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Osama bin Laden wrote what is referred to as a fatwa in August 1996[1], and was one of several signatories of another and shorter fatwa in February 1998[2]. Both documents appeared initially in the Arabic-language London newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi[1][2]. At the time, bin Laden was not a wanted man in any country except his native Saudi Arabia, and was not yet known as the leader of the international terrorist organisation al-Qaeda. Therefore these fatwas, or fatawa, received relatively little attention until after the August 1998 United States embassy bombings, for which bin Laden is indicted[3]. The indictment mentions the first fatwa, and claims that Khalid al-Fawwaz, of bin Laden's Advice and Reformation Committee in London, participated in its communication to the press.

Bin Laden's 1996 fatwa is entitled "Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places". This document is sometimes called the Ladenese epistle, a term derived from bin Laden's surname. It is a long piece, and complains of American activities in numerous countries. It was faxed to supporters across the world.[4]

The 1998 fatwa[2][5] reached al-Quds al-Arabi by fax, and was signed by five people, four of whom represented (or were said by the newspaper to represent) specific Islamist groups:

  • Osama bin Laden
  • Ayman al-Zawahiri, "emir of the Jihad Group in Egypt", probably meaning Islamic Jihad, now known as Egyptian Islamic Jihad
  • Ahmed Refai Taha, alias Abu Yasser, of al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya (in Egypt). This endorsement was retracted because of the enormous unpopularity of terrorism in Egypt following the Luxor massacre of tourists and Egyptians by al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya. Taha , explained his signature to fellow members of the Islamic Group saying he had only been asked over the telephone to join in a statement of support for the Iraqi people. [6]
  • Mir Hamzah, "secretary of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan", or so he claimed
  • Fazul Rahman, "emir of the Jihad Movement in Bangladesh", probably Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh or HUJI-B; HUJI itself is in Pakistan.

The signatories as a group were identified as the "World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders". This fatwa complains of American military presence in the Arabian Peninsula, and American support for Israel. It purports to provide religious authorization for indiscriminate killing of Americans and Jews everywhere. It appeared in February 1998 and the embassy bombings followed in August.


  1. ^ a b Text of the 1996 fatwa, translation by PBS
  2. ^ a b c Text of the 1998 fatwa translation by PBS
  3. ^ Copy of indictment USA v. Usama bin Laden et al., Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies
  4. ^ Bergen, Peter, "Holy War, Inc.", 2001
  5. ^ Text of the 1998 fatwa, translation by Federation of American Scientists
  6. ^ al-Zayyat, Montasser, The Road to al-Qaeda, The Story of Bin Laden's Right-Hand Man , University of Michigan Press. p.89


Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Fatwas of Osama bin Laden article)

From Wikiquote

Osama bin Laden issued two fatwas in 1996 and 1998.

Four other clerics from Egypt, Pakistan, and Bangladesh co-signed the 1998 fatwa.

It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Osama bin Laden. (Discuss)



1996 Fatwa

Osama Bin Laden's Jihad and text of Fatwahs and Declaration of War, Text of the August 1996 Fatwa at PBS
  • It should not be hidden from you that the people of Islam had suffered from aggression, iniquity and injustice imposed on them by the Zionist-Crusaders alliance and their collaborators; to the extent that the Muslims blood became the cheapest and their wealth as loot in the hands of the enemies. Their blood was spilled in Palestine and Iraq. The horrifying pictures of the massacre of Qana, in Lebanon are still fresh in our memory. Massacres in Tajikistan, Burma, Kashmir, Assam, Philippines, Pattani, Ogaden, Somalia, Eritrea, Chechnya, and in Bosnia-Herzegovina took place, massacres that send shivers in the body and shake the conscience. All of this and the world watch and hear, and not only didn't respond to these atrocities, but also with a clear conspiracy between the USA and its' allies and under the cover of the iniquitous United Nations, the dispossessed people were even prevented from obtaining arms to defend themselves. The people of Islam awakened and realized that they are the main target for the aggression of the Zionist-Crusaders alliance. All false claims and propaganda about "Human Rights" were hammered down and exposed by the massacres that took place against the Muslims in every part of the world.
    • Mentioning various massacres and atrocities, including the Srebrenica massacre, to justify his violent retaliations.

1998 Fatwa

English translation of a statement in al-Quds al-Arabi (23 February 1998) "Summary/Review of Reports Concerning Threats by Osama Bin Laden to Conduct Terrorist Operations Against the United States and/or her Allies - 23 February 1998 to 16 June 1998"
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...
  • 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.
    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 again 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.
    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.
  • 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 [Mecca] 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.

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:
  • Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama Bin Laden, Translated by James Howarth, Published 2005, ISBN 1844670457, 292 pages


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