When President Barack Obama announced to the world that Osama bin Laden was killed by American forces in Pakistan, he made sure to distinguish the Al-Qaeda leader’s career of terror from any religious affiliation.
… the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader;
Conservative talk radio host Bill Cunningham, who was on the air at the time of Obama’s announcement, took the president’s claim further and suggested that Bin Laden was not a Muslim at all. Such remarks are based upon the premise that Islam must be “perverted” or “distorted” in order to justify violence in its name.
Someone forgot to send that memo to an imam operating out of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
In a Youtube video uploaded by the imam he said: “The western dogs are rejoicing after killing one of our Islamic lions. From Al-Aqsa Mosque, where the future caliphate will originate with the help of God, we say to them – the dogs will not rejoice too much for killing the lions. The dogs will remain dogs and the lion, even if he is dead, will remain a lion.”
The imam went on to promise revenge, stating that Obama will “hang together with Bush Junior.”
About 25 people holding pictures and posters of bin Laden rallied outside a Gaza City university. The crowd included al-Qaeda sympathizers as well as students who said they opposed bin Laden’s ideology, but were angry at the US for killing him and consider him a martyr.
Here’s a question for President Obama, Mr. Cunningham, and any other hand-wringer attempting to compartmentalize Bin Laden’s religion from his acts of war. If Muslims are claiming Bin Laden as their own, who are we to argue?
Before stating with certainty that Bin Laden was not a Muslim, or not a Muslim leader, or that his war against the United States and her allies was not a manifestation of Islam, it may be instructive to look at some of Bin Laden’s own testimony regarding his ideology and motives.
From a Time magazine interview in 1998:
Our work targets world infidels. Our enemy is the crusader alliance led by America, Britain and Israel. It is a crusader-Jewish alliance.
From a Time magazine profile published on September 16, 2001:
The pieces of the bodies of infidels were flying like dust particles. If you would have seen it with your own eyes, you would have been very pleased, and your heart would have been filled with joy.
From a statement in al-Quds al-Arabi, as quoted by CBS News on September 12, 2001:
I’m fighting so I can die a martyr and go to heaven to meet God. Our fight now is against the Americans.
From a video statement broadcast on the Arabic-language Al-Jazeera network on October 7, 2001:
Every Muslim must rise to defend his religion. The wind of faith is blowing.
From Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden (2005) by Bruce Lawrence:
Every Muslim, from the moment they realize the distinction in their hearts, hates Americans, hates Jews and hates Christians. For as long as I can remember, I have felt tormented and at war, and have felt hatred and animosity for Americans.
From Bin Laden’s 1996 fatwa (note: a fatwa is an Islamic legal ruling, specific to the religion of Islam, and prescribing action for Muslims):
It should not be hidden from you that the people of Islam had suffered from aggression, iniquity and injustice imposed on them by the Zionist-Crusaders alliance and their collaborators… The people of Islam awakened and realized that they are the main target for the aggression of the Zionist-Crusaders alliance…
From Bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa (which you should again note is an Islamic legal ruling prescribing action for Muslims):
The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies — civilians and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim.
Of course, the hand-wringers will say that Bin Laden only professed to speak for Islam, and was radically distorting its tenants. Forgetting for the moment our friendly Al-Aqsa Mosque imam quoted above, let’s take a brief look at what Islamic scripture has to say about terrorism and the infidel.
From Sura 9:5:
…slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them.
For a comprehensive examination of this “verse of the sword” in context, click here.
Whether we are at war with Islam, or ought to be, is a subject for another post. Regardless, the fact of Islam’s war against us is incontrovertible. It is a reality which policy-makers and pundits need to accept, then boldly confront.