Why did Osama bin Laden declare a jihad against the US government?
Notice how the reporter tries to steer bin Laden's grievances towards fixating on the US presence in Saudi Arabia, note the reporter's second question too.
This is from the 1997 interview:
REPORTER: Mr. Bin Ladin, you've declared a jihad against the United States. Can you tell us why? And is the jihad directed against the US government or the United States' troops in Arabia? What about US civilians in Arabia or the people of the United States?
BIN LADIN: We declared jihad against the US government, because the US government is unjust, criminal and tyrannical. It has committed acts that are extremely unjust, hideous and criminal whether directly or through its support of the Israeli occupation of the Prophet's Night Travel Land (Palestine). And we believe the US is directly responsible for those who were killed in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq. The mention of the US reminds us before everything else of those innocent children who were dismembered, their heads and arms cut off in the recent explosion that took place in Qana (in Lebanon). This US government abandoned even humanitarian feelings by these hideous crimes. It transgressed all bounds and behaved in a way not witnessed before by any power or any imperialist power in the world. They should have been considerate that the qibla (Mecca) of the Muslims upheaves the emotion of the entire Muslim World. Due to its subordination to the Jews the arrogance and haughtiness of the US regime has reached, to the extent that they occupied the qibla of the Muslims (Arabia) who are more than a billion in the world today. For this and other acts of aggression and injustice, we have declared jihad against the US, because in our religion it is our duty to make jihad so that God's word is the one exalted to the heights and so that we drive the Americans away from all Muslim countries. As for what you asked whether jihad is directed against US soldiers, the civilians in the land of the Two Holy Places (Saudi Arabia, Mecca and Medina) or against the civilians in America, we have focused our declaration on striking at the soldiers in the country of The Two Holy Places. The country of the Two Holy Places has in our religion a peculiarity of its own over the other Muslim countries. In our religion, it is not permissible for any non-Muslim to stay in our country. Therefore, even though American civilians are not targeted in our plan, they must leave. We do not guarantee their safety, because we are in a society of more than a billion Muslims. A reaction might take place as a result of US government's hitting Muslim civilians and executing more than 600 thousand Muslim children in Iraq by preventing food and medicine from reaching them. So, the US is responsible for any reaction, because it extended its war against troops to civilians. This is what we say. As for what you asked regarding the American people, they are not exonerated from responsibility, because they chose this government and voted for it despite their knowledge of its crimes in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and in other places and its support of its agent regimes who filled our prisons with our best children and scholars. We ask that may God release them.
REPORTER: Mr. Bin Ladin, will the end of the United States' presence in Saudi Arabia, their withdrawal, will that end your call for jihad against the United States and against the US ?
BIN LADIN: The cause of the reaction must be sought and the act that has triggered this reaction must be eliminated. The reaction came as a result of the US aggressive policy towards the entire Muslim world and not just towards the Arabian peninsula. So if the cause that has called for this act comes to an end, this act, in turn, will come to an end. So, the driving-away jihad against the US does not stop with its withdrawal from the Arabian peninsula, but rather it must desist from aggressive intervention against Muslims in the whole world.
Today, does Peter Bergen give an accurate account of the 1997 interview?
From CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER July 9, 2006:
BLITZER: How much of the terror threat out there is a result of the grievances from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as opposed to other issues that al Qaida and other terrorists have put forward?
BERGEN: You know, if you ask Osama bin Laden in '97, as we did on CNN, what were his grievances, they were principally the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, the sanctions against Iraq. He did mention the Israeli-Palestinian problem as well. I don't think the notion that bin Laden and al Qaida are late to the Palestinian problem I think has been overblown.
For them, of course, you know, the three holiest places in Islam are Mecca, Medina and of course the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. I think this is a motivating factor. There are others. Of course, the situation in Kashmir, what is going on in Iraq. I think Iraq, by the way, has -- if you look at the jihadi Web sites, Iraq is what they're going on about now, not so much the Israeli-Palestinian problem.
BLITZER: You mentioned the U.S. military presence in Iraq as the grievance. Is that more significant than the Israeli-Palestinian problem?
MAKHZOUMI: The core problem in the Middle East is the Arab- Israeli conflict. And I believe that the United States now since they've taken the decision to go into direct negotiations, through a multilateral composition, with Iran, I think they should do the same with Syria. They should do the same thing with all the Arab countries. Because at the end of the day, the United States is the strongest superpower in the world.
So why are they worried about it? I mean, dialogue, at any time, will minimize death.
BLITZER: Fouad Makhzoumi, Peter Bergen, thanks to both of you for coming in.
NOTE: In 1997, they did ask bin Laden what were his grievances and you can see from the above that the first specific thing bin Laden mentioned when asked why did he declare the jihad against the US was US support of the Israeli occupation.
On TV, pundits often lapse into Israel damage control mode and downplay or deny facts concerning Israel.
Dishonesty about 9/11 motives robs Americans of the freedom to decide for ourselves if we want to put our lives at risk over specific foreign policies.
Osama bin Laden has been clearly stating the motives for the jihad for years: "The International Islamic Front for Jihad against the U.S. and Israel has issued a crystal-clear fatwa calling on the Islamic nation to carry on jihad aimed at liberating holy sites. The nation of Muhammad has responded to this appeal. If the instigation for jihad against the Jews and the Americans in order to liberate Al-Aksa Mosque and the Holy Ka'aba Islamic shrines in the Middle East is considered a crime, then let history be a witness that I am a criminal." - Osama bin Laden May 1999
"Your position against Muslims in Palestine is despicable and disgraceful. America has no shame. ... We believe that the worst thieves in the world today and the worst terrorists are the Americans. Nothing could stop you except perhaps retaliation in kind. We do not have to differentiate between military or civilian. As far as we are concerned, they are all targets, and this is what the fatwah says ... . The fatwah is general (comprehensive) and it includes all those who participate in, or help the Jewish occupiers in killing Muslims. " - Osama bin Laden May 1998
"For over half a century, Muslims in Palestine have been slaughtered and assaulted and robbed of their honor and of their property. Their houses have been blasted, their crops destroyed. And the strange thing is that any act on their part to avenge themselves or to lift the injustice befalling them causes great agitation in the United Nations which hastens to call for an emergency meeting only to convict the victim and to censure the wronged and the tyrannized whose children have been killed and whose crops have been destroyed and whose farms have been pulverized " - Osama bin Laden May 1998
These statements are all before 9/11. The crystal clear 1998 Fatwa says: "No one argues today about three facts that are known to everyone; we will list them, in order to remind everyone: "
It then lists three clear motives:
1. U.S. occupation of the Arabian Peninsula.
"First, for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.
If some people have in the past argued about the fact of the occupation, all the people of the Peninsula have now acknowledged it. The best proof of this is the Americans' continuing aggression against the Iraqi people using the Peninsula as a staging post, even though all its rulers are against their territories being used to that end, but they are helpless."
2. U.S. aggression against the Iraqi people.
"Second, despite the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance, and despite the huge number of those killed, which has exceeded 1 million... despite all this, the Americans are once against trying to repeat the horrific massacres, as though they are not content with the protracted blockade imposed after the ferocious war or the fragmentation and devastation. So here they come to annihilate what is left of this people and to humiliate their Muslim neighbors."
3. U.S. support of Israel.
"Third, if the Americans' aims behind these wars are religious and economic, the aim is also to serve the Jews' petty state and divert attention from its occupation of Jerusalem and murder of Muslims there. The best proof of this is their eagerness to destroy Iraq, the strongest neighboring Arab state, and their endeavor to fragment all the states of the region such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Sudan into paper statelets and through their disunion and weakness to guarantee Israel's survival and the continuation of the brutal crusade occupation of the Peninsula."
Pundits should not be trying to rob Americans of the freedom to decide for ourselves if we want to put our lives at risk over specific foreign policies.
Look at the facts. The 9/11 Commission reported on the motive of the "mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks." On page 147 of the 9/11 Commission Report, it says "By his own account, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experiences there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel. "" see Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's motivation was his objection to the US foreign policy of supporting Israel said the final report of the Sept. 11 Commission.
The two terrorist pilots who crashed the two planes into the WTC shared the same motivation. Mohammed Atta, who flew into WTC 1, was described by one Ralph Bodenstein, who traveled, worked and talked with him, as "most imbued actually about Israeli politics in the region and about U.S. protection of these Israeli politics in the region. And he was to a degree personally suffering from that." Marwan al-Shehhi, the pilot who flew into WTC 2, was focused on the same thing, "when someone asked why he and Atta never laughed, Shehhi retorted,"How can you laugh when people are dying in Palestine?"" - page 162 THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT
These facts point to a motive for attacking the WTC in 2001 that is consistent with the motive expressed by terrorists in a letter sent to the New York Times after the 1993 bombing attack of the WTC, "We declare our responsibility for the explosion on the mentioned building. This action was done in response for the American political, economical, and military support to Israel the state of terrorism and to the rest of the dictator countries in the region." Ramzi Yousef, the 1993 WTC bomber, was motivated to attack the US because of US support of Israel: He had no other motivation, no other issue.
It is also the same motive that Mir Aimal Kasi had for killing CIA employees Frank Darling and Lansing Bennett outside CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia in 1993 . Mir Aimal Kasi said, "What I did was a retaliation against the US government for American policy in the Middle East and its support of Israel."
There is no evidence that bin Laden isn't actually angered by the specific foreign policies he complains about. It is extremely unlikely that bin Laden didn't actually object to the specific foreign policies that he complains about, millions and millions of other people object to the same policies, by what "logic" would it be that bin Laden would be in a extremely small minority that "doesn't care" about the policies or thinks they are fine?
Mainstream media certainly has not made it easy to understand what motivated the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.