for declaring war. Unlike Americans, history is extremely important to Muslims because it is the record of Allah dealing with men — all Muslims, therefore, are well versed in their history. To state it succinctly, Osama is still peeved about the decline of Islamic civilization, once the world’s greatest. Stated yet another way, he is deeply disturbed by this very bad turn in Islamic history and hopes by his holy war to correct it.

His second motivation for a declaration of war against the United States arises from the fact that since the 1930s Saudi leaders have allowed foreigners into the interior of the holy land, including Americans. For centuries only the faithful were allowed into the region, Hijaz, which contained the two holy cities of Islam — Mecca and Medina. Until about 1930 visitors, including diplomats, were not allowed in at all, not even to the political capitol Riyadh. They were restricted to the coastal city of Jedda. Osama claims that this long-standing practice was sanctioned by the Prophet himself. Further, he claims that violations of this practice were a desecration of the Holy Land and called for a holy war against the foreigners, Americans in this case, and also punishment of the rulers who allowed the foreigners to come in. Thus, in Bin Laden’s view, the ruling Saudi family and Americans are targets of his wrath.

A variation on the second motivation also deserves mention. At one point in Islamic history the spiritual center of Islam, the home of the highest spiritual leader known as the Caliph, was moved to Bagdad, residing there for five hundred years. Thus, in Muslim minds, so deeply colored by historical affairs, Bagdad is the second most sacred city. Obviously, America’s invasion of Iraq in 1991 was another desecration of an Islamic holy site, another example of infidels insulting Muslims. This point, too, is often made by Bin Laden. No doubt, the second invasion of Iraq by Americans in 2003 made him apoplectic!

To sum up: Bin Laden is at war with the United States because it intruded into the holy land and later invaded sacred Iraq. These actions, condemned in the Qur’an he says, were sufficient cause for him to take up arms against the United States.

He also talks of another factor that Americans may want to ponder — American moral depravity. Islam teaches modesty and sexual purity for both women and men. That is not what Muslims see, since American culture — Western Europeans are not excused in this matter — comes to them in movies, music, and over the internet. Providers and purveyors of these forms of debauchery are special targets of Bin Laden’s troops. Perhaps they will try to blow up Hollywood one of these days.

It does not help the American public’s understanding of Bin Laden’s motives and goals when American leaders refuse to state that his cause in his eyes is a holy war. More candor by leaders, such as Bush and Kerry, would help Americans to appreciate more fully what they face in the years ahead. To grasp the gravity of Bin Laden’s challenge to America, do consult the aforementioned website. And, hope that your leaders in Washington do the same.

L. John VanTil, Ph.D. is a professor of humanities at Grove City College. He is the author of the book Liberty of Conscience: The History of a Puritan Idea. He is currently editing the papers of Calvin Coolidge.

(This article courtesy of the Grove City News.)

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