Radical Muslims will always have an enduring hatred of Western countries and culture, the editor of “The Al Qaeda Reader” told students at Marvin Center Tuesday night.
Ray Ibrahim is the first person to translate several key Al Qaeda written documents to English. He spoke in an event sponsored by Students Defending Democracy, a student organization, about his collection of communications between Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders.
“The fact is (bin Laden) has made a pretty strong and solid argument and that’s why there are suicide bombers,” Ibrahim said.
The documents address many ideas supported by Al Qaeda, such as suicide bombings and violence against the west. Bin Laden and his allies use Muslim beliefs and laws to show that these actions are acceptable in certain cases, Ibrahim said.
He said the documents offer three options for non-Muslims – submit to Islam, live under Islam or die.
“The bottom line is the West is damned if they do and damned if they don’t unless they accept the three choices,” Ibrahim said.
Ibrahim said he became interested in the subject after Sept. 11 when he came across documents written by Osama bin Laden and addressed to the western world. Ibrahim was studying Mediterranean history and Islamic theology at the time and said he was surprised that bin Laden made reference to events he was studying that had occurred hundreds of years ago.
“He talks about it in a way to excite modern day jihadists,” Ibrahim said.
After attending graduate school at Georgetown, Ibrahim worked at the Library of Congress, where he came across Al Qaeda documents that had not yet been translated.
“What struck me about these is the tone and content were radically different from what we’d been seeing,” he said.
Ibrahim said the documents can be separated into two categories, propaganda and theology. Propaganda documents were those sent directly to the West. Theological documents are meant specifically for Muslims.
In the documents, Bin Laden proclaims that the root of terrorism rested in Israel. However, Ibrahim said support for Al Qaeda would not dissipate even if the western world ceased supporting Israel.
“Once they do have the power, the next step will go back to waging a powerful jihad,” he said.
The documents also say that Muslims must be wary of non-Muslims and keep a distance between themselves and anyone who does not follow Islam.
“If upheld, (bin Laden’s theology) is going to create a massive separation between Muslims and non-Muslims, which what Al Qaeda wants,” said Ibrahim.
As to what the west could do to help combat Al Qaeda, Ibrahim concluded, “We need to approach it honestly and realistically and put the Islamic world in the verbal hot seat.”