AL-QAEDA'S INTELLECTUAL LEGACY:
New Radical Islamic Thinking
Justifying The Genocide of Infidels
by Jonathan D. Halevi
- The Islamic victory over the USSR in Afghanistan, the creation
of the al-Qaeda global network, and the spread of Islam in many
Western countries are seen as signs of an Islamic awakening that
from the radical Islamist perspective may lead to the restoration
of Islam as the world's most dominant power.
- In this emerging world order, Christians and Jews are no
longer protected minorities under Islam. As a result, there is a
dangerous trend among militant Islamist clerical authorities,
especially from Saudi Arabia, justifying not only acts of
terrorism against individuals, but also mass murder against whole
groups of people regarded as infidels. Their call for the complete
extermination of peoples means they have moved ideologically
toward the justification of genocide.
- Jihad against America is the realization of "the right
of self-defense" in retaliation for the terrorist war waged by the
United States against the nation of Islam. Based on the Islamic
principle, one al-Qaeda leader argues that Muslims have the right
to kill four million Americans, while a Saudi scholar argues for
killing ten million.
- The citizens in democratic Western countries become full
participants in governmental decision-making by voting in
elections and therefore they are no longer considered
"non-combatants." Democracy is a prohibited innovation that
contradicts Islamic values and embodies a new heretical religion.
- An official al-Qaeda publication presents a new,
comprehensive concept of total extermination of Islam's enemies.
Al-Qaeda's Saudi clerics are also having a growing influence on
other militant groups, from Hamas to Chechen groups to the
mujahideen in western Iraq: their legal rulings appear on the
websites of these organizations in Arabic.
- There has only been a partial moderation of these trends as a
byproduct of Saudi Arabia's internal struggle with al-Qaeda
since May 12, 2003; some clerics have called for discontinuing
the practice of takfir - branding Muslims as infidels
worthy of destruction. But they have not altered their harsh
doctrine against Christians and Jews.
Seeing the West as "God's Enemy"
Global terrorism sprouted and thrived in the strongholds of radical
Islam. Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis, in "The Roots of Muslim
explains the rise of Islamic
radicalism and the increasing hatred of the West as a response to
Western superiority and to the undermining of Islam's authority by
Western culture. The Islamic hatred is, according to Lewis, an outcome
of the collision between the Western and Islamic civilizations and "an
Islamic historical response to secularism and the Jewish-Christian
Lewis' approach provides an essential interpretation of the
roots of the current clash of civilizations, but it lacks a reference
to the implications of the accumulating hatred for the West, which is
viewed by many Muslims as "God's enemy."
The present-day radical Islamic outburst against Western
civilization's hegemony emanates from a perception of achievement: the
Islamic victory over the USSR in Afghanistan, the establishment of
Taliban rule, the creation of the al-Qaeda global network, and the
spread of Islam in many Western countries. These are seen as signs of
an Islamic awakening that may lead in the twenty-first century to the
restoration of the glory of Islam as the world's most dominant power.
In this context, the radical Islamic struggle against "God's enemies"
has brought about a significant change in traditional Islamic
attitudes toward the protected religions - Christianity and Judaism.
During the golden age of Islam, in most cases Islamic regimes treated
Christians and Jews with tolerance for being monotheists like
They were considered ahl al-dhimma, non-Muslim
monotheistic believers who had the privilege to be under the
protection of Islamic rule, although some humiliating laws were
imposed on them (payment of a head tax; synagogues and churches had to
be built lower than mosques, etc.).
The destiny of infidels and
polytheists (those who attribute associates to God) under Islamic
rule, however, was either conversion to Islam or execution.
The End of Protected Status for Christians and Jews
In recent years, radical Islamic scholars have renounced the
privileges that Christians and Jews had enjoyed under Islamic rule and
denied their status as ahl al-dhimma, accusing them of crimes against
Islam and deviation of faith in God by attributing associates to God.
This opened the way to justifying mass killing of Christians and Jews
under the flag of jihad for the sake of Allah.
The roots of radical Islam's denial of protected status for
Christians may be found in the long-standing, accumulated hatred of
the U.S. and other Western countries as leaders of the Christian
The U.S. is viewed as a global infidel force menacing Islam
with its ideology, social and economic values, and hostile policy,
seen in terms of a modern Crusader war against Islam. Abd al-Aziz
al-Jarbou', a prominent radical Saudi scholar, lashed out at the U.S.
in his book The Foundations of the Legality of the Destruction That
Befell America, presenting a thesis that was publicly lauded by
many Saudi scholars, headed by Hamud bin Uqla al-Shuaibi and Ali
Describing the U.S. as "the source of evil, moral
corruption, oppression, despotism, and aggression," al-Jarbou'
explained that the U.S. "spreads abomination and corruption in the
world," "is the biggest source heretical movies," "has more sex
channels and wine and cigarette companies than any other country,"
"wages war against Allah's religion...and strives to impose its heresy
and values out of arrogance and a desire to dominate." "Even Satan
does not behave like America does," he wrote.2
On May 6, 2002, fourteen Saudi scholars published a special
announcement claiming that the escalation in tensions between Islam
and the West stemmed from American and European foreign and economic
policies reflected in their siding with Israel, supporting
globalization, and waging war on global terrorism.
They asserted that,
"observing this conflict...between Islam and the Muslims who follow
righteousness, on one side, and heresy and its forces, on the other
side, will expose the identity of the enemy and its flag [ideology],
which developed after the rise of what is called the new world order,
the Madrid and Oslo conventions, other conventions held in America and
Sharm Al-Sheik [Egypt], and the criminal war against Muslims called
the war on terror.
Thus, the genuine hatred and the nature of this
conflict between the camp of Islam and the camp of ahl al-dhimma - the
Jews and Christian Crusaders, and the hypocrites who follow them [Arab
leaders] - becomes clear."3
The confrontation between Islam and the West is considered a
zero-sum game, the outcome of which is to be the absolute and total
victory of Islam in the twenty-first century. In his public message to
the Muslim world on the occasion of the holiday of Eid al-Adha
(February 19, 2002), Hamas leader Ahmad Yassin clearly justified the
jihad against the U.S. in Muslim and Arab countries on the
basis of Islamic law.
Jihad against America is a positive
commandment in every respect and is the realization of "the right of
self-defense" against "the Crusaders' war" and the terrorist war waged
by the United States against the nation of Islam in Afghanistan and
against the Islamic jihad movements in the world. Yassin
emphasized that jihad has a defined goal, which is to "bring
Islam to a dominant global position and release it from the hegemony
of America and its Zionist allies."
He encouraged Muslims to perform
jihad and to prepare for an extended battle against the U.S.,
promising that the current century, the twenty-first, is the "Islamic
century, the century of liberation, victory, and the fulfillment of
The Future Conquest of Rome and All of Europe
Similarly, the prominent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi,
the Qatari-based spiritual authority for the worldwide Muslim
Brotherhood, issued an Islamic ruling that, despite the pessimism
among Muslims, Islam will definitely prevail and eventually become
master of the entire world.5
the signs of Islamic victory will be the conquest of the Italian
capital, Rome, by the Muslims. Occupying Europe and defeating
Christianity will become possible, according to al- Qaradawi, with the
spread of Islam inside Europe until it becomes strong enough to take
over the whole continent. Al-Qaradawi asserts that "the signs of
salvation are absolute, numerous, and as plain as day, indicating that
the future belongs to Islam and that Allah's religion will defeat all
He relies on ancient Islamic traditions quoting the
Prophet Muhammad, who allegedly argued that the conquest of
Constantinople (Istanbul) and then Romia (Rome) are considered signs
of the victory of Islam. Al-Qaradawi wrote:
And Romia is the city we name Rome, the capital of Italy. The city
of Herqel [Constantinople] was conquered in 1453 by the young Ottoman,
aged 23, Muhammad Ibn Mourad, known by his nickname Muhammad the
Conqueror. Nowadays, the conquest of the other city Romia [Rome]
Namely, Islam will return once more to Europe as
a conqueror and as a victorious power after it was expelled twice from
the continent....I assume that next time the conquest [of Europe] will
not be achieved by the sword [i.e., war] but by preaching (daawa) and
spreading the ideology [of Islam]....The conquest of Romia [Rome] and
the expansion of Islam will reach all the areas where the sun shines
and the moon appears [i.e., the entire world]....
That will be the
result of a planted seed and the beginning of the righteous
Caliphate's return....[The Islamic Caliphate] deserves to lead the
nation to the plains of victory.6
Al-Qaradawi's influence, it should be stressed, is widespread. His
religious rulings not only appear on the websites of Muslim
Brotherhood subsidiaries, like Hamas, but also on the websites of
Saudi-inspired groups fighting the U.S. in western Iraq and on the
websites of Chechen Islamists.
The State of Confrontation with the West
The state of confrontation with the West is considered by radical
Muslim scholars not as something predestined from God, which Muslims
have to endure until salvation, but as an opportunity to promote
Islamic awareness and to release themselves from Western dominance and
The first step to be taken from a religious perspective is to
define the United States, the leader of the free world, as an "enemy"
that is waging a "religious war" against Islam, and on this basis to
issue Islamic rulings that the U.S. and its allies belong to dar
al-harb (the realm of war). The command of jihad applies
not only to Muslims on the confrontation lines in the Muslim and Arab
worlds, but to all Muslims living in the areas of the enemy as well.
Al-Jarbou' has ruled that the current state of relations between Islam
and the West is to be expressed as one of total war against the
infidels. America, according his viewpoint, is not a regime with which
Islam can maintain normal relations until Islam becomes strong enough
to launch a jihad against it.
Nor is it a regime that deserves
the tolerant and peaceful attitude from Islam accorded to Christians
and Jews as protected minorities under Islamic rule (ahl
al-dhimma). Criticizing other Muslim scholars who "neglected their
duty" to define the state of relations with America as one of all-out
war, al-Jarbou' unequivocally that the definition of the U.S. as
dar al-harb obliges all Muslims to prepare in practice for the
war against the infidels.7
Another Saudi scholar, Salman bin Fahed al-'Auda, in his book The
End of History, asserts that the solution to Islamic distress - that
may bring about the fall of America and the Western world - "exists in
one word which is Jihad" (emphasis in original). According to
al-'Auda, the meaning of jihad is much broader than fighting
with a sword (the Islamic symbol of jihad).
Muslims throughout the world, he wrote: "We should not simplify this
issue and narrow its meaning to a restricted military battle in one of
the Islamic regions or even to an all-out war against the West, which
is possible and predicted and we assume is arriving [emphasis
added]." He continues: "Life as a whole is a battlefield. The weapons
are not only the rifle, the bullet, the airplane, the tank, and the
cannon. Not at all! Thinking is a weapon, the economy is a weapon,
money is a weapon, water is a weapon, planning is a weapon, unity is a
weapon, and so there are many types of weapons."8
In The End of History, al-'Auda
concluded that the West by itself was already in an advanced state of
decay: "The West, and above all the United States, and Western
culture, in general are undergoing a historical process that is
deterministic. This process leads to its total collapse, sooner or
later." His jihad was intended to accelerate that collapse.
During the 1990s, he was regarded as the most influential preacher in
Civilians in Infidel States Deserve to Die
Islamic law concerning the state of war between Islam and the West
also requires Islamic scholars to deal with issues regarding the laws
of war and the definition of "combatants" and "non-combatants." The
innovation observed in Islamic religious rulings issued by radical
Muslim scholars in recent years refers to a broadening of the
definition of "combatants" who deserve death in jihad to all
residents living in infidel states.
The laws of war are considered to
apply to all civilians and they are perceived in the same way as
soldiers fighting on the battlefield. Such a position cancels the
right of Jews and Christians to receive protection under Islam and
from a religious perspective turns all Western civilians into
It relies on various religious arguments: Imitating the
way of life and behavior of the Prophet Muhammad in his policy toward
ahl al-dhimma, reacting on the basis of retaliation, and
excluding Jews and Christians from the definition of monotheism and
re-defining them as polytheists.
On June 28, 2002, 28 scholars from the Al-Azhar Institute in Egypt
determined that killing large numbers of Israeli civilians in
Palestinian suicide bombing attacks was the "noblest act of
They justified killing Jews by arguing that Israel is a
racist, military state that took Muslim land illegally by force.
Muslims have, therefore, the right under Islamic law to rise up in
jihad against the occupation in order to liberate their lands.
The Al-Azhar scholars argued that in conducting jihad there is
no need to make any distinction between soldiers and civilians.
The correct distinction has to be made between peace-seekers (Muslims) and
warmongers (Jews), and between the attackers (Jews) and the attacked
(Muslims). Following this religious outlook, the Jews are robbers of
Islamic land who contaminate the sacred sites of Islam and, therefore,
they have been defined as "combatants, no matter what kind of clothes
In April 2002, Sheikh Hamed al-Ali, a lecturer on Islamic culture
in Kuwait and one of the leaders of the radical Salafi
stream,11 clarified in a religious
ruling the circumstances in which it is permitted to kill civilians in
the cause of jihad without violating the Prophet Muhammad's
command prohibiting the murder of women and children. These include:
a. Participation in war - For civilians "who knowingly
take part in combat or advise and encourage others to do so, etc., the
prohibition against killing them does not apply and it is permitted to
kill them in war....
It should be noted that an army involved in modern
warfare also includes soldiers who are non-combatants, some of whom
serve in combat support roles and without whom conducting a war would
not be possible. For example there are those who operate computers
which manage military activities; military personnel involved in
strategic planning; reserve forces who supervise mobilization of
soldiers and prepare them for battle, if only on an administrative
level; intelligence personnel, etc.
All are included in the fate of
those who encourage war against Muslims, and it is permitted to
intentionally kill them in battle." According to al-Ali, all citizens
of Israel are to be considered combatants because of Israel's
compulsory military service law, which includes women, in addition to
the fact that its general population is party to government policy due
to the taxes it pays and its participation in elections.
b. Collateral damage to civilians during attacks on
military targets - "When Muslims are forced to launch an all-out
attack on enemies or bomb them from a distance and this may cause the
death of women, children, and other civilians, it is imperative to
ensure that they are not killed intentionally. However, if they are
killed during such attacks, killing them does not constitute a
In a similar vein, Sheikh Suliman bin Nasser al-Ulwan, a Saudi
scholar, issued a ruling on May 18, 2001, which defined the suicide
attacks against the "exploitive Jews" in "Palestine" and against the
"aggressive Christians" in Chechnya as "acts of self-sacrifice
according to the way of Allah," and are therefore legitimate means of
warfare from a religious perspective." He is cited in a December 2001,
al-Qaeda videotape when a visiting Saudi tells Osama bin Laden that he
is bringing "a beautiful fatwa" from al-Ulwan.
Sheikh al-Ulwan argued that it is not prohibited to kill children
as a consequence of suicide actions if the perpetrator of such an
action had no premeditative intent to kill them. Nevertheless,
al-Ulwan includes "all the Jews in Palestine" in his definition of
"combatants," adding that, "If jihad fighters are not able to
kill combatants [only] without [also] killing children [who are with
them], there is no problem in such cases if they [the children] are
In this context, al-Ulwan provides religious legitimacy for
blowing up buildings "on the Jews' heads" indiscriminately and
permitting the murder of Jewish women, who serve in the military and
take part in the "aggression" by the very fact of being part of the
"plundering" of Muslim lands, and because of their "moral
His impact has
reached beyond the borders of Saudi Arabia. For example, al-Ulwan's
writings have been found in schools belonging to Hamas in the Gaza
Strip. Thus, one of the major al-Qaeda spiritual leaders has been
influencing the development of religious and political thinking of the
Palestinians as well.
A more decisive approach to ordering the indiscriminate killing of
Jews is presented by the learned Saudi cleric Muhammad Saleh
al-Munajjid in a fatwa issued in April 2003: "The Jews
distorted the religion of Allah...murdered the prophets and denied the
existence of Allah; they are intriguers, frauds, and
traitors...bringing corruption to Muslim communities...set fire to the
Al-Aqsa Mosque...desecrated the Quran...committed massacres; so how is
it possible for Muslims not to rejoice at murdering the infidel,
Moreover, Allah will satisfy his believers by
destroying and exterminating them all. This is our right as Muslims as
was promised by our Prophet....Allah will bring us to defeat and
master them according to the Islamic tradition: Fight the Jews and
defeat them until the rock says: 'O Muslim, there is a Jew behind me,
come and kill him!'"14
All those involved in fighting Muslims, both Christians and Jews,
are regarded as "combatants" in Muslim eyes. However, a particularly
negative status is reserved for Jews, who are regarded as the source
of all evil not only in the context of the current Israeli-Palestinian
conflict but due to their "inherent characteristics" and the "danger
they embody to mankind."
In a statement issued in December 2002 to
"enlighten young Muslims," the Hamas movement describes Jews in wholly
anti-Semitic terms in a way that divests them of any vestige of
humanity. Jews are described as a nation of "despicable lowlifes,"
"traitors," and "liars" who are "arrogant," "corrupt," and "cursed,"
who include other gods in their beliefs and distort the Holy
The Jews are accused of attempting to murder the prophet
Muhammad, of seditiously creating the religious conflict that resulted
in the split between the Shia and the Sunni, of the murder of Ali
(founder of the Shia), and of supporting the collapse of the Ottoman
The document ends with an appeal to Muslim youth warning
that "the Jews control the centers of power in the world," "spread
lechery and abomination," "are behind all current and past wars," and
are responsible for "almost all corruption and perversion that occurs
in the Muslim world."15
A similar description of the characteristics of the Jewish nation
can be found in a sermon given by the imam of the central mosque in
Mecca, Sheikh Abd al-Rahman al-Sudays, in May 2002, describing the
Jews as "infidels," "calf-worshippers," "prophet-murderers," who even
"tried to kill the prophet Muhammad," "distorters of prophecies," the
"scum of humanity," "corrupt," 'treacherous," and "conniving."
He prayed to God saying: "I wish the enemies of Islam and Muslims, the
Jews, the pagans and other corrupted people, will be
humiliated....Allah, exercise your power against the Jews. Allah,
destroy them with sharpened tools and take them out of Al-Aqsa
One of al-Qaeda's leaders, identified by his nickname, Abu Ayman
al-Hilali, in an article published in the periodical Al-Ansar,
defined the U.S., Britain, France, Italy, Canada, Germany, and
Australia as "enemies," while praising the mass-murder attacks
committed by al-Qaeda operatives in the U.S., Tunisia, Yemen, Bali,
Moscow, and elsewhere. He justified killing Western civilians in these
attacks for the following reasons:
a. The citizens in democratic Western countries become full
participants in governmental decision-making by voting in elections
and therefore they are no longer considered "non-combatants" as in
b. The citizens in Western countries are full participants in the war
their governments are waging against Islam. Their designation by
al-Qaeda as "targets" was a reaction to the aggressive policies of
their governments. Al-Hilali asserted that even those in the West who
oppose their governments' policies have no immunity from al-Qaeda's
jihad since they are a small minority without real influence
and cannot be distinguished during the commission of
Democracy: The Religion of the Infidels
Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, leader of the Bayat al-Imam extremist group
whose operatives were arrested in Jordan in 1995, takes a further step
in his book Democracy is a Religion in denying the traditional
protection given by Islam to Jews and Christians.
"combatants" and infidels and lose their status of ahl al-dhimma not
only because of their participation in elections, but as a result of
their endorsement of democracy and its values. For al-Maqdisi,
democracy is a prohibited innovation that contradicts Islamic values
and embodies a new heretical religion.
Its followers are "infidels"
and "polytheists," even if they consider themselves as Jews or
Christians by religion. Al-Maqdisi based his claim on the following
a. "Democracy gives legitimacy to the legislation
of the masses or to the despotic regime. It is not [the expression of]
the rule of Allah....Allah ordered his Prophet to execute the commands
given to him and forbade him to follow the emotions of the nation, the
masses, and the people."
b. "Democracy is the rule of the masses or the rule of
paganism, which is conducted according to a constitution [written by
humans] and not according Allah's laws....It [democracy] has become
the mother of laws and is considered [by the masses] as a holy book.
The religion of democracy has no relation to Quranic verses or the
Prophet's way of life and it is not possible to legislate according to
them unless they are compatible with the holy book [the
c. "Democracy is an outcome of despicable secularism and its
illegitimate daughter, since secularism is a heretical school striving
to separate religion from state and government."
Al-Maqdisi concludes: "Democracy is a religion that is not Allah's
religion....It is the rule of paganism...it is a religion which
includes other gods in its belief...the people represented in the
religion of democracy by its delegates in the parliament...who are
actually standing idols and false gods placed in their chapels and
their pagan fortresses, namely, their legislative councils. They and
their followers rule according to the religion of democracy and the
constitution's laws upon which the government is based, and according
to the paragraphs of their legislation....Their master is their God,
their big idols who approve or reject legislation. He is their emir,
their king, or their president."18
Debating Islamic Retaliation: 4 Million or 10 Million American Deaths?
As noted, radical Islamic scholars rely in their rulings on the
principle of retaliation while justifying indiscriminate mass murder
of Christians. Suliman Abu Ghaith, a prominent al-Qaeda leader, in his
famous series of public letters entitled Under the Shade of the
Lances and directed at Muslim youth, listed the crimes of the U.S.
against the Arab and Muslim world.
He argued that the U.S. is
responsible directly and indirectly, in its long-lasting war on Islam,
for the death of four million Muslims, including 1.2 million Iraqis,
260,000 Palestinians (as a result of its support for Israel), 12,000
Afghans and Arab fighters, 13,000 Somalis, and millions more
throughout the world.
From his perspective, al-Qaeda's attacks in
Washington and New York in September 2001 are not enough to balance
the equation of killing. Basing his claims on the Islamic principle of
retaliation, Abu Ghaith argues that Muslims have the right to kill
four million Americans, including one million children, to displace
eight million Americans, and to cripple hundreds of thousands more.
Moreover, Abu Ghaith asserts that Muslims are religiously entitled to
use chemical and biological weapons in their war against the U.S.19
Nasser bin Hamed al-Fahd, another prominent Saudi Salafi scholar, in
an Islamic ruling published in May 2003, approved the use of weapons
of mass destruction against America.
He also based his indictment on
the principle of retaliation, but argued that Muslims have the right
to kill ten million Americans in response to the crimes of their
government against the Muslim nation. Al-Fahd elaborated the
circumstances under which it is religiously permitted to kill
During a military operation when it is hard
to distinguish between soldiers and civilians and according to
military needs or considerations. Ascribing great importance to the
military considerations, he asserted that the military leaders who are
responsible for the execution of jihad have the authority to
make the decisions concerning what types of weapons to use against the
infidels. If they decided to use weapons of mass destruction based on
military need, it would be an obligation under Islamic law.20
Similarly, radical Muslim scholars have justified the killing of
2,750 civilians in al-Qaeda's September 2001 attacks. A senior
al-Qaeda operative named Saif al-Din al-Ansari argued in his book
The September 11th Attack that the killing of thousands of
civilians in the suicide attacks did not go beyond the "special
circumstances" in which Muslims are religiously permitted to kill
These attacks were justified because they were
conducted according to the principle of retaliation as well as the
Islamic religious principle that permits the killing of civilians when
necessary in order to destroy the enemy's fortresses, when it is
impossible to differentiate between military and civilians.21 Support for this position has also been
expressed by Saudi Islamic scholars Hamud bin Uqla al-Shuaibi and Ali
a. Hamud bin Uqla al-Shuaibi referred to the
September attacks in his Islamic ruling as follows: "Any decisions
taken by the American infidel state, particularly those dealing with
war and other critical decisions, are taken based upon public opinion
surveys or representatives' voting in their infidel legislatures.
These legislatures represent primarily the people's
opinion....Therefore, any American citizen who voted for the war is
considered a combatant or at least an accessory [to the
b. The Saudi Sheikh Ali al-Khudier wrote in another Islamic
ruling: "We should not regret the deaths of civilians in the Twin
Towers attack since the American is an infidel because of his
connection to his government. He fights for it, supports it with
money, opinions or advice, and this is the type of their political
regime. Therefore, they deserved what they experienced, since their
fighting, support, and opinions deserve punishment."23
Advocating Total Extermination of Islam's Enemies
Al-Qaeda has adopted a broader interpretation of the religious
command concerning the killing of infidels. It is considered an
absolute command that does not depend on political circumstances, the
need or will to take revenge, or a wish to liberate Muslim lands from
Saif al-Din al-Ansari, in an article in al-Qaeda's
official periodical, presented the new, comprehensive concept of total
extermination of Islam's enemies based on the Quranic verse: "And that
He may purge those who believe and deprive the unbelievers of
blessings" (Al-Imran, 142).
According to al-Ansari, this is the way
Allah deals with infidels, who are doomed throughout history to total
extermination through various types of death, as was the fate of the
people of Noah, Hod, Saleh, Lot, Midian, and Pharaoh.
asserted that the extermination of infidels is a permanent Islamic law
and unchangeable fate for infidels that is as relevant today as it was
in past generations. According to al-Ansari, "Just as the law of
extermination was applied to the infidel forces among the nations in
previous days and no one could escape it, so it will be applied to the
infidel forces in our day and no one will escape it.
to the fate of the Thamoud and 'Ad peoples [two pagan Arab peoples
which, according to Islamic tradition, were exterminated due to their
rejection of the words of the Prophet], so the American state, the
Jewish state, and all other infidel countries will certainly be
Al-Ansari further developed his concept of total extermination in a
subsequent article. First, he firmly criticized the Islamic movements
that raise the banner of daawa (Islamic preaching) and support the
gradual spread of Islam through education, social organizations, and
the economy as the preferred means to bring about the victory of Islam
over other religions. He asserts that Allah has the power and might to
subdue the infidels and to exterminate them by his will. However, He
has not done so because of His wish to designate this task to Muslims.
Al-Ansari relies on the Quranic verse: "Fight them, Allah will
punish them by your hands and bring them to disgrace [meaning that
Allah will kill the infidels], and assist you against them and heal
the hearts of a believing people" (Al-Tawba, 14).
The key word in this
verse is "by your hands," which indicates the great importance Allah
attributes to the physical action of the infidels' extermination. This
is even more substantial than the daawa in executing the command of
jihad, since the daawa, as important as it might be, could not
fulfill God's commandment for extermination.
Al-Ansari wrote: "Allah is capable of exterminating his enemies
with no need for intermediaries or the help of anyone. His might is
infinite...therefore, when He [Allah] designates the task of
extermination of infidels to his believers, He does so as a hidden
expression of His power...the infidels' extermination is part of
Islamic law, which is operative until the Day of Judgment. Its
principal element will be fulfilled only at the hands of the
believers, meaning through jihad, which is also to be operative
until the Day of Judgment.25
2. Abd al-Aziz al-Jarbou', Al-Ta'asil li-Mashrou'iyah Ma
Hasals Li-Amrica Min Tadmir, Nov. 2001, p. 19-22 ("The Eighth
Foundation" chapter). See also Saif al-Din al-Ansari, Al-Harb
Al-Mu'asirah, January 2002.
5. For background on Qaradawi, see Reuven Paz, "Sheikh Dr. Yousef
al-Qaradawi: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," Policywatch, Washington
Institute for Near East Policy, October 18, 2001.
7. Abd al-Aziz al-Jarbou', Al-Ta'asil, p. 72-73.
9. Mamoun Fandy, Saudi Arabia and the Politics of Dissent
(New York: Palgrave, 1999).
11. Salafi - A follower of the Prophet Muhammad's immediate
successors, the pious ancestors (al-salaf al-salihin). Salafi
movements have sought to restore Islam on the basis of its
seventh-century teachings - that is, Islam as it was under the Prophet
Muhammad and his immediate successors. Salafis usually belong to one
of several groups, most notably the Muslim Brotherhood and the
In this context, see also
17. Abu Ayman al-Hilali, "Risalah Al-Imam Wa-Malamih
Al-Khuttah Al-Mustaqbalia," Al-Ansar, vol. 21, Nov. 20,
2002, pp. 17-22.
18. Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Al-Dimouqratia Din.
http://almaqdese.com/c?c=1.1 Ali al-Khudeir defined secularism as
"shirk" (polytheism). Ali bin Khudeir al-Khudeir, Al-Qawa'id
Al-'Arba' Al-lati Tufariq Bayna Al-Muslimin Wa-Din Al-'ilmiyeen,
al-Quaim, Saudi Arabia.
http://www.saaid.net/Warathah/khudier/kh3.zip. See also Abu
al-Saed al-'amili, "Al-Dimoqratia: wsilah Li-'ihtiwa Al-Tayyar
Al-'islami," Al-Ansar, Vol. 23, December 19, 2002, pp.
20. Nasser bin Hamed al-Fahd, Risalah Fi 'istikhdam 'asliha
Al-Dammar Al-Shamil Did Al-Kuffar, May 2003.
21. Saif al-Din al-Ansari, Ghazwa 11 Sebtember, September
2002, pp. 10-12.
24. Saif al-Din al-Ansari, "Wa-Yimhaq Al-kafirin,"
Al-Ansar, vol. 15, Aug. 10, 2002, pp. 4-8.
25. Saif al-Din al-Ansari, "Yi'adhibuhoum Allah Bi-'aydikum,"
Al-Ansar, vol. 16, Aug. 24, 2002, pp. 4-9.
Who's Who Among Radical Islamic Thinkers
- A Glossary
Hamed al-Ali - Kuwaiti scholar (in his 40s). Serves as
lecturer and preacher. Graduated al-Madina University in Saudi Arabia.
Published Islamic verdicts justifying suicide attacks committed by
Palestinians against Israelis.
Saif al-Din al-Ansari (nom de guerre) - Senior al-Qaeda
leader and ideologist. Expresses support for total extermination of
infidels through jihad for the sake of Allah.
Salman bin Fahed al-'Auda - Prominent Saudi scholar. Born in
Baser (Buraida, Saudi Arabia) in 1956. Serves as Islamic researcher,
lecturer and preacher. Runs the Islamic website www.islamtoday.net.
Arrested by Saudi security services in 1994 for his radical views and
jailed until 1999. Al-'Auda considers jihad against the U.S. in
Muslim countries as justified self-defense in reaction to American
occupation. He attributes great importance to the daawa (spreading
Islam by education and preaching).
Nasser bin Hamed al-Fahd - Saudi scholar. Born in 1968 in
Riyadh (Saudi Arabia). Graduated Al-Imam University in Riyadh. Served
as lecturer in Islamic affairs. Jailed by Saudis 1994-1997. Al-Fahd
published articles and religious edicts supporting the Taliban regime
in Afghanistan and denouncing Muslims who cooperated with the U.S. In
May 2003 he justified use of weapons of mass destruction against the
U.S. as a retaliatory measure.
Along with Ali al-Khudeir and Ahmed
al-Khaldi, he incited to commit attacks against Westerners and openly
supported the Riyadh bombings. In May 2003 he was rearrested by the
Saudi security services and charged with advocating violence in
sermons in mosques and on the Internet. Under pressure by Saudi
authorities, which began cracking down on militants believed
responsible for a string of attacks in Saudi Arabia, al-Fahd renounced
militancy and attacks against innocent people inside Saudi Arabia in
an interview on Saudi TV (November 2003).
He focused on the past
tendency of clerics to widely use the doctrine of takfir,
charging that Muslims have become infidels and should be treated
Suliman Abu Ghaith - Born in the 1970s in Kuwait. Former religious studies teacher. Serves as al-Qaeda's spokesperson. He left Kuwait in 2000. Abu Ghaith was stripped of his citizenship after he called for retaliation against the U.S. during the war in Afghanistan. He is considered as one of Osama bin Laden's closest associates.
Abu Ayman al-Hilali (nom de guerre) - Senior al-Qaeda leader and ideologist. Supports uncompromising jihad against infidels and religiously justifies mass killings of Western civilians.
Abd al-Aziz al-Jarbou' - Saudi scholar. Published religious edicts justifying jihad against the U.S. and al-Qaeda's attack on the U.S. in September 2001. Considered a supporter of al-Qaeda's terrorist global network. Arrested in 2003 by Saudi security services.
Ali al-Khudeir - Saudi scholar. Born in 1954 in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia). Graduated Al-Imam University in Qusaim. Hamud bin Uqla al-Shuaibi, one of his teachers (see below), had great influence on shaping his Islamic views. Al-Khudeir published articles and religious edicts supporting the Taliban regime in Afganistan including the destruction of the Hindu statues, as a part of jihad against the infidels.
He religiously justified al-Qaeda's attack on the U.S. in September 2001. Along with Nasser al-Fahd and Ahmed al-Khaldi, he incited to commit attacks against Westerners and openly supported the Riyadh bombings. He was arrested by the Saudi security services and charged with advocating violence in sermons in mosques and on the Internet.
Under pressure from Saudi authorities, which began cracking down on militants believed responsible for a string of attacks in Saudi Arabia, in an interview on Saudi TV (November 2003), al-Khudeir reversed his religious edicts justifying attacks against innocent people including Westerners under regime protection inside Saudi Arabia and encouraging Saudi youth to join the jihad in Iraq and Afghanistan. Like Nasser al-Fahd, he focused on limiting the application of takfir, which had largely internal implications.
Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi - Palestinian scholar (born in Nablus), living in Jordan. Al-Maqdisi was involved in directing Islamist terrorist groups in Jordan under various names - Bay'at al-Imam, Jaysh Muhammad, Al-Islah wal-Tahaddi - along with the Islamic Movement for Change, which carried out the terrorist attack in Riyadh in November 1995 in which five American officials were killed. He was imprisoned between 1995 and 1999 and detained again in the recent wave of arrests of Islamists in Jordan.
Muhammad Saleh al-Munajjid - Saudi scholar. Born in 1961. Graduated Saudi University in Dhahran. The late grand mufti, Abd al-Aziz al-Baz, was one of his teachers, who had great influence in shaping his views. Serves as Islamic researcher and preacher.
Yusuf al-Qaradawi - Prominent Islamic scholar and well-known preacher. Born in Egypt (1926), lives in Qatar. Known as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Qaradawi heads the Sunni studies department at Qatar University. He was the first Sunni Muslim scholar to give religious legitimacy to the suicide operations of Hamas (1995), and to the participation of women in suicide attacks. Qaradawi has generally defended bin Laden as a representative and defender of oppressed Muslims against the "American and Zionist evilness," even though he condemned the attacks on American soil against innocent civilians.
Hamud bin Uqla al-Shuaibi - Prominent and influential Saudi
scholar. Born in 1927 in al-Shiqqa (Buraida, Saudi Arabia), died in
2001. Lost his eyesight in the age of 9 as a result of disease.
Learned Islamic studies and law. Served as teacher of Islamic affairs.
His students included a number of important Saudi religious leaders,
including the current grand mufti.
Al-Shuaibi published religious
edicts supporting the Taliban regime in Afghanistan including the
destruction of the Hindu statues, as part of jihad against the
He religiously justified al-Qaeda's attack on the U.S. in
September 2001 and gave religious legitimacy to the suicide attacks
against Israel carried out by Palestinians. In October 2001, bin Laden
cited al-Shuaibi when he spoke of his justification for killing Jews
Abd al-Rahman al-Sudays - Imam of the central mosque in Mecca.
Well-known for his radical Islamic views and ardent
preaching against the infidels.
Suliman bin Nasser al-Ulwan - Saudi scholar. Born in 1969 in
Buraida. Serves as lecturer and preacher. Published religious edict
justifying the Palestinian suicide attacks against Israeli civilians.
In 2001 he stated that the attacks on the World Trade Center were an
act of jihad.
Ahmad Yassin - Palestinian religious leader; born in 1937 in
Ashkelon (today in southern Israel); worked as teacher, preacher, and
community worker; completely paralyzed following an accident in his
youth; founder of the Islamic Center in Gaza in 1973, which soon
controlled all religious institutions; founder and spiritual leader of
Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, and its military wing, Izz
al-Dinn al-Qassam, which is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of
Israelis in terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings, since the
An Israeli court convicted Yassin in 1989 of ordering Hamas
members to kidnap and kill two Israeli soldiers. He was released from
jail in 1997 to appease Jordan after Israel's failed attempt to
assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Mashal in Amman.
Yassin opposed the
previously signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinian
Authority, and maintains that eliminating Israel and the establishment
of an Islamic state in Palestine is a religious duty.
Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi is a researcher of the Middle East and
radical Islam and an advisor on Arab affairs in the Israeli Foreign
Minister's office. His previous writings include "Understanding the
Breakdown of Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations," Jerusalem Viewpoints
#486 (September 15, 2002) and "Who is Taking Credit for Attacks on the
U.S. Army in Western Iraq? Al-Jama'a al-Salafiya al-Mujahida"
Jerusalem Issue Brief #3-3 (August 5, 2003). The views expressed here
do not necessarily reflect those of the IDF or the Israel Ministry of
The Jerusalem Letter and Jerusalem Letter/Viewpoints are published
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (http://www.jcpa.org).
This article is archived as VP508, December 2003.
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