Does Osama Want To Kill All Christians?


“We are the target of enemies who boast they want to kill—kill all Americans, kill all Jews, and kill all Christians,” President Bush said Thursday. When did members of al-Qaida boast that they wanted to kill all Americans, Jews, and Christians?

Let’s take these one at a time. If you parse Hamid Mir’s recent interview with Osama Bin Laden, it’s pretty clear that Bin Laden wants to kill all Americans. “The American Congress endorses all government measures and this proves that the entire America is responsible for the atrocities perpetrated against Muslims. The entire America, because they elect the Congress,” Bin Laden told Mir.

At another point, Bin Laden said he particularly wants to single out men above the age of 13 for death:

America and its allies are massacring us in Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir and Iraq. The Muslims have the right to attack America in reprisal. The Islamic Shariat says Muslims should not live in the land of the infidel for long. The Sept 11 attacks were not targeted at women and children. The real targets were America’s icons of military and economic power. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) was against killing women and children. When he saw a dead woman during a war, he asked why was she killed? If a child is above 13 and wields a weapon against Muslims, then it is permitted to kill him.

Bin Laden later says he is only against the American government, not the American people, saying, “I ask the American people to force their government to give up anti-Muslim policies.” That argument falls apart pretty quickly when you realize that Bin Laden thinks Afghanistan is the only Islamic country in the world: “Pakistan follows the English law. I don’t consider Saudi Arabia an Islamic country.” Most likely, the only way Americans could completely appease Bin Laden would be if they established a no-shaving, burqa-wearing Muslim theocracy of their own.

Having said that, Osama does have specific political goals. The clear implication of his 1998 fatwa was that he wanted to kill Americans in order to expel U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia: “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, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim.”

What about all Jews? Given that Bin Laden doesn’t distinguish between America and Israel, you can safely put this one in the “yes” column, too. As Bin Laden put it in his latest Al Jazeera broadcast: “Those who distinguish between America and Israel are the real enemies of the nation. They are traitors who betrayed God and His prophet, and who betrayed their nation and the trust placed in them.”

And what about Christians? This one’s the biggest stretch. Bin Laden clearly envisions the war as a titanic struggle between Western civilization and Islam, and he lumps “the cross and the Jews” together. In his most recent broadcast, Bin Laden declared: “God says: ‘Never will the Jews or the Christians be satisfied with thee unless thou follow their form of religion.’ It is a question of faith, not a war against terrorism, as Bush and Blair try to depict it.” He also said that “Bush has carried the cross and raised its banner high.”

Does that mean Osama wants to kill all Americans, Jews, and Christians? Or would he be satisfied to sit at the head of a universal Islamic caliphate stretching from north Africa to central Asia? Explainer hopes we never find out the answer to that.

Explainer has asked the White House to give supporting evidence for Bush’s statement. If they turn up more concrete evidence, Explainer will update this item.

Next question?