The PJ Tatler

The 9/11 Museum Controversy and Sheikh Gameia: Recalling How Al-Azhar’s Then U.S. Emissary Reacted to the Jihad Carnage

Controversy has erupted just weeks before the May 21, 2014 formal opening of the 9/11 Museum beneath the World Trade Center Plaza. The source of this imbroglio is a brief documentary film, “The Rise of Al Qaeda,” which apparently confirms that the mass murderous September 11, 2001 attacks were motivated by the ideology of jihad. As the New York Times’ Sharon Offerman observed on 4/23/14:

The documentary is not even seven minutes long, the exhibit just a small part of the museum. But it has over the last few weeks suddenly become a flash point in what has long been one of the most highly charged issues at the museum: how it should talk about Islam and Muslims.

What Offerman alludes to as a “flash point” is actually a threadbare effort—linking the irrefragably jihadist organization Al-Qaeda, and Islam’s institution of jihad war—to push back against the relentless campaign of doctrinal and historical negationism waged by Muslim and non-Muslim apologists for Islam.

Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University, who was interviewed by Offerman for her story, epitomizes this negationist trend in all its brazen hypocrisy. Ahmed opined,

The terrorists need to be condemned and remembered for what they did. But 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.

The namesake for Ahmed’s American University “Chair,” Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406), was a seminal Muslim historian, and jurist, who wrote the following about jihad, summarizing six centuries of prior, well-established Islamic jurisprudence:

In the Muslim community, the holy war [jihad] is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the [Muslim] mission and [the obligation to] convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force… The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty for them, save only for purposes of defense… Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations.

Ahmed’s strident, pseudo-academic disingenuousness, and the documentary film kerfuffle, notwithstanding, the 9/11 Museum’s exhibit also obfuscates the nexus between Islam, and the cataclysmic jihad terror attacks nearly 13 years ago. This guiding mentality of pious cultural relativism was made explicit by Joseph C. Daniels, President and CEO of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum:

What helps me sleep at night is I believe that the average visitor who comes through this museum will in no way leave this museum with the belief that the religion of Islam is responsible for what happened on 9/11.

Mr. Daniels and the entire 9/11 Museum organization must be made aware, repeatedly, of the following:

  • How Sheik Muhammad al-Gameia (Gamei’a) —who on September 11, 2001, was an Egyptian imam at the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, and the American emissary from Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, the pinnacle of religious authority, and education, in Sunni Islam—characterized the 9/11 attacks, during an October 4, 2001 interview, in Egypt. (Original Arabic interview here; Translated extracts here)
  • Frank analyses of the doctrine and history of jihad, a living Islamic institution.
  • Data on contemporary global jihad terrorism, which validates this doctrinal and historical legacy of jihad, and provides the ongoing, expansive “context” for the Al-Qaeda-orchestrated carnage of 9/11/2001.

Moreover, Daniels and the 9/11 Museum should be consistently encouraged to add this material (and other similar materials) to future “updates” of the exhibit.

Since its founding in 973 C.E., Al Azhar University (and its mosque) have represented the apogee of Islamic religious education, which evolved into the de facto Vatican of Sunni Islam. Egyptian Sheikh Muhammad Al-Gameia, the Al-Azhar University representative in the U.S., and Imam of the Islamic Cultural Center and Mosque of New York City, at the time of the 9/11 attacks, was interviewed for an Al-Azhar University website, on October 4, 2001. Sheikh Gameia returned to Egypt after September 11, 2001 alleging, without any substantiation, that he was being “harassed.”

Gameia’s interview (original Arabic; extracts translated here) was rife with conspiratorial Islamic antisemitism, which riveted upon his invocation of the central Koranic motifs of Jew-hatred. Al-Azhar’s representative to the U.S. melded this sacralized anti-Jewish bigotry to virulent calumnies against Americans, and threats to the U.S.—witless “dupes” of the Zionist Jews.

Here are representative extracts of the interview:

Conspiratorial Jew-hatred, rooted in the central anti-Jewish motifs of the Koran:

The Jewish element is as Allah described it when he said: “They disseminate corruption in the land.” [Koran 5:33; 5:64] We know that they have always broken agreements [4:155; 5:13], unjustly murdered the prophets [Koran 2:61; 2:87; 2:91; 3:112; 4:155], and betrayed the faith [2:42; 2:75; 2:89] . Can they be expected to live up to their contracts with us? These people murdered the prophets; do you think they will stop spilling our blood? No.

You see these people (i.e. the Jews) all the time, everywhere, disseminating corruption, heresy, homosexuality, alcoholism, and drugs. [Because of them] there are strip clubs, homosexuals, and lesbians everywhere. They do this to impose their hegemony and colonialism on the world. Now, they are riding on the back of the world powers. These people always seek out the superpower of the generation and develop coexistence with it. Before this, they rode on the back of England and on the back of the French empire. After that, they rode on the back of Germany. But Hitler annihilated them because they betrayed him and violated their contract with him. We saw these Zionists, just one hour after the event [the 9/11 attacks], broadcasting on the BBC, the biggest media channel, that the Arabs, and particularly the Palestinians, were celebrating and rejoicing over the American deaths.

Unfortunately, this incident made the American people hate everyone who is Muslim or Arab. What can you expect when you think, first off, that fifty thousand have died and the Arabs are celebrating? How would you feel as an American? Of course you’d want revenge. This is what the Jews plotted and planned. They used the Arabs to carry it out.

All the signs indicate that the Jews have the most to gain from an explosion like that. They are the only ones capable of planning such acts. First of all, it was found that the automatic pilot was neutralized a few minutes before the flight, and the automatic pilot cannot be neutralized if you don’t have command of the control tower. Second, the black boxes were found to contain no information; you cannot erase the information from these boxes if you do not plan it ahead of time on the plane. Third, America has the most powerful intelligence apparatuses, the FBI and the CIA… How did [the perpetrators] manage to infiltrate America without their knowledge? Fourth, Jews control decision-making in the airports and in the sensitive centers in the White House and the Pentagon. Fifth, to date America has presented no proof incriminating Osama bin Laden and Al-Qa’ida. If we take these things into account and look closely at the incident, we will find that only the Jews are capable of planning such an incident, because it was planned with great precision of which Osama bin Laden or any other Islamic organization or intelligence apparatus is incapable…I told the American officials that the American people cannot, at this critical stage, know the real enemy who struck at its heart if it does not awaken from its slumber and stop blaming the Arabs and the Muslims…

On the news in the U.S. it was said that four thousand Jews did not come to work at the World Trade Center on the day of the incident, and that the police arrested a group of Jews rejoicing in the streets at the time of the incident… This news item was hushed up immediately after it was broadcast… The Jews who control the media acted to hush it up so that the American people would not know. If it became known to the American people, they would have done to the Jews what Hitler did!

..Muslims do not feel safe even going to the hospitals, because some Jewish doctors in one of the hospitals poisoned sick Muslim children, who then died.

Calumnies against Americans, and threats to the U.S.—witless “dupes” of the Zionist Jews

[A]fter the incident, things deteriorated. All [commercial] activity with anyone found to be a Muslim or an Arab was immediately halted, and the federal bureaus stopped matters. Furthermore, he was thoroughly investigated, and asked: “Why did you come to America? What is your connection to Osama bin Laden? What do you know about the [Islamic] Jihad, Hamas, and Hizbullah organizations?” Therefore, the Muslim feels imprisoned…Following the incident, Muslims and Arabs stopped feeling that it was safe to leave [their homes]… They stopped feeling that it was safe to send their wives to the market or their children to the schools. The Muslims are being persecuted by the people and the federal government. This is the result of the bad image of Muslims created by the Zionist media, and of their presenting Islam as a religion of terrorism. That is why the Americans have linked the recent incidents to Islam. I personally have suffered; my home was attacked and my daughters were harassed.

As President Bush said, this is a crusade against Islam and against Muslims…He went to the Islamic center in Washington and took back his words, but he did this only after he incited the souls and revealed what happened behind the scenes of American policy. For this reason, I advise every Arab and every Muslim leader not to offer any aid whatsoever to the oppressing superpower [to help it] attack Muslims, because this is a betrayal of Allah and his ProphetAn American attack on Afghanistan will constitute terrorism, as the U.S. did in Iraq and in PalestineI think that this war will be the end of America the oppressor. I see America as the second ‘Aad (according to Islamic tradition, ‘Aad and Thamud were two Arab tribes that were annihilated because they deviated from the path of Allah; see Koran 7:7374)… The U.S. has the same traits as the first ‘Aad: it has skyscrapers and large factories. Allah will impose on the people of the second ‘Aad (i.e. the Americans) what he imposed on the people of the first ‘Aad, because they are a people who are arrogant in their power, but Allah will avenge himself on them.

There is just one historically relevant meaning of jihad despite the surfeit of contemporary apologetics. Dr. Tina Magaard—a Sorbonne-trained linguist specializing in textual analysis—published detailed research findings in 2005 (summarized in 2007) comparing the foundational texts of ten major religions. Magaard concluded from her hard data-driven analyses:

The texts in Islam distinguish themselves from the texts of other religions by encouraging violence and aggression against people with other religious beliefs to a larger degree [emphasis added]. There are also straightforward calls for terror. This has long been a taboo in the research into Islam, but it is a fact that we need to deal with.

For example, in her 2007 essay “Fjendebilleder og voldsforestillinger i islamiske grundtekster” [“Images of enemies and conceptions of violence in Islamic core scriptures”], Magaard observed,

There are 36 references in the Koran to expressions derived from the root qa-ta-la, which indicates fighting, killing or being killed. The expressions derived from the root ja-ha-da, which the word jihad stems from, are more ambiguous since they mean “to struggle” or “to make an effort” rather than killing. Yet almost all of the references derived from this root are found in stories that leave no room for doubt regarding the violent nature of this struggle. Only a single ja-ha-da reference (29:6) explicitly presents the struggle as an inner, spiritual phenomenon, not as an outwardly (usually military) phenomenon. But this sole reference does not carry much weight against the more than 50 references to actual armed struggle in the Koran, and even more in the Hadith.

Consistent with Magaard’s textual analysis, the independent study of Australian linguist and renowned Arabic to English translator, Paul Stenhouse, claimed the root of the word jihad appears forty times in the Koran. With four exceptions, Stenhouse maintained, all the other thirty-six usages in the Koran, and in subsequent Islamic understanding to both Muslim luminaries—the greatest jurists and scholars of classical Islam—and to ordinary people, meant and means, as described by the seminal Arabic lexicographer, E. W. Lane: “He fought, warred or waged war against unbelievers and the like.” A concordant modern Muslim definition, relevant to both contemporary jihadism and its shock troop “mujahideen” [holy warriors; see just below], was provided at the “Fourth International Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research,” at the good Sheikh al-Gameia’s Al Azhar University— in 1968, by Muhammad al-Sobki:

[T]he words Al Jihad, Al Mojahadah, or even “striving against enemies” are equivalents and they do not mean especially fighting with the atheists . . . they mean fighting in the general sense.

Data for 2012 from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) were released December 19, 2013. Gary LaFree, START director and professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Maryland, highlighted the report’s most salient finding: the “incredible growth” in jihad terror attacks perpetrated by “al-Qaeda affiliates.” START identified the six most lethal jihad terror groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda, and the death tolls these organizations had inflicted during 2012, as follows: the Taliban (more than 2,500 fatalities), Boko Haram (more than 1,200 fatalities), al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (more than 960 fatalities), Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (more than 950 fatalities), al-Qaeda in Iraq (more than 930 fatalities) and al-Shabaab (more than 700 fatalities). These attacks, as the START report acknowledged, were intrinsic to a broader phenomenon—the emergence of jihad terrorism emanating from the Middle East, South Asia, and North Africa, as the predominant form of global terrorism, since the 1990s.

Another macabre tally—updated almost daily—is being kept assiduously in cyberspace: the number of attacks committed by jihad terrorists since the cataclysmic acts of jihad terrorism on September 11, 2001. [182] This grisly compilation is if anything a conservative estimate of jihad-related carnage— murder and severe morbidity—because it doesn’t include combat-related statistics per se, or the death toll increases during the days or months after any given attack (as victims die from their injuries). [183] As of April 25, 2014, this grim count had reached 22,839.

The consensus view of orthodox Islamic jurisprudence regarding jihad, since its formulation during the 8th and 9th centuries, through the current era, is that non-Muslims peacefully going about their lives—from the Khaybar farmers whom Islam’s prophet (and jihad model) Muhammad ordered attacked in 628, to those sitting in the World Trade Center on 9/11/01—are “muba’a”, licit, in the Dar al Harb. As described by the great 20th century scholar of Islamic Law, Joseph Schacht,

A non-Muslim who is not protected by a treaty is called harbi, “in a state of war”, “enemy alien”; his life and property are completely unprotected by law…

And these innocent non-combatants can be killed, and have always been killed, with impunity simply by virtue of being “harbis” during endless razzias and or full scale jihad campaigns that have occurred continuously since the time of Muhammad, through the present. This is the crux of the specific institutionalized religio-political ideology, i.e., jihad, which makes Islamdom’s borders (and the further reaches of today’s jihadists) bloody, to paraphrase Samuel Huntington, across the globe.

Lastly, the unfiltered observations regarding the 9/11 attacks by former Al-Azhar representative to the U.S., and Manhattan imam, al-Gameia, should stand as a permanent reminder of the mainstream, authoritative Islamic viewpoint. Defensive non-Muslim infidel reactions against the modern onslaught of jihad depredations will always be viewed by institutional Islam through the warped prism of conspiratorial Islamic Jew-hatred, conjoined to a steadfast belief in perpetual “Muslim innocence.”