With support from the University of Richmond

History News Network

History News Network puts current events into historical perspective. Subscribe to our newsletter for new perspectives on the ways history continues to resonate in the present. Explore our archive of thousands of original op-eds and curated stories from around the web. Join us to learn more about the past, now.

Walid Phares: Bin Laden's "State of Jihad" Speech

[Dr Walid Phares is a Senior Fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington, a professor of Middle East Studies and the author of Future Jihad.]

One more time Al Jazeera pomotes an Usama Bin Laden speech. After airing portions of the Bin Laden audiotape al Jazeera posted large fragments of the “speech” on its web site. This was the longest version possible we were able to have access to. After careful reading, my assessment of the “piece” got reinforced: This is not just another audiotape or videotape of a renegade in some cave. Regardless of who is the speaker and his whereabouts, the 30 minutes long read statement is a declaration, probably as important as the February 1998 declaration of war against America, the Crusaders and their allies.

This is a “state of Jihad address” by a Terror-leader who projects himself as the supreme leader of all Salafi Jihadists in the world. The document provide guidelines and vision to the followers across the continents: A call for mega-terrorism and a fiery delivery of a bloody war in all directions. Not one single civilization and religion got away from Usama’s grapes of wrath: Muslim moderates, Shiites, Christian Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox; Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and Atheists as well. Europeans, Chinese, Indians, Semites, Africans and others were all deciphered as Kuffars, infidels.

In two decades of Salafi and Khumeini rhetoric monitoring, I haven’t heard or seen a cross-infidel speech as the one aired by al Jazeera on April 23, 2006. There will be lots of ink and mega bites spent on its analysis for months and years to come, but here are the main points. Al Jazeera dubbed them: “The main axis of the speech.” المحاور الأساسية في خطاب بن لادن

Twenty" marching orders"

* One a long attack on the Cartoons crisis: Blood is needed to cleanse the matter.
* Two, there is a Western war on Muslims and Islam.
*Three, Western policy towards Hamas proves this aggression.
* Four, the United Nations is an infidel and criminal institution.
* Five, there is a Western-infidel aggression against Muslim Sudan. The Black southerners are bandits and the Darfur Blacks are agents of the infidels
* Six, Iraq’s Jihad is to stop future US military bases
* Seven, a cultural invasion is underway: Arab TVs are to be stopped, Muslim liberals to be killed
* Eight, France is to be punished for the female Hijab affair
* Nine, Bosnia’s Muslims were not salvaged by the West
* Ten, The independence of East Timor is a defeat to the Muslims
* Eleven, India and the Hindus are the enemies in Kashmir
* Twelve, Pakistan’s Musharraf is to be killed
* Thirteen, Russia must be punished
* Fourteen: Salman Rushdie is not to be forgotten
* Fifteen: The masses in the infidel lands think like their leaders. Their public (enemies) is responsible
* Sixteen: Calls for Dialogue with the West are to be rejected
* Seventeen: Do not trust the “traitors” including Muftis and moderate clerics
* Eighteen: King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia ignores world realities
* Nineteen: (Western) civilization is attacking ours
* Twenty: It is of the duty of all members of the Umma to offer everything for Jihad, including their lives.

Throughout the day I analyzed most of these"axis" on MSNBC, but I was able to observe the airing process on al Jazeera as well.

Imagine yourself as an Arab viewer: The speech was repeated endlessly throughout the day. Bin Laden didn't have his 20 minutes of shine, but 24 hours at least. The Bin Laden audiotape wasn't played one or two times but until every word was sinking deep in the minds of the attentive viewers. However the most powerful part of the speech wasn't restricted to its content: Al Jazeera lined up the best of its"experts on Islamist groups" to react instantly to the audiotape and throughout the day, and add"more details and substance."

As posted on al Jazeera's web site, large fragments from Usama Bin Laden's new audiotape showed the global strategies projected by the head of al Qaida. Let's review the most important pieces and analyze them. We'll proceed with a rough translation followed by short comments

Starting with the Cartoons issue he said:

حديثي هذا إليكم لمواصلة الحث والتحريض لنصرة رسولنا (ص) ولمعاقبة أصحاب الجريمة النكراء التي ارتكبها بعض الصحفيين من الصليبيين أو من الزنادقة المرتدين با