A controversy erupted last week at the National September 11 Memorial Museum over exactly how the museum should depict what happened on that fateful day. So it’s time to give them a few unsolicited suggestions.
The New York Times reported that Muslim leaders in New York are angry about a film that is slated to be shown at the museum titled The Rise of Al Qaeda because it “refers to the terrorists as Islamists who viewed their mission as a jihad.” Sheikh Mostafa Elazabawy, the imam of Masjid Manhattan, wrote to the museum’s director: “The screening of this film in its present state would greatly offend our local Muslim believers as well as any foreign Muslim visitor to the museum.”
Wait – aren’t the “local Muslim believers,” as well as any given “foreign Muslim visitor,” supposed to be part of the vast majority of Muslims worldwide who abhor and reject al Qaeda? So why would a film about al Qaeda offend them? Because, Elazabawy explains, “unsophisticated visitors who do not understand the difference between Al Qaeda and Muslims may come away with a prejudiced view of Islam, leading to antagonism and even confrontation toward Muslim believers near the site.”
Akbar Ahmed, a professor at American University and a renowned and respected moderate Muslim, complained that people who see the film are “simply going to say Islamist means Muslims, jihadist means Muslims.” While he acknowledged that “the terrorists need to be condemned and remembered for what they did,” he warned that “when you associate their religion with what they did, then you are automatically including, by association, one and a half billion people who had nothing to do with these actions and who ultimately the U.S. would not want to unnecessarily alienate.”
But this is a sleight-of-hand: it is not the 9/11 Museum that is associating their religion with what they did. It was the 9/11 hijackers themselves who associated their religion with what they did. Elazabawy and Ahmed want the museum to ignore and whitewash that fact, and it will almost certainly comply: it has already begun to do so by removing mention of “Islamic terrorism” from its website.
In a just world, however, it would highlight these five truths:
5. The 9/11 hijackers were Islamic jihadists acting in accord with Islamic imperatives.
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).
Five years have passed, and no moderate Muslim authority has taken up this 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 Elazabawy and Ahmed to pretend, and to demand that the 9/11 museum pretend, that the 9/11 plotters had no Islamic case and did not identify Islam as the motive and justification for their actions simply flies in the face of the facts.
4. The hijackers hoped to strike fear in the hearts of non-Muslims.
In accord with the Qur’anic imperative to strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of Allah, Mohammed Atta reminded himself in notes he wrote just before the attack to do just that:
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.
3. The ultimate purpose of the attack was to call the U.S. to Islam.
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.
2. Many Muslim organizations besides al Qaeda that share that goal.
Not all Muslims who want to see the U.S. become a Sharia state are engaging in jihad terror groups. Some are working for the same goal by peaceful means. Islamic supremacist writer Reza Aslan, a board member of a lobbying group for the bloodthirsty and genocidally antisemitic Iranian regime, has said: “No American Muslim, zero, absolutely none, not a single one has ever, ever called for the imposition of Shariah in America.” But that is not true. Daniel Pipes has noted that the imam Siraj Wahhaj, an American convert to Islam and sought-after speaker in mosques and Islamic centers nationwide, advocated for a caliphate in a 1992 speech to a U.S. Muslim audience: “if only Muslims were more clever politically, he told his New Jersey listeners, they could take over the United States and replace its constitutional government with a caliphate.” Said Wahhaj: “If we were united and strong, we’d elect our own emir [leader] and give allegiance to him….[T]ake my word, if 6-8 million Muslims unite in America, the country will come to us.”
Omar Ahmad, CAIR’s co-founder and longtime board chairman, told a Muslim crowd in California in 1998 that “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran…should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.”
1. The Boston Marathon bombing, the Fort Hood massacre, and other attacks were perpetrated by people holding the same ideology and goals.
The mainstream media and the Obama administration do their best to deny and downplay the fact, but both the Boston Marathon bombing and the Fort Hood massacre were motivated by exactly the same thing that motivated the 9/11 attack: a desire to defend Islam from perceived attack and to spread it at the expense of infidel governments. CNN reported a week after the bombings that “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, wounded and held in a Boston hospital, has said his brother — who was killed early Friday — wanted to defend Islam from attack.” And on the morning of November 5, 2009, the day he murdered 13 Americans at Fort Hood, Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hasan gave a neighbor a copy of the Qur’an and told her, “I’m going to do good work for God.”
Yet on the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon jihad attack, government officials and the mainstream media barely mentioned Islam. And the U.S. government notoriously classified Hasan’s murders not as an act of terror (much less jihad), but as “workplace violence.”
As I show in my book Arab Winter Comes to America: The Truth About the War We’re In, this denial and unreality is all-pervasive. And it virtually guarantees that there will be more jihad attacks.
The 9/11 Museum could strike a blow for truth and national security by speaking honestly about what happened on 9/11 and calling for greater readiness in the face of the same threat in the future. But given today’s politically correct climate, it is unlikely to withstand the pressure it is now receiving. Soon it will probably change the description of the 9/11 hijackers to “radical violent extremists,” and everyone will be happy – especially the ideological brethren of those “extremists” we dare not name, who will take happy advantage of our refusal to face realistically the threat they pose.