Beliefs and ideology of Osama bin Laden

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Osama bin Laden (1957 – 2011) was a founder of al-Qaeda.[1] In conjunction with several other Islamic leaders, he issued two fatwasin 1996 and then again in 1998—that Muslims should fight those that either support Israel or support Western military forces in Islamic countries, stating that those in that mindset are the enemy, including civilians and military personnel from the United States and allied countries. His goal was for Western military forces to withdraw from the Middle East and for foreign aid to Israel to cease as it reflected negatively on Palestinians.[2][3] Bin Laden's ideological guides have proven to be Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, and Sayyid Qutb. Although perceptions to the contrary abound, bin Laden has not been influenced greatly by Ibn Abd al-Wahhab or the Wahhabi school of thought, and he is not a good example of contemporary Wahhabi Islam as practiced in Saudi Arabia.[4]

Sharia[edit]

Following an extreme form of Islamism, Bin Laden believed that the restoration of God's law will set things right in the Muslim world. He stated, "When we used to follow Muhammad's revelation we were in great happiness and in great dignity, to Allah belongs the credit and praise."[5] He believed "the only Islamic country" in the Muslim world was Afghanistan under the rule of Mullah Omar's Taliban before that regime was overthrown in late 2001.[6]

Differences with Wahhabi Ideology[edit]

Although bin Laden possessed views similar to Wahhabi Islam, his ideology was different in crucial ways. First, Wahhabi doctrine is very clear that only political leaders can call for jihad, making bin Laden's calls illegitimate. Secondly, Wahhabi Islam has positioned itself very clearly behind the Saudi royal family, in contradiction to bin Laden's repeated calls for the overthrow of the Saudi government, and it does not allow for disobedience to a ruler unless the rule commands that his/her subjects violate religious commandments.[7] Furthermore, the basic goals of bin Laden are different. bin Laden was most interested in "resisting western domination and combating regimes that fail to rule according to Islamic law."[7] However, Wahhabism focuses on correct methods of worshipping God, removing idols, and ensuring adherence to Islamic law.[7]

Jihad[edit]

In a January 2004 message Bin Laden called for the establishment of provisional underground ruling councils in Muslim countries to be made up of "ulema, leaders who are obeyed among their people, dignitaries, nobles, and merchants." The councils would be sure "the people" had "easy access to arms, particularly light weapons; anti-armored rockets, such as RPGs; and anti-tank mines" to fight "raids" by "the Romans," i.e. United States.[8]

His interviews, video messages and other communications always mentioned and almost always dwelt on need for jihad to right what he believed were injustices against Muslims by the United States and sometimes other non-Muslim states,[9] the need to eliminate the state of Israel, and to force the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Middle East. Occasionally other issues arose; he called for Americans to "reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling, and usury," in an October 2002 letter.[10][11]

Grievances against Saudi Arabia[edit]

Bin Laden was born in Saudi Arabia and had a close relationship with the Saudi royal family, but his opposition to the Saudi government stemmed from his radical ideology. The Saudi decision to allow US troops into the country in 1990 to defend against a possible attack by Saddam Hussein upset bin Laden, although he was not necessarily opposed to the royal family at this time or going to war with Iraq and even offered to send his mujahedeen from Afghanistan to defend Saudi Arabia should Iraq attack, an offer which was rebuked by King Fahd. From his point of view, "for the Muslim Saudi monarchy to invite non-Muslim American troops to fight against Muslim Iraqi soldiers was a serious violation of Islamic law" [12]

Bin Laden, in his 1996 fatwa (declaration) entitled "Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places",[13] identified several grievances that he had about Saudi Arabia, the birthplace and holy land of Islam. Bin Laden said these grievances about Saudi Arabia:

  1. The intimidation and harassment suffered by the leaders of the society, the scholars, heads of tribes, merchants, academic teachers and other eminent individuals;
  2. The situation of the law within the country and the arbitrary declaration of what is Halal and Haram (lawful and unlawful) regardless of the Shari'ah as instituted by Allah;
  3. The state of the press and the media which became a tool of truth-hiding and misinformation; the media carried out the plan of the enemy of idolising cult of certain personalities and spreading scandals among the believers to repel the people away from their religion, as Allah, the Exalted said: {surely- as for- those who love that scandal should circulate between the believers, they shall have a grievous chastisement in this world and in the here after} (An-Noor, 24:19).
  4. Abuse and confiscation of human rights;
  5. The financial and the economical situation of the country and the frightening future in the view of the enormous amount of debts and interest owed by the government; this is at the time when the wealth of the Ummah being wasted to satisfy personal desires of certain individuals!! while imposing more custom duties and taxes on the nation. (the prophet said about the woman who committed adultery: "She repented in such a way sufficient to bring forgiveness to a custom collector!!").
  6. The miserable situation of the social services and infra-structure especially the water service and supply, the basic requirement of life.,
  7. The state of the ill-trained and ill-prepared army and the impotence of its commander in chief despite the incredible amount of money that has been spent on the army. The gulf war clearly exposed the situation.,
  8. Shari'a law was suspended and man made law was used instead.,
  9. And as far as the foreign policy is concerned the report exposed not only how this policy has disregarded the Islamic issues and ignored the Muslims, but also how help and support were provided to the enemy against the Muslims; the cases of Gaza-Ariha and the communist in the south of Yemen are still fresh in the memory, and more can be said.[13][14]

Bin Laden wanted to overthrow the Saudi monarchy (and now other Middle East governments)[15] and establish an "Islamic Republic" according to Shari'a law (Islamic Holy Law), to "unite all Muslims and to establish a government which follows the rule of the Caliphs."[16]

The Soviet Union[edit]

In 1979, Bin Laden opposed the Soviets entering Afghanistan and would soon heed the call to arms by the Afghan freedom fighters. Bin Laden would use his own independent wealth and resources to get Arab fighters from Egypt, Lebanon, Kuwait and Turkey to join the Afghans in their battle against the Soviets. While Bin Laden praised the U.S. intervention early on, being happy that the Afghans were getting aid from all over the world to battle the Soviets, his relationship with the U.S. soon grew sour, stating "Personally neither I nor my brothers saw evidence of American help. When my mujahedin were victorious and the Russians were driven out, differences started..." [17] After two years in the war, Bin Laden headed to Sudan to continue his work as a construction engineer and an agriculturalist, building bridges alongside some of the people he had fought alongside during the war.

The United States[edit]

Identified motivations of the September 11 attacks include the support of Israel by the United States, presence of the U. S. military in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the US enforcement of sanctions against Iraq. Bin Laden had a complicated relationship with the United States, as he was supported by the United States in the Soviet-Afghan war. However, he first called for jihad against the United States in 1996. This call solely focused on US troops in Saudi Arabia; Bin Laden loathed their presence and wanted them removed in a "rain of bullets".[18]

Bin Laden's hatred and disdain for the US were also manifested while he lived in Sudan. There he told Al-Qaeda fighters-in-training:[19]

America appeared so mighty ... but it was actually weak and cowardly. Look at Vietnam, look at Lebanon. Whenever soldiers start coming home in body bags, Americans panic and retreat. Such a country needs only to be confronted with two or three sharp blows, then it will flee in panic, as it always has. ... It cannot stand against warriors of faith who do not fear death.

Grievances against the United States[edit]

In his 1998 fatwa entitled, "Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders"[20] bin Laden identified three grievances against the US:

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 in the past argued about 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, but 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, which has exceeded 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 here 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.

Favorable bin Laden opinion of two American authors[edit]

In 2011, in a review of a new book from former CIA officer Michael Scheuer, professor and writer Fouad Ajami wrote that "[i]n 2007, [bin Laden] singled out two Western authors whose knowledge he had high regard for: Noam Chomsky and" Scheuer.[21]

Killing of civilians[edit]

According to bin Laden's ideology civilians may be deliberately killed in jihad. This position evolved from an earlier, less violent one. In a 1998 interview, he alleged that in fighting jihad "we differentiate between men and women, and between children and old people," unlike hypocritical "infidels" who "preach one thing and do another."[22] But two years later he told another interviewer that those who say "killing a child is not valid" in Islam "speak without any knowledge of Islamic law", because killing children and other civilians may be done in vengeance.[23] In other words, bin Laden's interpretation of Islamic doctrine allows retaliation against civilians because of perceived indiscriminate US aggression against Muslims.[24] To another question by a Muslim interviewer about the Muslims killed in the 9/11 attack, bin Laden replied that "Islamic law says that Muslim should not stay long in the land of infidels," although he suggested Muslim casualties in the attack were collateral, not deliberate.[25]

Other ideologies[edit]

In his messages, bin Laden has opposed "pan-Arabism, socialism, communism, democracy and other doctrines," with the exception of Islam.[26] Democracy and "legislative council[s] of representatives," are denounced, calling the first "the religion of ignorance," and the second "councils of polytheism."[27] In what one critic has called a contradiction,[28] he has also praised the principle of governmental "accountability," citing the Western democracy of Spain: "Spain is an infidel country, but its economy is stronger than ours because the ruler there is accountable."[29]

Jews, Christians, and Shia Muslims[edit]

Bin Laden was profoundly anti-Semitic, and delivered many warnings against alleged Jewish conspiracies: "These Jews are masters of usury and leaders in treachery. They will leave you nothing, either in this world or the next."[30] He has also made at least one clear denunciation of Americans, but bin Laden held generally a favorable few of Arab Christians: "Every Muslim, from the moment they realize the distinction in their hearts, hates American, hates Jews, and hates Israelis. This is a part of our belief and our religion."[31] At the same time, bin Laden's organization worked with Shia militants and was apparently inspired by Shia radicalism such as the 1979 Iranian Revolution, implementation of Sharia by Ayatollah Khomeini, and the human wave attacks committed by radical Shia teenagers during the 1980s Iran-Iraq War. While in Sudan, "senior managers in al Qaeda maintained contacts with" Shia Iran and Hezbollah, its closely allied Shia "worldwide terrorist organization. ... Al Qaeda members received advice and training from Hezbollah."[32] where they are thought to have borrowed the techniques of suicide and simultaneous bombing.[33] Because of the Shia-Wahhabi enmity, this collaboration could only go so far. Iran was rebuffed when it tried to strengthen relations with al Qaeda after the October 2000 attack on USS Cole, "because Bin Laden did not want to alienate his supporters in Saudi Arabia."[32]

East Timor[edit]

In his November 2001 statement, Osama bin Laden criticized the UN and Australian "Crusader" forces for ensuring the independence of the mostly Catholic East Timor from the mostly Muslim state of Indonesia.[34]

Music[edit]

Bin Laden opposed music on religious grounds. Despite his love of horse racing and ownership of racing horses, the presence of a band and music at the Khartoum race track annoyed him so much that he stopped attending races in Sudan. "Music is the flute of the devil," he told his Sudanese stable-mate Issam Turabi.[35]

Environmentalism[edit]

Osama bin Laden and his aides have, on more than one occasion, denounced the United States for damaging the environment.

You have destroyed nature with your industrial waste and gases more than any other nation in history. Despite this, you refuse to sign the Kyoto agreement so that you can secure the profit of your greedy companies and industries.[36]

Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's aide, said global warming reflected

how brutal and greedy the Western Crusader world is, with America at its top [37]

Bin Laden has also called for a boycott of American goods and the destruction of the American economy as a way of fighting global warming.[38]

Technology[edit]

On the subject of technology, bin Laden is said to have ambivalent feelings –being interested in "earth-moving machinery and genetic engineering of plants, on the one hand," but rejecting "chilled water on the other."[39] In Afghanistan, his sons' education reportedly eschewed the arts and technology and amounts to "little other than memoriz[ing] the Quran all day".[40]

John F. Kennedy conspiracy theory[edit]

Bin Laden supported the conspiracy theory that John F. Kennedy was killed by the "owners of the major corporations who were benefiting from its (Vietnam War) continuation":

In the Vietnam War, the leaders of the White House claimed at the time that it was a necessary and crucial war, and during it, Donald Rumsfeld and his aides murdered two million villagers. And when Kennedy took over the presidency and deviated from the general line of policy drawn up for the White House and wanted to stop this unjust war, that angered the owners of the major corporations who were benefiting from its continuation. And so Kennedy was killed, and al-Qaida wasn't present at that time, but rather, those corporations were the primary beneficiary from his killing. And the war continued after that for approximately one decade. But after it became clear to you that it was an unjust and unnecessary war, you made one of your greatest mistakes, in that you neither brought to account nor punished those who waged this war, not even the most violent of its murderers, Rumsfeld.[41]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Scheuer, Michael, Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama Bin Laden, Radical Islam & the Future of America (2003, Brassey's Inc. ISBN 1-57488-553-7); p. 110.
  2. ^ BIN LADEN'S FATWA
  3. ^ "Online NewsHour: Al Qaeda's 1998 Fatwa". PBS. Archived from the original on 1 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-21. 
  4. ^ DeLong-Bas, Natana (2007). Wahhabi Islam. London: I. B. Tauris. pp. 266, 273, 279. 
  5. ^ Lawrence Wright (2006). The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. Knopf. p. 246. ISBN 0-375-41486-X. 
  6. ^ Osama Bin Laden, Bruce Lawrence (2005). Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden. Verso. pp. p143. ISBN 1-84467-045-7. 
  7. ^ a b c Commins, David (2006). The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia. I. B. Tauris. pp. 185, 190. ISBN 1-84511-080-3. 
  8. ^ Osama Bin Laden, Bruce Lawrence (2005). Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden. Verso. pp. p230. ISBN 1-84467-045-7. 
  9. ^ Messages to the World, (2005), p.xix, xx, editor Bruce Lawrence
  10. ^ Oct. 6, 2002. Appeared in Al-Qala'a website and then the London Observer Nov. 24, 2002.
  11. ^ Osama Bin Laden, Bruce Lawrence (2005). Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden. Verso. pp. p166. ISBN 1-84467-045-7. 
  12. ^ DeLong-Bas, Natana (2007). Wahhabi Islam. London: I. B. Tauris. pp. 267–269. 
  13. ^ a b "Online NewsHour: Bin Laden's Fatwa". Pbs.org. Archived from the original on 12 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  14. ^ "Understanding Terrorism: Why dies Osama bin Laden hate the USA and other Western nations?". Understanding-terrorism.blogspot.com. 2008-07-19. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  15. ^ "Welcome to IASPS". Iasps.org. 2001-09-27. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  16. ^ "al-Qa'ida (The Base) / World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders / Usama bin Laden". Fas.org. Archived from the original on 24 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  17. ^ Fisk, Robert (1993-12-06). "Anti-Soviet warrior puts his army on the road to peace: The Saudi businessman who recruited mujahedin now uses them for large-scale building projects in Sudan. Robert Fisk met him in Almatig". The Independent (London). 
  18. ^ DeLong-Bas, Natana (2007). Wahhabi Islam. London: I. B. Tauris. p. 272. 
  19. ^ Wright, The Looming Tower, p. 187
  20. ^ "World Islamic Front Statement Urging Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders". Fas.org. Archived from the original on 7 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  21. ^ Ajami, Fouad, "Osama Bin Laden: The Specter", review of Michael Scheuer, Osama Bin Laden, (2011, Oxford University Press ISBN 978-0-19-973866-3); The New York Times Book Review, February 11, 2011 (February 13, 2011 p. BR20). Retrieved 2011-02-14.
  22. ^ Messages, (2005) p.70. Al Jazeera interview, December 1998, following Kenya and Tanzania embassy attacks.
  23. ^ Messages, (2005), p.119, October 21, 2001 interview with Taysir Alluni of Al Jazeera
  24. ^ "The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia", (2006) David Commins. p.189
  25. ^ "The main targets [of 9/11] were the symbols of the United States: their economic and military power. ..." from Interview published in Al-Quds Al-Arabi in London Nov. 12, 2001 (originally published in Pakistani daily, Ausaf, Nov. 7, 2001
  26. ^ Messages, 2005, p.218. "Resist the New Rome, audiotape delivered to al-Jazeera and broadcast by it on 4 January 2004
  27. ^ Messages to the World, (2005), p.208-9. "Quagmires of the Tigris and Euphrates," October 19, 2003, videotape delivered to al-Jazeera.
  28. ^ New York Review of Books, 9 March 2006, "Their Master's Voice" by Max Rodenbeck, review of Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden
  29. ^ Messages, (2005), p.227. "Resist the New Rome", audiotape delivered to al-Jazeera and broadcast by it on 4 January 2004
  30. ^ Messages, (2005), p.190. from 53-minute audiotape that "was circulated on various websites." dated Feb. 14, 2003. "Among a Band of Knights."
  31. ^ Messages" (2005), p.87. Al Jazeera interview December 1998, following Kenya and Tanzania embassy attacks
  32. ^ a b 9/11 Commission Report, p.240
  33. ^ Wright, The Looming Tower, p. 174.
  34. ^ "Bin Laden rails against Crusaders and UN". BBC News. 2001-11-03. 
  35. ^ Wright, The Looming Tower, p. 167.
  36. ^ "Full text: bin Laden's 'letter to America'". The Guardian (London). 2002-11-24. Archived from the original on 18 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  37. ^ Osama bin Laden's aide Ayman al-Zawahiri rants on global warming - Mirror.co.uk
  38. ^ Kates, Brian (2010-01-30). "Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden blasts U.S. in audiotape spewing hate for... global warming". Daily News (New York). 
  39. ^ Wright, The Looming Tower, p. 172.
  40. ^ Wright, The Looming Tower, p. 254.
  41. ^ Transcript

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