Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said Monday: “The West conveniently associated Islam with terrorism but in the last 20 years, Muslim countries unfortunately, did not respond to this narrative. Muslim leaders should have stood up to the West and made it clear that there is no link between Islam, or any other religion, with terrorism.” See? The reason why anyone thinks “Islamic terrorism” is a reality, as opposed to the genuine threat of “right-wing extremism,” is because of the ever-dastardly non-Muslim West. And really, who else’s fault could it be?
Back in the real world, however, it is false to claim that the West associated Islam with terrorism. The terrorists themselves did that. Take 9/11, which is just one of innumerable possible examples. In March 2009, the masterminds of the 9/11 plot, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi bin As-Shibh, Walid bin ‘Attash, Mustafa Ahmed AI-Hawsawi, and ‘Ali ‘abd Al-’Aziz ‘Ali – styling themselves as the “9/11 Shura Council” –wrote a lengthy communiqué titled “The Islamic Response to the Government’s Nine Accusations.”
In it, they wrote: “Many thanks to God, for his kind gesture, and choosing us to perform the act of Jihad for his cause and to defend Islam and Muslims. Therefore, killing you and fighting you, destroying you and terrorizing you, responding back to your attacks, are all considered to be great legitimate duty in our religion….We ask to be near to God, we fight you and destroy you and terrorize you. The Jihad in god’s [sic] cause is a great duty in our religion.” They quoted numerous Qur’an verses, including one stating that “to those against whom war is waged, permission is given (to fight,) because they are wronged and verily, Allah is most powerful for their aid” (22:39), and another commanding Muslims to “fight in the way of Allah those who fight you, but be not the transgressor, Allah likes not the transgressors” (2:190). They even quoted the notorious “Verse of the Sword”: “Then fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, and besiege them and lie in wait for them in each and every ambush” (9:5).
To cinch their case, they used two verses enjoining Muslims to strike terror into the hearts of their foes: “Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers, for that they joined companies with Allah, for which he has sent no authority; There [sic] place will be the fire; and evil is the home of the wrongdoers” (3:151); and “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into the heart of the enemies of Allah and your enemies” (8:60).
Hijacker Mohammed Atta wrote this just before the attack: “When the confrontation begins, strike like champions who do not want to go back to this world. Shout, ‘Allahu Akbar,’ because this strikes fear in the hearts of the non-believers. God said: ‘Strike above the neck, and strike at all of their extremities.’ Know that the gardens of paradise are waiting for you in all their beauty, and the women of paradise are waiting, calling out, ‘Come hither, friend of God.’ They have dressed in their most beautiful clothing.” The “Strike above the neck, and strike at all of their extremities” quote is also from the Qur’an (47:4). The gardens and women of Paradise are also spoken of in the Qur’an (52:17-20; 55:62-76; etc.), underscoring the fact that Atta and his companions saw their mission and goal in exclusively Islamic terms.
In Osama bin Laden’s letter to the American people, which was published on November 24, 2002, he put it succinctly: “The first thing that we are calling you to is Islam.” This was the ultimate purpose of the 9/11 attacks: to weaken the American economy, so that ultimately the American government would collapse. That, presumably, would end what bin Laden and his allies considered to be unacceptable American interference in Muslim countries, and pave the way for the U.S. itself to become an Islamic state.
Over 18 years have passed since bin Laden issued that statement, and nearly twelve since the 9/11 plotters justified their actions by reference to Islam, and still no moderate Muslim has taken up the Islamic case for 9/11 and refuted it on Islamic grounds. This doesn’t mean that the jihadist argument is ipso facto correct, but for Imran Khan to pretend, and to demand that the West pretend, that the 9/11 plotters and other jihadis had no Islamic case and did not identify Islam as the motive and justification for their actions, and that the connection between Islam and terrorism was made by non-Muslims, simply flies in the face of the facts. Not that this will stop Imran Khan or his friends.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 21 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.