WASHINGTON, March 21, 2014 – Many American’s watching the trial of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith in Manhattan’s Federal Court continue to struggle to understand the hate that prompted the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
Abu Ghaith, 48, is accused of “providing material support to terrorist and conspiracy to do so.” Judge Lews A. Kaplan, Federal District Court, Manhattan, ruled that evidence that Abu Ghaith conspired to kill Americans was “dramatically more than merely sufficient” for the case to be presented to a jury.
Abu Ghaith is the son-in-law of former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
According to testimony from Abu Ghaith, he did not know that bin Laden and al-Qaeda were responsible for the September 11 attacks until after the fact. He says bin Laden himself told Abu Ghaith about his responsibility for the bombings when they met in a cave in Afghanistan.
Known for his post 9/11 videos filled with anti-American rhetoric, the Kuwaiti preacher reported saying to bin Laden, “America, if it was proven that you were the one who did this, will not settle until it accomplishes two things: to kill you and topple the state of the Taliban.”
To which, he says, bin Laden simply replied, “You’re being too pessimistic.”
In court last week, Abu Ghaith listened while prosecutors replayed his speeches, including warnings that “the storm of airplanes will not abate,” suggesting there would be more planes like the ones that crashed into the World Trade Towers, Pentagon, and thanks to the passenger heroics, was crashed into a Pennsylvania field.
Following September 11, 2001, TIME Magazine author Lisa Beyer described bin Laden as the typical Muslim extremist: fanatical religiosity, hard-line interpretation of Islam, outrage toward the U.S. for being a secular, domineering presence in the Arab world and hatred for those who support Israel.
There is little doubt that bin Laden hated America and what America stands for, and statements from Abu Ghaith suggest the same deep revulsion of America. Interview transcripts dating back to the mid-1990s reveal a haunting profile of radical Muslim terrorists and clearly answer the questions why do they hate us and why is what they believe evil.
Hate toward Americans, Jews and Christians
“Every Muslim the minute he can start differentiating, carries hate towards Americans, Jews and Christians, this is part of our ideology. Ever since I can recall, I felt at war with the Americans and had feelings of animosity and hate towards them,” said bin Laden in an interview with al-Jazeera Arab television in 1998.
That same year, in an interview with TIME magazine he said, “Our work targets world infidels. Our enemy is the crusader alliance led by America, Britain and Israel. It is a crusader-Jewish alliance.”
According to the Council on Foreign Relations, bin Laden was born in Saudi Arabia in 1957 to a Syrian mother and Yemeni father. Mohammed bin Laden made a fortune building palaces for the Saudi royal family. Osama bin Laden’s inheritance was estimated at between $30 million to $300 million.
As a young college student, he fell in with the radical, Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood. Throughout the 1980s, Osama bin Laden fought with and helped fund the mujahedeen, holy warriors, against the Soviets in Afghanistan. The Afghan resistance was primarily financed by the Saudis and the U.S.
Emboldened by the defeat of the Soviets in Afghanistan, bin Laden began extending his ties with radical Muslims worldwide, and making plans to take the fight to the U.S., organizing al-Qaeda in 1988. His hatred toward the U.S. was solidified when American troops, instead of his Arab brothers, confronted Saddam Hussein during the 1990 Kuwait invasion.
To bin Laden this was “a violation of the sanctity of Muslim territory.”
After nearly a decade on the move, including a stint in Sudan to establish his al-Qaeda training camps, bin Laden found refuge back in Afghanistan with the Taliban. The Taliban gave him a base and cover, in exchange for funding for their fighters. In 1998, bin Laden led the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.
Bin Laden and al-Qaeda took credit for the September 11, 2001 attacks on America, killing 2,792 that day alone.
Bin Laden did not keep his beliefs or intentions secret
Bin Laden didn’t sneak up on us. A thorough chronology of his edicts and statements is posted on PBS Frontline.
Bin Laden’s Fatwa or “Declaration of War Against the Americans Who Occupy the Land of the Two Holy Mosques” foreshadows the events of September 11, 2001.
“Due to the imbalance of power between our armed forces and the enemy forces, a suitable means of fighting must be adopted, i.e. using fast-moving, light forces that work under complete secrecy. In other words, to initiate a guerrilla war, where the sons of the nation, and not the military forces, take part in it.”
In an interview with CNN he says, “We declared jihad against the US government, because the US government is unjust, criminal and tyrannical…”
“For this and other acts of aggression and injustice, we have declared jihad against the US, because in our religion it is our duty to make jihad so that God’s word is the one exalted to the heights and so that we drive the Americans away from all Muslim countries.”
Bin Laden announces the creation of the International Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders, in association with extremist groups from Egypt, Pakistan and Bangladesh:
“We—with God’s help—call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God’s order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it. We also call on Muslim ulema, leaders, youths, and soldiers to launch the raid on Satan’s U.S. troops and the devil’s supporters allying with them, and to displace those who are behind them so that they may learn a lesson.”
“The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies — civilians and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim.”
Only the United Kingdom Observer chose to run a “Letter to America” from bin Laden. In it, he goes point-by-point describing the sins of America, with special emphasis on support for the Jews, and preaching a call to repentance and warning that “If the Americans refuse to listen to our advice and the goodness, guidance and righteousness that we call them to, then be aware…”
He affirms his seriousness by including a couple paragraphs on “The Nation of Martyrdom; the Nation that desires death more than you desire life.”
The letter brought Harley Sorensen, self-proclaimed liberal iconoclast, to write in the San Francisco Gate that, “As the events of Sept. 11 showed, and as we see almost every day in Israel and other nations, we are opposed by a totally dedicated enemy who doesn’t fear death.”
We won a battle but not the war
In the 1998 al-Jazeera interview, when asked if the U.S. “economic war” against him caused any “discomfort,” he replied: “War is war. You win some days, you lose others.”
The New York Times contributed details from the trial to this report
Writer, Carla Garrison follows current events with one eye on history and one eye on the future. Her goal is to encourage people to think critically about their lives and the world. Follow Carla at Twitter: CarlaMGarrison