Contact: Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.



Bethesda, MD (Aug. 24, 1998). A policy statement issued today by an Islamic think tank cites contempt of the rule of law by both Saudi dissident Osama Bin Laden and American President William Clinton. The statement warns that both Bin Laden's disregard of the distinction in Islamic law between combatants and civilians and Clinton's bypassing of the United Nations and the U.S. Congress threaten a "plunge into the law of the jungle."

Here is the full text of the policy statement by Minaret of Freedom Institute President Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad: "The statement attributed to Osama Bin Laden that Islamic law makes no distinction between civilians and soldiers in war is in flagrant contradiction to generally held Islamic jurisprudence. The bombers of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania are wrong if they think that Islamic law permits the killing of civilian envoys in a third country as a means of war against foreign soldiers on their home territory. Similarly, Mr. Clinton shows tragically clouded judgement in thinking that bypassing international law to bomb a factory in a country against which we have never declared war is an effective means of deterring terrorism. American engagement in such extraterritorial violence may legitimize it in the eyes of those who would hitherto have found the views of Osama Bin Laden too extreme. We risk a plunge into the law of the jungle.

"The U.S. government's policy of isolating Bin Laden after the two cooperated in the expulsion of Soviet troops from Afghanistan has not had the intended effect of diffusing his opposition to American policies in the Middle East. On the contrary, stripping him of his Saudi citizenship and provoking his expulsion from Sudan has distanced him from knowledgeable scholars of Islamic law leaving him to produce spurious fatwas (which are legal opinions, not, as incorrectly referred to in the press, "orders"), apparently with tragic results for Americans.

"Bin Laden's distance from Islamic law is paralleled by President Clinton's disregard for the proper institutions which American law and international law have established for dealing with aggression and war. The President has declared a protracted war against terrorism, although only Congress has the power to declare war. Instead of asking the United Nations to investigate his allegations that a pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum is producing ingredients for use in chemical weapons, he bombed it unilaterally. He denied the Sudanese government even the courtesy he has shown to Saddam Hussein. The message this sends to the Sudanese, who, in response to American pressure expelled Bin Laden is that cooperation with American strategy to combat terrorism will be rewarded with destruction of private property, human casualties, and extraterritorial violations of national sovereignty. This is an effective way to legitimize and accelerate terrorism, not to fight it."

The Minaret of Freedom Institute (MFI) is located in the Washington, DC area and is dedicated to research and educational efforts regarding Islamic law and Muslim history. MFI’s purposes are summarized in their brochure as to "counter distortions and misconceptions about Islamic law and practice; demonstrate the Islamic origins of [certain] modern values ...; expose both American and Islamic world Muslims to free market thought; [and] advance the status of Muslim peoples maligned by a hostile environment in the West and oppressed by repressive political regimes in the East." Dr. Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad is co-editor with Ahmed Yousef of Islam and the West: A Dialog (Springfield, VA: UASR, 1998).