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No one surpasses Osama bin Laden when it comes to explaining the ideology of al Qaeda and its operations. He is the first to revel in his ability to encourage young men to join the ranks of his organization. He has mentioned, in a past interview, the attacks in Riyadh , almost ten years ago which marked the start of the current cycle of violence. Responding to accusations of being involved in the incidents, bin Laden said, “I admit instigating the attacks. I have always made clear that I took part in issuing the fatwa (religious edict) that encouraged Muslims to start jihad (holy struggle). This started a few years ago, when a number of men accepted the call, such as

Abdul Aziz al Muthim who was killed in Riyadh , Moslih al Shamrani, Riyadh al Hajeri and Khaled al Said. I wish God would reward them all.” Bin Laden gloated, “All four confessed during interrogation that they were affected by my statements and publications.”

Of course, instigation is at the centre of every violent attack by Islamic extremists. It provides fundamentalists groups the foot soldiers ready to give up their time and sometimes their life and attend military training, receive funding and help the organization. The most difficult element in terrorism is finding a steady supply of brainwashed young men who are ready to die for a cause.

In Britain , the Muslim community has long been renown for its love of peace, with no member ever accused of murder because of hate or a desire for vengeance. Sadly, this is no longer the case as fundamentalist ideologies have taken hold in British society. Arab and Pakistani extremist groups have spread their wicked ideologies, calling for revenge and offering redemption as a reward for martyrdom sustained in violent assaults. In turn, the Asian community in Britain , the Arab community in France and in the Netherlands , and young men in the Arab World especially in the aftermath of the war in Afghanistan have all been bombarded with such messages.

In his pronouncements, Bin Laden was clear about his role as peddler of extremist ideology. Early on, he understood that the key to these young men’s lives was making them believe his message, after which it became easy to tie an explosive belt around their chest and send them to their deaths. Through his propaganda, the al Qaeda leader succeeded in building an army of mercenaries with a global reach. Slipping unnoticed into an underground tunnel crowded with a million people and then unto a train, as happened in London a fortnight ago, is by no means difficult. Similarly, reaching a seaside resort full of holidaymakers at the height of summer is no feat. What is complicated, however, is recruiting a brave and honest man who is ready to sacrifice his life to kill a number of innocent people.

If bin Laden was indeed telling the truth by admitting he encouraged al Shamrani and al Hajeri and al Said over nine years ago, why has it taken us so long to realize the dangers of instigating terrorism and its effects on our communities? Organizations such as al Qaeda promote extremists ideologies that can mobilize young men and fill them with anger and hate and make them accept violence. All the members of al Qaeda share a hatred of mainstream society, a lust for blood, a love of martyrdom, and the erroneous belief that murder constitutes holy war.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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