Chapter 3: Al Qaeda’s Call to Jihad
[J]ihad is an individual duty when an enemy attacks Muslim countries . . . To kill the Americans and their allies – civilians and military – is an individual duty incumbent upon every Muslim in all countries . . . so that their armies leave all the territory of Islam, defeated, broken, and unable to threaten any Muslim. Osama bin Laden1 The global ﬁght against al Qaeda has been characterized as ‘the deﬁning conﬂict of the early 21st century.’2 Some observers describe al Qaeda’s ‘holy war’ against America and its allies as representing an ‘existential struggle’ against non-Islamic societies and values;3 others, including Osama bin Laden himself, have said it reﬂects a ‘clash of civilizations.’4 Whatever description is most appropriate, it is clear that al Qaeda is waging a global campaign of terror unfettered by nationality, ethnicity, age, race, or gender. Its operations have targeted thousands of people, military and civilian, in deadly attacks around the world. ‘Killing and dying for Allah are viewed as the highest form of sacriﬁce.’5 All targets are considered legitimate if seen to be in opposition to al Qaeda’s fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. This ideology further rejects compromise, embraces martyrdom and demands complete victory.6 Eﬀectively, bin Laden’s message is this: you are either a believer or a non-believer, a righteous Muslim or an inﬁdel.7 With this message, bin Laden has inspired a movement that is intent on targeting the ‘non-believing’ world in the name of Islam.8 Al Qaeda is not simply a politically motivated terrorist...
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