Monday, March 17, 2008

Al Qaeda is at war with us -- Part 1

In order to understand Al Qaeda, it is not enough to watch videotapes of Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri understand that these will be translated into English and read in the West.

In order to understand them, one must read that which was not intended for Western consumption. One must read what they wrote, in Arabic, to the Muslim world.

Fortunately, a book entitled The Al Qaeda Reader allows one to do exactly that. It is a collection of English translations of Al Qaeda's most fundamental texts. It is Al Qaeda's version of Mein Kampf.

If you read these texts, you will immediately understand that Al Qaeda's war against us is total, absolute, and utterly uncompromising. It is not limited to any one country or issue. Rather, Al Qaeda's war aim is nothing less than the conversion of the entire world to Islam. Osama Bin Laden's offer to the US to end his war against us if we agree to convert was serious. Until the West converts, agrees to pay Jizya to Muslims, or destroys Al Qaeda, the war will continue.

The first essay in the Al Qaeda Reader was written by Osama Bin Laden. The essay was motivated by an exchange of letters between American and Saudi intellectuals. The Americans started the exchange with a letter entitled What We're Fighting For. It was an affirmation of American values and an explanation of the American response to September 11. The Saudis replied with a letter entitled How We Can Coexist. It welcomed a dialogue with Americans and explained certain points of agreement and disagreement with the American letter.

Bin Laden was deeply offended by the Saudi letter, not least by its title. He therefore wrote an open letter to the Saudis entitled Moderate Islam is a Prostration to the West.

Bin Laden gets right to the point in his opening sentence:

Praise be to Allah, who said: "O People of the Book [Christians and Jews], let us reach an agreement: that we worship none beside Allah, nor assign partners to Him, nor take each other as masters in place of Allah.

The essay -- and in the English translation, it is 40 pages long -- repeats, restates, and expands on this point, over and over. The following passages illustrate:

What the West desires is that we abandon the doctrine of Loyalty and Enmity [Zawahiri's doctrine that Muslims must be loyal to each other and hate non-Muslims], and offensive Jihad [the struggle to force non-Muslims to convert or pay Jizya]. That is the very essence of their request and desire of us. Do the intellectuals, then, think it's actually possible for Muslims to abandon these two commandments and simply to coexist with the West?

Battle, animosity and hatred -- directed from the Muslim to the Infidel -- is the foundation of our religion. The West perceives fighting, emnity, and hatred all for the sake of religion as unjust, hostile, and evil. But whose understanding of justice and righteousness is right -- our notions of justice and righteousness, or theirs?

Furthermore, how can [the Saudi intellectuals] claim that we have no right to force a people to change its particular values, when they transgress the bounds of nature? Such are lies. In fact, Muslims are obligated to raid the land of the infidels, occupy them, and exchange their system of governance for an Islamic system, barring any practice that contradicts the
Sharia from being publically voiced . . . .

Having read these passages, you should not fool yourself. Al Qaeda will not be satisfied by American withdrawal from Iraq, from Afghanistan, or by any other concession, short of American conversion to Islam, or agreement to pay Jizya. Instead, these partial concessions will merely encourage Al Qaeda, smelling success, to step up its war against us.

This is not a pleasant truth, or a truth Americans want to hear. But it is the truth. As a nation, we must make our decisions based on that which is real, not based on that which we wish were real. We must understand the truth of Al Qaeda's intentions, accept it, and act on it. That is not the path we want to follow, and it is not an easy path. But if we wish to maintain our values, it is the only path that is open to us.

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