Sunday, August 24, 2008


Terrorism Literature Report
(TLR) No. 68
22 August 2008

Article 1 “Foreign Fighters: How Are They Being Recruited? Two Imperfect Recruitment Models,” by Clinton Watts, Small Wars Journal Blog, 22 June 2008. Currently, debate focuses on two models of foreign fighter recruitment and transit to theaters of open conflict.

The first model is one of top-down recruitment where Al-Qaeda (AQ) recruits young men and coordinates their travel to an operational theater.

The second model suggests the opposite where young men recruit themselves and find their way to open theaters of conflict joining a global jihadi movement inspired but not necessarily led by AQ.

In fact, neither of these models adequately illustrates modern jihadi recruitment patterns in the Middle East and North Africa.

First, the models assign too much importance to the Internet in the Middle East and North Africa; second, Al-Qaeda globally or locally does not have sufficient operational space, communication, and logistical support to execute large-scale, top-down recruitment; and third, both of these models ignore the key role played by veteran foreign fighters, who are extremely effective radicalizers, recruiters, and coordinators.

Article 2 “Deconstructing Political Orthodoxies on Insurgent and Terrorist Sanctuaries,” by Michael A. Innes, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Vol. 31, No. 3, March 2008. Notions of sanctuary are ubiquitous, embedded in legislative frameworks, political and religious conventions, cultures of hospitality, and codes of honor and revenge the world over.

Terrorists operate across a broad spectrum of political, insurgent, and criminal realms. Their sanctuaries go to the heart of debates on national security because of the questions they raise about the interface between states and individuals, and the complex moral and practical outcomes of counterterrorist operations.

To fully understand sanctuaries, however, is to uncover the problems and pitfalls of waging war on locations—exposing the secret lives of multiple hidden worlds. This murky underground is far more complex and varied than the conventional wisdom suggests.

Sanctuary, in the broadest send of the term, might be just as usefully defined according to what terrorists are thinking, and what they are trying to protect, accomplish, or hide from. Critics of the War on Terror have quite rightly pointed to the futility of essentially waging war on a tactic. Waging war on locations is just as problematic.

Article 3 “Bojinka II: The Transatlantic Liquid Bomb Plot,” NEFA Foundation (Nine/Eleven Finding Answers), April 2008. This item, 23 pages-long and well-documented, is Report No. 15 in the NEFA series, “Target: America.” Sources include various open source media documents and statements from multiple international government officials and agencies.

The report’s sections include: the plotters: England and Pakistan; operational details of the plot; the number of flights, carriers, and routes targeted; planned detonation location—over U.S. cities?; planned timing of the attacks; the projected impact of the attacks; bomb-making efforts; recording martyrdom videos—and authoring a last will; additional material seized by investigators; the plot’s links to Al-Qaeda; Rashid Rauf’s alleged links to Al-Qaeda and Pakistani extremist groups; and the Pakistan connection.

Article 4 “Islam and War: A Review Essay,” by John C. Zimmerman, Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol. 20, No. 3, July 2008. Five books are treated in this book review essay including:
(1) Raymond Ibrahim, editor, The Al-Qaeda Reader;
(2) Shmuel Bar, Warrant for Terror: The Fatwas of Radical Islam and the Duty to Jihad;
(3) John Kelsay, Arguing the Just War in Islam;
(4) David Bukay, From Muhammad to Bin Laden:

Religious and Ideological Sources of the Homicide Bombers Phenomenon; and (5) T. P. Schwartz-Barcott, War, Terror, and Peace in the Quran and in Islam:

Insights for Military and Government Leaders.

The TLR has been published at least monthly since October 2003 by Interaction Systems Incorporated ( TLR issues are intended for non-profit research and educational use only. Quoted material is subject to the copyright protections associated with the original sources.

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Article 1 Return to TLR Cover Page

1. “Foreign Fighters: How Are They Being Recruited? Two Imperfect Recruitment Models,” by Clinton Watts, Small Wars Journal Blog, 22 June 2008.

[KBTZRecruiting, KBTZOrigins, KBTCInternet, KBTGStrategies, KBTWPublicDiplomacy] Clinton Watts previously served as a U.S. Army infantry officer, an FBI special agent, and executive officer of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point (CTC). He currently serves as the director for international and national programs at PJ Sage, Inc.

As noted at, Watts has studied and reported on a collection of foreign fighter data from Sinjar, Iraq.

From we quote:

Currently, debate focuses on two models of foreign fighter recruitment and transit to theaters of open conflict.

The first model is one of top-down recruitment where Al-Qaeda (AQ) recruits young men and coordinates their travel to an operational theater.

The second model suggests the opposite where young men recruit themselves and find their way to open theaters of conflict joining a global jihadi movement inspired but not necessarily led by AQ.

Both models assign a role to the Internet in this process. The first model (top-down) holds that militant propaganda on the Internet makes young men susceptible to recruiters. The second model (bottom-up) holds that the Internet not only radicalizes young men, but also helps them find a way to travel to open theaters of conflict.

The Sinjar records illustrate that neither of these models adequately illustrates modern jihadi recruitment patterns in the Middle East and North Africa.

First, the models assign too much importance to the Internet in the Middle East and North Africa, where it plays a limited role in radicalizing, recruiting, and coordinating young men.

Second, Sinjar data does not portray Al-Qaeda globally or locally to have sufficient operational space, communication, and logistical support to execute large-scale, top-down recruitment.

Third, both of these models ignore the key role played by veteran foreign fighters, who are extremely effective radicalizers, recruiters, and coordinators. . . .

What to think of our two recruitment models

Certainly, official AQ members at times directly initiate recruitment in North African and Middle Eastern countries. Occasionally, individuals self-radicalize and independently seek out the greater jihad, possibly using the Internet for ideological indoctrination and communication with facilitators.

However, both of these scenarios represent only a portion of foreign fighter recruitment. Most North African and Middle Eastern foreign fighters are instead recruited through social, family, and religious networks empowered by former foreign fighters who catalyze the radicalization process.

These local networks are efficient, built for the community, and adaptable to local conditions. Such networks are difficult to create in either a hierarchical AQ Central (top-down) or a self-selecting (bottom-up) system.

An alternative foreign fighter recruitment model might reflect all three patterns described above. My hypothesis for future research estimates that global foreign fighter flow consists of roughly the following:

Self-selecting (bottom-up) recruitment accounts for ten to 15 percent of global foreign fighter recruitment. These self-recruits consist largely of second and third generation Muslims and converts to jihadi doctrine based in Western countries, the majority of which reside in the European Union.

Their increased Internet access and propensity for militancy help radicalize them locally before moving through select intermediaries to more formal networks. These individuals are inexperienced, untrained, and often a liability to the larger AQ movement as their conduct may stray from AQ’s global message, and their operational and security mishaps endanger the group.

However, their access to Western targets and their propaganda value remain a coveted prize for AQ and a worthwhile risk.

AQ hierarchical (top-down) recruitment accounts for an additional ten to 15 percent of global foreign fighter recruitment. AQ, under intense pressure from Western military and intelligence, expends effort to specifically recruit individuals that maintain valuable skills in weaponry, media, operational planning, finance, and logistics.

These recruits pose the greatest threat globally as their knowledge, skills, and experience create hallmark AQ attacks and maintain organizational coherence. While self-recruits are dangerous due to their access, these direct recruits are dangerous due to their ability.

Former foreign fighters embedded in family, religious, and social networks in flashpoint North African and Middle Eastern cities produce between 60 and 80 percent of global foreign fighter recruitment.

Jihadi veterans and their networks are the center of gravity not only for Al-Qaeda but also for decades of jihadi militancy. These communities are motivated not only by militant ideology but by their perceived oppression from the West economically and politically, frustration over the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the influence of Western values on their culture.

High foreign fighter-producing communities sustained the Afghan jihad during the 1980s, provide for current campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, and will be the thread for future militant efforts at the close of current conflicts.

Radicalization—Fear not what you can see, but what you cannot see

Western fixation with AQ’s propaganda has resulted in over-focus on countering media outlets that likely have limited and at best a secondary recruiting impact in high foreign fighter-producing cities and countries.

While AQ mass media propaganda is an important factor in the war of ideas, it should be addressed more in Western counterterrorism efforts in Western countries where socially isolated second and third generation Muslims and Western converts have limited direct access to militant ideologies, limited access to veteran foreign fighters, increased access to the Internet, and a propensity to access militant Websites.

The two non-Western exceptions to this might be Saudi Arabia and Morocco, which appear to have sufficient access and desire to utilize militant Websites. However, the plethora of former foreign fighters in Saudi Arabia and Morocco is far more likely the radicalization culprit with the Internet acting as a distant second factor.

The West should fear instead what it cannot see on the Internet: the day-to-day interactions and subsequent radicalization occurring when veteran foreign fighters encounter young recruits in living rooms, ideological centers, schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods in flashpoint cities. . . . [City] and nodal strategies are far more likely to disrupt the radicalization process than regional and country approaches.

Within these city and nodal strategies, counterterrorism efforts should focus on the social and religious networks and look to interrupt or fragment face-to-face recruitment.

Information operations and public diplomacy efforts might identify local leaders that counter the jihadi narrative and subtly amplify their message through appropriate print and radio communications.

Counter narratives should diminish the image of veteran fighters, casting them as a stain on local communities rather than a badge of honor. Accounts of foreign fighter atrocities and Muslim suffering from these atrocities must be injected into local dialogue in flashpoint cities.

Currently, flashpoint cities hear the glory of jihad from returning foreign fighters, the aggression of Western forces from local media outlets, and little of the suffering of local Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hands of foreign fighters.

One information operations strategy might create coverage of the foreign fighter equivalent of the My Lai massacre from Vietnam. North African and Middle Eastern journalists could follow the path of their local foreign fighters and report on Iraqi and Afghan suffering due to their local recruits. Such methods would ideally reduce the perceived value locally of becoming a foreign fighter globally.

Worry about the flow of fighters into Iraq—Worry more about the flow of fighters out of Iraq

While the distribution and number of foreign fighters is alarming, foreign fighters leaving the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan are of greater concern. Looking at the hypothetical global foreign fighter flow outlined above, Western military and intelligence efforts continue to dismantle Al-Qaeda in South Asia and Iraq, thwarting top-down recruitment.

Western law enforcement and immigration measures continue to improve identifying emerging cells before becoming operational. However, former fighters from flashpoint cities, the majority of Sinjar fighters, pose a tremendous challenge as national sovereignty prevents Western military, intelligence, and law enforcement assets from effectively penetrating local networks. Instead, the West must rely on North African and Middle Eastern governments to execute counter-radicalization efforts.

These efforts vary in effectiveness and potentially exacerbate local recruitment.

Western counterterrorism elements should make foreign fighter tracking as seamless as foreign fighter recruitment. Integration and analysis of immigration and travel patterns between flashpoint cities, Western countries, Iraq, and Afghanistan must be combined with military efforts overseas and law enforcement efforts locally.

Western countries might tie counterterrorism funding to participation in an international foreign fighter-tracking program, which Western intelligence and law enforcement can utilize to track migration patterns from flashpoint cities.

While executing this will require a delicate touch, it will focus on the real counterterrorism goal, which is preventing trained foreign fighters from creating more attacks globally and recruits locally. Western analysts, from a national to a local level, should establish intelligence tripwires for law enforcement encountering individuals from flashpoint cities.

Reducing global foreign fighter recruitment requires synchronization between the military eliminating formal AQ, diplomatic, surrogate, and information campaigns penetrating foreign fighter networks in flashpoint cities, law enforcement disrupting cells domestically, and intelligence organizations coordinating and synthesizing across all three battlefields.

The foregoing is Article No. 1 (TL068A01) in the Terrorism Literature Report (TLR), No. 68, 22 August 2008, prepared by Interaction Systems Incorporated (

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Article 2 Return to TLR Cover Page

2. “Deconstructing Political Orthodoxies on Insurgent and Terrorist Sanctuaries,” by Michael A. Innes, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Vol. 31, No. 3, March 2008. [KBTITheory, KBTQNetwork, KBTGStrategies, KBTZGeneral]. Michael A. Innes is affiliated with the School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom. We quote from this article from

. . . There are as many ways, places, and reasons to hide as there are approaches to understanding and locating the hidden. Notions of sanctuary are ubiquitous, embedded in legislative frameworks, political and religious conventions, cultures of hospitality, and codes of honor and revenge the world over. Their varied and subtle facets have traditionally been depicted in ways that relate to individual human beings, but they are also more generally places and spaces apart, where real and perceived challenges to established order can thrive and persist. . . .

. . . In the post-9/11 world, Afghanistan was seen to be the archetypal terrorist base of operations, linking official sponsorship of terrorism, failed state vulnerability to terrorist exploitation, and the absence of international legitimacy that underscores both. Terrorist sanctuaries have since captured the collective attention. The sad truth, evidenced in the post-Cold War record of so-called intelligence failures, is that one knows precious little about the terrorist underground beyond what its denizens choose to reveal.

[Sanctuaries, murky underground far more complex, varied than commonly believed]

One’s perceptions and understanding of terrorism, insurgency, and war have been in a continual process of negotiation with events and trends in Afghanistan and Iraq, in Istanbul, London, and Madrid. Military and counterterrorist campaigns have raised important questions on how one deal’s with security both at home and elsewhere in the world. Terrorist sanctuaries have been at the center of such discussions, and they remain important for several reasons.

Terrorists operate across a broad spectrum of political, insurgent, and criminal realms. Their sanctuaries go to the heart of debates on national security because of the questions they raise about the interface between states and individuals, and the complex moral and practical outcomes of counterterrorist operations. Critics of the War on Terror have pointed to the futility of waging war on a tactic. Its emphasis on denying “sanctuary” and “safe havens” to terrorists, rooted primarily in a thin layer of traditional counterinsurgency theory and poorly conceptualized policy statements, has placed a premium on physical territory, from mountain caves and frontier hideouts to the bordered world of modern states.

To fully understand sanctuaries, however, is to uncover the problems and pitfalls of waging war on locations—exposing the secret lives of multiple hidden worlds, filled with extremists, criminals, soldiers, and spies, with the pious and the profane, with dangers that lie below the surface and in the margins. This murky underground is far more complex and varied than the conventional wisdom suggests.

Terrorists have hidden in plain sight in modern metropolises, used advanced communications technology to build virtual refuges, crafted militant enclaves out of the disarray of failed states, flocked to distinctly unsafe insurgent battlespaces, and generally challenged the protective limits of law, citizenship, and state. . . .

[Conventional wisdom on terrorist sanctuaries incomplete, awkward, often conflicting]

. . . The conventional wisdom [about terrorist sanctuaries] can be summed up as follows:

· Terrorist sanctuaries are embedded within the structures of states, whether those states are strong or deficient.
· They are geographical phenomena, linked to the physical territories of states, often behind poorly secured political and natural borders.
· They are primarily rural phenomena, concentrated in the countryside or on the rugged frontiers between states.
· They are both isolated and accessible, with low population density.
· They provide terrorists the time, space, and resources to gather, organize, learn, rehearse, test and implement plans, weapons, skills, beliefs, and so on.
· They are bases for numerous types of activity, including leadership, financing, command, control, communications, sponsorship, support, propaganda, and recruiting.

Taken in the aggregate, these six pieces of conventional wisdom offer a conceptual point of departure that is incomplete, awkward, sometimes misleading, and often conflicting. . . .

[Policy formulations to deal with terrorist Internet use clearly inadequate for problem set]

. . . Whether terrorists exist as atomized cells along dispersed transnational networks, gather in numbers for training or planning purposes, or coalesce as semi-cohesive squads for insurgent activity in Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Iraq, understanding their clandestine refuges will require a much wider array of considerations than policy perspectives have provided thus far. [Former Deputy Secretary of Defense] Paul Wolfowitz’s four-part typology of democratic, territorial, ideological, and virtual sanctuaries is a case in point.

Consider the geographic emphasis of territory, implying terrain within a well-defined system of political boundaries. The obvious elision is that solitary terrorists need neither vast expanses of countryside nor bordered areas of sovereign territory in which to operate, but rather physical space needed for their personal survival and subsistence. Collapsing or expanding it to fit more or less terrorists is an issue of scale, but does not change the basic corporeal fact of their existence. They occupy the kind of spaces that do not exist in the absence of states, but instead are enabled by channels and conduits that pass between, over and through them—exploitable sites and pathways, in other words, that defy the power and reach of government.

The sovereignty of such space is another debatable quality, encompassing the political entitlements of legitimate states, as well as the human rights of individuals within them. Such sites might be conceived of at two basic levels: macro-level sanctuaries, with defined political or natural borders, including non-state, sub-state, multi-state, and international areas; and micro-level sanctuaries, that operate irrespective of the role, participation, or presence of states. The political geography of terrorist sanctuaries, with its dynamic “small world topology” of place, space, scale, and linkages between them, addresses this multidimensionality and the shearing force between dispersed social networks and the territorial states they overlay.

Consider also that government efforts to qualify public understanding of ideology in this context often come across as thinly veiled cultural critiques. Setting this aside, ideology is constrained in its focus on revolutionary belief-sets or worldviews that can be real or perceived threats to the status quo. The issue is important, but it does not address the range of terrorist preferences or mentalités: the pragmatic needs of terrorists or their movements, the psychological spaces that captured and underground combatants make for themselves, the cultural masks and inhibitors that may guide their and their leaders’ selection of particular sites and forms of refuge, or the measures terrorists take to compartment their own operational and information security.

For jihadi terrorists, for example, martyrdom may ensure the path to heaven, but social welfare and support to the families of suicide attackers arguably offer relief or refuge from economic distress—pointing to what may be poorly understood incentives for terrorist activity. Prisons are another physical location that can offer psychological and intellectual haven for terrorists. Incarceration represents denial of individual freedom, but provides captive audiences in what all too often become breeding grounds for various forms of radicalization. In this context, “ideology” is inadequate to the complexities of terrorist intent, motive, and psychology, and neglects the broader role of incentives, rewards, and context in the calculus of terrorist activity.

Finally, virtuality is a key element of contemporary terrorist threats, facilitating both domestic and transnational terrorism through access to digital and Internet-based channels for command, control, communications, and intelligence (in military terms, “C3I”).

But a policy focus that suggests virtual sanctuaries are little more than Internet-based communications platforms, also potentially exaggerates the disconnect—paradoxically—between the physical spaces occupied by the Internet’s terrorist users, and the informational requirements that guide, inform, and inspire their exploitation of various means of communication—electronic or otherwise. It also minimizes an element of terrorist virtuality directly related to its informational dimensions.

Policymakers have referred repeatedly to terrorist use of the Internet for online recruitment, training, and so on, and called the process “virtual” or the place “cyber” (or vice versa). But virtuality, meaning a perceived or imagined sense of things, is also the basic psychological factor that separates terrorism from other forms of political violence. The fear of horrible death or injury is what makes terrorism such a potent force and what makes it as much a psychological as a physical threat to security. Multiple meanings of virtuality also indicate that this pillar of official policy formulations is clearly inadequate to the problem set.


Ultimately, terrorist preferences and requirements governing the role of sanctity, safety, and secrecy are much more relevant than artificial—and hastily constructed—political confections put together by speech writers working under undoubtedly extreme time pressures. Taking into account political objectives and motives, such as degrees of intended subversion, could help establish a more accurate and clearly defined understanding of clandestine and fugitive actors and their refuges.

All of which brings one back to the logic of separating sanctuary from various other aspects of terrorist activity. The conventional wisdom clearly differentiates sanctuary from sponsorship, support, leadership, finance, command, control, communications, and so on. But it also clusters such characteristics into democratic, territorial, ideological, and virtual domains.

The first approach predicates the distinctiveness of sanctuary on its physical attributes, whereas the second identifies a crosshatch of vaguely defined categories. Such policy perspectives do not convincingly identify or reconcile the often confusing array of terrorist-related phenomena. Do they set up false distinctions between what are arguably related issues? Cracks in the system, where terrorist interests, sites, and pathways function as specialized niches of clandestine activity, certainly bear closer study.

Sanctuary, in the broadest sense of the term, might be just as usefully defined according to what terrorists are thinking, and what they are trying to protect, accomplish, or hide from. Critics of the War on Terror have quite rightly pointed to the futility of essentially waging war on a tactic. It is a philosophical turn of phrase, better suited to politicking than defining the practical conduct of war. Waging war on locations is just as problematic.

The foregoing is Article No. 2 (TL068A02) in the Terrorism Literature Report (TLR), No. 68, 22 August 2008, prepared by Interaction Systems Incorporated (

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Article 3 Return to TLR Cover Page

3. “Bojinka II: The Transatlantic Liquid Bomb Plot,” NEFA Foundation (Nine/Eleven Finding Answers), April 2008. This item, 23 pages-long and well-documented, is Report No. 15 in the NEFA series, “Target: America.” [KBTDBojinka2, KBTSBritain, KBTSPakWT] From we quote:

The plotters: England and Pakistan

Following the August 2006 arrest of twenty-four British-born Muslims, the Crown Prosecution Service charged twelve individuals for their role in a conspiracy targeting transatlantic flights. Those charged with conspiracy to murder for “their intention to smuggle the component parts of improvised explosive devices onto aircraft and assemble and detonate them on board” were Ahmed Abdullah Ali, Tanvir Hussain, Brian Young (AKA Umar Islam), Arafat Waheed Khan, Assad Ali Sarwar, Adam Khatib, Ibrahim Savant, Waheed Zaman, Nabeel Hussain, Mohammed Yasar Gulzar, Mohammed Shamin Uddin, and Donald Stewart-Whyte (AKA Abdul Waheed). Further, Mohammed Usman Saddique will be tried separately for preparing acts of terrorism and possessing a “CD containing titles such as ‘Bombs and More.’” And, Cossar Ali, who is Ahmed Abdullah Ali’s wife, was charged with failing to disclose information that “might be of material assistance in preventing the commission of . . . an act of terrorism.” The first trial began in April 2008.

Concurrent with the British arrests, Pakistani authorities arrested seven individuals. Media reports have also asserted that “as many as 50 participants and accomplices were involved,” comprising three cells that “may not have been aware of the others or the extent of their assignment.” As the Wall Street Journal explains [on 11 August 2006], “members of the outer cell purchased supplies, rented apartments, and transferred money needed by members of the inner cell. . . Members of the inner cell planned the attacks and at least some were preparing to participate in the missions. Both the inner and outer cells had been actively preparing the attack for more than six months but all the members may not have known each other.”

Operational details of the plot

The day [10 August 2006] of the United Kingdom arrests, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff announced that the suspects allegedly “engaged in a plot to detonate liquid explosives on board multiple commercial aircraft departing from the United Kingdom and bound for the United States. . . . The terrorists planned to carry the components of the bombs, including liquid explosive ingredients and detonating devices disguised as beverages, electronic devices, or other common objects.” He added, “I would say . . . one of the concerns we had is the possibility of bringing on board a number of different components of a bomb, each one of which would be benign, but when mixed together would create a bomb.” Chertoff further revealed that the suicide bombings were to occur “essentially at the same time.”

Since Chertoff made those initial statements, additional information has come to light about the plotters’ intentions. Multiple press sources have reported that the conspirators planned to bring the liquid explosives onto planes in factory-sealed sports drink bottles modified with false bottoms; ABC News also reported that “the terrorists planned to dye the explosive mixture red to match the sports drink sealed in the top half of the container.” In an August 2007 interview, Michael Chertoff supplemented this data by confirming prior reports that two conspirators intended to bring their baby on board and hide explosives in the infant’s bottle. And to initiate the explosions, open sources indicate the terrorists planned on using the flash from a disposable camera.

Evaluating the plot, Chertoff remarked: “This was a very sophisticated plan and operation. This is not a circumstance where you had a handful of people sitting around coming up with dreamy ideas about terrorist plots. The conception, the large number of people involved, the sophisticated design of the devices that were being considered, and the sophisticated nature of the plan all suggests that this group that came together to conspire was very determined and very skilled and very capable . . . this was a plot that is certainly about as sophisticated as any we’ve seen in recent years. . . .” . . .

The number of flights, carriers, and routes targeted

In the two years prior to the April 2008 trial of eight conspirators, authorities refused to publicly, officially identify the exact number of flights, carriers, and routes targeted by the conspirators. . . . Reflecting the authorities’ uncertainty about the exact intentions of the plotters, August 2006 media reporting, citing anonymous officials, was highly inconsistent, of the number of targeted flights ranging widely. For example, the Wall Street Journal claimed there were six such flights, while The Times Online (London) put the number at 12.

An extraordinarily detailed 28 August 2006 New York Times article, which was based on interviews with “five senior British officials” and which was banned from publication in the United Kingdom to avoid prejudicing potential jurors, asserted that British investigators felt the “estimate of 10 planes” was “speculative and exaggerated.” DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff provided additional insight into this question in an August 2007 interview, when he discussed the consequences of the would-be bombers “bringing liquid explosives on seven or eight aircraft.”

The list of carriers to be attacked has also not been made public, though DHS official Michael P. Jackson noted that the plotters’ focus “centered upon carriers that had direct, non-stop flights between the U.K. and U.S.” And Michael Chertoff stated that the group “focused on . . . U.S.-flagged carriers,” though he provided no further information.

Despite the ambiguity in official circles, media reporting has been far more consistent on this issue, as Continental Airlines, United Airlines, and American Airlines were repeatedly cited by press sources such as the Wall Street Journal, Time, ABC News, and NBC News. Moreover, British Airways was mentioned in a number of open source reports.

Between August 2006 and April 2008, press reporting served as the sole source for information on the routes identified by the operatives. Some of the final destinations mentioned included New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Then, in a surprise revelation at the start of the conspirators’ trial in April 2008, a British judge and prosecutors revealed that the bombers also planned to target Air Canada flights bound for Toronto and Montreal.

Planned detonation location—over U.S. cities?

In the immediate aftermath of the plot’s disruption, DHS Chief Intelligence Officer Charlie Allen declared, “we have no evidence there was targeting of cities. . . . This was an effort to destroy multiple aircraft in flight—not against any territory of the United States.” DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff added, “I am not aware of any indication that the intent was to make the plane into a weapon.”

However, in October 2006, Mark Mershon, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office, told a security conference, “The plan was [to] bring them down over U.S. cities, not over the ocean.” Mershon cited a recent briefing that MI5 delivered to the FBI as his source for the new information; Mershon noted that “it would make your hair stand up to be in the room to hear that presentation.”

Planned timing of the attacks

When the arrests were made on 10 August 2006, some analysts pondered whether the attacks were slated to take place on the fifth anniversary of 9/11. However, government officials have downplayed that speculation. DHS Chief Intelligence Officer Charlie Allen stated, “I am a long-standing believer that terrorist plotters or planners execute when they have all of the plot together. . . . We have no evidence this was timed to any particular holiday or special event.” DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff concurred, saying, “I can tell you our general experience, certainly when you deal with Al-Qaeda . . . is that they’re not necessarily motivated by anniversaries the way sometimes people project.”

Providing additional information on the likely timing of the attacks, Chertoff assessed, “I would say that this plot was well advanced. In other words, they had accumulated and assembled the capabilities that they needed, and they were in the final stages of planning before execution . . . this is not a case where this was just in the initial thought stage. There were very concrete steps underway to execute all elements of this plan.” Interviewed in August 2007, Chertoff supplemented this analysis by revealing, “I got a call telling me that it looked as if the focus had turned . . . [to] an attack on the United States. . . . It also became evident, within 24 hours, that the time frame within which the attack was going to take place, would not be a matter of months but a matter of weeks or even days.”

At the time of their arrests, the conspirators had already researched flight schedules on the Internet; as Kip Hawley, head of the Transportation Security Administration, commented, “They were clicking online all over the place.” The plotters were also allegedly planning to imminently carry out a dry run to ensure they could successfully smuggle bomb components on board.

Additionally, following Pakistan’s arrest of alleged cell member Rashid Rauf—which reportedly took place without British authorities being notified—a co-conspirator communicated an urgent message to the United Kingdom-based network; Franco Frattini, the European Union’s security commissioner, told the media that the British plotters “received a very short message to ‘Go now.’” (According to the New York Times, “a senior British official said the message from Pakistan was not that explicit.”)

However, there is no open source evidence that plane tickets had been bought. And, The New York Times’ lengthy account asserted that two of the individuals lacked passports, though they had requested expedited approval. The Times further reported that British authorities would have continued to monitor the conspiracy, but felt compelled to act when the plotters learned of Rauf’s arrest. The Brits were supposedly concerned that the operatives would destroy evidence, flee, or that an unknown cell would spring into action.

The projected impact of the attacks

If the planned attacks were successfully carried out, the results would have been devastating, as a number of U.S. and British officials have pointed out. When announcing the plot’s disruption, Paul Stephenson, deputy chief of the Metropolitan Police, commented, “this was a plan by terrorists to cause untold death and destruction and commit mass murder.” And British Home Secretary John Reid stated, “Had this plot been carried out, the loss of life to innocent civilians would have been on an unprecedented scale.”

Across the Atlantic Ocean, U.S. authorities echoed these stark assessments. DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff remarked, “I think that the plot, in terms of its intent, was looking at devastation on a scale that would have rivaled 9/11. . . there could have been thousands of lives lost and an enormous economic impact with devastating consequences for international air travel.” New York Congressman Peter King, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, agreed that “we’re talking about thousands of people being killed.”

Bomb-making efforts

In its extensive article on the plot, the New York Times reported that in June 2005, with $260,000 in cash, one of the suspects purchased an apartment on London’s Forest Road that served as a bomb factory for the conspirators. Anonymous British officials told the Times that a number of experiments were conducted and there were likely two bomb-makers. And when MI5 agents carried out a covert search, they purportedly “discovered that the inside of batteries had been scooped out, and . . . it appeared several suspects were doing chemical experiments with a sports drink named Lucozade and syringes. . . .”

Then, again, according to the Times, when authorities raided the Forest Road apartment on 10 August 2006, “they found a plastic bin filled with liquid, batteries, nearly a dozen empty drink bottles, rubber gloves, digital scales, and a disposable camera that was leaking liquid. . . .” What’s more, Commissioner Peter Clarke, head of the Metropolitan Police Service Anti-Terrorist Branch, revealed that “since 10 August we have found bomb making equipment. There are chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide, electrical components, documents, and other items.” . . .

Some press reports have questioned whether the operatives possessed the necessary technical skills to succeed in their mission. However, tests conducted at Sandia National Laboratory confirmed that the explosives formula the suspects were utilizing was viable and capable of causing a “large explosion.” Additionally, NBC News has reported that conspirators tested the mixture in Pakistan.

Recording martyrdom videos—and authoring a last will

Shortly after the arrest of the conspirators, [the Metropolitan Police’s] Peter Clarke . . . announced: “We have . . . found a number of video recordings—these are sometimes referred to as martyrdom videos.” According to the New York Times, six suspects recorded seven videos. . . .

The New York Times asserted that one of the cell members penned a last will and testament, which was located at his brother’s home [and which was dated 24 September 2004]. . . .

Additional material seized by investigators

In a press release issued eleven days after the first arrests in England, [Peter Clarke] said:
“There have been 69 searches. These have been in houses, flats, and business premises, vehicles, and open spaces . . . we have found more than 400 computers, 200 mobile telephones, and 8,000 items of removable storage media such as memory sticks, CDs, and DVDs. So far, from the computers alone, we have removed some 6,000 gigabytes of data.”

Additionally, the New York Times reported that one suspect possessed a “diary that included a list that the police interpreted as a step-by-step plan for an attack. The items included batteries and Lucozade bottles. It also included a reminder to select a date.” When searching some of the suspects’ residences, authorities also discovered an array of jihadist material, including literature and DVDs. Some of those DVDs depicted the purported “genocide” in Palestine and Iraq. Abdullah Azzam’s “Defense of the Muslim Lands” was also reportedly seized at one location in Walthamstow.

The plot’s links to Al-Qaeda

Shortly after the plot’s disruption, U.S. officials made guarded statements about the conspiracy’s links to Al-Qaeda’s central leadership. . . . [DHS’s] Charlie Allen commented, “We’re not convinced this particular operation is connected to the Al-Qaeda chain of command.” DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff concurred, asserting that although “this operation is, in some respects, suggestive of an Al-Qaeda plot . . . we cannot yet form a definitive conclusion.”

The next day, Chertoff added, “certainly in terms of the complexity, the sophistication, the international dimension, and the number of people involved, this plot has the hallmarks of an Al-Qaeda-type plot.”

These DHS analyses were echoed by FBI Director Robert Mueller, who pointed out that the conspiracy “had the earmarks of an Al-Qaeda plot” and was “suggestive of Al-Qaeda direction and planning.” (Congressman Peter King, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, issued the most definitive take, saying, “It clearly is an Al-Qaeda-type operation with links to Al-Qaeda.”)

In contrast to the general reticence of U.S. authorities to firmly tie the plan to Al-Qaeda, Pakistani officials went on the record with a different perspective. For instance, Mahmud Ali Durrani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, declared, “Clear evidence leads to an Al-Qaeda connection in Afghanistan.” In August 2006, some anonymous Pakistani security sources identified now-detained Al-Qaeda official Abu Faraj al-Libi as the mastermind of the plot.

However, in 2007 and 2008 reporting, a different Al-Qaeda mastermind was identified. In September 2007, the Washington Post wrote that Abu Ubaidah al-Masri, an Egyptian serving as Al-Qaeda’s “external operations chief,” was the terror network’s “conduit to the British-Pakistani cells that carried out the 7 July 2005 public transit bombings in London as well as the failed transatlantic airliner plot in Britain in 2006.”

An extensive April 2008 Los Angeles Times article echoed this analysis, quoting an anonymous Western intelligence official who said, “The airline plot is his thing.” The article added that investigators believe al-Masri received instructions from his superiors; a senior British official stated, “We have patchy intelligence on the relationship and structure between external operations figures and [Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-] Zawahiri and bin Laden. In the really big plots, we think they played a role.” While additional unclassified information remains limited on this topic, a substantial amount of data has come to light on key plotter Rashid Rauf and his alleged ties to Al-Qaeda. . . .

Rashid Rauf’s alleged links to Al-Qaeda and Pakistani extremist groups

After Rashid Rauf’s arrest, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, the Pakistani interior minister, labeled Rauf a “key Al-Qaeda operative.” Open source reporting has linked Rauf to a number of high-ranking terrorists. For example, NBC News reported that Rauf had contacts with Amjad Hussein Farooqi, whom Sherpao called “the chief Al-Qaeda contact in Pakistan”; Farooqi, who belonged to Laskar-i-Jhangvi and hijacked an Indian Airlines plane in December 1999, was reportedly involved in two assassination attempts on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, as well as the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

NBC further claimed that after accompanying Farooqi to Afghanistan in mid-2002, Rauf “became a regular visitor . . . traveling to various parts of the country to meet Al-Qaeda figures.” In the wake of Farooqi’s death, Rauf allegedly “established . . . direct and regular contact with Abu Faraj al-Libi. . .”, whom the U.S. government believes “was responsible for Al-Qaeda activities and logistics throughout Pakistan.”

Additionally, the Washington Post has claimed that Rauf “reported to” Abu Ubaidah al-Masri, an Egyptian serving as Al-Qaeda’s “external operations chief.” Rauf was also allegedly involved with Jaish-e-Mohammed [JeM], though there is no public evidence tying that organization to the conspiracy. Rauf reportedly became acquainted with JeM’s leadership at the Darul Uloom Madina, a hard-line madrassa founded by his father-in-law. Moreover, Rauf’s wife’s sister married Tahir Masood, the younger brother of the founder of JeM. . . .

The Pakistan connection

A Washington Post report, citing interviews with U.S. and European officials, identified Pakistan as the “hub” of the conspiracy, which “drew financial and logistical support from sponsors operating in Karachi and Lahore.” Moreover, several alleged planners supposedly traveled to Pakistan in the months before their arrest “to seek instructions and confer with unknown conspirators. . . .”

While there are claims some of the individuals attended training camps in Pakistan, with an April 2008 Los Angeles Times article placing the number of attendees at six, this allegation has not been confirmed by official, on-the-record sources. . . .

The foregoing is Article No. 3 (TL068A03) in the Terrorism Literature Report (TLR), No. 68, 22 August 2008, prepared by Interaction Systems Incorporated (

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4. “Islam and War: A Review Essay,” by John C. Zimmerman, Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol. 20, No. 3, July 2008. [KBTZIslam, KBTTSuicide, KBTZBibliography] Five books are treated in this book review essay by John C. Zimmerman who is affiliated with the University of Nevada Las Vegas: (1) Raymond Ibrahim, editor. The Al-Qaeda Reader. New York: Broadway Books, 2007, 318 pages. Paper $10.85. (2) Shmuel Bar. Warrant for Terror: The Fatwas of Radical Islam and the Duty to Jihad. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 2006, 134 pages. Hardcover $16.46. (3) John Kelsay. Arguing the Just War in Islam. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007, 263 pages. Hardcover $16.47. (4) David Bukay. From Muhammad to Bin Laden: Religious and Ideological Sources of the Homicide Bombers Phenomenon. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 2008, 377 pages. Hardcover $49.95. And (5) T. P. Schwartz-Barcott. War, Terror, and Peace in the Quran and in Islam: Insights for Military and Government Leaders. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Army War College Foundation Press, 2004, 401 pages. Hardcover $26.95. We quote from this article from

In April 2002 Al-Qaeda issued a lengthy statement giving seven justifications for targeting civilians in terrorist attacks. Two experts who analyzed the document wrote: “The sheer breadth of these conditions leaves ample theological justification for killing civilians in almost any imaginable situation.”

[Bin Laden: Muslims cannot abandon offensive jihad because it is a basic tenet of Islam]

In The Al-Qaeda Reader, Raymond Ibrahim has translated and masterfully assembled a number of key statements by Osama bin Laden and his chief lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri, that shed light on their views. The centerpiece of this collection is a long exegesis by bin Laden entitled “Moderate Islam is a Prostration to the West.” Most of bin Laden’s communiques are intended to be read in the West as well as by Muslims. However, this statement was solely intended for a Muslim audience. He denounces a declaration by Saudi intellectuals that seeks coexistence with non-Muslims “as if one of the foundations of our religion is how to coexist with infidels” (p. 23).

Bin Laden rejects arguments that the West does not understand Islam. Rather, he acknowledges that there is a great deal of scholarship in the West on Islam. However, the reason for Western hostility is the Islamic doctrine of offensive jihad, which the West wants Muslims to abandon. Offensive jihad requires Muslims to attack non-Muslims and subordinate them to second class citizenship as dhimmis (non-Muslims under Muslim rule). “The West avenges itself against Islam for giving infidels but three options: Islam, jizya [a special tax imposed on non-Muslims], or the sword” (p. 42). Therefore, “Islam is spread with the sword alone, just as the Prophet [Muhammad] was sent forth with the sword” (pp. 46-47).

According to bin Laden, Muslims cannot abandon offensive jihad because it “is an established and basic tenet of this religion” (p. 32). He asks: “Why else did the sword come as an important pillar, enslaving mankind to their Master [Allah]?” (p. 33). Therefore, “Muslims, and especially the learned among them, should spread sharia [Islamic law] to the world—that and nothing else” (p. 33). Waging jihad “is our only option for glory, as has been continuously demonstrated in the [Islamic] texts” (p. 33). He states that “[b]attle, animosity, and hatred—directed from the Muslim to the infidel—is the foundation of our religion” (p. 43).

[Al-Zawahiri: Principle of equality of religions, women in democracies is “blasphemous”]

What is particularly interesting is that bin Laden does not tie his hatred of the West to colonialism, imperialism, Israel, or any of the other perceived grievances often enunciated in communiques intended for foreigners. Here, the offense is Western culture concerning issues like homosexuality and sexuality in general. Since Westerners “transgress the bounds of nature…Muslims are obligated to raid the lands of the infidels, occupy them, and exchange their systems of governance for an Islamic system…” (pp. 50-51).

Zawahiri is as unyielding as bin Laden. He warns Muslims not to befriend infidels. “The Lord Almighty has commanded us to hate the infidels and reject their love” (p. 100). He states that “[b]efriending believers [i.e., Muslims] and battling infidels are critical pillars in a Muslim’s faith” (p. 111). Islam must be made supreme in its own land and then spread “around the world” (p. 113). Democracy and Islam are incompatible because the former is a man-made religion whereas the latter recognizes that “all legislative rights belong to Allah…” (p. 130). The principle of equality in democracies is “blasphemous” because of the equality given to all religions and women. “Islam is so much richer than all these blasphemous principles” (p. 135). On the other hand, “the call to jihad and martyrdom [is] for men and women…” (p. 144).

[Islamic scholars who categorically forbid suicide attacks are few]

Fatwas have received a great deal of attention since 11 September 2001. A fatwa is a religious opinion issued by an Islamic scholar. Such scholars are called the Ulema (learned). In Warrant for Terror: The Fatwas of Radical Islam and the Duty to Jihad, Shmuel Bar masterfully examines the role of fatwas in encouraging terrorism. He makes the common observation that the attempt to reopen the gates of inquiry (known as ijtihad) that were believed to have been closed about 900 years ago, has allowed radicals to co-opt more traditional scholars. Thus, bin Laden’s mentor, the late Abduallah Azzam, who held a doctorate in Islamic studies, wrote: “A few moments spent in jihad in the path of Allah [i.e., fighting for God] is worth more than seventy years spent in praying at home” (p. 39). A Saudi sheikh ruled that 9/11 was justified because the West supports moderate Islam, which “accepts the submission to America…” (p. 53).

Even more mainstream scholars now issue hard-line interpretations. Twenty-eight scholars from Al-Azhar, the world’s leading institution for Islamic learning, issued a statement that killing Israeli civilians in Palestinian suicide attacks was “the noblest act of jihad” (p. 52). Sheikh Tahntawi, when he was head of Al Azhar, reversed his prior position and stated that “every martyrdom operation against any Israeli, including children, women, and teenagers, is a legitimate act…” (p. 63).

Mainstream scholars now issue fatwas that justify fighting American forces in Iraq. Shmuel Bar notes that “[s]cholars who categorically forbid suicide attacks are few” (p. 63). Yusuf Qaradawi, the world’s best known and most influential Islamist, supports Palestinian suicide bombers and Iraqi insurgents. He has also justified the financing of such operations from zakat, the Muslim charity collection intended for the poor.

Interestingly, no fatwas have called for the killing of bin Laden. Bar cites the complaint made in 2004 (still valid today) by the former minister of information for Kuwait that “despite the fact that bin Laden murdered thousands of innocents in the name of our religion … to this date not a single fatwa has been issued calling for the killing of bin Laden…” (p. 98). It might be added that there has been a similar failure in the Arab world to condemn bin Laden as an apostate from Islam. However, Bar does cite a fatwa from an Islamic commission in Spain that condemns bin Laden as an apostate (p. 99).

[History of sharia reasoning a history of conflict where argument often linked with violence]

Jihad is central to warfare in Islam. Literally, jihad means to struggle or strive. However, the predominant contextual meaning of this term in Islamic history is fighting in the way of God, popularly known in the West as holy war. The foundational legal texts written by Imams Malik (d. 795) and Shafi (d. 820), founders of two of the four Sunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence named after them, discuss jihad within the context of fighting.

Similarly, nearly the entire discussion on jihad in the fourteenth century Shafi manual on Islamic law discusses the term as warfare. Islam teaches that Muslims who die must await the final Day of Judgment before gaining entrance to Paradise (or Hell). However, martyrs who die in jihad are granted immediate access to Paradise and thus are able to avoid the “tortures of the grave.” All sins of the martyr are forgiven. Those admitted to Paradise will have many pleasures and advantages. A common belief espoused in some literature is that the martyr will marry 72 virgins.

In Arguing the Just War in Islam, John Kelsay, a veteran academic commentator on Islam, provides valuable insights into the juridical and ideological reasoning that allow for warfare in Islam. He warns that “[t]hose who argue that Islam has nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11 … will find no comfort here. The facts are plain. Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and other militants lay claim to some of the central practices and themes of Islamic tradition” (p. 3). However, later on, Kelsay acknowledges that in Islamic legal reasoning on warfare, “attacks are not directly and intentionally aimed at noncombatants” (p. 109).

Fighting is permitted in Islam “in order to resist injustice” (p. 24). The vast majority of Muslims see the expansion of Islam from the seventh century onwards as “an act of divine providence” which established governments that acknowledged Islam as the true religion “and replaced regimes that, by reason of their religious and moral errors, could be described as tyrannical… Islamic expansion thus involved a systematic program of regime change, in which jihad became the symbol for Muslim effort” (p. 38). War was “a means to a political end (establishing an Islamic state), which is itself a means to an overarching religious goal (calling humanity to Islam)” (p. 100). However, forced conversion of non-Muslims to Islam is strictly forbidden under Islamic law.

Kelsay delves deeply into the development of sharia reasoning which seeks “divine guidance in particular contexts [that] can yield disagreement” (p. 77). Since the process of legal reasoning is largely dependent on precedent, there is little room for independent judgment. “It is not surprising, then, that the history of sharia reasoning is a history of conflict, in which argument is often connected with violence” (p. 75).

[Later Quranic verses provided religious justification for 1,000 years of Islamic expansion]

The foundations for jihad in Islam are found in the Quran and hadiths, traditions attributed to the Prophet Muhammad. David Bukay provides a highly critical and in-depth analysis of this source material in From Muhammad to Bin Laden. Thus, “from an Islamic vantage point, all wars in Islam are religious and there is no concept of secular war…” (p. 48) He divides the Islamic views on jihad into four periods corresponding to Muhammad’s life and death.

The first period was devoted to teaching and self-restraint. Muslims were not to engage in fighting.

The second period involved defensive jihad. Here, believers could retaliate if attacked.

The third stage was offensive jihad that culminated in the conquest of Mecca by Muhammad and the consolidation of Islamic rule in Arabia.

The fourth stage was initiated by Muhammad’s followers after his death when they began their invasion and conquest of countries outside of the Arabian Peninsula. Unlike some commentators, Bukay does not see these conquests as benign.

Bukay examines the doctrine of abrogation in Islam, which holds that the earlier more moderate Quranic verses have been abrogated by the later more militant ones. The later Quranic verses have provided the religious justification for the 1,000 years of Islamic expansion from the seventh through seventeenth centuries. The militant Quranic verses, Muhammad’s conquests, and the expansion period have all profoundly affected a wide variety of militants from the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928, to bin Laden and those who share his ideology.

They have also influenced others, who are considered “moderate,” like Yusuf Qaradawi, discussed earlier in this essay. They see a continuing need for Islamic expansion. Bukay does not see Western colonialism as being responsible for contemporary militancy because the 1,000-year Islamic expansion was itself a type of colonialism. He asks: if Western colonialism is responsible for contemporary Middle East violence, “why is there such a high degree of violence inside and from Saudi Arabia, a state without a colonialist past?” (p. 114).

One aspect that should be addressed is Bukay’s citing the eminent historian of Islam, Bernard Lewis, as the first to use the phrase “clash of civilizations” in a 1990 article to describe the conflict between the Islamic world and the West (p. 324). Other writers attribute the phrase to political scientist Samuel Huntington, who used it after Lewis. This is a very common error. In fact, the term was used in 1987 to denote the Islamic-Western conflict by the Islamist writer Sa’id Ayyub, a purveyor of apocalyptic visions and conspiracy theories.

[Most Islamic hadiths show Muhammad disapproved of targeting innocent civilians in war]

T. P. Schwartz-Barcott takes a less pessimistic view than Bukay in War, Terror, and Peace in the Quran and in Islam. He breaks down and analyzes many Quranic verses that deal with fighting, peace treaties, and related topics. He argues that any person who is literate in one national language “can select a few passages from the Qur’an about war and peace that suits his or her preconceptions and purposes” (p. 33).

Yet, U.S. forces in Kabul, Afghanistan, captured material “that indicates that the Qur’an was used extensively in the military training of thirty-nine [Al-Qaeda] recruits” (p. 248).
Schwartz-Barcott notes that there are Quranic verses where it is not difficult to see how some “might use these passages to plan and justify their acts of terrorism…” (p. 62). However, he also argues that some “sword verses” (i.e., Suras 2:190-193 and Sura 9:5) are either mitigated within the verses themselves or mitigated by surrounding verses. Although the Quran does not address many issues involving conduct in war, the most authoritative hadiths (traditions) of Islam show that Muhammad disapproved of targeting innocent civilians in battle.

He develops a table (Appendix A) of 214 battles involving Muslims from 633 to 1982 where he identifies when Muslims were attackers and when they were defenders. He acknowledges the unique nature of Islam’s origins in that “few if any world religions besides Islam were founded by a person [Muhammad] who led his armies in more than twenty-five battles … and ordered his armies to fight more than thirty additional battles during his lifetime” (p. 301).

The book concludes with a number of useful suggestions for policy-makers in dealing with Muslim countries. These involve promoting the protection of religious freedoms and providing humanitarian, educational, and military assistance. He demonstrates how the Quran can be cited to promote peaceful and harmonious relations (pp. 333-334).

The foregoing is Article No. 4 (TL068A04) in the Terrorism Literature Report (TLR), No. 68, 22 August 2008, prepared by Interaction Systems Incorporated (

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Winter Patriot said...

all your links are broken

Mohamed said...

Does the Koran say Torah and Gospel corrupted?

Some people have said that the Koran says that the Torah and Gospel are corrupted and its no longer a book of guidance. They say "Islam" says so. Some Muslims even have said that anyone who still follows these scriptures is no longer a believer but a disbeliever and will go to hell. Indeed some Sunni/Shia scholars claim that any follower of islam who does not believe that the Jews and Christians are infidels is an infidel himself! However when asked to provide their evidence from the Koran they are mute and confused. This is because what they say and the Koran are complete opposites. Lets look at the Koran and what it say:

Let the People of the Gospel judge by what God hath revealed therein. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what God hath revealed, they are (no better than) those who rebel. (Surah 5, Maida, verse 47)

But why do they come to thee for decision, when they have (their own) Law before them?- Therein is the (plain) command of God; yet even after that, they would turn away. For they are not (really) people of faith. (Surah 5, Maida, verse 43)

Then is it only a part of the Book that ye believe in, and do ye reject the rest? But what is the reward for those among you who behave like this but disgrace in this life? - And on the Day of Judgment they shall be consigned to the most grievous penalty. For God is not unmindful of what ye do. (Surah 2, Baqara, verse 85)

Say: "O People of the Book! Ye have no ground to stand upon unless ye stand fast by the Law, the Gospel and all the revelation that has come to you from your Lord...." (Surah 5, Al Ma'idah, verse 68)

If only they had stood fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that was sent to them from their Lord, they would have enjoyed happiness from every side. There is from among them a party on the right course: But many of them follow a course that is evil. (Surah 5, Maida, verse 69)

Of the people of Moses there is a section who guide and do justice in the light of truth. (Surah 7, A'raf, verse 159)

2.41 And believe in what I reveal, confirming the revelation which is with you, and be not the first to reject Faith therein, nor sell My Signs for a small price; and fear Me, and Me alone.

2.89 And when there comes to them a Book from God, confirming what is with them,- although from of old they had prayed for victory against those without Faith,- when there comes to them that which they (should) have recognized, they refuse to believe in it but the curse of Allah is on those without Faith.

2.91 When it is said to them, “Believe in what God Hath sent down, “they say, “We believe in what was sent down to us:” yet they reject all besides, even if it be Truth confirming what is with them. Say: “Why then have ye slain the prophets of Allah in times gone by, if ye did indeed believe?”

Here the Koran clearly states the Koran confirms what is with them, meaning the Jews and Christians. Clearly this is not stating scriptures ofthe past but what they have possession of. As I did my research about this subject some time ago I was looking for where this evidence of the tampering and corruption is mentioned. How can God say the previous scriptures are corupted then order them to follow them. It even attacks those who refuse to follow it and says its a confimation of the scriptures they have with them.

Whats more the Koran seems to indicate its a confirmation of the previous scriptures.

To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what God hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the Truth that hath come to thee. To each among you have we prescribed a law and an open way. If God had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to God; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute; Surah 5 Verse 48

It even uses the previous scripture as evidence for the validity of the Koran:

And if thou (Muhammad) art in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto thee, then question those who read the Scripture (that) was before thee... (Surah 10, Jonah, verse 94)

Muslims who follow Sunni/Shia Islam say these verses are concerning the originals. But these scriptures have not changed since the days of the prophet. In fact they are the way are today long before the prophet. So what scriptures was the Koran talking about. They then point to this verse as evidence.

2.79 Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands, and then say:"This is from God," to traffic with it for miserable price!- Woe to them for what their hands do write, and for the gain they make thereby.

This is then used to support the tampering of the scriptures. However upon close examination, I see they failed to look at the verse before it and after it.

2.78 And there are among them illiterates, who know not the Book, but (see therein their own) desires, and they do nothing but conjecture.

So the Koran is saying those poeple were making things up but never said the Book itself has been tampered since those people never knew the book. It was confusing at first but then the next verse explained it:

2.80 And they say: "The Fire shall not touch us but for a few numbered days:" Say: "Have ye taken a promise from God, for He never breaks His promise? or is it that ye say of God what ye do not know?"

This is not in the Torah but its refering to the Talmud. The supposed "oral" traditions the Rabbis say was passed down to them.

The Rabbinic tradition arose from the Pharisaic tradition after the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70. In general, it moved away from traditional Judaism's emphasis on an earthly future for Israel toward the concept of reward in the life to come.[4] Gehinom (Gehenna), according to rabbinic literature, is a place or state where the wicked are temporarily punished after death. “Gehenna” is sometimes translated as "hell", but the Christian view of hell differs from the Jewish view of Gehenna. Most sinners are said to suffer in Gehenna no longer than twelve months.Those who are too wicked to reach paradise are sometimes said to be punished forever.[5] Other accounts reject the idea that a merciful God would punish anyone forever,[6] in which case those too wicked for purification are destroyed (see annihilationism)

Also in the Talmud:

Sanhedrin 57a . A Jew need not pay a gentile ("Cuthean") the wages owed him for work.

3.75. Among the People of the Book are some who, if entrusted with a hoard of gold, will (readily) pay it back; others, who, if entrusted with a single silver coin, will not repay it unless thou constantly stoodest demanding, because, they say, "there is no call on us (to keep faith) with these ignorant (Pagans)." but they tell a lie against God, and (well) they know it.

Sanhedrin 106a . Says Jesus' mother was a whore: "She who was the descendant of princes and governors played the harlot with carpenters." Also in footnote #2 to Shabbath 104b of the Soncino edition, it is stated that in the "uncensored" text of the Talmud it is written that Jesus mother, "Miriam the hairdresser," had sex with many men.

4.156 Quran
That they rejected Faith; that they uttered against Mary a grave false charge;

The famous warning of Jesus Christ about the tradition of men that voids Scripture (Mark 7:1-13), is in fact, a direct reference to the Talmud, or more specifically, the forerunner of the first part of it, the Mishnah, which existed in oral form during Christ's lifetime, before being committed to writing. Mark chapter 7, from verse one through thirteen, represents Our Lord's pointed condemnation of the Mishnah.


The Schindler's List Quote

The Talmud (i.e., the Babylonian Talmud) text of Sanhedrin 37a restricts the duty to save life to saving only Jewish lives.

The book on Hebrew censorship, written by Jews themselves (Hesronot Ha-shas), notes that some Talmud texts use the universalist phrase:

"Whoever destroys the life of a single human is as if he had destroyed an entire world; and whoever preserves the life of a single human being is as if he had preserved an entire world."

However, Hesronot Ha-shas points out that these are not the authentic words of the original Talmud.

In other words, the preceding universalist rendering is not the authentic text of the Talmud and thus, for example, this universalist version which Steven Spielberg in his famous movie, Schindler's List attributed to the Talmud (and which became the motto of the movie on posters and in advertisements), is a hoax and constitutes propaganda intended to give a humanistic gloss to a Talmud which is, in its essence, racist and chauvinist hate literature.

In the authentic, original Talmud text it states that "whoever preserves a single soul of Israel, it is as if he had preserved an entire world" (emphasis supplied). The authentic Talmud text sanctions only the saving of Jewish lives.

The Koran tells us about this and condemns this:

5.32 On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land

"According to the Talmud, Jesus was executed by a proper rabbinical court for idolatry, inciting other Jews to idolatry, and contempt of rabbinical authority. All classical Jewish sources which mention his execution are quite happy to take responsibility for it; in the talmudic account the Romans are not even mentioned.

"The more popular accounts--which were nevertheless taken quite seriously--such as the notorious Toldot Yeshu are even worse, for in addition to the above crimes they accuse him of witchcraft. The very name 'Jesus' was for Jews a symbol of all that is abominable and this popular tradition still persists...

The koran tells us:

4.157. That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of God.;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-

The Talmud then say:

Rosh Hashanah 17a. Christians (minnim) and others who reject the Talmud will go to hell and be punished there for all generations.

Sanhedrin 90a. Those who read the New Testament ("uncanonical books") will have no portion in the world to come.

Shabbath 116a. Jews must destroy the books of the Christians, i.e. the New Testament.

The koran responds by:

And they say: "None shall enter Paradise unless he be a Jew or a Christian." Those are their (vain) desires. Say: "Produce your proof if ye are truthful."Nay,-whoever submits His whole self to God and is a doer of good,- He will get his reward with his Lord; on such shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. The Jews say: "The Christians have naught (to stand) upon; and the Christians say: "The Jews have naught (To stand) upon." Yet they study the (same) Book. Like unto their word is what those say who know not; but God will judge between them in their quarrel on the Day of Judgment. 2.111-113

“Non-Jewish property belongs to the Jew who uses it first” - (Babba Bathra 54b)

“If two Jews have deceived a Non-Jew, they have to split the profit” - (Choschen Ham 183,7)

“Every Jew is allowed to use lies and perjury to bring a Non-Jew to ruin” - (Babha Kama 113a)

“The Jew is allowed to practice usury on the Non-Jew” - (Talmud IV/2/70b)

The koran then says:

4.160. For the iniquity of the Jews We made unlawful for them certain (foods) good and wholesome which had been lawful for them;- in that they hindered many from God's Way;-
4.161. That they took usury, though they were forbidden; and that they devoured men's substance wrongfully;- we have prepared for those among them who reject faith a grievous punishment.

Note: The Torah forbids the Jews from the devouring of Usury ("neshek").See the Old Testament Ex. 22: 25;
Le. 25: 36-37; De. 23:19-20; Ne. 5: 7/10; Ps. 15: 5; Pr. 28:8

The Koran then says:

4.162. But those among them who are well-grounded in knowledge, and the believers, believe in what hath been revealed to thee and what was revealed before thee: And (especially) those who establish regular prayer and practise regular charity and believe in God and in the Last Day: To them shall We soon give a great reward.

As for the Gospel

Jesus is reported to have said “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father” and “I am in the Father, and the Father in me” (John 14:9-10); but in the same passage he shortly goes on to add: “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” (John 14:20) Again, while Jesus does proclaim “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30), he also prays for his followers, “that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.” (John 17:21) Whatever the nature of the “oneness” Jesus is claiming exists between God and himself, it is apparently something that is supposed to hold between God and all Christians – in which case it can hardly be the relation of numerical identity.

Likewise, in the two New Testament passages where Jesus is said to have regarded himself as “equal with God” – John 5:18 and Philippians 2:6 – the Greek word translated “equal” is isos, which means “on the same level” or “of the same rank,” never “identical.” The claim that Jesus was God did not become Christian orthodoxy until the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE. The orthodox reading of these passages seems natural today only because they are read through the lens of what “everybody knows” about Jesus’ claims to divinity; few would find incarnationism in the texts unless they first brought it there.

An objector may point to the opening lines of the Gospel of John, which apparently identify the “Logos” with God (John 1:1) and the “Logos made flesh” with Jesus (John 1:14). Of course these lines were not spoken by Jesus, and so do not show that Jesus himself claimed to be God; but in any case, what exactly are they saying? The relation between God and the Logos seems to fall short of strict identity; the Greek, literally translated, says something like “the Logos was with the God, and God is what the Logos was” – an awkward construction clearly trying to express a subtler relation than identity. The term “Logos” is borrowed from Greek philosophy, where it means a thing’s abstract rational nature; the Logos that is “with” God and is what God is, is not God but God’s nature. To say that Jesus is the Logos made flesh, then, is simply to say that he is a physical embodiment of God’s nature. This hardly makes him identical with God, since all human beings are supposed to be created from God’s spirit (Genesis 2:7) and in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27).

Indeed the New Testament authors clearly understand Jesus as offering everyone the opportunity to be sons (and daughters) of God and to partake of God’s nature:

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. ... And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:14-17)

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him.” (1 John 3:2)
As the New Testament authors understand Jesus’ message, being the “Son of God” is evidently not a status that Jesus claims for himself alone, but one that is open to all Christians;

Clearly this has no basis in the Gospel, the Koran reiterates this:

People of the Book, do not go beyond the bounds in your religion, and say nought as to God but the Truth. The messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was only the messenger of God, and his word that he committed to Mary, and a spirit originating from Him. So believe in God and His Messengers, and say not 'Three'. Refrain, better is for you. God is only one God. Glory be to him-that He should have a son! To Him belongs all that is in the Heavens and in the Earth; God suffices for a guardian. (4.171)

"And they say, The All-Merciful has taken unto Himself a son. You have indeed advanced something hideous. As if the skies are about to burst, the earth to split asunder and its mountain to fall down in the utter ruin for that they have attributed to the All-merciful a son; and behaves not the All-merciful to take a son. None there in the heavens and earth but comes to the All-Merciful as a servant" (Maryam 19:88-93)

There is nothing, absolutely nothing about corruption or tampering of previous scriptures. The Koran states that the Talmud is NOT the word of God and says the Christian priests are NOT following the Gospel but indeed they hide and conceal and take things out of context and following vain desires:

"They (i.e. Jews and Christians) changed words from their contexts and forgot a good part of the message given to them, and you will continue to find them -except a few among them- bent on new deceits…" (5:13)

There is among them a section who distort the Book with their tongues: (as they read) you would think it is a part of the Book, but it is no part of the Book; and they say, 'That is from God,' but it is not from God: It is they who tell a lie against God and (well) they know it! (3,78)

The Koran is here to support and confirm the previous scriptures. A reminder to many not to abandon the scriptures and follow men. The scriptures must be read as a WHOLE and not in isolation.

Then is it only a part of the Book that ye believe in, and do ye reject the rest? But what is the reward for those among you who behave like this but disgrace in this life? - And on the Day of Judgment they shall be consigned to the most grievous penalty. For God is not unmindful of what ye do. ( 2,85)