Osama bin Laden

Seen with the Counselor’s Eyes

Who is He? Is he really a bad boy of Islam?


Dr. Michael L. Ford



            After the destruction of the World Trade Center on New York on 11 September 2001, many Americans wonder about the person purported to be the mastermind behind the deed. The man who has been presented to the world as the brains behind the act is presented in these pages.

                Jeremy Zakis, ERRI Risk Assessment Services Asia and Pacific Desk, compiled the following summary of “Usamah Bin Mohammad Bin Laden (Osama bin-Laden) and published it on Tuesday, June 30, 1998.

Osama bin-Laden was born in the city of Riyadh in 1957 and raised in AlMadina, AlMunawwara and Hijaz. He received his education in the schools of Jedda before studying management and economics in King Abdul Aziz University in Jedda.

While growing up, he developed a strong Muslim belief of Islamic law. From this belief emerged the necessity for armed struggle preceded by Da'wa[1] and military preparation in order to repel the greater Kufr,[2] and to cooperate with Muslims in order to unite their word under the banner of monotheism, and to set aside divisions and differences. His great struggle began in 1973 when he started interacting with a number of Islamic groups and would continue for several years. During this time he also acquired his personal fortune running the family construction business.

A short time after Jan. 11, 1979, when Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan, bin-Laden left his family's business and set about gathering together his fortune to fund recruitment, transportation and training of a volunteer force of Arab nationals to fight alongside the existing Afghan mujahedin.[3] He felt that it was his sense of duty to do so, since the Soviets actions had deeply offended him as a Muslim. His new volunteer group was named 'The Islamic Salvation Front.'

When the Soviet Union was forced out of Afghanistan in 1989, bin-Laden returned to the family construction business. As for his, Islamic Salvation Front, its aid which had been coming from the United States to fight the Soviets ended, and …unit was disbanded. In recent years, bin-Laden has down-played the U.S. involvement in his victory against the Soviets, to ensure most of the credibility for the success rests with him and his forces.

Bin-Laden was dealt a severe blow from his homeland in 1994 when the Saudi Arabian government seized his passport after Egypt, Algeria and Yemen accused him of financing subversive activities. This forced him to flee for Sudan, where the National Islamic Front (NIF) leader Hassan al-Turabi welcomed him.

While residing in Sudan, bin-Ladin financed and help set up at least three terrorist training camps in cooperation with the NIF, and his construction company worked directly with Sudanese military officials to transport and supply terrorists training in such camps.

But in May 1996, he suffered another blow when Sudanese officials, for "harming the image" of the country, expelled him. Bin-Laden maintained in several interviews that he left out of mere courtesy to Sudanese authorities.

From May 1996 onwards, the exact whereabouts of bin-Laden remain a mystery. Rumours ranged from him living in Yemen, to him living in Saudi Arabia with a false passport, to him being captured in Afghanistan. His exact location has not often been substantiated. He is known to have given interviews at a remote, well-guarded, camp in Afghanistan on at least two occasions.

His known activities have been established during interviews, mainly with Middle-Eastern reporters and on three occasion of the release of Fatwas[4] in April 1996, February 1997 and February 1998. Each one threatened a Holy War (Jihad) against the U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia and the Holy Lands, each one called for Muslims to concentrate on "destroying, fighting and killing the enemy."

This broad outline of the man up to that time is interesting in itself, but it leaves many questions unanswered. The information given in these pages will likely do the same, but it is my hope that the man and his religion will be better understood when the exercise is completed.

Seeking the Person Behind the Beard

 Osama bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda Organization


Osama bin Laden is a 44 year-old "businessman" and son of one of Saudi Arabia's wealthiest families, He is reputed to be the coordinator of an international terrorist network responsible for numerous deadly attacks against American and Western targets.

Bin Laden supposedly formed the terrorist Al-Qaeda ("the base") organization in 1988. It is believed to now have operatives in as many as twenty countries.[5] In 1998 bin Laden announced the establishment of "The International Islamic Front for Holy War Against Jews and Crusaders," an umbrella organization linking Islamic extremists in scores of countries around the world, including Egypt, Bangladesh and Pakistan. [6]

The group issued a religious edict upon its establishment: "The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies, civilians, and the military, is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it.   This is in accordance with the words of Almighty G-d, and 'fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together,' and 'fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in G-d."

His militancy is traced by some back to the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, but the truth is the foundations for what he would become was laid earlier in the decade. The early seventies were a time of great cultural change in the Middle East. Oil income, wars with Israel, political unrest and, increasing contact with Western culture and ideas forced a re-examining of the old ways. For most of Osama bin Laden's numerous siblings, the answer lay in adopting many Western ways. The elder members of the family set off for Victoria College in Alexandria in Egypt, Harvard, London or Miami. But not Osama bin Laden. Like thousands of other young men in the region at the time, Osama had become increasingly drawn to the cool, clear, uncluttered certainties of extremist Islamist ideology.

Finishing high school in Jedda in 1974, he decided not to go overseas for further education. Salim, the head of the clan, had been educated at Millfield, a Somerset boarding school. Another, Yeslam, went to university in Sweden and California. Osama entered the management and economics faculty at King Abdul Aziz University.[7] There are some reports that he married his first wife, a Syrian related to his mother, when he was 17. Salim, the elder brother who had run the bin Laden corporation after their father's death, hoped Osama would take up a useful role in the family business and ensured that a key element of his university course was civil engineering. Bin Laden himself preferred the Islamic studies component of the course. Later, he was to combine the two in a radically effective way.

It was at the university he heard tapes recorded by the fiery Palestinian-born Jordanian academic Abdallah Azzam, and these had a powerful impact.[8] Azzam's recorded sermons -- much like Osama's videotapes today -- brilliantly caught the mood of many disaffected young Muslims. Jedda itself, and King Abdul Aziz University in particular, was a center for Islamic dissidents from all over the Muslim world. In its mosques and medressas (Islamic schools) they preached a severe message: only an absolute return to the values of conservative Islam could protect the Muslim world from the dangers and decadence of the West.[9] Here he made useful contacts, including a crucial friendship with Prince Turki ibn Faisal, a young royal and the future chief of Saudi intelligence services.

But events were to overtake him.

Not discounting the impact of the Soviet invasion on Osama bin Ladin, we must here refer to the event in February 1979 he was later to refer to this as a crucial, formative event. This was when Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran, overthrew the Shah and established an Islamic republic.[10] Excitement and fear ran through Muslims everywhere. In November of that year Islamic radicals seized the grand mosque at Mecca and held it against Saudi government forces. Bin Laden, young, impressionable, increasingly devout but still unsure of himself and his vocation, was stunned.[11] Eventually, after much bloodshed, the rebels were defeated. Sooner than anyone expected, bin Laden got his chance to follow them in his own quest for his purpose in life.


The Family Osama bin Laden was Raised In 

            Osama is a son of Mohammed Bin Laden, the Yemeni-born owner of a leading Saudi construction company. He was born into great wealth, and is believed to have inherited as much as $300 million when his father died in the 1960's.[12] But money does not substitute for a father’s involved presence in a child’s early formative years. Whether any influence such as he exerted could be characterized as positive I will leave it to the reader to conclude.  The evidence I have to offer seems to suggest the father looms large and almost omnipresent while he is at the same time somewhat emotionally remote in the large extended family relationship.

Some things about this father provides very important insight into the son the reader should understand.  In 1930, he began his journey to success as a dockside laborer. He was six feet tall and with one eye when decided there was more to life than loading ships in the ports of his poverty-stricken native province of Hadramaut in Yemen. He packed a bag, and traveled on a camel caravan to the newly created kingdom of Saudi Arabia to seek his fortune. Osama’s father got his first job as a bricklayer with Aramco, the Arabian-American oil company, earning a single Saudi riyal, about 15 cents, a day. He lived frugally, worked hard, saved, invested well and went into business himself.

By the early 1950s, Mohammed bin Laden was employed in building palaces for the House of Saud in Riyadh. He won the contracts by heavily undercutting local firms. Bin Laden's big break came when a foreign contractor withdrew from a deal to build the Medina-Jedda highway and he took on the job. By the early 1960s he was a rich man -- and an extraordinary one. [13]

The former laborer never forgot his roots, always leaving home "with a wad of notes to give to the poor." Such alms-giving is one of the fundamentals of Islam. Bin Laden senior was a devout man, raised in the strict and conservative Wahhabi strand of Sunni Islam. Later he was to boast that, using his private helicopter, he could pray in the three holiest locations of Islam; Mecca, Medina and the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem in a single day.[14] Perhaps the piety of the father inspired a like devotion in the son who wished to be recognized and appreciated above his status in the family hierarchy.

Though at one stage he was rich enough to bail out the royal family when they fell on hard times, the tatty bag he had carried when he left Yemen remained on display in the palatial family home. Neither he nor his family could then forget their beginnings. It could be that from his father Osama also learned to value money principally for what it made possible for him to do. He was killed when his helicopter crashed in 1968.

Mohammed bin Laden had, in the words of a person who once worked with him, "changed wives like you or I change cars." He had three Saudi wives, Wahhabis like their husband, who were more or less permanent. The fourth, however, was changed on a regular basis.[15] He  would send his private pilot all over the Middle East to pick up yet another bride. "Some were as young as 15 and were completely covered from head to toe," the pilot's widow recently recalled. "But they were all exceptionally beautiful."

Bin Laden's mother, Hamida, was neither Saudi nor Wahhabi, but a stunningly beautiful, cosmopolitan. She was the educated 22-year-old daughter of a Syrian trader. She shunned the traditional Saudi veil in favor of Chanel trouser suits and this, coupled with the fact that she was foreign, diminished her status within the family. She was Mohammed bin Laden's tenth or eleventh spouse, and was known as the "the slave wife." No doubt this also impacted upon Osama’s status within the family and perhaps influenced the development of his attitudes toward dress and the value of women in the overall scheme of things.

Mohammed bin Laden gave even his former wives a home at his palaces in Jedda and Hijaz. In this way he kept his family intact in such a way he could use even the children of those unions to establish a dynasty. It was Hamida’s good fortune to still be married to the millionaire when he died. So, amid a huge family and solid gold statues, ancient tapestries and the Venetian chandeliers, was where Osama bin Laden, Mohammed's seventh son, "the son of the slave," grew up with a better situation than would have been his had his father lived a bit longer.

Born in 1957 -- the year 1377 of the Islamic calendar -- he was 11 when his father died. He never saw much of him. A flavor of the bin Laden household comes from a document provided to the American ABC TV network in 1998 by "an anonymous source close to bin Laden." It offers unprecedented insights into Osama's childhood.

"The father had very dominating personality. He insisted to keep all his children in one premises," it reads. "He had a tough discipline and observed all the children with strict religious and social code. At the same time, the father was entertaining with trips to the sea and desert," the document goes on. "He dealt with his children as big men and demanded them to show confidence at young age."[16]

Osama’s Journey Into Militant Islamic Thought 

Osama’s relationships with Egyptian Islamic extremist groups began early in his life when people are most prone to be influenced. Had his father lived, it is by no means certain that he would have kept the young Osama from the course he finally pursued because of his contradictory relationship of influence and separation at the same time. In 1979, at twenty-two years of age, bin Laden began raising money for the Mujahadeen forces fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, and gradually became more and more affiliated with, such as Egyptian Islamic Jihad. From the mid-1980's bin Laden began to establish training camps in Afghanistan, initially for the war in Afghanistan, but later to fight against other targets worldwide. He has attracted thousands of recruits from Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, Pakistan and Sudan. Even in the United States many people applauded the Mujahadeen and tribal groups as they defied the Russian invaders of Afghanistan.

Osama apparently did have a brief flirtation with some of the libertine aspects of Western life in his youth that may have affected his attitude toward the West in general and women in particular. In 1971 the family went on holiday en masse to the small Swedish copper mining town of Falun. A smiling Osama, or "Sammy" as he then sometimes called himself, was pictured, wearing a lime-green top and blue flares, leaning on a Cadillac. When Osama was 14, he and his older brother Salem had first visited Falun , driving from Copenhagen in a Rolls-Royce flown in from Saudi Arabia. Oddly, they stayed at the cheap Astoria Hotel, where the owner, Christina Akerblad, recalled them spending the days out "on business"[17] and the evenings eating dinner in their rooms. "I remember them as two beautiful boys, the girls in Falun were very fond of them." [18]

During a bucolic summer at an Oxford language school in the same year, Bin Laden and his brothers befriended a group of Spanish girls and went punting on the Thames. One woman showed a Spanish newspaper photos of herself and girlfriends, one in hot pants, with three bin Laden boys. Bin Laden, wearing flares, a short-sleeved shirt and a bracelet, looks like any other awkward teenager. His two older brothers look more assured. The young Saudi even once stayed on London's Park Lane. He had forgotten the name of the hotel his Saudi parents had checked into, he told a reporter several years ago, but he recalled "the trees of the park and the red buses." As he moved on his course of rejecting all things Western, he no doubt converted the sultry experiences of those days into memories offensive to his adopted ideals.

But we remember that the bulk of his education was spent in an area where fiery Islamic militantism ruled the day. The militants present who influenced him during his formative education would instill in him anger about what he called the betrayal of the Arabs by the British after the First World War. He would also criticize the Saudi royal family, saying they had exploited the Wahhabi, his father’s native people, to gain power.

Reportedly, bin Laden's anti-Americanism intensified during the Gulf War, when U.S. troops were stationed in Saudi Arabia. According to The New York Times: "The presence of American soldiers in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad and the home of the two holiest Muslim shrines, enraged Mr. bin Laden and other Arab militants." He and his associates also blamed their animosity on the U.S. support for Israel as being anti-Islam. But there is really more to the story.

In 1994 Saudi Arabia stripped bin Laden's citizenship, citing his opposition to the Saudi King and leadership and expelled him from the country.[19] As we have seen his opposition was not exclusively based on the form of Islam practiced and promoted in Saudi Arabia.[20] But to understand its increasing antagonism we must go back directly to the events of the Gulf War. When Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait. Osama bin Laden, then living in his home town of Jedda, had immediately sent a message to the Saudi royal family offering to form an army of 30,000 Afghan veterans to defeat the Iraqi dictator. The men who had defeated the Russians could easily take on Saddam, he said, and he was clearly the man to lead them. Bin Laden got a rude and profoundly upsetting shock. The last thing the House of al-Saud wanted was an army of zealous Islamists fighting its war. Bin Laden was granted an audience by senior royals, but his offer was firmly rejected. [21]

Worse was to come. Instead of the Islamic army he envisaged protecting the cradle of Islam, the defense of Saudi Arabia, and thus of the holy sites of Mecca and Medina, was entrusted to the Americans. Bin Laden, seething with humiliation and rage, could do nothing but watch as 300,000 U.S. troops arrived in his country and set about building bases, drinking Coke and alcohol and sunbathing. Bin Laden saw their presence as an infidel invasion. It even appeared to defy directly the dying words of the Prophet Muhammad: "Let there be no two religions in Arabia."

The 33-year-old started lobbying religious scholars and Muslim activists throughout the Gulf. Playing on his celebrity status, he lectured and preached throughout Saudi Arabia, circulating thousands of audiotapes[22] through mosques.[23] And in 1994, when the Saudis publicly withdrew his citizenship, bin Laden's response was to increase his exploitation of the power of the media. It is believed he set up the London office called the Advice and Reform Committee (ARC).[24] Its job was propaganda, issuing vitriolic criticism against the Saudi regime.[25]

Osama is no Coward 

            Many inflammatory remarks have been made, calling the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center and Osama bin Laden cowards. That type of language has been used by communist regimes in the past in reference to Americans. It has also been used by Islamic militants in referring to leaders of Western nations. Now such language is being used to manipulate the emotions and viewpoint of Americans. The danger of this type of language is first of all that the words have the power to seduce people into underestimating their opponent. Secondly, if a person is genuinely Christian, they should not indulge in either untrue statements or foolish manipulations. People who have the courage to drive an airplane headlong into a building are certainly not cowards no matter what their motivation is. The information presented in this segment will demonstrate that the man who is accused of having sent them has also demonstrated his own personal bravery. 

In the last days of the year Soviet tanks rolled into Afghanistan, the Pakistani city of Peshawar seethed with soldiers, spies, gun-runners, drug dealers, Afghan refugees, exiles, journalists, and thousands of sympathizers who had flocked from all over the Muslim world to fight the Soviet forces. Among them was an extraordinarily tall man who was further distinguishable by his carefully tailored ‘shalwar kameez’ and English handmade leather boots. Osama bin Laden had found his cause in life.[26] Bin Laden's time fighting the Russians was critical. It was during this period that he changed from a contemplative, scholarly young man to a respected, battle-hardened leader of men. The war in Afghanistan gave him crucial confidence and status. [27]

At first, bin Laden kept a low profile. Journalists in Pakistan at the beginning of the 1980s remember hearing stories about the "Saudi sheikh" who would visit wounded fighters in the clinics, dispensing cashew nuts and chocolates. The man would note their names and addresses and soon a generous check would arrive at their family home. Such generosity, perhaps learned from his father with his wad of notes for the poor, is something that almost all who have fought for, or alongside, bin Laden mention.

Just over the border from Peshawar into Afghanistan is the small village of Jaji. In 1986 the Soviet garrison there was under heavy attack from the resistance. One morning a senior commander was sheltering from a bombardment by Russian mortars in a bunker when a tall Arab dived through the door as explosions shook the earth. It was bin Laden. His "ground war" had started. In the mid-'80s, partly due to a massive increase in American funding for the resistance, the war in Afghanistan intensified. Through the summer of 1986 bin Laden was in the center of the fighting around Jaji. Once, with a force of about 50 Arabs, he fought off a sustained assault by Soviet helicopters and infantry. "He was right in the thick of it," Mia Mohammed Aga, a senior Afghan commander at the time said. "I watched him with his Kalashnikov in his hand under fire from mortars and the multiple-barrelled rocket launchers."

Over the next three years, bin Laden fought hard, often exposing himself to extreme physical danger. One leader of the hardline Hezb-i-Islami group said he remembered bin Laden holding a position under heavy bombardment after being surrounded by Soviet soldiers. At least a dozen other senior veterans, many of whom are now opposed to bin Laden, corroborate the accounts of his combat role. They all mention his lack of concern for his own safety.

Bin Laden's fanaticism was inspired into his men. "I took three Afghans and three Arabs and told them to hold a position [during the battle for the eastern city of Jalalabad in 1989]. They fought all day, then when I went to relieve them in the evening the Arabs were crying because they wanted to be martyred. I told them that if they wanted to stay and fight they could. The next day they were killed. Osama said later that he had told them that the trench was their gate to heaven."[28]

On some occasions he took it on himself to broker truces between Afghan factions. These endeavors alone could put him in danger from one group or another of the very people he had come to Afghanistan to save. When he did leave Afghanistan to move back into Saudi Arabia part of the reason for his departure was disgust with the various groups because of their infighting.

There were also tensions with those who did not share his hardline Islamism. Said Mohammed, another Afghan veteran, said bin Laden had refused to deal with him during one battle because he was clean shaven. Bin Laden was learning the power of the media too. Reports of his exploits, by Arab journalists based in Peshawar, were published throughout the Middle East. They brought him a flood of recruits as well as a respect and a status that he had never had before.[29]

Bin Laden’s reputation soared to the point that after he returned to Saudi Arabia and started recruiting an army and he was able to send an estimated 4,000 men to Afghanistan for training. The Saudi regime grew uneasy, raided his home and put him under house arrest. Bin Laden's family, worried that his activities might jeopardize their close relations with the ruling clan, tried to bring him back into the fold but were forced eventually to effectively disown him.

            Whatever else people might say about Osama bin Laden, they should not call him or his henchmen cowards. He is neither a coward in relation to what he will dare politically or financially, nor is he a coward in the sense of his own willingness to put his life at risk for what he believes. On the contrary, his belief in the rightness of what he is about seems to give him a certain bravado that actually borders on the foolhardy.


            When we come to the end of the matter of who is Osama bin Laden? We must conclude that he is a man of many parts. He is educated, intelligent, thoughtful, and talented. He is also a warped individual who has had his values twisted in his upbringing, life experiences, and passions. He is a man subject to the influences of others while at the same time he has the capacity to similarly influence people based on his own personality and resources. Not the least of his problems is the religion into which he was born into, but he has compounded that by the course of Islamic thought he has chosen to follow.

            Throughout his life we can see a thread of egotism and personal pride woven. But at the same time there is a parallel thread of loneliness and isolation because he cannot bring himself to form relationships where trust is given freely and completely. Evidence of this lack of trust has become more evident as he has pursued his chosen course in life. Even in places where he should consider himself safest, he has found it more and more necessary to keep a strong bodyguard close at hand.

                There has been an element of competition with his father and siblings in that while he had participated in family enterprises he also had a compulsion to go out on his own and form a number of businesses in a number of divers areas. Once bin Laden got to Khartoum, after his problems in Saudi Arabia he continued to develop business, but it would seem that they must always contain a reminder that the foundation of what he could accomplish rested in an inherited fortune.[30] This has probably lead to the both his programs to independently raise money to fund terrorism and the numerous unsuccessful ventures launched into such as a plan to import bicycles from Azerbaijan was a total flop. Other hare-brained schemes were hatched, half-implemented and then went nowhere both in the worlds of business and terrorism. Bin Laden has probably never been completely his own man.

Endnote 1



Traditionally, Jews and Christians are tolerated within Islam. They are part of dhimmis, or protected communities, because they are considered "people of the book" - recipients of valid, if outdated, revelations from God. (This does not mean they are not treated differently than others living within the Islamic state.)

Modern extremists and Islamists, however, have developed a very different perspective. For them, Jews and Christians are regarded as being part of the great mass of infidels: first, because they have deliberately rejected the truth, and second, because of their connections to Western colonialism and Zionism. Both Jews and Christians are viewed as being part of a wide-ranging conspiracy to corrupt, divide and destroy Islam. This effort was instigated by the Jews and Christians of the 7th century, and it continues down through today.

These views were expressed and spread through the late 1970s and early 1980s by the journal al-Da'wa, "the Call," which was run by former members of the Muslim Brotherhood. After Nasser's death, Sadat never agreed to allow the Muslim Brotherhood to reform, but he did allow a few of the members to publish this magazine. (Which brings into question the claimed moderate position Sadat was supposed to have.)

Because it refrained from directly criticizing the Egyptian government, it was granted wide latitude in what it published. Although it was certainly not the only outlet for Islamist views, it was one of the most consistent and popular. By examining it, we can get a fairly accurate representation of what radical Islamists were thinking at the time.

As far as the writers were concerned, the Jews were the "ultimate" abomination. This term was used indiscriminately to apply both to Israeli citizens and to non-Israeli Jews. Indeed, being Israeli was only incidental: Jewishness alone was sufficient to merit condemnation, and it deserved to be eradicated wherever it was found.

Israel as a state, however, was an affront for two reasons. The first was political: the existence of Israel was regarded as simply another Western colonization effort in the Middle East. It was closely related to the efforts of the Crusaders to create European colonies in the Holy Land.

But there was also a religious objection to Israel, one that still often goes unrecognized today. The land area making up Israel is still


regarded something which should be part of Dar al-Islam. It is simply unacceptable, from an Islamic prespective, that a part of the House of Islam suddenly come under control of the House of War, especially when it is so closely associated with Christian Europe.

Although Jews were regarded as inherently evil, the Crusader was generally regarded as redeemable, at least in theory. Christians could be either good or evil, but the evil ones strive constantly to convert or kill the true believers of Islam. Whether attacking via military, missionaries, or political ideologies like capitalism, Crusaders must be resisted at any cost. They are only interested in conquering the lands of Islam and corrupting the true religion.

In the end, the journal al-Da'wa had nothing really good to say about Crusaders or Jews. This legacy has continued even today, with both Jews and Westerners or Christians (often referred to as "Crusaders") being blamed for whatever ills have befallen Islam. It isn't a coincidence, then, that bin Laden's 1998 fatwa was titled "Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders."

Yet even blaming Jews and Westerners for the corrupt governments in the Middle East and the suffering of individual Muslims is not an idea original to bin Laden. Westerners are still Crusaders because they are using both culture and the military to take control of Muslims - a view expressed by Qazi Hussain Ahmad, current leader of the Jamaat-i-Islami in Pakistan, and quoted earlier.[31]

Endnote 2

Text of Fatwah Urging Jihad Against Americans

Published in Al-Quds al-'Arabi on Febuary 23, 1998


Statement signed by Sheikh Usamah Bin-Muhammad Bin-Ladin; Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of the Jihad Group in Egypt; Abu- Yasir Rifa'i Ahmad Taha, a leader of the Islamic Group; Sheikh Mir Hamzah, secretary of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Pakistan; and Fazlul Rahman, leader of the Jihad Movement in Bangladesh

Praise be to God, who revealed the Book, controls the clouds, defeats factionalism, and says in His Book "But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)"; and peace be upon our Prophet, Muhammad Bin-'Abdallah, who said "I have been sent with the sword between my hands to ensure that no one but God is worshipped, God who put my livelihood under the shadow of my spear and who inflicts humiliation and scorn on those who disobey my orders."

The Arabian Peninsula has never--since God made it flat, created its desert, and encircled it with seas--been stormed by any forces like the crusader armies now spreading in it like locusts, consuming its riches and destroying its plantations. All this is happening at a time when nations are attacking Muslims like people fighting over a plate of food. In the light of the grave situation and the lack of support, we and you are obliged to discuss current events, and we should all agree on how to settle the matter.

No one argues today about three facts that are known to everyone; we will list them, in order to remind everyone:

First, for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.

If some people have formerly debated the fact of the occupation,

all the people of the Peninsula have now acknowledged it. The best proof of this is the Americans' continuing aggression against the Iraqi people using the Peninsula as a staging post, even though all its rulers are against

their territories being used to that end, still they are helpless.


Second, despite the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance, and despite the huge number of those killed, in excess of 1 million... despite all this, the Americans are once against trying to repeat the horrific massacres, as though they are not content with the protracted blockade imposed after the ferocious war or the fragmentation and devastation. So now they come to annihilate what is left of this people and to humiliate their Muslim neighbors.

Third, if the Americans' aims behind these wars are religious and economic, the aim is also to serve the Jews' petty state and divert attention from its occupation of Jerusalem and murder of Muslims there. The best proof of this is their eagerness to destroy Iraq, the strongest neighboring Arab state, and their endeavor to fragment all the states of the region such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Sudan into paper statelets and through their disunion and weakness to guarantee Israel's survival and the continuation of the brutal crusade occupation of the Peninsula.

All these crimes and sins committed by the Americans are a clear declaration of war on God, his messenger, and Muslims. And ulema have throughout Islamic history unanimously agreed that the jihad is an individual duty if the enemy destroys the Muslim countries. This was revealed by Imam Bin-Qadamah in "Al- Mughni," Imam al-Kisa'i in "Al- Bada'i," al-Qurtubi in his interpretation, and the shaykh of al-Islam in his books, where he said "As for the militant struggle, it is aimed at defending sanctity and religion, and it is a duty as agreed. Nothing is more sacred than belief except repulsing an enemy who is attacking religion and life."

On that basis, and in compliance with God's order, we issue the following fatwa to all 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 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. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty God, "and fight

the pagans all together as they fight you all together," and "fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God."

This is in addition to the words of Almighty God "And why should ye not fight in the cause of God and of those who, being weak, are ill-


treated and oppressed--women and children, whose cry is 'Our Lord, rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will help!'"

We -- with God's help -- call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God's order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it. We also call on Muslim ulema, leaders, youths, and soldiers to launch the raid on Satan's U.S. troops and the devil's supporters allying with them, and to displace those who are behind them so that they may learn a lesson.

Almighty God said "O ye who believe, give your response to God and His Apostle, when He calleth you to that which will give you life. And know that God cometh between a man and his heart, and that it is He to whom ye shall all be gathered."

Almighty God also says "O ye who believe, what is the matter with you, that when ye are asked to go forth in the cause of God, ye cling so heavily to the earth! Do ye prefer the life of this world to the hereafter? But little is the comfort of this life, as compared with the hereafter. Unless ye go forth, He will punish you with a grievous penalty, and put others in your place; but Him ye would not harm in the least. For God hath power over all things."

Almighty God also says "So lose no heart, nor fall into despair. For ye must gain mastery if ye are true in faith."[32] 

Endnote 3

The Al-Qaeda Organization 

FBI Probe of Al Qaeda Implies Wide Presence

Agency Investigating 150 U.S. Groups, Individuals


      It has been reported that the FBI is conducting more than 150 separate investigations into groups and individuals in the United States suspected to have possible ties to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda. [33] People who are under electronic surveillance through national security warrants, and others who are being watched by undercover agents attempting to learn more about their activities and associates.

            Until now, law enforcement authorities had not disclosed the number of active al Qaeda investigations in the United States. The large number of cases either suggests the FBI's efforts against the terrorist network have gone well or they are using a shotgun approach to the investigation looking for hard information to turn up. U.S. counterterrorism investigators are unsure exactly how many al Qaeda operatives and sympathizers are in the United States, although in the days after Sept. 11 they identified four or five cells that they put under surveillance.

            Many of the active investigations involve people with marginal or unclear ties to al Qaeda, and are unlikely to result in criminal charges, officials said. But the sheer number of active FBI investigations may mean the al Qaeda presence is far broader than previously thought.

            "It is a good indicator of the depth of al Qaeda presence here," said Robert Blitzer, a former FBI counterterrorism official.[34] "Hopefully working these cases will lead to many more, and you'll have a better sense of the infrastructure at work here…The idea is to figure out what these individuals or groups are doing, what they might be planning and to try to penetrate the group and get closer to them."[35]

            The presence of al Qaeda members in the United States is of grave

concern to  Bush administration officials, who have issued several alerts since September 11th. Attorney General John D. Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III have repeatedly said they view preventing another terror attack as their main priority, rather than securing criminal convictions. The President’s personal concern has helped fuel the massive domestic and foreign dragnet aimed primarily at disrupting the operations of al Qaeda. Although more than 1,200 people have been detained in the United States, only a handful are believed to have ties to al Qaeda. Only one man,accused hijacking conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, has been charged so far in connection with the Sept. 11 plot.

      In addition to the domestic detentions, the CIA has passed information to foreign intelligence services, which have had more than 500 suspected terrorists arrested or detained abroad. The domestic dragnet has prompted criticism from civil libertarians, as well as concern from some former law enforcement officials and terrorism experts that the Justice Department is not effectively pursuing al Qaeda.[36]

      An initiative to interview more than 5,200 young male visitors who entered the United States within the past two years has resulted in an increase in the number of ongoing domestic investigations related to bin Laden, according to law enforcement officials. Another step has been the recent anti-terrorism bill approved by Congress, which has given federal prosecutors and FBI agents an expanded ability to open criminal investigations based on information gathered for intelligence purposes. FBI and Justice officials said the law prompted an almost immediate surge in criminal terrorism investigations, especially those related to

al Qaeda and bin Laden.[37]

"We have gotten a great deal of new information that has led to new

cases since 9-11," one official said. "The numbers have increased substantially." But the officials declined to offer details of the roughly 150 open investigations, or to name their targets. Some of the cases are known to revolve around suspects already in U.S. custody, such as Moussaoui, but most involve but most are focused on people who have never been previously known to be involved and have never been detained.

      Investigations “…runs the spectrum from one end to another," said one senior U.S. law enforcement official. "We don't want to suggest that they are all al Qaeda terrorists running around loose. Some are very serious, but some are just suspected links or suspicious conduct…The goal is to be on top of any possible plans." Some of the investigations predate the Sept. 11 attacks, FBI officials said.

      A special team in the command center of FBI headquarters in Washington, including representatives of the CIA and other agencies, has been coordinating the hunt for associates of "UBL" -- for Usama bin Laden…following the 1998 embassy bombings in East Africa. FBI officials said they have gained a deeper understanding of al Qaeda's operations and strategies by expanding the number of criminal investigations underway.[38] But some outside experts are skeptical, arguing that large numbers of criminal cases and detained immigrants provide little insight into whether the FBI and other agencies are effectively coping with terrorist threats.[39]

An Investigation in Egypt

Illustrates Al Qaeda's Web 

            To support their terrorism, they skimmed money from several Charities including one for Muslim orphans in Albania. They robbed an Italian diplomat's home in Jordan. They acquired or forged seals from universities, border guards and the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry.[40]

        These people brook no dissent or deceit: suspecting that the 15-year- old son of one member in Sudan was an informant, they murdered the boy. These are the hard-hearted, often itinerant men of Al Qaeda at work.[41]

            These men used the Muslim pilgrimages to Islamic holy sites in Saudi Arabia as cover for recruiting new members or passing cash from one member to another. They moved money around the globe to bail members out of jail in Algeria or Canada, and to finance applications for political asylum and thus implant terrorist cells in Western Europe.

      The merger of Al Qaeda and Islamic Jihad, gradual at first over a decade, then completed in 1998, vastly enhanced Mr. bin Laden's reach and organizational ability. In 1981 members of Islamic Jihad joined other terrorists in assassinating President Anwar el- Sadat. But after that attack, before moving under Al Qaeda's umbrella, Islamic Jihad rarely scored successes on its own.

      Still, the network that the two groups have developed has ranged across the world, extending from the United States to Yemen, from Azerbaijan to Britain. They have been damaged, but not yet destroyed, by the American – led attacks in Afghanistan.

      American officials accuse Jihad leaders and Mr. bin Laden of conspiring to plot murders, including the bombings of United States Embassies in Africa, where 224 people died. The confessions and investigative reports, provided to The New York Times by Montasser al- Zayat, the lawyer in Cairo who represented most

defendants in the trial, show that the Egyptians provided the tactical support for Al Qaeda by forging travel documents, transferring money and arranging communications. We cannot help but wonder but how the war on terrorism will be fought against these guilty Egyptian parties or even if it will.

      In early 1998, when the two groups announced that they had formed the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders, the focus of Islamic Jihad shifted from overthrowing the Egyptian government to attacking American interests. The merger also appeared to increase the Egyptians' sense of purpose.[42] "Osama wanted to launch a guerrilla war not only in the Arab and Islamic world, but in the whole world," one Jihad member, Ahmed Ibrahim al-Sayed al-Naggar, said during his interrogation by Egyptian security agents. "He believed these attacks would force America and its allies to change their policy in the Middle East and the Islamic world, and this would fulfill the ultimate goals of the Front. It would show the weakness of these Arab and Islamic leaders compared to the Front."

      Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Jihad's leader and now Mr. bin Laden's second in command, was at Mr. bin Laden's side in a mud-hut hideout somewhere in Afghanistan, when the World Trade Center was attacked according to a Pakistani  journalist who met with them. The scope of the Jihad network is illustrated by the countries where the one-hundred seven defendants in the 1999 trial were arrested; Albania, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. It was Egypt's biggest terrorism trial since that of Jihad members in 1981 for the assassination of Sadat.[43]

      When the anger of men like Dr. Zawahiri and Mr. bin Laden turned on the United States and its Arab allies, Egyptian Jiahad members were drawn to the movement by conviction."It has nothing to do with age or era," said Mr. Zayat, who has defended thousands of Islamic militants over the years and served time in prison for his youthful involvement in an extremist movement. "It is ideology. These groups have their own literature that is passed down from generation to generation. This literature promotes the idea of `jihad' and the use of violence to overthrow those who do not rule according to God's law."[44]

      The defendants in the 1999 trial described a network of isolated cells throughout the Middle East and Europe, staffed by people who kept in contact with Al Qaeda and Jihad leaders in Afghanistan. Several men said they had acquired forged passports, including a forged Saudi Arabian passport, from contacts in Damascus and Latakia in Syria during the 1990's. They made frequent reference to Mr. bin Laden as the organization's financier and some spoke of a safe house he financed in Sana, Yemen.[45]

Jonsquill Ministries

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The pictures used in this publication are for the

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[1] Da'wa is the term used, in Islam, to bring others to Islam. This doesn't necessarily mean that the sole purpose is to make the person Muslim, but to confront them with Islam. Many Islamic sources now claim it is a big misconception with some people making Da'wa, is that they set out with the intention to bring that person to Islam, or have them submit themselves to Islam. But from a historically analysis we believe they have not misinterpreted the intent. See endnote on Al-Da’wa.

[2] This refers to the concept of disbelief and probably should only refer to the pagan disbelief of the kafir, to pagans and not Jews, Christians or Zoroastrians, because they are regarded as "people of the book." However bin Laden and his ilk do have historic precedence for the manner in which they use it.


[3] There are two separate groups that are lumped under this title. One is a terrorist group and the other a religious group connected with Shi’ism.


[4] See endnote on bin Laden’s Fatwah


[5] See endnote on Al-Qaeda

[6] I use words like supposedly and reputed in relation to bin Laden’s accomplishments because some people presented in the television news discussion panels as experts have cast doubt on his leadership abilities. On one program such a person with supposedly inside knowledge went so far as to say that he could not lead his way out of a wet paper bag.


[7] His training in the field of management and economics is important to understanding that Osama has the training that would enable him to get things done.

[8] Azzam is the  founder of the Hamas guerrilla group on the occupied West Bank and Gaza

[9] One bin Laden brother, Abdelaziz, remembers Osama "reading and praying all the time" during this period. Osama certainly became deeply involved in religious activities at university, including theological debates and Koranic studies.


[10]  Osama himself refers to this as his crucial formative event.

[11] "He was inspired by them," a close friend told The Observer. "He told me these men were true Muslims and had followed a true path."

[12] The exact amount is debated, but all experts agree that he inherited a considerable amount of money.


[13] "He couldn't read or write and signed his name with a cross all his life, but he had an extraordinary intelligence," said a French engineer who worked with him in the '60s.

[14] Visiting the former two sites must have been especially satisfying, for it was the contract to restore and expand the facilities serving pilgrims and worshippers there that established the reputation of his company, confirmed its status as the in-house builders of the Saudi ruling clan and made him stupendously wealthy.


[15] This was probably done out of respect for what the Koran has to say on the number of wives a person should keep at one time.

[16] From what we know about Osama bin Ladin, we can see where he has strove mightily to live up to this demand and ideal set by his father.


[17] The bin Laden family owns 40% of the ABN-Ambro Bank in the Netherlands, and a couple of big company's in America, as well as other holdings.

[18] She said. "Osama played with my two [young] sons." Akerblad remembered the wealth she found on display when cleaning the boys' rooms. "At the weekends we saw they used the extra bed in their rooms to lay out their clothes. They had lots of white silk shirts packaged in cellophane. I think they had a new one for every day. I never saw the dirty ones. They also had a big bag for their jewelry. They had emeralds and rubies and diamond rings and tie pins." (We note that on this visit they had time for girls.)


[19] Bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia after fighting the Russians in Afghanistan to work in the family construction business, but was expelled in 1991 because of anti-government activities there. He spent the next five years in Sudan until US pressure prompted the Sudanese Government to expel him, whereupon Bin Laden returned to Afghanistan. Osama claimed to leave as a courtesy to that government.

[20] We could argue that the Saudi Royal Family promotes a brand of Islam consistent with the tribal mores from which Mohammed himself came. They were conciliatory toward those who did not share their particular form of belief, and from that point pursued their own objectives maintaining their own position separate from the rest of the other peoples the came in contact with.


[21] Credit for information filling in the picture provided in this section must go in large part to Jason Burke who writes for the Observer, a British newspaper. He has covered the war against the Taliban and Osama bin Laden from day one.

[22] Remember that at university Osama heard tapes by the Abdallah Azzam. He at that time demonstrated the ability to copy an effective technique, and his later videotapes showed that he could expand on an idea and modernize.

[23] We can but note that the extreme politeness of his normal conduct and demeanor concealed tremendous pride and egotism. As observers of Bin Ladin, we are prone to question whether his outrage with the Saudi royals had most to do with his religious zeal or his own enormous pride?

[24] BBC correspondent James Robbins must also be credited for his contribution to the endeavor to gain insight into the man.

[25] It was run by Khalid al-Fawwaz, now fighting extradition to the United States from the U.K.


[26] "I was enraged and went there at once," bin Laden has since told interviewers.

[27] "He came to the jihad a well-meaning boy and left a man who knew about violence and its uses and effects," said one former associate interviewed by The Observer in Algeria.


[28] Bin Laden shared more than their fanaticism. "You never knew he was so rich or the commander of everyone. We used to all sit down together and eat like friends," another veteran said.


[29] The "son of the slave" was now a sheikh in the eyes of many.


[30] His organization, like any other organization. with a board of directors, a series of subcommittees and too many meetings, ran a trading company called Laden International, a foreign exchange dealership, a civil engineering company and a firm running farms growing peanuts and corn. In payment for building a 700-mile road from the capital to Port Sudan, the government gave bin Laden the monopoly on sesame seed export. Sudan is one of the world's three largest sesame producers, so it was extremely lucrative.


[33] Much of the informationtion in this segment is adapted from the article carried at: www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/articles/A40010-2001Dec29.html written by Dan Eggen and Bob Woodward, Washington Post Staff Writers for the Sunday, December 30, 2001 edition; Page A01

[34]  Or it might indicate how desperately the FBI is working to get on top of the problem.

[35] If he is still in the loop concerning terrorism intelligence, his statement might be a strong indicator that the FBI is working with a real dearth of information.


[36] Concerns about the methods being used in these investigations have a real validity. The argument that some powers given to law enforcement are temporary have proven to be historically untrue. We are still troubled by intrusive legislation and assumed government powers that originated during the last two world wars.

[37] This is  a misleading statement that encourages the hearer or reader to make assumptions that the investigations are valid.


[38] John Ashcroft, United States Attorney General, was reported to have said that the WTC attack originated from cells located in Germany.

[39] Vincent Cannistraro, a former counterterrorism official at the CIA, said U.S. officials still cannot say with certainty whether al Qaeda operatives are prevalent here, or whether they are centered overseas. "Out of all the people incustody, they've got one definite al Qaeda and are  suspicious of a couple others, and they've got a lot of people under  surveillance that they aren't sure about,… Insofar as an al Qaeda presence in the United States, they've made very little headway in uncovering it or peeling back the layers and penetrating it. . . . They don't know what they don't know."


[40] Much of the material in this endnote is taken from an article by Susan Sachs dateline Cairo, November 20, 2000.www.nytimes.com/2001/11/21/international/middleeast/21JIHA. BIN LADEN'S ALLIES

[41] Some information obtained from thousands of pages of documents produced for a 1999 trial of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the terror group whose members became foot

soldiers for Osama bin Laden.


[42] according to the confessions of defendants in the trial.

[43] In what became known here as "The Trial of the Albanian Returnees," the court convicted 87 people and sentenced 10 of them to death, including Dr. Zawahiri, who was tried in absentia. Albania’s difficult transition from Communist rule after 1990 made it a magnet for fugitive terrorists. They were the first European State to join the Organization of the Islamic Conference.


[44] In short, in spite of others protests to the contrary it is then a matter of their religion.

[45]In October 2000, Yemen became the country where the American destroyer Cole would be rammed by suicide bombers in a boat, resulting in 17 American sailors being killed.