We have seen the Islamic Movement’s take on the death of Osama bin Laden. He was a “martyr” and a “sheikh” who died at the hands of “Satan”.
What did Raed Salah, the leader of the movement’s northern branch, make of Bin Laden’s greatest crime?
First of all, he said President Bush should convert to Islam:
A month-and-a-half ago, three days after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, the “Northern Branch” of the Islamic Movement in Israel held a mass rally under the slogan “Al-Aqsa in Danger” – referring to the mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem – in the soccer stadium of the city of Umm al-Fahm in Galilee. A more sensitive date for the rally would be hard to imagine. But Sheikh Ra’ad Salah, the leader of the Northern Branch, didn’t feel he had to make allowances for anyone. His message to U.S. President George W. Bush could not have been more clear: He called on Bush to convert to Islam.
Six weeks after the 9/11 attacks, he was still casting doubt on Bin Laden’s guilt:
Was what happened in the United States on September 11 an act of terrorism or of jihad?
“Your question suggests that you want to reach an answer before we know who was behind that action. Does the United States know who perpetrated the attack? Certainly not. And it is not I who say this, but the secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, who declared that the U.S. does not yet have proof about whom perpetrated the attack.”
Mind you, the attacks were wrong. Because a mosque was destroyed:
But how do you see the attack?
“What do you expect me to say, as a Muslim, when I hear that the attack destroyed a large mosque in one of the Twin Towers, which served Muslims in the area for prayers, and especially the Friday prayers? The Islamic Movement issued a statement condemning the act.”
Still, America should blame itself, and Bin Laden had a point about expelling “the enemies of Islam” from the Gulf:
What is your opinion of Osama bin Laden?
“Osama bin Laden disappointed all the academic research centers, which tried to explain and convince the world that poverty would generate acts of revenge. Osama bin Laden has a vast fortune. He has a budget that is larger than the budget of some countries. This shows that Osama bin Laden’s cause is not a private matter, as he does not suffer from poverty. The U.S. needs to ask why it is the target of attacks and hostilities. Neither the Koran nor the religion of Islam contain any passage, anything at all against the U.S. or against Manhattan or against George Bush.”
What is your view of bin Laden’s desire to expel U.S. forces from the Persian Gulf?
“Osama bin Laden has the right to say what he said. If the U.S. discovers that Israeli diplomats are involved in hostile operations against it, what can it do? Wouldn’t they be expelled? Didn’t the U.S. do that with Pollard [Jonathan Pollard, now serving a prison term in the United States for spying for Israel]? So why shouldn’t the enemies of Islam be expelled from the Gulf?”
He also had this to say in October 2001:
Raed Salah, the head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, wrote in the movement’s mouthpiece Saut Al-Haqq Wa-Al-Hurriyya that it was puzzling that, “the manifests of the two airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines, whose planes crashed into the Pentagon and World Trade Center, included not a single Arab…. Yet three days later the FBI released the names of 19 Arab passengers, claming that they were the hijackers of the four planes.”
So who did it then? Ah hah:
Raed Salah wrote in Saut Al-Haqq Wa-Al-Hurriyya, “A suitable way was found to warn the 4,000 Jews who work every day at the Twin Towers to be absent from their work on September 11, 2001, and this is really what happened! Were 4,000 Jewish clerks absent [from their jobs] by chance, or was there another reason? At the same time, no such warning reached the 2,000 Muslims who worked every day in the Twin Towers, and therefore there were hundreds of Muslim victims.”
“Is it true that the American administration arrested five Israelis with European citizenship on suspicion of involvement in the incident[?] They worked for a Jew in a moving company, with forged visas, and were severely tortured during their interrogation so that they would give details about the incident…”
This is the man the Islamic Forum of Europe, Middle East Monitor, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Palestinian Forum in Britain, and Labour MPs Richard Burden, Jeremy Corbyn, and Yasmin Qureshi want to hear from.