Way back in February of 1998, Osama Bin Laden declared a Jihad against Jews and Crusaders in a written document entitled the “World Islamic Front Statement.”
In that document he specifically stated:
The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies — civilians and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it
Despite this, with just a few notable exceptions over the years, few Muslims answered Bin Laden’s call to kill Americans.
Bin Laden was of course killed by U.S. Special Operations forces in May 2011.
Since then, we have seen many more attacks here in the U.S.
Why? If Osama Bin Laden was not able to inspire Muslims to attack and kill Americans, why are we seeing so many such attacks in recent years? Such as:
- The Orlando night club massacre
- The San Bernardino massacre
- The Chattanooga massacre
- The failed Garland, Texas attack
- The Queens, New York hatchet attack on police officers standing on a street corner
- The Philadelphia attack on a police officer sitting in his squad car
- The Moore, Oklahoma beheading of a grandmother at the hands of a Muslim co-worker
These are just a few of the incidents in recent years that have, unfortunately, been categorized as “lone wolf” terrorist attacks by our recalcitrant news media.
In fact, the term “lone wolf” does not exist in Islamic doctrine. What DOES exist in Islamic doctrine is the fact that Jihad is an individual as well as a collective obligation.
What we are seeing are in fact individual acts of Jihad–acts of war, not criminal acts. We continue to deny this at our peril. There is a doctrinal basis for the enemy that is waging war against us. This form of warfare does not require formal ties between fighters or units (organizations) waging the war.
The concept of Jihad being an individual obligation is longstanding and has its basis in mainstream Islamic law (Shariah). We can see this from a widely-read and used text of Shariah sold annually at the convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the largest Muslim organization in the United States, which was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism financing prosecution in U.S. history: the U.S. v the Holy Land Foundation. In that trial, ISNA was identified as a Muslim Brotherhood front group. Interestingly, ISNA’s Canadian wing was shut down in 2013 for funneling money to a Jihadist terrorist group in Kashmir.
The name of the Shariah text is A Summary of Islamic Jurisprudence by Dr. Salih Al-Fawzan and published by Al-Maiman Publishing House in Saudi Arabia. Al-Fawzan is a member of the Board of Senior Ulema in Saudi Arabia and also a member of the Permanent Committee for Fatwa and Research in the kingdom.
Volume One of this work has a chapter devoted to Jihad. On page 473, the basis in Shariah for individual Jihad is explained in detail and reveals for us why we are seeing this escalation of attacks:
For a Muslim, there are certain cases in which jihad is an individual duty:
1) When a Muslim is present at the battlefield, it is obligatory for him to fight and he is prohibited to leave the battlefield and flee.
2) When enemies attack a Muslim country…
3) When a Muslim is needed to help his fellow Muslims fight their enemies.
4) When a Muslim is called by the ruler (or the one in authority) to fight in the Cause of Allah, for the Prophet (PBUH) said:
Whenever you are called for fighting in the cause of Allah, you should go immediately.
As you can see, these four circumstances are quite broad and all could be interpreted as existing right now. But numbers 2, 3 and 4 are particularly relevant right now and serve as the doctrinal basis for why Muslims have suddenly begun rising up in violent Jihad in the West:
- The Islamic State has called on Muslims to wage Jihad because the Islamic State is under attack. This applies to 2 and 3 above.
- Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of the Islamic State has issued calls on Muslims in the West to rise up in Jihad. This applies to 4 above and is the key difference between the days of Bin Laden and today. (Editor’s Note: there are reports which have an American airstrike taking out al-Baghdadi in the last day or two, though military analysts are said to be skeptical as to their veracity; if those reports are true it’s the most substantial positive development in the fight against global jihad in at least five years.)
Bin Laden may have been admired by many Muslims, but he never declared himself as a Caliph and his calls for Jihad were mostly ignored. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s calls are being answered because he has declared himself as the Caliph and many Muslims recognize him as such. That is why were are seeing acts of individual Jihad that we mostly did not see before.
And that is why the U.S. and the West cannot tolerate the existence of the Islamic State over the long-term. It has become the flame attracting moths. It will only gain more legitimacy and strength if it is allowed to persist. In short, it must be destroyed.
In closing, the concept of Jihad as an individual obligation didn’t start with Bin Laden in 1998. It has been recognized by Jihadi ideologues for many years. Here are some relevant quotes from significant Jihadis through the years, including Bin Laden:
And ulema [Muslim legal scholars] have throughout history unanimously agreed that the jihad is an individual duty…On that basis, and in compliance with Allah’s order, we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims: The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies—civilians and military—is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it…We, with Allah’s help, call on every Muslim who believes in Allah and wishes to be rewarded to comply with Allah’s order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it.
Osama Bin Laden
Ayman al-Zawahiri, Amir of the Jihad Group, Egypt
Abu-Yasir Rifa’I Ahmad Taha, Egyptian Islamic Group
Mir Hamzah, Jamiat ul Ulema-e-Pakistan
Fazlur Rahman, Jihad Movement in Bangladesh
23 February 1998
Indeed, every person should according to Islam prepare himself/herself for jihad, and every person should eagerly and patiently wait for the day when Allah will call them to show their willingness to sacrifice their lives. We should ask ourselves, is there a quicker way to heaven? Only Islam can save mankind from itself. And jihad on the individual and international scale will be a necessary part of this process of change.
Dr. A.M.A. Fahmy
International Islamic Forum
Jihad is an obligation from Allah on every Muslim and cannot be ignored or evaded.
Founder of the Muslim Brotherhood
The establishment of an Islamic State is obligatory. If that state cannot be established without war, then that becomes an obligation also. So it is obligatory for every Muslim to seriously strive for the return of the caliphate.
Jihad becomes an individual duty in three situations:
1. First, when two armies meet.
2. Second, when the infidels descend upon a country.
3. Third, when the Imam calls upon people to fight.
Know that when jihad is an individual duty, there is no requirement to ask permission of parents to wage jihad.
The Neglected Obligation
Muhammad Al-Salam Faraj
Leader of Jamaat al-Jihad, Egypt
The Book commands Muslims to wage their war with the spirit of a religious duty and obligation. This Quranic injunction adds new facets and depths to the concept of a total war. It makes a Muslim citizen answerable both to the state and to Allah in the fulfillment of this divine obligation.
The Quranic Concept of War
Brigadier General S. K. Malik, Army of Pakistan
There is agreement among scholars that when the enemy enters an Islamic land or a land that was once part of the Islamic lands, it is obligatory on the inhabitants of that place to go forth to face the enemy. But if they sit back, or are incapable, lazy, or insufficient in number, the individual obligation spreads to those around them. Then if they also fall short, it goes to those around them, and so on and so on, until the individually obligatory nature of jihad encompasses the whole world. The individually obligatory nature of jihad remains in effect until the lands are purified from the pollution of the disbelievers.
The obligation of jihad today remains an individual obligation on all until the liberation of the last piece of land that was in the hands of Muslims but has been occupied by the disbelievers.
Join the Caravan
Abdullah Yusuf Azzam
“Father of Global Jihad”
Founding member of Al Qaeda
Individual jihad has recurred throughout Islamic history. In the time of the Crusades…groups of mujahideen responded to the crisis. Many isolated expeditions and groups carried out the obligation of jihad.
Individual jihad using the method of urban or rural guerilla warfare is the foundation for sapping the enemy and bringing him to a state of collapse and withdrawal. It will pave the way for the desired strategic goal.
What mandates these methods as a strategic opinion is the imbalance of forces between the resistance and the large invading alliance of unbelievers, apostates and hypocrites.
We fight them for the sake of incidents to cause political pressure and psychological collapse, so that they leave our lands. Carrying out a small operation every month against the enemy will have more of an impact on him than a big operation every year or two.
Toward a New Strategy in Resisting the Occupier
Muhammad Khalil al-Hakaymah
Al Qaeda Chief of External Operations
Killed by US air strike in Pakistan in 2008
Successful jihad will only happen within an ummah [Islamic nation or community] in which the fighting creed is firmly established and clarified. This must happen in order to attain the “Revolutionary Jihadist Climate” that will spontaneously give rise to instruments of resistance.
Violent jihad is as an individual duty obligatory upon every Muslim. All the ulema have said this…”
The Call to Global Islamic Resistance
Abu Musab al-Suri
Al Qaeda propagandist
Captured in Pakistan 2005