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Text of Bin laden's 1996 Declaration of Jihad Against the United States

A Call to Arms Against Infidels "Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Sanctuaries"


Text of Bin laden's 1996 Declaration of Jihad Against the United States

Osama bin Laden and one of his sons, below a map marking the presence of U.S. Navy ships in the Indian ocean, in an undated photo.

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The following are key excerpts from Osama bin laden's declaration of war on the United States, issued on Aug. 23, 1996, from his hideout in Afghanistan. The declaration was published on Aug. 31 in a London-based, Arabic language newspaper, Al Quds. (For an analysis of the text, read the FAQ, Why did Bin Laden Declare War on the United States in 1996?

Declaration of Jihad Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Sanctuaries

Each of you knows the injustice, oppression, and aggression the Muslims are suffering from the Judeo-crusading alliance and its lackeys. The blood of Muslims no longer has a price; their goods and money are offered up for their enemies to pillage. Their blood is flowing in Palestine, Iraq, and Lebanon (the awful images of the Qana massacre are still present in everyone's mind), not to mention the massacres in Tajikistan, Burma, Kashmir, Assam, the Philippines, Pattani, Ogaden, Somalia, Eritrea, Chechnya, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, where Muslims have been the victims of atrocious acts of butchery.

These things took place in full view of the entire world-not to say because of the conspiracy between the Americans and their allies, behind the smoke screen of the Unjust United Nations. But the Muslims realized that they were the main target of the Judeo-crusading alliance; all the false propaganda about human rights faded away behind the blows dealt to Muslims and the massacres perpetrated against them in every part of the world.

The most recent calamity to have struck Muslims is the occupation of the land of the two sanctuaries, the hearth of the abode of Islam and the cradle of prophecy, since the death of the Prophet and the source of the divine message-the site of the holy Kaaba, to which all Muslims pray. And who is occupying it? The armies of the American Christians and their allies. There is no power or strength save in God.

In light of this reality, but also in light of the blessed, ardent awakening of all regions of the world, and especially of the Muslim world, I am coming back to you after a long absence, imposed by the coalition led by the Americans against the ulema and preachers of Islam, for fear that they might incite the Muslim nation to rise against its enemies. I have sought consolation in the example of past ulema (may God receive their souls), like Ibn Taymiyya and Abd al-Aziz Ibn Abd al-Salam.

Furthermore, the Judeo-Christian coalition... killed Abdallah Azzam, the sheikh and mujahid, and jailed [Hamas'] Ahmad Yassin, the sheikh and mujahid, on the path of the Prophet's "nocturnal voyage" (may blessings and peace be upon him). They jailed Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman in America. ...

Next, we bear the injustice of being unable to address the Muslim peoples: we have been expelled from Pakistan, Sudan, and Afghanistan, and that was the cause of this long absence. But thank God, we found a safe base in Khorãsãn, on the peaks of the Hindu Kush-the same peaks against which the greatest atheist military power of the world collided, and on which the myth of the superpower died amid the cries of the mujahedeen: God is greater!

Today, from these mountaintops where we work to erase the injustice committed against the Muslim nation by the Judeo-crusader coalition, especially after the path of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) was occupied and the land of the two sanctuaries was pillaged, we hope that God will grant us victory, for he is its master and possessor.

When duties accumulate, it is necessary to begin with the most important one: to push back this enemy, the Americans who are occupying our territory. This, after belief, is the most important duty, and nothing can take precedence over it; as the ulemas have asserted. Thus, the sheikh of Islam, Ibn Taymiyya, wrote: "As for defensive warfare, it entails defending what is most sacred through religion, at any cost. This is a collective duty. There is nothing more imperative, after faith, than to repel the aggressor who corrupts religion and life, unconditionally, as far as possible."

The only way of repelling the invasion is through the combined efforts of all Muslims, and so the Muslims must ignore what divides them, temporarily, since closing their eyes to their differences cannot be worse than ignoring the capital sin that menaces Muslims…

A few days ago, the news agencies communicated a declaration issued by the American secretary of defense [at the time, the Clinton administration's William Perry] , a crusader and an occupier, in which he said he had learned only one lesson from the bombings in Riyadh and Khobar: not to retreat before the cowardly terrorists. Well, we would like to tell the secretary that his words are funny enough to make even a mother grieving for the loss of her child burst out laughing, because they show only the fear that grips him. Where was this supposed bravery in Beirut, after the attack of 1403 [1983], which turned your 241 Marines into scattered fragments and torn limbs? Where was this bravery in Aden, which you fled twenty-four hours after the two attacks had taken place?

I'm telling you, William: these young men love death as much as you love life. They have inherited honor, pride, bravery, generosity, sincerity, courage, and a spirit of sacrifice. These things are handed down from father to son, and their steadfastness in combat will show when the confrontation comes, because they inherited these qualities from their ancestors since the pre-Islamic period, before Islam took root in them.

You claim that these young men are cowards. . . , but they bore arms for ten years in Afghanistan, and swore to carry on the struggle against you until you were gone, beaten, defeated, and shamed, if God wills it, as long as the blood flowed in their veins and tears streamed from their eyes.

O God, bolster your nation by honoring those who obey you and abasing those who disobey you. Bolster it by ordering good and forbidding evil.

May praise and salvation be upon Muhammad, who worshipped you and bore your message, and on his family and companions. Our last prayer will be: Praise to God, lord of the worlds!

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