Who Is to Blame?
Who Is to Blame?
As rescue and recovery efforts got under way in New York, Washington. D.C., and Pennsylvania, governments and people around the world began assigning blame for the September 11, 2001, attacks to a terrorist leader named Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden, a Saudi Arabian exile living in Afghanistan, had been an opponent of the United States and its governmental policies for years. He had long condemned America and, the U.S. government suspected, had attacked two U.S. embassies and a U.S. Navy ship before.
As the United States pointed the finger at bin Laden, however, he pointed back. Initially denying responsibility, he claimed that the United States had brought the September 11 attacks on itself. He implied that America was bent on destroying the Muslim world and argued that, by supporting the country of Israel and by valuing political philosophies that directly contradicted the teachings of Islam, the U.S. government and the citizens who supported that government, not the terrorists, were at fault.
He was not alone. Leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan agreed. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, for example, argued that American involvement in Middle Eastern politics had led to enormous resentment of the United States in the Arab world; the September 11 attacks, then, were justified retaliation for American interference. Likewise, Mohammad Omar, the head of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban government, refused to turn bin Laden over to the American government after the attacks, saying that to do so would violate Islamic tradition.
Middle Eastern leaders were not the only ones who claimed that America had brought the attacks on itself. At home, discussions about blame abounded. Although they later retracted their statements, fundamentalist Christian ministers Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson also initially took the stance that the United States was at fault. Falwell and Robertson said it was an absence of God in American households, schools, and government that led to the September 11 attacks.
Although there is little agreement among extremists, most Americans and world leaders take a simpler approach. They blame the terrorists themselves, holding the men who hijacked the planes and the people who financed and trained them responsible. Most consider the collapse of the World Trade Center and the plane crashes at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania acts of war perpetrated by men who wanted nothing less than to destroy the Western world.
America Created the Evil Which Attacked It
In late September 2001, Mohammad Omar, the Taliban's leader, gave a twelve-minute interview to Voice of America, a publicly funded American radio station. During the interview, Omar says that the Taliban will continue to support Osama bin Laden and will not turn him over to the U.S. government.
Voice of America interviewer: Why don't you expel Osama bin Laden?
Omar: This is not an issue of Osama bin Laden. It is an issue of Islam. Islam's prestige is at stake. So is Afghanistan's tradition.
VOA: Do you know that the US has announced a war on terrorism?
Omar: I am considering two promises. One is the promise of God, the other is that of Bush. The promise of God is that my land is vast. If you start a journey on God's path, you can reside anywhere on this earth and will be protected.... The promise of Bush is that there is no place on earth where you can hide that I cannot find you. We will see which one of these two promises is fulfilled.
VOA: But aren't you afraid for the people, yourself, the Taliban, your country?
Omar: Almighty God . . . is helping the believers and the Muslims. God says he will never be satisfied with the infidels. In terms of worldly affairs, America is very strong. Even if it were twice as strong or twice that, it could not be strong enough to defeat us. We are confident that no one can harm us if God is with us.
VOA: You are telling me you are not concerned, but Afghans all over the world are concerned.
Omar: We are also concerned. Great issues lie ahead. But we depend on God's mercy. Consider our point of view: if we give Osama away today, Muslims who are now pleading to give him up would then be reviling us for giving him up.... Everyone is afraid of America and wants to please it. But Americans will not be able to prevent such acts like the one that has just occurred because America has taken Islam hostage. If you look at Islamic countries, the people are in despair. They are complaining that Islam is gone. But people remain firm in their Islamic beliefs. In their pain and frustration, some of them commit suicide acts. They feel they have nothing to lose.
VOA: What do you mean by saying America has taken the Islamic world hostage?
Omar: America controls the governments of the Islamic countries. The people ask to follow Islam, but the governments do not listen because they are in the grip of the United States. If someone follows the path of Islam, the government arrests him, tortures him or kills him. This is the doing of America. If it stops supporting those governments and lets the people deal with them, then such things won't happen. America has created the evil that is attacking it. The evil will not disappear even if I die and Osama dies and others die. The US should step back and review its policy. It should stop trying to impose its empire on the rest of the world, especially on Islamic countries.
VOA: So you won't give Osama bin Laden up?
Omar: No. We cannot do that. If we did, it means we are not Muslims ... that Islam is finished. If we were afraid of attack, we could have surrendered him the last time we were threatened and attacked. So America can hit us again, and this time we don't even have a friend.
VOA: If you fight America with all your might—can the Taliban do that? Won't America beat you and won't your people suffer even more?
Omar: I'm very confident that it won't turn out this way. Please note this: there is nothing more we can do except depend on almighty God. If a person does, then he is assured that the Almighty will help him, have mercy on him and he will succeed.
Excerpted from "Mullah Omar–In His Own Words," by Mohammad Omar, interviewed by Voice of America, The Guardian, September 26, 2001.
America Deserves This Humiliation
Although the United States and other Western countries held terrorist leader Osama bin Laden responsible for the September 11 attacks, bin Laden claimed America had brought them on itself. In this excerpt, taken from a transcript of a videotaped recording, bin Laden explains and accuses the United States of hypocrisy.
I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is his messenger.
There is America, hit by God in one of its softest spots. Its greatest buildings were destroyed, thank God for that. There is America, full of fear from its north to its south, from its west to its east. Thank God for that.
What America is tasting now is something insignificant compared to what we have tasted for scores of years. Our nation [the Islamic world] has been tasting this humiliation and this degradation for more than 80 years. Its sons are killed, its blood is shed, its sanctuaries are attacked, and no one hears and no one heeds.
When God blessed one of the groups of Islam, vanguards of Islam, they destroyed America. I pray to God to elevate their status and bless them.
Millions of innocent children are being killed as I speak. They are being killed in Iraq without committing any sins, and we don't hear condemnation or a fatwa [religious decree] from the rulers. In these days, Israeli tanks infest Palestine—in Jenin, Ramallah, Rafah, Beit Jala and other places in the land of Islam—and we don't hear anyone raising his voice or moving a limb.
When the sword comes down [on America], after 80 years, hypocrisy rears its ugly head. They deplore and they lament for those killers, who have abused the blood, honor and sanctuaries of Muslims. The least that can be said about those people is that they are debauched. They have followed injustice. They supported the butcher over the victim, the oppressor over the innocent child. May God show them his wrath and give them what they deserve.
I say that the situation is clear and obvious. After this event, after the senior officials have spoken in America, starting with the head of infidels worldwide, Bush, and those with him. They have come out in force with their men and have turned even the countries that belong to Islam to this treachery, and they want to wag their tail at God, to fight Islam, to suppress people in the name of terrorism.
When people at the ends of the earth, Japan, were killed by their hundreds of thousands, young and old, it was not considered a war crime, it is something that has justification. Millions of children in Iraq is something that has justification. But when they lose dozens of people in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam [capitals of Kenya and Tanzania, where U.S. embassies were bombed in 1998], Iraq was struck and Afghanistan was struck. Hypocrisy stood in force behind the head of infidels worldwide, behind the cowards of this age, America and those who are with it.
These events have divided the whole world into two sides—the side of believers and the side of infidels. May God keep you away from them. Every Muslim has to rush to make his religion victorious. The winds of faith have come. The winds of change have come to eradicate oppression from the island of Muhammad, peace be upon him.
To America, I say only a few words to it and its people. I swear by God, who has elevated the skies without pillars, neither America nor the people who live in it will dream of security before we live it in Palestine, and not before all the infidel armies leave the land of Muhammad, peace be upon him.
God is great, may pride be with Islam. May peace and God's mercy be upon you.
Osama bin Laden, "Hypocrisy Rears Its Ugly Head," Washington Post, October 8, 2001, p. A12.
Why America Was Attacked
In early October 2001, Saddam Hussein, the president and military leader of Iraq, responded to American criticism that his response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was callous and unsympathetic. In the excerpt below, Hussein explains that even though Muslims are against fanaticism of all kinds, American intervention in the Middle East has created resentment in the Arab world. Further, he argues, it is reasonable to expect Muslims to fight to oust Christians and Jews (in Israel and other areas of the Middle East) from Islam's holy lands and territories. In addition, Hussein claims that the United States refused to furnish proof showing who was responsible for the September 11 attacks. Thus, Hussein reasons, Americans should not expect sympathy from him or the Iraqi people for the victims' deaths.
The people of Iraq are against all kinds of fanaticism, whether based on religion, nationality or race. They are against the use of fanaticism as a cover for harming people whom God does not accept to harm. They call for love between the peoples and nations of the world. Nevertheless, we do not believe in love on one side only.
Iraq has been harmed severely by the fanaticism of others, including America. It was also severely harmed by terrorism. Maybe you don't know that many of the members of our leadership were victims of terrorism and terrorists. Some of them escaped death, by the will of God, after being injured or missed by the terrorists, in addition to the pain inflicted to our people.
Do you know brother, that your administration's reaction to that, was one of encouraging it and rejoicing? Do you know that your administration has been encouraging terrorism against us for the past eleven years, calling to overthrow us by force, allocating special funds to do so, and boasting about not fearing God, as it publicly announces that on TV screens, because Iraq does not have the same destructive force and armament of America? The Palestinians, whose right to resist the occupation forces are guaranteed by the international law, promulgated [declared] by America and the other big powers, are considered terrorists because they resist the Zionist [Israeli] occupation of their territories, and holy places.
Tell me, brother, if the Vatican is occupied by Arabs, or non-Arab Muslims, wouldn't its people fight the occupying forces? Wouldn't the English people fight for the Westminster cathedral? Or wouldn't the French people , defend Notre dame? I say they must fight for them! Why, then, are your armies occupying Mecca and the land of our Prophet? Why are you occupying the regional waters in the Arab Gulf, in addition to territories in its countries? Why is your ally, the Zionist entity, occupying our holy places, and territories, in Palestine, by using your arms, and financial, political, media, and moral support? And, why are your administration killing people, including children in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in Palestine now, just as it did, before that, in Lebanon, Sudan, Somalia and Libya, and the list of Arabs and Muslims to be killed is long?!
I know that Arabs are far from being fanatic. Do you know why? Because, God, the Almighty, assigned them with the mission of delivering the messages of all religions to humanity, and not to Arabs alone. They have fulfilled their mission, so that all Christians are now indebted to Arabs for guiding them to Faith, which God wanted them to have when, He made it possible for them to reach you, or for you to reach them, so that you know what they believe in, and be affected by it.
I know that Arabs, in general, do not adopt fanatic stances against any people for religious reasons. But, can anyone guarantee that one fanaticism does not create another? Can anyone guarantee that the death toll and killing, inflicted upon Arabs and Muslims by the American armies, would not lead to a counter-reaction, whether that reaction is well guided, or is a random one, that pleases no one except those who carry it out?
These words are general rules and principles, although I still do not know who is behind what happened to the towers on September 11, 2001. Your government did not help me, or anyone else, by showing, or communicating the information it possesses, so that we can elaborate an opinion, if it needed to know the opinion of those whose people it daily attacks with bombs, starves to death, and deprives from the right to live, construct, and deploy their creativity.
Our law, which is borne of our religion and heritage, and of our reasoning which is thousands of years deep, stipulates: "the Plaintiff should present evidence and the defendant should take an oath."But the plaintiff, which is your administration did not present any evidence so far. Nevertheless, it accused the people it accused, without showing us, or anyone else, any evidence, except for Blair and the ruler of Palestine, as they both said. The people accused have not pleaded guilty.
Anyhow, I don't think that your administration deserves the condolences of Iraqis, except if it presents its condolences to the Iraqi people for the one million and a half Iraqis it killed, and apologizes to them, for the crimes it committed against them.
Excerpted from "A Letter from President Saddam Hussein to an American Citizen,"by Saddam Hussein, www.ururlink.net, October 18, 2001.
Terrorists Must Not Be Appeased
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, some commentators wrote that they believed some U.S. policies were partially responsible for the attacks. Jonathan Alter, a writer for Newsweek magazine, disagrees with these views. In this October 2001 article, he concedes that some American policies may have infuriated Osama bin Laden, the reputed organizer of the attacks, but says that the attacks themselves were unjustified and evil. Citing the examples of World War II and Adolf Hitler, Alter concludes that appeasing terrorists will only encourage them to strike again.
After we attack the Taliban and the terrorists strike us again, you know what's going to happen. A big old-fashioned peace movement will emerge that blames the United States for whatever further destruction is inflicted. We'll be told that we "prompted"or "provoked" the gas attack, football-stadium bombing, assassination attempt, whatever. How do I know? Because a sizable chunk of what passes for the left is already knee-deep in ignorant and dangerous appeasement of the terrorism of Sept. 11. While moderate liberals (and even [liberal columnist] Christopher Hitchens) seem to get who the bad guys are, some of their brethren farther left—especially on college campuses—are unforgivably out to lunch.
Like President Bush and the vast majority of the country, I'm for a targeted war that tries hard to avoid civilian casualties, Islamic blowback and other unintended consequences. And I'll defend forever the right of anyone to say any stupid thing without being fired or hassled by the authorities. But some of what's being said can truly try one's patience, and I'm not just talking about Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson's "Blame Homosexuality First"approach to explaining the attack.
The only thing worse than a silly politician analyzing art is a silly artist analyzing politics. The New Republic's "Idiocy Watch," which is cataloging the fatuities [foolishness], is full of the musings of novelists. Best-selling writer Barbara Kingsolver, confused by the patriotism around her, asked in the San Francisco Chronicle whether the "flag stands for intimidation, censorship, violence, bigotry, sexism, homophobia, and shoving the Constitution through a paper shredder? Whom are we calling terrorists here?"
This mindless moral equivalency is the nub of what lefties mean when they talk about "the chickens coming home to roost," or "reaping what you sow."Talk about ironic: the same people always urging us to not blame the victim in rape cases are now saying Uncle Sam wore a short skirt and asked for it. A haughty [essayist and novelist] Susan Sontag made it sound as if we were the ones being thickheaded for not seeing that Sept. 11 was a perfectly understandable response to years of American policy.
Obviously, some policies—like the United States' stationing troops in Saudi Arabia—have contributed to Osama bin Laden's rage. But there's a big difference between understanding Islam and the history of the region, which we need much more of, and understanding evil, which is not just offensive but impossible.
Sad to say, the line between explaining terrorism and rationalizing it has been repeatedly breached by a shallow left stuck in a deep anti-American rut. For certain (fortunately powerless) tenured radicals and antiwar vets, this post-Vietnam reflex seems as comfortable as an old sandal.
While most Americans view history through a "Greatest Generation"World War II prism, this remnant remembers how wrong that analogy was for Vietnam. The left was on target then:for years the United States refused to negotiate much with the communists out of a misplaced fear of seeming to be [early World War II British prime minister] Neville Chamberlain-style appeasers.
But history moves on, even for aging ideologues [idealists] heavily invested in the past. "National security"is not a government cover story anymore, but a genuine problem. The terrorists we're looking for aren't pathetic little pamphleteers, like the American communists targeted in the Red Scare. Reactionary left-wingers are still so busy thinking the CIA is malevolent [evil] that they forget to notice it's incompetent;so busy nursing stale resentments that they forget to notice someone is trying to kill them.
"The causal business is really pernicious [deadly]," says Peter Awn, a professor of Islamic religion at Columbia who says it results from ignorance of the complexities of the region."People are going back to the one area they know something about—the Israeli-Palestinian struggle—and that's a shame. It shows their ability to understand the rest of the Islamic world is minimal."
The trick is to learn some lessons from the past without implying that we had it coming. We've done that before. After World War II our leaders saw that the punitive Versailles peace treaty following World War I had helped pave the way for Hitler. So we tried the generous Marshall Plan instead and it worked. But that came later. Only a fool would have given credence to Hitler's grievances, however legitimate a few of them were, while we were fighting him.
And none but a fool would say, as the novelist Alice Walker did in The Village Voice, that "the only punishment that works is love." We've tried turning the other cheek. After the 1993 World Trade Center bombing we held our fire and treated the attack as a law-enforcement matter. The terrorists struck again anyway. This time the Munich analogy is right: appeasement is doomed.
America Firsters grasped this point after Pearl Harbor and the isolationists ran off to enlist. So why can't Blame America Firsters grasp it now? Al Qaeda was planning its attack at exactly the time the United States was offering a Mideast peace deal favorable to the Palestinians. Nothing from us would have satisfied the fanatics, and nothing ever will. Peace won't be with you, brother. It's kill or be killed.
Jonathan Alter,"Blame America at Your Peril,"Newsweek, October 15, 2001, p 41.
God Has Withdrawn His Protection from America
Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are conservative Christian ministers. Robertson, a former Republican presidential candidate, has his own television show, The 700 Club. Shortly after the terrorist attacks, his guest on the show was Jerry Falwell, and the two discussed the state of America following the September 11 attacks. Part of Falwell's statement, in which he placed blame for theattacks with the ACLU, abortion rights advocates, and feminists, among others, caused an uproar among Americans of all political persuasions. He later apologized for his comments, claiming that they were taken out of context and that he "misspoke."
Pat Robertson's Comments Preceding the Falwell Interview:
PAT ROBERTSON: And we have thought that we're invulnerable. And we have been so concerned about money. We have been so concerned about material things. The interests of people are on their health and their finances, and on their pleasures and on their sexuality, and while this is going on while we're self-absorbed and the churches as well as in the population, we have allowed rampant pornography on the internet. We have allowed rampant secularism and occult, etc. to be broadcast on television. We have permitted somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 to 40 million unborn babies to be slaughtered in our society. We have a court that has essentially stuck its finger in God's eye and said we're going to legislate you out of the schools. We're going to take your commandments from off the courthouse steps in various states. We're not going to let little children read the commandments of God. We're not going to let the Bible be read, no prayer in our schools. We have insulted God at the highest levels of our government. And, then we say 'why does this happen?'
Well, why it's happening is that God Almighty is lifting his protection from us. And once that protection is gone, we all are vulnerable because we're a free society, and we're vulnerable. We lay naked before these terrorists who have infiltrated our country. There's probably tens of thousands of them in America right now. They've been raising money. They've been preaching their hate and overseas they have been spewing out venom against the United States for years. All over the Arab world, there is venom being poured out into people's ears and minds against America. And, the only thing that's going to sustain us is the umbrella power of the Almighty God....
The Interview with Jerry Falwell:
PAT ROBERTSON: Well after Tuesday's attacks, many Americans are struggling with grief, fear and unanswered questions. How should Christians respond to this crisis? Well joining us now with some answers is a dear friend of ours, the Pastor of the Thomas Road Baptist Church and Liberty University, the head and founder of that, Dr. Jerry Falwell. Jerry, it's a delight to have you with us today.
JERRY FALWELL: Thanks, Pat.
PAT ROBERTSON: Listen. What are you telling the church? You called your church together. What was your response at Thomas Road to this tragedy?
JERRY FALWELL: Well, as the world knows, the tragedy hit on Tuesday morning, and at 2:00 in the afternoon, we gathered 7,000 Liberty University students, faculty, local people together, and we used the verse that I heard you use a moment ago, Chronicles II, 7:14, that God wanted us to humble ourselves and seek his face. And there's not much we can do in the Church but what we're supposed to do, and that is pray. Pray for the President that God will give him wisdom, keep bad advisors from him, bring good ones to him, praying for the families of the victims, praying for America. And, you know this thing is not a great deal different than what I remember and you Pat. We're about the same age. December 7, 1941, when we entered the war against Japan, Germany, Italy. Hitler's goal was to destroy the Jews among other things, and conquer the world. And, these Islamic fundamentalists, these radical terrorists, these Middle Eastern monsters are committed to destroying the Jewish nation, driving her into the Mediterranean, conquering the world. And, we are the great Satan. We are the ultimate goal. I talked this morning with Tom Rose publisher of the Jerusalem Post, and orthodox Jew, and he said,"Now America knows in a horrible way what Israel's been facing for 53 years at the hand of Arafat and other terrorists and radicals and barbarians."
PAT ROBERTSON: Jerry, I know that you shared several 40 day fasts for revival in America. We here at CBN [Christian Broadcasting Network] had a couple of 40 day fasts during the Lenten season, and Bill Bright, I don't know, eight or nine. Do you think that this is going to be the trigger of revival, a real revival in the Church where we truly turn back to God with all our heart?
JERRY FALWELL: It could be. I've never sensed a togetherness, a burden, a broken heart as I do in the Church today, and just 48 hours, I gave away a booklet I wrote 10 years ago. I gave it away last night on the Biblical position on fasting and prayer because I do believe that that is what we've got to do now—fast and pray. And I agree totally with you that the Lord has protected us so wonderfully these 225 years. And since 1812, this is the first time that we've been attacked on our soil, first time, and by far the worst results. And I fear, as Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense said yesterday, that this is only the beginning. And with biological warfare available to these monsters; the Husseins, the Bin Ladens, the Arafats, what we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be miniscule if, in fact, if in fact God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.
PAT ROBERTSON: Jerry, that's my feeling. I think we've just seen the antechamber to terror. We haven't even begun to see what they can do to the major population.
PAT ROBERTSON: Well, yes.
JERRY FALWELL: And, I know that I'll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'
PAT ROBERTSON: Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government. And so we're responsible as a free society for what the top people do. And, the top people, of course, is the court system.
JERRY FALWELL: Amen. Pat, did you notice yesterday? The ACLU, and all the Christ-haters, the People For the American Way, NOW, etc. were totally disregarded by the Democrats and the Republicans in both houses of Congress as they went out on the steps and called out on to God in prayer and sang 'God Bless America' and said 'let the ACLU be hanged.'In other words, when the nation is on its knees, the only normal and natural and spiritual thing to do is what we ought to be doing all the time—calling upon God.
PAT ROBERTSON: Amen. I wanted to ask you the reaction. I know that you had a major prayer meeting last night, and I know your people assembled, just a large gathering at your church. What was the mood of the people? What did they say and what did you sense with your congregation?
JERRY FALWELL: A brokenness that I have not seen. I've been their pastor 45 years, 30 years Chancellor at Liberty. We had 7,000 gather yesterday in the Vines Center and filled the Church last night. I sensed a brokenness, tears. People were sobbing at the altar. And, they have no shame about it. It was the kind of brokenness that no one could conjure, only God could bring upon us. And, that is to me the most optimistic thing that I see today as I look across America. And every city, I called a friend in Springfield yesterday. He said at least a hundred churches, Springfield, MO [Missouri], at least a hundred churches have special prayer meetings for America today and tonight. And, that's happening by the thousands all over America. This could be, if we will fast and pray, this could be God's call to revival.
PAT ROBERTSON:Well, I believe it. And I think the people, the Bible says render your hearts and not your garments, and people begin to render their hearts and they weep before the Lord, and they really get serious with God, God will hear and answer. We'll see revival. I am thrilled to hear that about your church because it's happening all over.
JERRY FALWELL: It's everywhere.
PAT ROBERTSON: Yes.
JERRY FALWELL: In the most unlikely of places. The general manager at the ABC affiliate in our area called me this morning and said "we're going to ask for all the churches, all the people of faith to join us at the D-Day Memorial over in Bedford at 2:00, Sunday."And, Randy Smith is his name, the general manager, and he is calling central Virginia to healing through prayer and I suspect there will be thousands there.
PAT ROBERTSON: Jerry, this is so encouraging, and I thank God for your stand. We just love you and praise God for you. Liberty is a great institution and I congratulate you for that wonderful student body, and your church. And, thank-you my dear friend for being with us.
JERRY FALWELL: God bless you brother. Let's stand together.
PAT ROBERTSON: Amen.
Excerpted from "Transcript of Pat Robertson's Interview with Jerry Fallwell,"The 700 Club, September 10, 2001. Copyright © 2001 by People for the American Way. Reprinted with permission.
Allah Be Praised!
The following selection is an excerpt from a videotape on which Osama bin Laden talks about the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. On the tape, he is surrounded by his supporters, including an unidentified Saudi Arabian sheik (Shaykh), and is attending an informal dinner in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in mid-November 2001. The transcipt is choppy because the videotape begins with the second half of the dinner meeting and ends with the first half. In this excerpt, the sheik praises bin Laden for the success of the September 11, 2001, attacks and tells him that Islam remains strong following the attacks; it has even gained many new converts. Further, bin Laden claims to have known about the attacks days beforethey occurred, despite previous statements denying personal responsibility.
SHAYKH:(Describing the trip to the meeting) They smuggled us and then I thought that we would be in different caves inside the mountains so I was surprised at the guest house and that it is very clean and comfortable. Thanks be to Allah, we also learned that this location is safe, by Allah's blessings. The place is clean and we are very comfortable.
[Osama bin Laden]: When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse. This is only one goal; those who want people to worship the lord of the people, without following that doctrine, will be following the doctrine of Muhammad, peace be upon him.
(bin Laden quotes several short and incomplete Hadith verses [reports of the sayings of the prophet Muhammad], as follows):
"I was ordered to fight the people until they say there is no god but Allah, and his prophet Muhammad."
"Some people may ask:why do you want to fight us?"
"There is an association between those who say: I believe in one god and Muhammad is his prophet, and those who don't (...inaudible...)
"Those who do not follow the true fiqh [legal rulings by muslim scholars on Islamic law]. The fiqh of Muhammad, the real fiqh. They are just accepting what is being said at face value."
bin Laden: Those youth who conducted the operations [the terrorist attacks] did not accept any fiqh in the popular terms, but they accepted the fiqh that the prophet Muhammad brought. Those young men (... inaudible ...) said in deeds, in New York and Washington, speeches that overshadowed all other speeches made everywhere else in the world. The speeches are understood by both Arabs and non-Arabs—even by Chinese. It is above all the media said. Some of them said that in Holland, at one of the centers, the number of people who accepted Islam during the days that followed the operations were more than the people who accepted Islam in the last eleven years. I heard someone on Islamic radio who owns a school in America say:"We don't have time to keep up with the demands of those who are asking about Islamic books to learn about Islam." This event made people think (about true Islam) which benefited Islam greatly.
SHAYKH: Hundreds of people used to doubt you and few only would follow you until this huge event happened. Now hundreds of people are coming out to join you. I remember a vision by Shaykh Salih Al-((Shuaybi)). He said:"There will be a great hit and people will go out by hundreds to Afghanistan." I asked him (Salih): "To Afghanistan?"He replied,"Yes."According to him, the only ones who stay behind will be the mentally impotent and the liars (hypocrites). I remembered his saying that hundreds of people will go out to Afghanistan. He had this vision a year ago. This event discriminated between the different types of followers.
bin Laden: (. . . Inaudible . . .) we calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy, who would be killed based on the position of the tower. We calculated that the floors that would be hit would be three or four floors. I was the most optimistic of them all.(...Inaudible ...) due to my experience in this field, I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit and all the floors above it only. This is all that we had hoped for.
SHAYKH: Allah be praised.
bin Laden: We were at ( ...Inaudible ...) when the event took place. We had notification since the previous Thursday that the event would take place that day. We had finished our work that day and had the radio on. It was 5:30 p.m. our time. I was sitting with Dr. Ahmad Abu-al-((Khair)). Immediately, we heard the news that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. We turned the radio station to the news from Washington. The news continued and no mention of the attack until the end. At the end of the newscast, they reported that a plane just hit the World Trade Center.
SHAYKH: Allah be praised.
bin Laden: After a little while, they announced that another plane had hit the World Trade Center. The brothers who heard the news were overjoyed by it.
SHAYKH: I listened to the news and I was sitting. We didn't ... we were not thinking about anything, and all of a sudden, Allah willing, we were talking about how come we
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didn't have anything, and all of a sudden the news came and everyone was overjoyed and everyone until the next day, in the morning, was talking about what was happening and we stayed until four o'clock, listening to the news every time a little bit different, everyone was very joyous and saying "Allah is great,""Allah is great,""We are thankful to Allah,""Praise Allah."And I was happy for the happiness of my brothers. That day the congratulations were coming on the phone non-stop. The mother was receiving phone calls continuously. Thank Allah. Allah is great, praise be to Allah.
(Quoting the verse from the Quran)
SHAYKH:"Fight them, Allah will torture them, with your hands, he will torture them. He will deceive them and he will give you victory. Allah will forgive the believers, he is knowledgeable about everything."
SHAYKH: No doubt it is a clear victory. Allah has bestowed on us ... honor on us ... and he will give us blessing and more victory during this holy month of Ramadan. And this is what everyone is hoping for. Thank Allah America came out of its caves. We hit her the first hit and the next one will hit her with the hands of the believers, the good believers, the strong believers. By Allah it is a great work. Allah prepares for you a great reward for this work. I'm sorry to speak in your presence, but it is just thoughts, just thoughts. By Allah, who there is no god but him. I live in happiness, happiness ... I have not experienced, or felt, in a long time....
Tape ends here. Second segment of bin Laden's visit, shows up at front of the tape . . .
SULAYMAN (ABU GUAITH): I was sitting with the Shaykh in a room, then I left to go to another room where there was a TV set. The TV broadcasted the big event. The scene was showing an Egyptian family sitting in their living room, they exploded with joy. Do you know when there is a soccer game and your team wins, it was the same expression of joy. There was a subtitle that read: "In revenge for the children of Al Aqsa', Usama Bin Ladin executes an operation against America." So I went back to the Shaykh (meaning bin Laden) who was sitting in a room with 50 to 60 people. I tried to tell him about what I saw, but he made gesture with his hands, meaning:"I know, I know . . ."
bin Laden: He did not know about the operation. Not everybody knew ( ...Inaudible...). Muhammad ((Atta)) from the Egyptian family (meaning the Al Qa'ida Egyptian group), was in charge of the group.
SHAYKH: A plane crashing into a tall building was out of anyone's imagination. This was a great job. He was one of the pious men in the organization. He became a martyr. Allah bless his soul.
SHAYKH (Referring to dreams and visions): The plane that he saw crashing into the building was seen before by more than one person. One of the good religious people has left everything and come here. He told me,"I saw a vision, I was in a huge plane, long and wide. I was carrying it on my shoulders and I walked from the road to the desert for half a kilometer. I was dragging the plane."I listened to him and I prayed to Allah to help him. Another person told me that last year he saw, but I didn't understand and I told him I don't understand. He said,"I saw people who left for jihad ... and they found themselves in New York . . . in Washington and New York."I said,"What is this?"He told me the plane hit the building. That was last year. We haven't thought much about it. But, when the incidents happened he came to me and said,"Did you see . . . this is strange." I have another man ... my god ... he said and swore by Allah that his wife had seen the incident a week earlier. She saw the plane crashing into a building ... that was unbelievable, my god.
bin Laden: The brothers, who conducted the operation, all they knew was that they have a martyrdom operation and we asked each of them to go to America but they didn't know anything about the operation, not even one letter. But they were trained and we did not reveal the operation to them until they are there and just before they boarded the planes.
bin Laden:( ...Inaudible ...) then he said: Those who were trained to fly didn't know the others. One group of people did not know the other group.( ... Inaudible ...) ...
bin Laden: The difference between the first and the second plane hitting the towers was twenty minutes. And the difference between the first plane and the plane that hit the Pentagon was one hour.
SHAYKH: They (the Americans) were terrified thinking there was a coup.
Transcript of videotape of Osama bin Laden meeting with followers somewhere in Afghanistan, probably in mid-November 2001. Released by U.S. Department of Defense December 13, 2001. www.defenselink.mil/news/Dec2001/d20011213ubl.pdf.