Interview with ex-al-Qa'ida Member
Reply #1 - March 03, 2015, 11:20 AM
Dean was at a training camp in Afghanistan when the bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam took place in 1998. He was concerned to learn that as well as the 12 American casualties, 240 or more local people died, and 5,000 were wounded.
"I think that is when the horror of it started to sink in. And this is when I realised that if this is the opening salvo of this war, where is the next target? Argentina, South Africa, Mozambique? Are we going to fight Americans in Africa in order to expel them from the Middle East, from the Arabian peninsula? It just didn't make sense."
"And as a theologian, that's when I started to have doubts about the legality of the whole thing. So I started to ask questions. I went, I remember, to Abdullah al Mohaja, who was the de facto mufti of al- Qaeda… I said, "It's not that I have doubts or anything but can you please enlighten me about the religious justifications for attacking an embassy belonging to the enemy, yes, but at the same time the fact that it's surrounded by potentially huge collateral damage?"
He said to me, "Well look, there is a fatwa issued in the 13th Century AD throughout the Muslim world, which legitimises attacking an enemy even if it means there are civilian deaths because the enemy is using them as a human shield." And he said, "This fatwa is comprehensive, it gives us justification and there is no doubt about the legality of what we have done."
So I decided to go and look for myself, and this is when I received a big shock. The fatwas were issued in response to questions sent by Muslim cities in Central Asia, Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, asking this particular question: "Look, the Mongols are invading. Every time they sack a city, they take a segment of the population from that city, a thousand or two or three, and make them push the siege towers towards the walls of the next city. So do we shoot at our fellow Muslims, who are against their wills pushing the siege towers into the walls of our city, or not?"
And then the fatwa came: "Yes, this is a case where the Mongols are using civilian Muslims as human shields in order to achieve a military aim and if you don't shoot at them, you will end up being killed yourself if the attacks succeed."
Now when I learned of this, I was thinking: "OK, how do I reconcile this fatwa which applies to a life-and-death situation, regarding a vicious enemy using people as human shields to sack another place and to kill every man, woman and child in that city, with what happened really in Nairobi and Tanzania?" There is no resemblance here.
Q:And this fatwa based on siege towers from 800 years ago, that's what's used to justify all acts of jihadi terrorism?
A:That would result in civilian casualties, yes.
Q:So it's important?
A:It is important but you know I'm not going to say it has shaky foundations. It has no foundations at all. It's basically castle of sand in the air.
A:Absolutely, and two months down the line I decided that it's no longer for me and that I wanted to leave.