Online Fatwas Incite Young Muslims to Jihad October 26, 2006 memri In an article in the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh, columnist Fares bin Hazam reports that both preachers in mosques and online propaganda are inciting young Muslims to wage jihad.(1) An interview with a young Muslim who went to fight in Afghanistan, also in Al-Riyadh, provides first-hand testimony confirming this claim. The following are excerpts from the article and the interview: Saudi Columnist: Preachers in Mosques Urge Worshipers to Join the Jihad in Iraq and Afghanistan Bin Hazam writes in his article: “The business with Afghanistan will never end as long as the ‘duty of jihad’ continues to live in [our] society, in mosques, in Friday [sermons], and on the Internet… “After the fall of the Taliban and the subsequent Guantanamo crisis… there was increasing talk about the need to investigate our youth’s growing [inclination] towards jihad, and about the need to search for the reasons that motivate them to go to Afghanistan and to other countries… “The call to investigate these reasons is despicable; it is a tasteless joke. [One might think] that the reasons are unknown, that we are not aware of our situation [and need to conduct an] investigation in order to discover why [our young people] went forth and are still going forth [to wage jihad]… The reasons are obvious. Many of us know them, and there is no need for a scientific study or for any other [kind of study] to reveal them… “Since the causes are known, do we lack courage to deal with [this problem]? [I believe that] we do. Our lack of courage has been apparent ever since we invented the excuse of ‘external [influences],’ and began to toy with it and wave it at every opportunity. I do not know where these [external influences] come from, since it was we who sent our young men [to Afghanistan] in the first place, before we ever heard of [these influences] that allegedly come [from outside]. “Some preachers, [namely] those who fear the censor, deceive him by being implicit in their incitement to [wage] jihad in Iraq or Afghanistan. They speak in their sermons about the merits of jihad without mentioning a particular region. They speak in general terms that can be applied to any location, even to our [own] country. During the prayer, the details start to pour in thick and fast: first, [a call to wage jihad] in Palestine, [which serve as] a smokescreen, and then [calls for jihad] in Afghanistan, Iraq and Chechnya, and finally… the call ‘oh Allah, grant them victory everywhere!’ ‘Everywhere’ includes our [own] country… and we say ‘amen’ after the preacher calls [upon Allah] to help the mujahideen in our [own] country…” Saudi Released From Guantanamo: Fatwas Prompted Me to Join the Jihad Sa’d Ibrahim Al-Bidna, a young Saudi, traveled to Afghanistan with the aim of joining the jihad. He was arrested two months later, and spent four years and eight months at Guantanamo. In an interview with Al-Riyadh, he said that it was fatwas posted on the Internet that motivated him to wage jihad. Al-Riyadh: “Tell us of your journey, from [the time] you left Saudi Arabia until your return.” Al-Bidna: “I started this exhausting journey when I left Saudi Arabia on my own, motivated by youthful enthusiasm to [wage] jihad for the sake of Allah in Afghanistan. I traveled to Afghanistan through Syria and Iran. [When I arrived], war was being waged against the Taliban and things were not clear to me. So I decided to leave Afghanistan for Pakistan, and from there to return to Saudi Arabia. But [when I reached] Pakistan, I was arrested and turned over to the American forces. [They] imprisoned me in Guantanamo, [where I remained] until the Saudi authorities intervened and brought me back to Saudi Arabia after years of suffering…” Al-Riyadh: “Tell us about the beginning of your journey and the reasons [that motivated you] to set out for Afghanistan.” Al-Bidna: “Many may find it difficult to believe, but I was not very devout, though I did pray regularly. But enthusiasm and zeal filled the hearts of many young people, and unfortunately, I followed certain fatwas that were posted on the Internet. [These fatwas] call upon young people to wage jihad in certain regions. They tempt them [by describing] the great reward [they will receive], the status of the martyrs in Paradise and the virgins that await them [there]. These fatwas have great influence on young people who have no awareness or knowledge [that enables them] to examine them and verify their validity.” In Afghanistan, I Saw Muslims Fighting Muslims, and That is Why I Left Al-Riyadh: “When you came to Afghanistan, did you find the notion of jihad to be as you had imagined it…?” Al-Bidna: “When I arrived, the war against the Taliban was at its height. There were constant bombardments and things were not clear to me, especially since I was only there for two months. This is not enough time to understand how things really are. But what concerned me the most was that Muslims were fighting each other, and that is why I left [and went to] Pakistan for in jihad, a Muslim must never fight his Muslim brother.” Al-Riyadh: “Based on your experience, did you feel that there was no real jihad in Afghanistan?” Al-Bidna: “The [brief] period I spent there did not enable me see the full picture, and I did not have the knowledge to distinguish real jihad from other actions that are [only] called jihad. But I did see that there were devout people there. Some of them were young men who came [to Afghanistan] out of youthful enthusiasm and [due to their] scant religious knowledge, or were influenced by certain fatwas published by various religious scholars, or [were influenced by] by false images, which were not free of exaggeration, of the situation in Afghanistan. This was the kind of thing that prompted me to set out without informing or asking my family, and without considering the concept of legitimate jihad, its conditions and its rules.” Al-Riyadh: “Today, do you feel that you were wrong to set out [to Afghanistan], obeying some irresponsible fatwas?” Al-Bidna: “Of course. I [now] understand that I was wrong. I should have asked the leaders for permission to set out [and wage jihad], or religious scholars known for their knowledge and piety, of which there are many in our country…” Al-Riyadh: “Before you left for Afghanistan, was there anyone who urged you and encouraged you to go?” Al-Bidna: “I did not belong to any group or organization, especially since I was not devout before I left. But there were obviously some fatwas that called [for jihad] and were posted on certain websites. [They] influenced many young men, both devout and [non-devout]…” Had I Received Proper Guidance Before I Left for Afghanistan, I Would Not Have Gone Al-Riyadh: “After returning [to Saudi Arabia], did you meet with the counseling committees? What changed in your way of thinking?” Al-Bidna: “My views began to change when I saw the real picture and understood my error, [even] before I was captured. When I returned to Saudi Arabia, we [i.e. the prisoners released from Guantanamo] met with sheikhs and religious scholars who taught us a great deal, and who enlightened us on the tolerant directives of Islam. Had I [known all this] before I left, I would not have gone. The discussions with the religious scholars and sheikhs gave us the ability to distinguish truth from error, and set us on the right path.” Al-Riyadh: “From your experience, are there specific reasons that cause young people to adopt deviant views and carry out terrorist actions?” Al-Bidna: “Of course there are specific reasons [that motivate] young people, especially unemployment, the desire for self-fulfillment, and [having] free time. I, for example, finished [only] elementary school, and sat around without a job for many years prior to leaving for Afghanistan. Such things can cause young people to go astray, especially when there are [people] who feed them erroneous notions…” Al-Riyadh: “Do you think that a fatwa posted online can prompt a young person to wage jihad, when he does not know for sure whether the fatwa is valid?” Al-Bidna: “There is no doubt that the problem lies in the youth’s enthusiasm [coupled with] scant knowledge. That’s what happened with me. I did not think to verify the validity of these fatwas or to consult with anyone, and [consequently] made a big mistake…” Endnote: (1) Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), October 10, 2006.
Blast email from CAIR-AZ announcing a joint press conference with MAS, ADC, and 7 other local “Muslim” organizations calling for the reinstatement of Marwan Ahmed
[This piece appeared in Arabic in the October 2006 issue of the Arab Voice on page 1]-translation provided by AIFD. AIFD Commentary provided below translated article. “A Party in the Honor of Pederson” by the Arab Voice Mr. Safai Arkawi held a grand dinner party in honor of (Senate Candidate) Jim Pederson. The main reason behind this dinner party was to support and collect money for the election campaign of Pederson. Many leaders and community members of the Arabic community were invited to the Arkawi home including representatives from — the multicultural business community, the press, al-Mehdi organization, CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), the Arizona Islamic Political Action Committee, the Palestine committee, and a number of Arabs who belong to the Democratic party. Mr. Safai started the dinner party giving a summary about the Arabic community in Arizona and the Democratic Party. He, then, presented Mrs. Janice (sic), the Democratic Party Coordinator in Arizona and who was a former member of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). She is the one who nominated the democratic candidate for the senate from Arizona to run against Jon Kyl who is running for another term. And we should mention that Kyl is a Republican candidate known to be a big supporter of Israel and the Zionist lobby in Congress. Several meetings had occurred in the past three years between him and the Arabic community where they discussed several issues of interest to the Arabic community on the local and international level. The community tried to build a bridge with Kyl, but it was collapsed lately under the different positions he took, during the war on Lebanon and Palestine. Pederson was introduced at the dinner party by Mrs. Janice (sic) and he then discussed how his political philosophy and his background in the business field are going to help him serve the state of Arizona. After that he was asked several questionsﾗbeginning with a question from the Arab Voice asking him to clarify his agenda about health care, immigration, education— and what his opinion was concerning Napolitanoﾒs recent refusal to attend a rally supporting a ceasefire in Lebanon? And what would he have done if he got the same invitation? Of course, as a typical politician, he avoided answering such a question and gave a vague answer, and blamed it on the Napolitano administration all the while assuring her good will. Then he was asked another question about what is currently preventing Arabs and Muslims from sending donations to charities and the closing of some of the organizations that are doing such things; and what he would do if he was elected. Mr. Omar Shahin, the representative for the Muslim Political Action Committee, in the name of his Committee, presented Pederson with its support. This committee is fairly new and was just started only just a few month ago and was started to impact the local elections and in order to meet with Democratic candidates. We should mention that this this committee presented support to candidates who are Democratic up until this time. Other Arabic organizations are also expected to enlighten and educate their representatives about the agenda of the candidates who are running for the local elections and about the proposed changes of Arizonaﾒs constitution (referenda). ——————————————————————- AIFD COMMENTARY– This ‘newsﾒ report of this political fundraiser (also including photos of attendees with the candidate) by a nameless reporter appears on the front page of the local Arab Voice published by Breek Publishing. The central relevance of this to AIFDﾒs anti-Islamist, non-partisan mission is that it clearly illustrates the pervasiveness and growing momentum of political Islam (Islamism) in the local Muslim community— regardless of which candidate or party to which the Islamists pander. A perception or an attempt to create one of a ﾑMuslimﾒ voting bloc is the ultimate ideological weapon of the Islamist minority who wield their influence within the demagogy of political Islam. An empowered Islamist lobby propagates all the core maladies of political Islam which AIFD seeks to counter. The profound ideological danger of this toxic mixture of religion and politics in the Muslim community is the same regardless of party affiliations. The report is on the front page of this monthﾒs local Arab Voice distributed freely and unopposed to those in the Arabic and Muslim local community. Note this paper sits in or near the prayer areas of almost every local mosque, and is also ubiquitous in ethnic stores, and Islamic organizations locally. It remains astonishing that such a toxically partisan and controversial reporting disseminated under the guise of journalism is distributed without competition or balance in the community or any suggestion that the Arabic or Muslim community may not be as politically monolithic as this paper tries to imply. Most reports put out by this publisher, make a subtle but potent collectivist political assumption, as Islamists are want to do. Not only do they present political islam as the norm but their particular version of it as the only one- both are dangerous. They conveniently ignore the fact that the paper and the organizations still represent only a minority of local Arabs and Muslims. The core supposition of Islamists is that individuals who share a spiritual religion (of God and not of this world) would naturally share a political ideology (of this world) for a specific candidate or policy. Additionally, it should be noted that the newly formed Arizona Muslim Political Action Committee noted in this Arabic report and announced in this publishers previous Muslim Voice was fully represented at this fundraiser by none other than a local imam and also ubiquitous Muslim religious leader- Imam Omar Shahin. Imam Shahin also is known in the local religious community to be the head of the Valleyﾒs Imam Council, the Islamic teacher at a local Islamic parochial school, and also an imam of a local mosque. Yet, this same individual is reported here in Arabic to be also representing a Muslim PAC. One would be hard pressed to find non-Muslim examples of a single clergy who while having multiple congregations also speaks on behalf of religious PACs. Is there anything which typifies the toxic mixture and penetration of religion and politics more? By the way this imam also emceed the recent CAIR-AZ fundraiser. This reportﾒs association of a number of religious and civil rights organizations in the Arabic and Muslim community with a political candidate fundraiser should cause concern about the establishment of Islamism in local politics and its endemic mixture of islamism and politics. Note the defining issue (Middle East policy) which this report remarks on regarding this candidate’s opponent. Thus, this lobby hijacks an entire religious community for its own focused policy interests and any other policy discussions are simply pandering. Certainly, the mosaic of American politics has a number of cultural and faith lobbies. But the local Islamists are decidedly different. The singular nature of this foreign language publication and the political solidarity and unanimity of local Muslim imams and their pulpits are all bolstered by the demagogy of this Arabic publication and demonstrative of the dangers of Islamism. This is much more than a simple faith or cultural lobby. Even if by some miracle ideological political diversity were to work its way into local Islamist circles and we were to see the development of bi-partisan islamists locally, the end game for Islamism remains political penetration of religiously motivated laws and policy. Until this end-game is abandoned any empowerment of Islamists risks legitimizing this cause. Translations of reports like this distributed to the local Arabic community are a valuable window into the Islamist mindset. Until more Americans, Muslim and non-Muslim, understand the central role of Islamism or political Islam and its subtle but central threat in the global conflict we are in, we will continue to enable, legitimize, and empower an ideology which runs against one of the central ideas of being American- that our elected representatives separate between religion and legislation. ——————————————————————————– This report and translation is provided as a service to our community. We pray that this type of extremism and lack of moderation in opinion does not represent the majority of Muslims and Arabs in the community. See “Why AIFD provides the ‘Arizona Islamist Media Reports” for our commentary which clearly explains our intentions in providing these reports.
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