Terror in London (7) - Head of London Center for Islamic History Hani Siba’i: In Islam, There Are No Such Things as Civilians; Al-Qaeda “rubbed the noses of the world’s eight most powerful countries in the mud”
The following are excerpts from an interview with the head of the Al-Maqreze Centre for Historical Studies, Hani Al-Siba’i, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on July 8, 2005.
Al-Siba’i: I think that British Prime Minister Tony Blair made a grave error when he spoke before the investigation and claimed that the perpetrators of these acts were acting in the name of Islam. I think that he will pay the price for this grave error in the future. No possibility should be ruled out. We do not rule out the possibility that it was done by the intelligence agency of another Western country hostile to Britain. We do not rule our countries… or some Zionist Americans who wanted to overshadow the G-8 summit. But at the same time, we do not rule out the Al-Qaeda organization. It’s been claimed that Al-Qaeda died in Afghanistan, and was buried in the caves there. And behold: it was resurrected after the American occupation of Iraq. Moreover, Al-Qaeda controls the war agenda in Iraq. It is the Al-Qaeda organization in the Land of the Two Rivers (Iraq), headed by Abu Mus’ab Al-Zarqawi, that imposes its policies, to the extent that the Egyptian government was forced to… It was forced to recall (its ambassador), and other countries are afraid to send ambassadors there.
Host: He was not an ambassador, but rather a representative that was murdered, and then Egypt lowered its level of representation.
Al-Siba’i: He previously worked in the so-called “Israel.” What I want to ask is: can this organization do this? Is it conceivable that it did it? Yes, it is. Why? In the year… We must not forget that on April 15, 2004, Sheik Osama bin Laden released a taped message, in which he said… He gave… He reached out for reconciliation…
Just to recall, you are referring to the Madrid incidents, in which some 190 people were killed.
Al-Siba’i: After the Madrid incidents, he addressed the Western and European nations. Obviously, he didn’t address the leaders, whom he does not recognize. He talked to the Western nations about reconciliation…
Host: Excuse me, he gave them three or four months. But, forgive me, targeting civilians… You, as a Muslim and as the director of a center for Islamic history… Is targeting wretched civilians considered brave or manly?
Al-Siba’i: I think… The man (bin Laden) addressed these peoples so that they would pressure their governments. He told them: We did not attack you. You have been attacking us for more than two centuries, and your campaign continues. He said to them simply: Withdraw your soldiers from the Arabian Peninsula, withdraw from Afghanistan and Palestine…
Host: Excuse me, Is Sheik Osama bin Laden a religious scholar, who issues fatwas, or is he the head of Al-Qaeda?
Al-Siba’i: First of all, he is one of this (Islamic) nation. Allah… We have no clergy, or a pope, or anything like this. Anyone can carry out his religious duty, even if he is by himself.
Host: Mr. Hani, issuing fatwas is done by religious scholars.
Al-Siba’i: He has a Shura council, he has religious scholars… He wanted to debate with other scholars, but they refused. He asked to discuss matters with them, but they refused.
Host: The question, in short, is whether the religious scholars… Sir, the religious law assembly in Mecca at the end of last month issued a fatwa forbidding the killing of civilians. Should we follow it or Osama bin Laden?