The New York Times



Despite its Detractors, the film, ‘The Rise of al-Qaeda’ has its Many Supporters

An Interfaith panel and several Muslim organizations are upset over the film, The Rise of al-Qaeda, depicting the September 11, 2001 terrorist attackers as Islamic jihadists. They do not want the world to believe the hijackers that carried out the heinous attacks against the United States were linked to al-Qaeda, a radical Islamist movement founded by Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1987. The 9/11 Memorial Museum, as per their website, represents “An educational and historical institution honoring the victims and examining 9/11 and its continued global significance.”

Nineteen jihadists were responsible for the 9/11 attacks–fifteen came from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates, one from Lebanon, and one from Egypt. Osama bin Laden, the planner, was indoctrinated by Wahhabi preachers–a fundamentalist Sunni Islam sect– having its origins in Saudi Arabia. Killing of infidels had become a justifiable act in the teachings of the Wahhabi doctrine. Osama bin Laden’s hatred of the United States took root in 1991, when the Saudi monarchy invited the U.S. to use their soil as a staging area for the military incursion into Kuwait to oust Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces. Bin Laden was upset that the Saudi government would allow American boots on their soil. As a result he declared a “jihad” against the United States, stating it was not permissible for infidels to step onto the sacred soil of the “Land of the Two Holy Mosques, Mecca and Medina.”

Osama bin Laden told CNN in March 1997 that “In our religion, it is not permissible for any non-Muslim to stay in our country.” Subsequently in February 1998 bin Laden issued his “fatwa”–an Islamic religious ruling—a declaration of war against the United States.

“The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it…” bin Laden stated. In August 1998 the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by al-Qaeda, killing 224 people.

Muhammad ibn Saud made a pact with the fundamentalist theologian Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab in 1744 to help defeat the weaker Bedouin tribes, amassing a large area of the Arabian Peninsula. In return Ibn Saud adopted the Wahhabi version of Islam as the official religious doctrine of the state. Wahhabi teachings justify armed jihad and adhere to the strict enforcement of Shariah law. In 1932 the al-Saud monarchy formed the sovereign state of Saudi Arabia, controlling over 80 percent of the region. Wahhabists have a major presence in Kuwait, Qatar, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Somalia, Sudan, and Mauritania.

After the ten year war with the Soviets in Afghanistan ended, the mujahedeen warlords started fighting among themselves. In the chaos thousands of Afghans fled to refugee camps in Pakistan, where students were indoctrinated by fundamentalist preachers in Saudi funded madrassas. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) assisted in military training of the students, who evolved into the Taliban movement. On their return to Afghanistan they defeated the corrupt warlords and soon enforced strict Shariah law. Under their regime modern-day radical Islam was born.

Saudi Arabia has financed over 4,000 mosques, religious schools, and cultural centers around the world. Across America there are over 2,000 mosques and Islamic centers, an increase of almost 50 percent since 2000, and over 100 percent since 1990. The radical teachings in many of the madrassas pulls away students from the study of Islamic theology and the humanitarian lessons on ethics, morals, virtues and justice, and cordons them off within a growing society of extremism and violence. The Daily Times in September 2005 described the madrassas as “The incubator of personalities that later lead Muslim society to extremism and violence…” Imams in the United States and Europe preach a form of Sunni fundamentalism practiced in Saudi Arabia that justifies armed jihad.

Islamic religious leaders have increased their negative rhetoric in recent years. During Ramadan in 2004, the U.S. embassy in Jeddah reported that Sheikh Usama Abdullah Khayat delivered a sermon in Mecca, preaching violence and attacks against Israel, stating: “O God, give wisdom to the Muslim leaders. O God, support our leader and promote Islam through him. O God, help the mujahidin elevate your religion and your word. O God, support them in Palestine. O God, destroy the tyrant Jews, for they are within your power. O God, defeat these tyrant Jews.” Similar sermons have emanated from Riyadh and Medina before, but had fallen short of explicitly mentioning the Jews.

In a September 2006 article “The Wahhabi Invasion of America,” writer Mark Silverberg noted that for American Muslim moderates the harsh reality of having their religion hijacked by Wahhabi radicals is something they have yet to confront. “Al-Qaeda ideology is essentially Wahhabism, and most, if not all members of al-Qaeda are ideologically Wahhabist.” He noted that former CIA Director James Woolsey told Congress, “Wahhabi extremism today is the soil in which al-Qaeda and its sister terrorist organizations are growing,” further noting that a Council on Foreign Relations report stated “Saudi Arabia is the largest source of financing for al-Qaeda…”

Seif Ashmawi, the deceased publisher of an Egyptian-American newspaper had noted, “Radical Islamic groups have now taken over leadership of the ‘mainstream’ Islamic institutions in the United States and anyone who pretends otherwise is deliberately engaging in self-deception.” Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted, “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaeda, the Taliban…and other terrorist groups. Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

There have been two generations of young men that have received radical teachings since Saudi Arabia built the vast network of madrassas, beginning in the 1980′s. Many of these young Muslims have grown up knowing only killing all around them, or the chance of being killed. Few have ever worked or even planned for the future. Their only thoughts have been of becoming a terrorist. Armed jihad had become a way of life! Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism shared with me the growth of radical Islam in the United States, noting that terrorist cells have grown rapidly since 1991. A map produced by his organization identified 127 training centers around the United States. “The way to gain influence among the Muslim community is to control the mosques — to control what people think — to have the right imam preach the right message,” he noted.

American born radical Islamic preacher Anwar al-Awlaki moved to Yemen in 2004 and developed a large following of young Muslims, who were incited to perform jihadist attacks. Richard Reid the British-born shoe bomber, Nigerian-born underwear bomber Umar Abdulmutallab, and U.S. military officer Nidal Hasan were among al-Awlaki’s followers. Although he was killed in September 2011 by a drone missile his radical teachings live on. The Saudi Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, now a deputy to al-Qaeda’s leader in Yemen, invented the underwear explosive device used in the attempt to blow up the jetliner in December 2009. He has recently come up with a newer non-detectable version.

While the influence of radical Islam is on the rise around the world, President Barack Obama continues to believe that with Osama bin Laden’s demise “Al-Qaeda is on the path to defeat.” Susan Rice the National Security Advisor echoes his remarks: “[We] got bin Laden, and al-Qaeda’s been dismantled.” In reality the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) is not over, as Islamist attacks continue globally. Islamic mosques and madrassas are increasingly teaching extreme interpretations of the religion, which presumably inspired the two Chechen-born terrorists, who undertook the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. With Osama bin Laden’s fatwa still in place, we can expect more jihadist attacks against the United States.

America has been very generous to immigrants from around the world, including myself who escaped from Nazi Germany. All immigrants should be proud of what the American flag stand for—freedom from oppression. Immigrants can preserve their culture and faith, but need to respect the American way of life. We all need to stand united against America’s enemies.

The 9/11 Memorial Museum exhibit depicts the attacks on America by al-Qaeda linked jihadists that murdered 3,000 innocent people. Similarly the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum depicts the murder of 6,000,000 Jews from 1933 to 1945 by the Nazi regime in Germany. Both are dark chapters in history, for future generations to understand, so they will never forget how easy it is to lose our freedom. We should not erase the true facts from the film about the radical Islamists that attacked America on September 11, 2001.