The war against the West which was brought to the U.S. on September 11, 2001 has continued throughout the world in places such as Spain and London – which has been referred to by leading Arab writers as "a chapter in World War III". The attacks have included slitting throats, beheadings, blowing up planes, trains, and buses and are purposely brutal to instill terror. One notable example includes the suicide car bombing of a crowd of children receiving candy from U.S. soldiers in Iraq, killing 24 of them on July 14, 2005.
As the fourth anniversary of 9/11 approaches it is worth reviewing what President Bush said to the American people on September 15, 2001: "This is a conflict without battlefields … a conflict with opponents who believe they are invisible… Victory against terrorism will not take place in a single battle, but in a series of decisive actions … You will be asked for your patience; for, the conflict will not be short… You will be asked for your strength, because the course to victory may be long…"
It is also important not to forget 9/11 took a long time to plan and implement as Al-Qaeda has promised more attacks are on the way. As a reminder, last month we heard from Osama bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri twice including August 4th on Al-Jazzera: "Oh Americans, what you have seen in New York and Washington… are nothing but the casualties of the initial clashes…"
Other Al-Qaeda leaders have warned of future attacks. Islamists websites in June 2002 quoted the group’s spokesman at the time, Suleiman Abu Gheith, promising Al-Qaeda will be "continuing our blows against the U.S." and that "America must prepare itself… Allah willing the blow will come from where they least expect it." He warned: "We have the right to kill 4 million Americans - 2 million of them children - and to exile twice as many and wound and cripple hundreds of thousands …"
Islamist websites also carried an interview with Abu Salma Al-Hijazi, a close associate of bin Laden in November 2003 promising a "huge and very courageous strike" by Al-Qaeda. He predicted the number of "infidels" killed will exceed 100,000 warning: "We are patient," and that "our patience will only end with the collapse of America and its agents.”
Mahfouz Walad Al-Walid, otherwise known as Abu Hafs "the Mauritanian" was interviewed on November 30, 2001 on Al-Jazeera explaining Al-Qaeda's philosophy: "One of the acts of grace of this generation was to kill the Americans, to incite to this killing, to fight in the Jihad against them with full force. I and my brothers in the Al-Qaeda organization… swore an oath to carry out the mission…" Abu Hafs made an ominous warning that the U.S. will be destroyed: "In our opinion, America has entered the phase of the beginning of the end."
Al-Qaeda's stance on the destruction of the U.S. is shared by many prominent Islamic scholars who frequently appear in the Arab media. One example is Saudi professor Nasser Bin Suleiman Al-Omar, speaking on the Saudi owned Al-Majd TV on June 13, 2004: "Today, America is defeated. I have no doubt, not even for a minute that America is on its way to destruction. But as Ibn Khaldoun said, just as it takes decades for nations to rise, it takes them decades to collapse. They don't collapse overnight… It will be destroyed gradually. America will be destroyed. But we must be patient."
The amount of talk on Arab TV calling for the destruction of the U.S. as well as ongoing celebrations of 9/11 cannot be understated. One such example is Sheikh Mahmoud Al-Masri who appeared on Al-Majd TV on March 2, 2005. He explained what is was like being in New York on 9/11 to an Arab audience who laughed with him when he described "how beautiful" it was as the World Trade Center fell and the reaction of the “wretched” American people who quickly embraced Islam.
As the war on terror continues many actions should be taken by Western governments. Supporting true Arab and Muslim reformists both here and abroad is crucial. To date MEMRI’s work has introduced many reformists to the West, as well as led to shutting down Islamists websites hosted in North America; exposed extremist clerics who say one thing in English and another in Arabic; and led the way in banning Arab and Iranian TV channels such as Iran’s Sahar TV and Hezbollah’s Al-Manar throughout the West. There is much unfinished work to complete as the war on terror continues.
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