Saturday, July 19, 2014


Rationalization Published by Al-Qaeda for 9/11
Gp Capt (R) Noel Moitra VM


The U.S. has lost a large number of personnel-- mainly military-- in various wars around the globe, starting last century from World War I. This huge country has, however, never fought a war on its own soil. Its population has thus no idea of the ravages of war in a war-torn country. The incidents of 11 September 2001, executed by Islamic radicals from the late lamented Osama bin Laden-led ‘terrorist’ group, Al-Qaeda, were the closest to a war-like bombing raid. The short-lived drama shocked the Americans and provoked its leaders into organizing a serious hunt for the heads of the Al-Qaeda hierarchy. Statistically speaking, the number of casualties and damage to property is negligible, when compared to those occurring in an actual prolonged war. Some seven months later, bin Laden published his justification for the attacks and followed it up with an open letter to the American people on the same lines. This essay analyzes the build-up to and rationalization of the 9/11 attacks by Al-Qaeda before presenting its findings.      

Keywords: Terrorism, Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, casualties, shock, damage to property, rationalization

            By means of this document we send a message to America and those behind it. We are coming, by the will of God almighty, no matter what America does. It will never be safe from the fury of Muslims. America is the one who began the war, and it will lose the battle by the permission of God almighty.                                              Al-Qaeda Statement, April 24, 2002.

            Though the proclamation supra was made seven and one half months after that horrific day, I shall use it as my “theoretical framework” to analyze the events leading to the ibid statement (, also published by Arab websites like www., and among others ( The publication in Arabic was in early Muharram 1423 according to Al Hejira, the Islamic calendar, corresponding to 24th April 2002 ( I shall also restrict my analysis to events preceding that fateful day and venture into the seven-month gap, or just beyond, only to prove a point that is essential to delineate my findings and opinion.
            The Americans have lost a large number of predominantly military people in wars all over the globe, starting World War I. However, no contemporary war has ever been fought in this vast country and its people thus have absolutely no idea about what the ravages of war can do to the psyche of the human being residing in a war-torn country and the country itself, both through the war and after it. Post World War II and its aftermath, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq and Bosnia Herzegovina are prime examples of how once-proud countries could come to their knees. The general consensus around the world is that the U.S. has unilaterally taken over the role of Globocop (Lobe, 2003a, 2010c). The U.S. does not deny
this fact (Lobe 2005b). How did they usurp this role and by whose say so? This theme features repeatedly in how Islamic clerics and radicals see the U.S., with 9/11 as a distant yet pertinent adjunct (n.p.). I can see why the clerics are in such turmoil. As a dispassionate observer, I too would like to know what gives the U.S. the right to act as they please, while barring the others from following suit?
            A few essentials need to be understood before progressing to personalities and their perspectives on 9/11. Westerners link Muslim origins with mainland Arabia, specifically Saudi Arabia, which houses their holy cities of Mecca and Medina and the Hijaz, whose people were the first to rally to the new faith and blow its trumpets (Wasserstein, 1998). They do not know that the center of the Islamic world and the scene of its major achievements was Iraq, where the Abbasid Caliphates ruled for half a millennium (750-1258 CE) the longest stretch in Islamic history (historymedren. For Muslims, land once added to the realm of Islam cannot be renounced; none compares in significance with Arabia and Iraq (Wasserstein, 1998).
            Al-Qaeda was led till his capture and execution by Osama bin Laden, with the Egyptian Emir of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) Group, Ayman al-Zawahiri, his deputy ( Unhappy with the manner in which they saw Muslims being persecuted and killed all over the world, he, along with al-Zawahiri and other Jihadi leaders from various Muslim countries issued a ‘Fatwa’ (edict) which was printed in an Arabic newspaper in London, Al-Quds al-'Arabi on 23 Feb 98 ( [Al-Quds is the Arabic name of Jerusalem (; Jihad means holy war] This Fatwa authorized wanton killings of all Jews and Americans, ordering the Muslim populace to “Fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)” (ibid). The Fatwa listed three reasons for the decree (ibid):
  1. For over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, etc.
  2.  Despite the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance and the huge number of those killed, which has exceeded 1 million……     
  3. If the Americans' aims behind these wars are religious and economic, the aim is also to serve the Jews' petty state and divert attention from its occupation of Jerusalem and murder of Muslims there.
September 11, 2001      
            I will not go over the events of this catastrophic day, except to say that three thousand lives were lost, with a similar number of injuries in the four buildings attacked. How many native lives were lost in Korea? Nearly two million ( The economic and social devastation experienced by the Korean nation was inestimable. In Vietnam? Over five million, leaving behind a desolate country (www.vietnam-war). In Bosnia? Over a hundred and ten thousand (, two million or more Indochinese victims of the US ( and one million Iraqi dead ( How then does three thousand even begin to compare?
            Osama justified his actions of 9/11 from a higher ground, though he twists the interpretation of the Quran to suit the situation. After glorifying his ‘martyrs’ (, he asks:  
1.      What kind of authority did America possess on the day it destroyed Afghanistan by killing and banishing the Muslims in it? It established an unjust blockade under the cover of the United Nations. Under the same cover it tore apart Indonesia and deported the Muslims of Timor to the Moluccas Islands and Poso. Under the same protection, it entered Somalia, murdered, and took possession of the land of Islam there (ibid).
2.      America's status among Muslims is the same as that of the Jews -- they are both people of   war. How then is it right for the enemy to occupy the land of Palestine (ibid)? Osama adds that many protected people were among the victims of 9/11, but they did not fall outside the conditions that permit killing them which he briefly mentions. He stresses that it is not necessary that all conditions be met; only one suffices (ibid). These conditions allow:
Ø    Muslims to kill protected ones among unbelievers as an act of reciprocity. If the unbelievers target Muslim women, children, and elderly, it is permissible for Muslims to respond in kind and kill those similar to those whom the unbelievers killed (ibid).
Ø    Muslims to kill protected ones among unbelievers on the condition that the protected ones have assisted in combat, whether in deed, word, mind, or any other form of assistance (ibid).
Ø    Muslims to kill protected ones among unbelievers in the event of an attack against them in which it is not possible to differentiate the protected ones from the combatants or from the strongholds (ibid). Most Indian Army casualties in their ill-fated 1987 foray into LTTE territory in Sri Lanka were caused by girls and women, who used hand-grenades after inviting the soldiers into their homes for a cup of tea/snacks/meal (Singh, 1992).
Ø    Muslims to kill protected ones among unbelievers when they are using heavy weapons that do not distinguish between combatants and protected ones (
Ø    Muslims to kill protected ones among unbelievers in the event of a need to burn the strongholds or fields of the enemy so as to weaken its strength in order to conquer the stronghold or topple the state.
Ø    Muslims to kill protected ones among unbelievers when the enemy is shielded by their women or children (ibid). This tactic savaged the Indian army (Singh, 1992).
            Osama went to great length in explaining why civilians, including women and the possible child were considered as enemies he strove to attack. He then wrote a comprehensive document which was published by scores of Arab websites on 24 November, 2002. The British newspaper, The Guardian translated this ‘Letter to the American People’ and printed it in its online version the same day (guardian. co. uk) and it makes fascinating reading. Osama explained his decision in no uncertain terms and warned them to mend their ways lest they be hurt again. There are over one hundred points in this particular article, including those quoted by me, which is highly recommended for reading and getting a glimpse of the Islamic fundamentalists’ mindset.
             The clinching argument was the U.S. Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld’s first reaction. Instead of mobilizing all available resources to assist in rescue operations and damage control, he is on record as saying, “Find Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussain and take them out”(Borger, 2006).  Having studied all data collated, I find that if the U.S. could justify its multiple depredations against the many countries mentioned earlier, Osama bin Laden had valid reason for 9/11. Yes, some of his theories are far fetched and unrealistic, like universal conversion to Islam, adopting the Sharia and its inflexible rules, punishing promiscuity, etc. However, a greater percentage of his observations hold water. It stands to reason that if you want to become self-appointed Globocop, then be prepared to face Globocrime! This is not to say that I love and revere America any less, but, misquoting Brutus, “I love my life and freedom more.”

Abbasid Caliphates. Retrieved on March 27, 2010 from
Abu Musaab Al-Suri., Al-Qaeda terrorist; Retrieved on March 27, 2010 from Al-Qaeda’s official website
Al- Quds. Retrieved on March 26, 2010 from a/quds.htm
bin Laden, Osama; “Translation of April 24, 2002 al-Qaeda Document”; Retrieved on March 27, 2010 from
Borger, J. The Guardian, February 24, 2006; Retrieved on March 27, 2010 from http://
Islamic Calendar. Retrieved on March 26, 2010 from Hcal/index.php
Leadership of Al-Qaeda. Retrieved on March 26, 2010 from zawahiri.html.
Lobe, J. Pentagon Moving Swiftly to Become 'GloboCop'; Inter Press Service, June 11, 2003; Retrieved on March 24, 2010 from
Lobe, J. Pentagon Reaffirms Globocop Role; Published on March 22, 2005 by;
            Retrieved on March 24, 2010 from  
Lobe, J. POLITICS-US: Pentagon Moving Swiftly to Become 'GloboCop'; Published on June 10,
2009; reprinted on January 26, 2010 by the Inter Press Service; Retrieved on March 26, 2010 from  
Singh, Depinder. The IPKF in Sri Lanka; Trishul Publications, Noida, 1992; 4th Edition 2003,
            ISBN 8185384851.
Wasserstein, B. Analysis of Osama bin Laden's 1998 Fatwa printed in London Al-Quds al-'Arabi
            in Arabic, Feb 23,  1998, Page 3; Retrieved on March 26, 2010 from
War in Bosnia. Retrieved on March 27, 2010 from BrieffactsaboutWar/ BosnianWarDead/tabid/337/Default.aspx
War in Indochina. Retrieved on March 28, 2010 from 2004/08/00_branfman_us-warcrimes-indochina.htm
War in Vietnam. Retrieved on March 26, 2010 from



The Impact of Media on Terrorism

De Facto Allies to Amplifying the Terrorists' Impact?


Some eminent writers and scholars argue that too often the media helps promote terrorists' agenda. Others, however, have a different opinion. I tend to go with the former, and in this short Paper, will show how terrorism can be seen from at least two perspectives, those of the victim and the perpetrator. Using three examples, I will prove that the media would not mind terrorist acts coming up on their own on the agenda, however distasteful and disagreeable they may seem. Terrorists cannot thrive without the media, and I will bring out the obvious: The media suits the interests of both parties.  

            Keywords: terrorism, media, perspectives, casualties, infidels, television ratings

            The horrific events of 9/11 brought terrorism centre stage. Terrorism had existed well before that date, but remained largely underplayed, till Uncle Sam got bearded in his own den. Without attempting to add to the plethora of definitions of terrorism, let me just say that there is a fundamental difference in the way it is seen, related purely to perspective. The victim and the perpetrator portray an incident affecting them quite differently.
             For example, US media might say, “Terrorists detonated a bomb near the camp of the U.S. peacekeeping forces, causing numerous U.S. military casualties.” Arab media would report it as: “Freedom fighters detonated a bomb near the base of the crusaders. The tremendous blast killed and severely injured many infidels.”(n.p.)
              A free press is a mandate in a democracy. If the content available was not salutary, the media would still report it. Terrorism uses this mandate to further its own aim by spreading fear. A terrorist organization actually needs the media to spread information about localized attacks as widely as possible. In the cause of reporting, or at times, hogging the limelight, the media does exactly what the terrorist wants. Paradoxically, terrorism has become a boon for the media, because such attacks make television ratings surge. “Terrorist acts are well calculated, always played to an audience and specific tactics employed to maximize impact” (Bozarth, 2005).
            There are people who feel that the media brings the world up to date and educates people about the ills of terrorism and how it is crucial to lend a hand against this ugly monster. I do not agree and believe that the media is only interested in its ratings, ‘damn the consequences’ (n.p.).  I will use three examples to support my argument.
             Since 1960, advancement in technology had affected the media greatly, giving it a face and voice, not just events reported on black and white paper. The nature of terrorism reporting had also evolved simultaneously. While aimed to promote terror in a larger target audience, terrorism often aims to recruit more supporters. The media is the conduit to both these aims. Terrorism ‘relies almost exclusively on psychological “warfare” for its intended impact. Victims of an attack are the signal that is amplified and broadcast, terrorizing the target audience into capitulating to the terrorists demands’ (Bozarth, 2005). “Terrorists are not interested in three, or thirty – or even three thousand - deaths. They allow the imagination of the target population to do their work for them. In fact, the desired panic could be produced by the continuous broadcast of threats and declarations – by radio and TV interviews, videos and all the familiar methods of psychological warfare” (Ganor 2002).
             Terrorists have “four media-dependent objectives when they strike or threaten to commit violence. The first is: Gain attention, intimidate, create fear. The second is: Recognition of the organization’s motives. Why they are carrying out attacks? The third is: Gain the respect and sympathy of those in whose name they claim to attack. The last is: Gain a quasi-legitimate status and media treatment at par with legitimate political actors” (Nacos 2007, 20). Many cases confirm that ‘getting attention through the media is important terrorist strategy. The 7 July 2005 London bombings on the transit system in London is one example, with the G-8 summit on in Scotland. The terrorists pushed the G-8 leaders off the front pages’ (Ibid, 20-21).
             The Palestinian terrorist organization Black September attack on Israeli athletes in the Munich Olympic Games 1972, when people around the world were watching the Games and large numbers of newspaper and broadcast journalists had gathered, is another example. A  hostage situation and a rescue attempt ensued, closely covered by all media, and watched by approximately 800 million people throughout the world. The terrorists “monopolized the attention of a global television audience. (Ibid, 179). “Black September undoubtedly chose Munich at the time of the Olympics because the technology, equipment, and personnel were in place to guarantee a television drama that had never before been witnessed in the global arena.” (Nacos 2002, 177).
             The images of attacks like 9/11, can inspire awe. For instance, “after 9/11, Al-Qaeda and Bin Laden  became more popular in the Muslim community” (Gunaratna, 2006). “Simply by showing that he and his kind could land a devastating blow against the US on home ground, bin Laden conditioned a large number of young Muslim men – mainly in the Muslim diaspora in western Europe – for recruitment into his cause without ever meeting them.” (Nacos 2007, 22).
             The Internet can be and has been used terrorists for cyber-terrorism, coordination of plans, communication with cells, or propaganda and information. That they can now manage their own media is not the only advantage they have in using the Internet. Higher bandwidth, a product of advancing technology, allows them to display their acts in real time, magnifying the ‘Dread Factor’ multifold. 

“There are other advantages in using the Net. The audience is enormous; it is easy to access and stay anonymous, it is incredibly fast and inexpensive, and it offers a multimedia environment, which means that text, graphics, video, songs, books, and presentations can all be combined. In addition, regular media now often report on or even copy Internet content, which means that both old and new media can be influenced by using the Internet alone” (Weimann 2004).

            Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?