New Radical Islamic Thinking Justifying Genocide 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 al-Khudeir.
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 potential."4
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
One of 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 other religions."
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] remains unfulfilled.
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).
Appealing to 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 Saudi Arabia.9
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 "combatants."
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 they wear."10
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 sin."12
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 corruption."13
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 Scriptures."
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 Caliphate.
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 Mosque.">16
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 past wars.
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 attacks.17
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.
They become "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 arguments:
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 constitution]."
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 non-combatant Americans:
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 al-Khudeir.
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 war]."22
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.
Al-Ansari 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.
Namely, similar 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 destroyed."24
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 Wahhabis.
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. 25-30.
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 accordingly.
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 infidels.
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 and Christians.
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 Foreign Affairs.
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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