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Homeland Security

Osama bin Laden declares jihad

Public Address

Event Details
Primary OrganizationAl-Qaeda
Means of CommunicationSigned Statement
LocationHindu Kush Mountains, Afghanistan
Issued Aug. 23, 19961
ParticipantsOsama bin Laden (Speaker)
Narrative and Notes
ReliableOsama bin Laden signed and issued a Declaration of Jihad entitled "Message from Usamah Bin-Muhammad Bin-Laden to His Muslim Brothers in the Whole World and Especially in the Arabian Peninsula: Declaration of Jihad Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Mosques; Expel the Heretics from the Arabian Peninsula."

Although bin Laden was already very much involved in anti-American activities, the declaration marked an effort to publicly justify planned and unplanned violence against the United States.

The declaration, also known as the "Ladense epistle," was published in the London-based newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi, which bin Laden often used to disseminate his views.

Bin Laden divides his anger between two targets: "The Zionist-Crusader alliance" - Israel, the United States and their allies - and the government of Saudi Arabia, his homeland.

Bin Laden says the greatest injustice inflicted on Muslims since the death of Muhammed more than 1,300 years ago is the presence of U.S. troops - "occupiers" in his words - in Saudi Arabia, the land of the two holy places.

He also bemoans the death of his former leader, Abdullah Azzam, who some say he was responsible for killing, and the detention of the "Blind Sheik," Omar Abdel Rahman, in the United States.

He castigates the government of Saudi Arabia for its poor management of the country's economy and foreign policy.

He calls on Muslims to protect the oil of the Middle East.

He calls for a boycott of American products.

He notes an attack in Aden in 1992 that may have been al-Qaeda's first operation against the United States

He taunts the United States for pulling out of Somalia.

He exhorts Muslim youth to martyrdom.

He either offers thanks or perhaps takes credit for the bombing of Khobar towers in 1996. Al-Qaeda's connection to this attack has not been positively established; although the Saudi Arabian government went to great lengths to conceal any sign of internal dissent and blame Iran for the bombing. Whether the Saudis fabricated Iran's invovlement in unclear.

Bin Laden, addressing the United States and its allies, says, "Terrorising you, while you are carrying arms on our land, is a legitimate and morally demanded duty."

He notes the reported deaths of 600,000 Iraqi children due to embargos on Iraq.

He mentions Palestine, but gives it far less space than Saudi Arabia and the American presence there.

A full translation is available here.
1Indictment, United States versus Osama bin Laden, Nov. 4, 1998.
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