Editor’s Note: This is an older article but particularly relevant today as the U.S. military exits Afghanistan. Please pray for our Christian brothers and sisters there as they continue to face persecution.
“Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. . . . America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world.” ~ George W. Bush, address to the nation, September 11, 2001
“They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.” ~ George W. Bush, address to Congress, September 20, 2001
Of all the lies of the Bush administration used to justify the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, this one has proven to be the most enduring – and the most wrong.
According to a 2004 report on strategic communication prepared by the Defense Science Board Task Force, “a federal advisory committee established to provide independent advice to the secretary of defense”:
American direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single-digits in some Arab societies.
Muslims do not “hate our freedom,” but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states.
Furthermore, in the eyes of Muslims, American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering. U.S. actions appear in contrast to be motivated by ulterior motives, and deliberately controlled in order to best serve American national interests at the expense of truly Muslim selfdetermination.
Therefore, the dramatic narrative since 9/11 has essentially borne out the entire radical Islamist bill of particulars. American actions and the flow of events have elevated the authority of the Jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims. Fighting groups portray themselves as the true defenders of an Ummah (the entire Muslim community) invaded and under attack – to broad public support.
A 2006 National Intelligence Estimate concluded that the war in Iraq increased the threat of terrorism rather than reduced it. “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States” points out the “centrality” of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in fomenting terrorist cells and attacks and describes how the American presence in Iraq has helped spread radical Islam by providing a focal point for anti-Americanism.
According to Michael Scheuer, who headed the CIA’s bin Laden unit from 1996 to 1999: “In the long run, we’re not safer because we’re still operating on the assumption that we’re hated because of our freedoms, when in fact we’re hated because of our actions in the Islamic world. There’s our military presence in Islamic countries, the perception that we control the Muslim world’s oil production, our support for Israel and for countries that oppress Muslims such as China, Russia, and India, and our own support for Arab tyrannies.”
Peter Bergen, who produced the first television interview with Osama Bin Laden in 1997, says “that in all the tens of thousands of words uttered by bin Laden, he was strangely silent about American freedoms and values. He didn’t seem to care very much about the beliefs of the ‘crusaders.’ His focus was invariably on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.”
Political scientist James Payne, in a review of twenty-four official pronouncements of Osama bin Laden from 1994-2004, found that 72 percent of the content amounted to “criticism of the United States and other Western countries for their aggression against Muslim lands and the need to defend against and punish this aggression.” Only 1 percent criticized American culture or the American way of life.
If we really want to know why American is hated by terrorists, insurgents, jihadists, militants, and Islamofascists, then we should just ask them. Actually, we don’t even need to ask, just listen.
Listen to Osama bin Laden, the late leader of al Qaeda. First, from his 1996 fatwa:
It should not be hidden from you that the people of Islam had suffered from aggression, iniquity and injustice imposed on them by the Zionist-Crusaders alliance and their collaborators; to the extent that the Muslims blood became the cheapest and their wealth as loot in the hands of the enemies. Their blood was spilled in Palestine and Iraq. The horrifying pictures of the massacre of Qana, in Lebanon are still fresh in our memory. Massacres in Tajakestan, Burma, Cashmere, Assam, Philippine, Fatani, Ogadin, Somalia, Erithria, Chechnia and in Bosnia-Herzegovina took place, massacres that send shivers in the body and shake the conscience. All of this and the world watch and hear, and not only didn’t respond to these atrocities, but also with a clear conspiracy between the USA and its’ allies and under the cover of the iniquitous United Nations, the dispossessed people were even prevented from obtaining arms to defend themselves.
The latest and the greatest of these aggressions, incurred by the Muslims since the death of the Prophet (ALLAH’S BLESSING AND SALUTATIONS ON HIM) is the occupation of the land of the two Holy Places – the foundation of the house of Islam, the place of the revelation, the source of the message and the place of the noble Ka’ba, the Qiblah of all Muslims – by the armies of the American Crusaders and their allies.
Second, from his 1997 CNN interview:
We declared jihad against the US government, because the US government is unjust, criminal and tyrannical. It has committed acts that are extremely unjust, hideous and criminal, whether directly or through its support of the Israeli occupation of the Prophet’s Night Travel Land.
A reaction might take place as a result of the US government’s hitting Muslim civilians and executing more than 600,000 Muslim children in Iraq by preventing food and medicine from reaching them. So, the US is responsible for any reaction, because it extended its war against troops to civilians.
And third, from his 1998 Fatwa:
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 spreading in it like locusts, eating its riches and wiping out its plantations. All this is happening at a time in which 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 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.
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.
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 [Mecca] 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.
Because of the many undocumented statements that have been attributed to bin Laden since 9/11, I have deliberately not included any of his purported post-9/11 statements.
Listen to Ramzi Yousef, convicted of bombing the World Trade Center in 1993, and now serving a life sentence. From his January 8, 1998, court appearance:
You keep talking also about collective punishment and killing innocent people to force governments to change their policies; you call this terrorism when someone would kill innocent people or civilians in order to force the government to change its policies. Well, when you were the first one who invented this terrorism.
You were the first one who killed innocent people, and you are the first one who introduced this type of terrorism to the history of mankind when you dropped an atomic bomb which killed tens of thousands of women and children in Japan and when you killed over a hundred thousand people, most of them civilians, in Tokyo with fire bombings. You killed them by burning them to death. And you killed civilians in Vietnam with chemicals as with the so-called Orange agent. You killed civilians and innocent people, not soldiers, innocent people every single war you went. You went to wars more than any other country in this century, and then you have the nerve to talk about killing innocent people.
And now you have invented new ways to kill innocent people. You have so-called economic embargo which kills nobody other than children and elderly people, and which other than Iraq you have been placing the economic embargo on Cuba and other countries for over 35 years.
The Government in its summations and opening statement said that I was a terrorist. Yes, I am a terrorist and I am proud of it. And I support terrorism so long as it was against the United States Government and against Israel, because you are more than terrorists; you are the one who invented terrorism and using it every day. You are butchers, liars and hypocrites.
Yousef and his co-conspirators (Mohammed Salameh, Nidal Ayyad, Mahmud Abouhalima, Ahmad Ajaj, and Abdul Rahman Yasin) sent a letter to the New York Times after the bombing that spelled out their motive:
We are, the fifth battalion in the LIBERATION ARMY, declare our responsibility for the explosion on the mentioned building. This action was done in response for the American political, economical, and military support to Israel the state of terrorism and to the rest of the dictator countries in the region.
OUR DEMANDS ARE:
1 – Stop all military, economical, and political aid to Israel.
2 – All diplomatic relations with Israel must stop.
3 – Not to interfere with any of the Middle East countries interior affairs.
IF our demands are not met, all of our functional groups in the army will continue to execute our missions against the military and civilian targets in and out the United States. For your own information, our army has more than hundred and fifty suicidal soldiers ready to go ahead. The terrorism that Israel practices (Which is supported by America) must be faced with a similar one. The dictatorship and terrorism also supported by America) that some countries are practicing against their own people must also be faced with terrorism.
The American people must know, that their civilians who got killed are not better than those who are getting killed by the American weapons and support.
The American people are responsible for the actions of their government and they must question all of the crimes that their government is committing against other people. Or they – Americans – will be the targets of our operations that could diminish them.
LIBERATION ARMY, FIFTH BATTALION
Listen to Richard Reid, the convicted “shoe bomber.” From his 2003 court appearance:
With regards to what you said about killing innocent people, I will say one thing. Your government has killed 2 million children in Iraq. OK? If you want to think about something, 20 against 2 million, I don’t see no comparison. OK?
Your government has sponsored the rape and torture of Muslims in the prisons of Egypt and Turkey and Syria and Jordan with their money and with their weapons. OK? I don’t know, see what I done as being equal to rape and to torture, or to the deaths of the 2 million children in Iraq. OK? So for this reason, I think I ought not apologize for my actions.
I am at war with your country. I’m at war with them not for personal reasons but because they have murdered so many children and they have oppressed my religion and they have oppressed people for no reason except that they say we believe in Allah. This is the only reason that America sponsors Egypt. It’s the only reason they sponsor Turkey. It’s the only reason they back Israel. OK?
Listen to Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square car bomber. First, from his June 21, 2010 court appearance:
I want to plead guilty and I’m going to plead guilty a hundred times forward because until the hour the US pulls it forces from Iraq and Afghanistan and stops the drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen and in Pakistan and stops the occupation of Muslim lands and stops killing the Muslims and stops reporting the Muslims to its government, we will be attacking US, and I plead guilty to that.
Well, I am part of that. I am part of the answer to the US terrorizing the Muslim nations and the Muslim people, and on behalf of that, I’m avenging the attacks, because only – like living in US, the Americans only care about their people, but they don’t care about the people elsewhere in the world when they die.
And second, from his October 5, 2010, court appearance:
My statement should take about five minutes to ten minutes, and I hope that the judge and the Court will listen to me before they sentence me. In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful, this is but one life. If I am given a thousand lives, I will sacrifice them all for the sake of Allah fighting this cause, defending our lands, making the word of Allah supreme over any religion or system. We Muslims don’t abide by human-made laws, because they are always corrupt. And I had a firsthand experience when on the second day of my arrest I asked for the Miranda. And the FBI denied it to me for two weeks, effecting harm to my kids and family, and I was forced to sign those Mirandas. The sentence by the judge will not mean anything to me, for how can I be judged when the Court does not understand the suffering of my people. They don’t understand my side of the story, where the Muslim life of is no value. Therefore, the only true judgment will be on the day of resurrection when Allah will judge between me and you as to who is fighting for the just cause. So decree whatever you desire to decree, for you can only decree regarding the life of this world. The crusading U.S. and NATO forces who have occupied the Muslim lands under the pretext of democracy and freedom for the last nine years and are saying with their mouths that they are fighting terrorism, I say to them, we don’t accept your democracy nor your freedom, because we already have Sharia law and freedom. Furthermore, brace yourselves, because the war with Muslims has just begun. Consider me only a first droplet of the flood that will follow me. And only this time it’s not imperial Japan or Germany, Vietnam or Russian communism. This time it’s the war against people who believe in the book of Allah and follow the commandments, so this is a war against Allah. So let’s see how you can defeat your Creator, which you can never do. Therefore, the defeat of U.S. is imminent and will happen in the near future, inshallah, which will only give rise to much awaited Muslim caliphate, which is the only true world order. Soon the bailout money which is holding your fragile economy will run out and soon you will not be able to afford the war costs.
So, the past nine years the war with Muslims has achieved nothing for the U.S., except for it has waken up the Muslims for Islam. We are only Muslims trying to defend our, people, honor, and land. But if you call us terrorists for doing that, then we are proud terrorists, and we will keep on terrorizing until you leave our land and people at peace. But if you don’t, then I remind you that we have watches and we have time. We will defeat you with time.
Listen to Najibullah Zazi, who pled guilty to conspiring to undertake a suicide attack on the New York subway system. From his 2010 court appearance: “I would sacrifice myself to bring attention to what the United States military was doing to civilians in Afghanistan by sacrificing my soul for the sake of saving other souls.”
Listen to Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen living in Yemen. From his 2010 “Call to Jihad”:
We the Muslims do not have an inherent animosity towards any racial group or ethnicity. We are not against Americans for just being Americans. We are against evil and America as a whole has turned into a nation of evil. What we see from America is the invasion of [inaudible] countries, we see Abu Ghraib, Baghram and Guantanamo Bay, we see cruise missiles and cluster bombs and we have just seen in Yemen the death of 23 children and 17 women. We cannot stand idly in the face of such aggression and we will fight back and incite others to do the same.
I for one was born in the U.S., I lived in the U.S. for 21 years. America was my home. I was a preacher of Islam involved in non-violent Islamic activism. However, with the American invasion of Iraq and continued U.S. aggression against Muslims I could not reconcile between living in the U.S. and being a Muslim.
And finally, listen to a statement from al-Qaeda’s American-born spokesman, Adam Gadahn, released last year:
The fact is, Barack, if you ever decide to get serious about improving America’s security, protecting the American people and preventing a sharp rise in the number of American casualties at home and abroad and in the air, at sea and on land, then there are a number of simple, sound and effective steps which you can take which can go a long way towards achieving those goals. The Muslim Mujahideen defending their faith and brethren against your nation’s evildoing have repeatedly made clear these steps, but because I suspect you have been living in the ivory tower and information vacuum in which arrogant Washington insiders like you often live, I shall summarize these steps here. I strongly suggest you heed and implement them, for your own good and the good of your people.
First, you must pull every last one of your soldiers, spies, security advisors, trainers, attaches, contractors, robots, drones and all other American personnel, ships and aircraft out of every Muslim land from Afghanistan to Zanzibar.
Second, you must end all support – both moral and material – to Israel and bar your citizens from traveling to Occupied Palestine or settling there, and you must impose a blanket ban on American trade with the Zionist regime and investment in it. Your security will not be improved by empty threats like those your special envoy made about the possible suspension of American loans, in and of itself a largely meaningless gesture. As Shaykh Usama told you, if you don’t heed our warnings and stop your support of Israel, we will have no choice but to continue to use other ways to get our message across.
Third, you must stop all support and aid – be it military, political, economic or otherwise – to the hated regimes of the Muslim world. This includes the so-called “development aid” which your secretary of state recently identified as being one of the most important elements of future American efforts to combat the Islamic renaissance and Jihadi awakening sweeping the Muslim world.
Fourth, you must cease all interference in the religion, society, politics, economy and government of the Islamic world. This means putting an immediate stop to the deployment of your economic hit men, CIA jackals, Peace Corps volunteers, USAID employees, and UN-and-US-sponsored non-governmental organizations, all of which, put together, represent the vanguard of American interference in our region and the world.
Fifth, you must also put an end to all forms of American and American sponsored interference in the educational curricula and information media of the Muslim world, and you must end all broadcasts targeting our region, especially those designed to alter or destroy the faith, minds, morals and values of our Muslim people.
And sixth, you must free all Muslim captives from your prisons, detention facilities and concentration camps, regardless of whether they have been recipients of what you call a “fair” trial or not. As our heroic brother Abu Dujaanah al-Khorasaani told you with his words and actions, we will never forget our prisoners.
Instead of listening or asking questions, the reaction of the United States has been bomb first, don’t listen or ask questions, and then bomb later – and invade, occupy, torture, maim, kill, incarcerate, rendition, assassinate, and destroy property and infrastructure.
And as Glenn Greenwald recently pointed out:
The fact that victims of American violence over the last two decades have easily outweighed, and continue to outweigh, those of the Dictators and Terrorists whom we so vocally despise is nonetheless an extremely important fact that should shape our understanding of 9/11.
The cry of the Muslim masses in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere in the Middle East was not for Islamofascism, global Islamic conquest, a global Caliphate, the worldwide establishment of Sharia law, a new holocaust, suicide bombers, and terrorists attacks, but for more freedom – something they supposedly hate us for.
Muslims seem to be more interested in killing other Muslims than in killing Americans who aren’t bombing and occupying their countries – just look at the history of Sunni versus Shiite violence since Muhammad died in 632 and a disagreement ensued over whom should be his successor.
The U.S. government has learned absolutely nothing since 9/11. Instead of the occasion being a time to reassess a century of bad foreign policy, it was used as an excuse to start two wars against countries that had nothing to do with 9/11 and accelerate the destruction of American freedoms. And now, ten years later, the anniversary of 9/11 will be used to lionize the police state, the warfare state, and the national security state while justifying even more wars.
U.S. foreign policy is an abomination in the sight of God, and I don’t mean Allah.
Originally published on LewRockwell.com on September 10, 2011.