In recent years, there have been some changes of perception and, consequently, of tactics among Muslims. Some of them still see the West in general and its present leader the United States in particular as the ancient and irreconcilable enemy of Islam, the one serious obstacle to the restoration of God’s faith and law at home and their ultimate universal triumph. For these there is no way but war to the death, in fulfillment of what they see as the commandments of their faith. There are others who, while remaining committed Muslims and well aware of the flaws of modern Western society, nevertheless also see its merits—its inquiring spirit, which produced modern science and technology; its concern for freedom, which created modern democratic government. These, while retaining their own beliefs and their own culture, seek to join us in reaching toward a freer and better world. There are some again who, while seeing the West as their ultimate enemy and as the source of all evil, are nevertheless aware of its power, and seek some temporary accommodation in order better to prepare for the final struggle. We would be wise not to confuse the second and the third.
The signatories quote various Muslim authorities and then proceed to the final and most important part of their declaration, the fatwa, laying down that “to kill Americans and their allies, both civil and military, is an individual duty of every Muslim who is able, in any country where this is possible, until the Aqsa mosque [in Jerusalem] and the Haram mosque [in Mecca] are freed from their grip, and until their armies, shattered and broken-winged, depart from all the lands of Islam, incapable of threatening any Muslim.
(Note: The following was written in 2003, before the full implication of US military commitment in Afghanistan and Iraq could be fully appreciated. The passage also predates US drone attacks against targets in Pakistan and Yemen - to say nothing of Israeli affairs since 2003. It is unknown if and how the author's comments would change if he were writing the same today.)The value of Israel to the United States as a strategic asset has been much disputed. There have been some in the United States who view Israel as a major strategic ally in the region and the one sure bastion against both external and regional enemies. Others have argued that Israel, far from being a strategic asset, has been a strategic liability, by embittering U.S. relations with the Arab world and causing the failure of U.S. policies in the region.But if one compares the record of American policy in the Middle East with that of other regions, one is struck not by its failure but by its success. There is, after all, no Vietnam in the Middle East, no Cuba or Nicaragua or El Salvador, not even an Angola. On the contrary, throughout the successive crises that have shaken the region, there has always been an imposing political, economic, and cultural American presence, usually in several countries - and this, until the Gulf War of 1991, without the need for any significant military intervention. And even then, their presence was needed to rescue the victims of an inter-Arab aggression, unrelated to either Israelis or Palestinians. (99)