By Bernard Haykel, an associate professor of Islamic studies at New York University, is the author of ’’Revival and Reform in Islam.’’ and Saud al-Sarhan, a Saudi Arabia-based analyst of Islamist groups (THE NEW YORK TIMES, 12/09/06):
NEARLY every organ of the American news media marked the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11 yesterday. But the Web sites affiliated with many of militant jihadism’s top thinkers, including Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi and Sulayman al-Alwan, remained silent. That shouldn’t surprise us: the Salafi strain of Islam, to which most jihadis subscribe, prohibits commemorating anniversaries.
Celebrations other than the holidays of Id al-Fitr and Id al-Adha are considered reprehensible adaptations of non-Muslim ways. What’s more, the jihadis normally use the lunar calendar, by which the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, fell on July 19.
Perhaps more remarkable was the fact that this year, a number of Web sites affiliated with Al Qaeda did commemorate the day — no doubt because they knew Americans would. Osama bin Laden and his associates have generally referred to the Sept. 11 attacks as ”the attacks on Manhattan,” ”the invasion of Manhattan” or the ”attacks of Jumada,” the lunar month in which they occurred. But this year, a number of jihadi sites have referred instead to Sept. 11.
Some messages yesterday were clearly meant for Western consumption, reminding the United States that Al Qaeda is still active and bent on future attacks, and even posting images overlaid with threats in English.
What follow are excerpts, translated from the Arabic, from texts posted on jihadi Web sites about the anniversary.
A jihadi Web site associated with Al Qaeda posted the following plea beneath images of the American, Israeli and Danish flags. The text was interspersed with animated images of American company logos, including one with a row of praying Muslims dressed as Coca-Cola bottles.
With God’s help and yours, let us make the fifth anniversary of the events of Sept. 11 the beginning of a boycott of all Zionist-American products that are sold in Arab and Muslim countries. Many continue to buy these products despite all they see and hear about the killing, torture and destruction that Muslims are faced with due to the Crusader and Zionist-American war. Let us boycott these products because we do not need them, nor are they to be considered absolute necessities. Here is a list of the companies and products that should be boycotted: Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble, Nike, Mars, McDonald’s ”Pepsi” stands for ”Pay Every Penny to Save Israel.”
I’m against America even if it turns this life into a paradise
I’m against America even if a mufti issues a fatwa in its favor from within the glorious Kaaba
I’m with Osama no matter where he might be, so long as he carries a banner on the battle front
I’m with Osama whether he gains a quick victory or attains the rank of the martyrs.
A submission to a Qaeda Web site called for readers to sign their names to the following statement:
In the name of God the merciful and the compassionate, Monday morning is the fifth anniversary of the glorious attacks on New York and Washington accomplished by the 19 heroes of the Muslim community — may God have mercy on them and raise them to the highest rank for their sacrifice. They pressed America’s nose into the ground and allowed the whole world to witness the destruction of its economic and military citadels. In so doing, they crushed the myth with which America had terrorized the world, namely that it was the greatest power on earth and no one was strong enough to confront, let alone make an enemy, of it.
That day changed the world, even by the admission of our enemies, and created a world divided into two camps, as our sheik and leader Osama bin Laden — may God protect him — has stated: ”A camp of belief and another camp of hypocrisy and disbelief.” Choose for yourself, o Muslim, which camp to belong to: that of belief, Islam and jihad under the banner of the holy warriors or that of hypocrisy and unbelief under the banner of America, the crusading West and those hypocrites who have banded with them. Our congratulations to all and we beseech God to show us in America another black day like that blessed Tuesday.
A poster calling himself Abu Lujayn Ibrahim contributed the following to a Saudi site that often posts jihadi material but is not controlled by Al Qaeda.
The text was interspersed with gruesome photographs of dead and mutilated children in the Middle East.
Before my eyes is a veil that does not permit me to see those killed in the twin towers, nor to remember them on this day. Indeed, I don’t see those killed in the twin towers nor remember them on this day! Do you know why?
Because their fallen are not purer or better than our fallen. And because the blood of my Muslim brothers and that of my family in Palestine and in Iraq and in Afghanistan and in every location in which Muslim blood is shed has blocked my vision filled my retinas with black lines so that I can see only our martyrs and injured being slain by America’s weapons and its support . Yes, Sept. 11 is the anniversary of the fall of American arrogance into history’s garbage dump, and of the rebellion against injustice.
Hamid ibn Abdallah al-Ali is a Kuwaiti ideologue of jihadism — the only Qaeda intellectual to have posted a text specifically for the Sept. 11 anniversary. The sheik cites an article by Leonard Peikoff, heir and executor to Ayn Rand, that appeared as an advertisement in The New York Times shortly after the 9/11 attacks.
In his article ”End States that Sponsor Terrorism,” Leonard Peikoff, one of the leading ideologues of American extremism, concluded that America’s policy of appeasement toward the Muslim world led to Sept. 11. For 50 years, he writes, American administrations have relinquished their true ownership rights over Muslim oil resources, which they discovered and developed the technology to extract. The solution, according to Mr. Peikoff, is for the United States to eliminate the states that sponsor terrorism with the most lethal weapons at its disposal.
This is exactly the kind of rotten thinking that animates those living in the extreme west of the globe, from where they spread their rot to the rest of the world — these politicians of underdevelopment, criminality and mass extermination of humanity. This is the arrogance of fascism, of which Bush has accused Muslims recently: in this case it is the fascism of the cross standing on the tribunes of oil. In short, it means that they own our oil that is in our land; they own our blood, which they can shed at will; they own our present and future, and they have the right to change our history and our education!
Hunger, disease, thirst and regional wars instigated by poverty all stem from the greed of the West, its thirst for plunder and desire to control the world’s wealth. These in turn lead to a rate of destruction every year that equals the destruction World War II effected over six years.
The mercenaries who dominate the World Trade Organization the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund the bloodsuckers of the world’s poor, the immiserators of nations and the thieves, murderers, shedders of blood: these are the ones who control the international political system. They are the ones who spread their armies throughout the world, terrorizing and stealing the wealth of nations while enslaving them. They are the ones who are exterminating the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and other places. They are the ones who ally themselves to the despotic rulers in order to suck the blood of the people, using companies that are owned by the leaders of their countries and headed by murderers and criminals.
This essay, called ”The Day Smoke and Dust Covered New York’s Sky,” was posted to a Qaeda-affiliated Web site:
What a beautiful morning it is today, an amazing morning when we witnessed this great power flailing in every direction as if it were a slaughtered headless animal.
Some believe that if Bush were to leave then the situation would improve and become stable. But the eternal truth is that there is no difference between Bush and the one who preceded him, or the one who will succeed him, and for a very simple reason: cloning is an inherent property of the American presidential personality. Every new president is a perfect copy of the previous one
Three children, 10 or 11 years old, who watched the recently released film ”United 93” at the theater zealously and gleefully cheered when the plane hit the tower, as if they were watching a goal being scored in a soccer match against an opposing team. What is it that makes these children so happy about this crash that they stand up and strongly applaud? Ask yourselves, oh Americans, what is it that made those 19 young men engage in such a legendary and miraculous act?
Naturally, you will not bother to investigate, because you are not concerned with the reasons, and even if you find the answer you are incapable of understanding it. Therefore, nothing will change, and your troops will continue to invade our lands in order to teach us lessons about the virtues of American freedom and the well-known methods for spreading them, like flushing the Quran down the toilet, or one of your soldiers’ stepping with his filthy foot on the face of a prisoner, having placed a metal chain like a dog leash around his neck, as we saw in Abu Ghraib.
You will witness anew men as brilliant as Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, and as determined as Muhammad Atta, whom you saw on the monitoring screens full of self-assurance in his blue shirt. Who knows, perhaps we will see another glorious day soon!