How And Why – The 9-11 Attacks On America

Publication: Spotlight on Terror Volume: 1 Issue: 2

As America looks back on the devastating terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the biggest unanswered question is “why?” In the immediate aftermath of the violence Al-Qaida never addressed the issue directly, but a partial answer has emerged from the ruins of Kabul. On 11 November 2001, as the city fell to a Northern Alliance offensive, a document written by Mahfûz ibn al-Wâlid, one of the closest aides of bin Laden, emerged. Entitled “A Legal and Factual View on the Consequences of the Attacks upon the United States of America” was discovered in the ruins of an al-Qaida safe-house. Al-Wâlid’s report, reproduced as a cheap mimeograph, was intended to explain the causes and consequences of the attack to the al-Qaida rank and file. The document represents an unprecedented look into the ideological mindset of al-Qaida, justifying the attacks with historical precedents and religious quotations. In its zeal to justify the terrorism, what is perhaps most striking in the report is its twisted selective quotations from the Quran to justify mass murder to al-Qaida’s faithful. Far from expressing regret at the loss of innocent civilian life, al-Wâlid gloats about the “thousands of burning corpses from the military, financial and business elite” buried in the rubble in New York and Washington. The excerpts given below are the first publication in any language of this “post-assessment report” of the worst terrorist atrocity in US history.

Mahfûz ibn al-Wâlid (Abû Hafs al-Mûrîtânî) (not to be confused with Abu Hafs “the Egyptian,” who was reported killed in the American bombing of Afghanistan) was born 1 Jan 1975. A man of many aliases, al-Wâlid is also known as Mahfuz Ould Al-Walid, Khalid Al-Shanqiti, Mafouz Walad Al-Walid and Mouhambedou Ould Slahi. Al-Wâlid is a high-level al-Qa’ida leader who first came to Washington’s attention in late 1999 for his involvement with Ahmad Ressam in the failed attempt to bomb Los Angeles airport during the “Millennium Plot.” Al-Wâlid was also implicated in funding a terrorist suspect in Canada. The FBI also accuses al-Wâlid of having connections to the bombings of the American embassies in Africa, and he has been placed on the US list of terrorists and terrorist groups, as well as having a bounty placed on his head by the US government. In the personnel reshuffles in al-Qaida following 9-11, al-Wâlid became the head of al-Qaida’s Shari`a (religious Islamic law) committee, responsible for drawing up and publishing religious regulations. In January 2002 the Pentagon announced his death, but the report turned out not to be true.

Following the terrorist attacks of September 2001, al-Wâlid gave an interview to the Qatari Arab TV station al-Jazeera. Yussef Al-Shuli al-Jazeera’s correspondent in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on 30 November 2001 denied that al-Qa’ida had carried out the attacks but said, “these blows coincided with our interests, and their results were significant for us.” Al-Wâlid also sidestepped the issue of religious backing for the attacks, stating, “we are not responsible for this act and therefore we are not responsible for [issuing] religious explanations for it. However, many clerics have issued clear religious rulings [in this matter] and explained them by means of the Qur’an and the Sunnah, and with the words of the clerics of the [Islamic] nation, and have proved that if this act was carried out by Mujahideen Muslims, then it was an unblemished act of Jihad.”

Far from expressing regret for the loss of life in the attack, al-Wâlid exulted, “…I cannot conceal the fact that we here in Afghanistan, like hundreds of millions of Muslims throughout the world could not contain our joy when we saw America taste, for one day, what the Islamic people has been swallowing every day for decades because of the actions of the U.S., both directly and indirectly. We rejoiced at this. Although we did not carry them out, these blows coincided with our interests, and their results were significant for us.” Al-Wâlid preened about the failure of US intelligence service, noting, “They trained in America, not Afghanistan. The caves of Afghanistan are unsuitable for training pilots on the newest American airplanes. Those people found a security breach as big as a whole fleet of hijacked civilian aircraft, and managed to shove America’s nose into the ground, to strike it with this lightning, to take it by surprise, and to strike it with the greatest of military, security, political, and economic blows.” Perhaps most chilling for America’s policy makers, al-Wâlid offered this unnerving assessment of the future: “America has not succeeded in toppling the Taliban movement, and so far the movement has maintained its cohesion, and has not become more flexible in its political positions… as the Prophet said, it is impossible that victory would not be on its side. But perhaps it must undergo tests.”

Al-Wâlid expressed a simple view of terrorism by noting, “This terrorism is a divine commandment. Allah has said: ‘Make ready for them whatever you can of armed strength and of mounted pickets at the frontier, whereby you may daunt the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others beyond them whom you know not’ [Koran 8:60]. Striking horror, panic, and fear in the hearts of the enemies of Allah is a divine commandment, and the Muslim has in this matter two choices: Either he believes in these verses, which are clear, or he denies these verses, and [becomes] an infidel. The Muslim has no other option… many clerics have issued clear religious rulings [in this matter] and explained them by means of the Koran and the Sunah, and with the words of the clerics of the [Islamic] nation, and have proved that if this act was carried out by Mujahedeen Muslims, then it was an unblemished act of Jihad.”

“A Legal and Factual View on the Consequences of the Attacks upon the United States of America” by Mahfûz ibn al-Wâlid (Abû Hafs al-Mûrîtânî) (all numbers are section headings in the original; punctuation as in original)

In the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful


There has been much talk and questioning over the past few days concerning the explosions that struck the United States of America, the destruction and collapse that followed them, the fear and terror they caused, and the global political, military, security, economic, psychological and human implications that have ensued. It seems as if they have begun to form the features of a new phase in world history, and recent events and their implications have ushered the world to its doors.

Whilst we do not wish to pre-empt the results of the investigations, and the results of the Crusader campaign declared by the American President to recruit international gangs to wage it upon Afghanistan and other Islamic states, we can nevertheless establish a number of facts:

I: A Bitter Harvest for American Policy

Leaving aside who were responsible for these explosions, they do reveal the unprecedented level of vengeance, hatred and resentment that exists towards the United States of America.

This is a natural product of American policy vis-à-vis others; for he who sows thorns shall harvest nothing but thorns. The politics of oppression, enmity, injustice and tyranny can only bring forth a fearful mass of peoples, organisations and individuals bent on vengeance against America … gloating at the momentous calamity that has struck it at its very core…

Even within the United States itself, there is a large number of racist, right-wing and other organisations which oppose American policy. They have expressed this [opposition] through a number of terrorist acts, such as the blowing up of the Federal Government Building in Oklahoma City, considered to be the most notorious act of terrorism America has faced for years.

But there is no doubt that it is the Islamic peoples that have received the lion’s share of American injustice and oppression.

.03 The growing tide of avengers upon the American government may be regarded as having undermined American security and intelligence apparatuses – and the international ones affiliated to it – and subverted their ability to determine with incontrovertible evidence which of its enemies bears the responsibility for what happened. However, some men of influence will strain themselves to blame Islamic powers, with or without any evidence to accuse them.

II: The Impotence of the Strong!!

The second truth which these events confirmed were the gaping holes in the American and international intelligence and security agencies.

The prevailing impression most people had about the American intelligence agency (the CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and its ally, Israel’s MOSSAD, and their European and international counterparts co-opted in the “struggle against terrorism,” was that these agencies carry out continuous camera surveillance of their enemies…

Or that they know everything going on inside or outside the bedroom, every mumble and fumble, in addition to the number of chickens and goats there are in the house, or the number of trees, inhabitants and rooms!!

Or that these agencies have devices that can eavesdrop on minds and thoughts even before they are expressed. Or that the awesome potentialities of these agencies create a climate disposing people to believe these delusions!! Or that these intelligence agencies can field agents in their tens of millions, in addition to the latest satellite technology designed specifically for espionage, with their worldwide network of listening stations.

Yet even with all this… for all the warnings that preceded the explosions… for all the American forces’ high state of battle alert… for all this, a squadron of commandeered aeroplanes found a security hole wide enough for them to get through, and the hijackers were able to turn the most conspicuous symbols of American civilisation, trade, supremacy and primacy into a pile of burning rubble – concealing beneath it thousands of burning corpses from the military, financial and business élite – at the American Ministry of Defence, the symbol of American military power and the largest defence ministry on earth, and in the tallest skyscrapers on earth which house the greatest financial, economic and trade institutions in America, and indeed the world!!!

Who could have believed that these intelligence agencies – whose financing, manpower and design, both within the United States and outside, and across several states and continents, were many years in the making, and which made themselves the bogeyman to scare all hearts and all peoples – harboured security gaps big enough to allow through a demolition operation of this magnitude, carried out at the hands of some mere tens of individuals, as the American intelligence agencies themselves stated!!!

Where were America’s intercontinental ballistic missiles? Where were its ocean-ploughing naval forces? Its Star Wars program? Where were they? Where? Who could have believed that fear and terror, alarm and panic would arrive at the Americans’ doorstep, to such a degree that their President and leadership would have to hide themselves away for several hours after the explosions in underground shelters at nuclear bases far removed from New York?


Who could have believed that the ‘Capital of the World’ and the giant of the New World Order could be turned in a few moments into a frightened, breathless, helpless dwarf!! For it was no more than human weakness, human inadequacy and human impotence that was trying to gain for itself the name of ‘great power’ to cloak itself in, and mask its true self from other peoples by means of propaganda and deception.

III: The Power of the Weak

Similarly, the sheer weight of the material, human, economic, political and psychological losses sustained as a result of the explosions revealed what the oppressed, what the wronged and the persecuted could inflict upon their enemies occupying the world’s throne in economy, politics, defence, security and technology. Losses and damage which, perhaps, many of the great powers will be unable to inflict upon them.

These few hijackers were able to inflict on America the most grievous blow, by any standards, ever sustained in its history, and burden it, in its very own house, with losses whose seriousness, magnitude, influence and destructiveness have been greater than anything it experienced before, even in the Second World War!!

And as many commentators on these events have said, it is the most dangerous military, economic, political, security and mental blow that the United States has ever been exposed to in its history.

The declared losses sustained to date are:

1. About seven thousand dead and wounded;

2. Something in the region of one thousand billion dollars of economic losses (economy and trade losses, indemnifications to companies and individuals, and extra security and defense expenditures);

3. The laying off of close to 200,000 labourers and employees in the service of airline companies and the like;

4. The appalling freezing of civil aviation sector movement and manufacture, so that airlines and airline manufacturing companies have announced that they will be forced to declare themselves bankrupt if they do not receive immediate help to the tune of tens of billions of dollars;

5. The tremendous collapse in the value of American shares and bonds, with losses to date amounting to hundreds of billions, and with the fall in share price indicators to a level never before seen in their history;

6. The number of insurance companies that have filed for bankruptcy or others which have been forced to merge with others in order to avoid bankruptcy;

7. The newly unemployed that have come to constitute a new burden on an already stagnant American economy, after they go on to make their claims for unemployment benefit;

8. Moreover, American polls have established that 70 per cent of the American people are now suffering from psychological and nervous disorders, and have succumbed to depression and anxiety;

And this at a point before American leaders spoke of their fears of becoming exposed to a biological or chemical strike, something having multiplied the fear and anxiety of the American people, despite all government reassurances. Public hospitals and private clinics are no longer capable of controlling the situation.

These are just some of the losses that may be gauged according to material and palpable yardsticks, let alone the psychological damage, which cannot be weighed or measured tangibly. For the insult inflicted upon the American leadership, and the humiliation suffered in its own home, and upon the very symbols of its civilisation and its economic and military power, are far in excess of any economic losses we might be able to imagine. These are just the declared American losses to date.


As for the value of shares, bonds and commercial paper markets throughout the world, these have suffered a collapse in prices the like of which some of those markets have never witnessed since their foundation.

And these are just the losses announced up to now.

Knowing this, and knowing that those who executed this action have suffered only the loss of those individuals who carried it out, their travel tickets, their living expenses and the price of their knives and razor blades with which they hijacked the planes, and things of this kind – according to what the American security agencies say – we may understand the extent of the destruction and the ruin that the oppressed can inflict upon those who describe themselves as the major powers, with the minimum of loss and expense. And we may understand how factors of weakness may at the same time constitute a force.

Some of the factors behind their success:

1 – The spirit of sacrifice

When a man can put himself at the top of the list of victims of an operation he is about to carry out, when he dissolves himself and his soul and his ‘ego’ in the target he is aiming for, he paralyses the most sophisticated means of the adversary’s defence and throws all his calculations and plans for defence and security – even retaliation – into confusion. As more than one leading American figure has said: no one can prevent or stand in the way of one who wishes for death.

Those who carried out the operations demonstrated a level of self-sacrifice in the path of their goal that all analysts are powerless to explain.

2 – Inventive genius

The United States of America believed that the dangers threatening them were intercontinental ballistic missiles that countries inimical to the United States such as North Korea or Iran could launch against them.

They therefore set aside hundreds of billions of dollars to develop the Star Wars programme to intercept such missiles and destroy them in the air before they reached their targets in America.

But the oppressed enemies of America – not the countries – established both for the United States and for the world that there is another danger stronger than intercontinental rockets, and one which has no need of rockets, nor of states from which to launch them, nor of the complex technology over which the major states exercise a monopoly.

The attackers did not come armed with any weapon from outside, nor did they manufacture any weapon on the inside; they came (that is if they did come from outside, as America says) armed only with their resolve and their spirit of sacrifice, and with that they managed to turn pacific, recreational, peaceful American technology into the strongest tool of military destruction with all the annihilation and the demolition they wrought.


No intercontinental missile could have wrought the level of destruction resulting from the collision of the hijacked civic aircraft with their targets. It was a piece of inventive genius brought forth under conditions of American oppression and tyranny.

3 – They struck at the heart of the enemy

On this occasion the strike against America was distinguished by the fact that it was aimed at America’s inner heart, and not at an American target abroad. This is what multiplied its effects and the level of damage upon the Americans in the human, material and psychological senses. Maybe this is exactly what those who carried out the operations intended. If the strike had been, for instance, against an American embassy abroad the losses would not have amounted to a 100th of what they totalled inside America.

Add to this the fact that the Americans would have blamed the government of the country the embassy was in, for failing to protect it, and American security agencies could have dodged any responsibility for it, and preserved something of their reputation and credibility, which ended up covered in the dust emanating from the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

It is also possible that non-Americans might have been more affected in strikes made on any American target in another country, something which the attackers might well have wanted to avoid. What happened in America was the opposite, in that every flying splinter, every escaping spark, every falling brick and every tumbling block of concrete struck down the Americans right at their heart.

VI: The Legal Aspect of the Issue


…Most of those who have taken the line of the non-legality of the acts that took place in America focused only on the event itself, and did not go beyond that onto their implications, which have become greater and more important. It would be more appropriate and honest to discuss these too.

The question is now no longer about the legality or non-legality of what happened in America. The question to be posed is: what is the obligation of the Islamic Nation vis-à-vis the Crusader campaign America and world infidel governments are leading against Afghanistan? What is the Islamic verdict on those who participate in this Crusader campaign?

It may well be your right to differ with your fellow on a point of view concerning the approach of adaptation or the methodology of calling to Islam, or the manner of jihad… but you do not have the right to keep silent from declaring the truth on such matters as the situation the Islamic Nation now faces – with the armies of the Cross gathering, along with their apostate allies, infidel nations and hypocrites, not merely with for the purpose of uprooting the Islamic government in Afghanistan and occupying it, but for something far more dangerous than that, something which threatens many Islamic nations.

This is the present situation facing the Nation, a situation which calls for matters to be elucidated, the most important of which being the duty of the Nation vis-à-vis the Crusader campaign against Afghanistan, and the verdict of Islam concerning those who associate themselves with the Jews and the Christians and those allied with these.

These two issues form the subject of the following lines.

1-The duty of Muslims vis-à-vis the Crusader campaign

When we say that we stand before a new Crusader campaign led by the United States of America and the NATO alliance… when we say that the aim of this campaign is the eradication of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and its system of Islamic government which refuses to bargain over its faith and its belief or the dismantling of the mujahid organisations within her, and the setting up of a client secular government that will allow the new forces of occupation to remain in the country – when we say this and other things, no one can accuse us of exaggeration or alarmism. All of this is but part of what the leadership of this Crusader campaign has declared openly: for it was President Bush who described it as a Crusade, and it was he along with the British Prime Minister who declared the aims of this campaign in its first phase, and who indicated its longer-term aims, which go beyond striking Afghanistan to striking other Islamic and Arab states as well.

When a Muslim state is faced with such a danger, or even with a far less perilous danger than this, there is no disagreement among the learned that jihad becomes the duty of the individual against this invading enemy. The Almighty hath said: If they seek help from you in the matter of religion then it is your duty to help [them]. And the Prophet said: A Muslim who is the brother of a Muslim will not oppress him nor surrender him.

The Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyya (God grant him mercy) said: “If the enemy enters the land of Islam, then there is no doubt that his neighbour, and in turn his neighbour, must expel it. The land of Islam is one single abode.”


What confirms further the obligation of jihad is that the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan under the emirship of the Prince of the Faithful Mullah Muhammad Omar, has summoned the Muslims of the world to jihad against these invaders, and has sought the aid of the Islamic Nation. For the Almighty hath said: : If they seek help from you in the matter of religion then it is your duty to help [them].

An example of the Prince of the Faithful’s pronouncement on the call to arms and the call for aid from Muslims in the world is in his letter to the Islamic Nation promulgated on 16 / 7 / 1422 where he says, after the true aims of the Crusader campaign became evident:

“O Noble Scholars of Islam, O Ye who proselytise for God in all places:

Your first duty is to face up to these truths, do not fear reproach concerning God, for that is the requirement of the charge which Almighty God laid on the men of learning. Almighty God hath said: [Remember] when Allah laid a charge on those who had received the Scripture [He said]: Ye are to expound it to mankind and not to hide it. And they made plain to people their faith, and urged them to jihad in His path. The Almighty hath said: O Prophet! Exhort the believers to fight.

O Merchants and Businessmen:

Your first duty is to spend in the path of Almighty God. The Almighty hath said: Lo! Allah hath bought from the believers their lives and their wealth because the Garden will be theirs. And He said: The likeness of those who spend their wealth in Allah’s way is as the likeness of a grain which grows seven ears, in every ear a hundred grains. Allah increases manifold to whom He will. Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing.

O Youths of Islam:

Your first duty is jihad, preparedness and the striking of steel, for the Almighty hath said: Slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. ”

This is the jihad, and if it is appointed to all Muslims, it is most certainly appointed to those in Afghanistan today, and in particular the mujahideen. Any departure this day from this land in such circumstances constitutes (God is the wiser in this) desertion, as Shaykh Hammûd al-‘Uqlâ al-Sha’bî says: “I recommend my mujahideen brothers not to leave this country until the issue is at an end and the crisis is resolved. For he who leaves at this time is to be considered as one who has fled the army and deserted, for the enemies are encircling her now.”

2-The [Islamic] verdict on those who associate themselves with the Americans in this war

The Glorious and Almighty God says in His noble Book: O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them. Lo! Allah guides not wrongdoing folk. And thou seest those in whose heart is a disease race toward them, saying: We fear lest a change of fortune befall us. And it may happen that Allah will vouchsafe (unto thee) the victory, or a commandment from His presence. Then will they repent their secret thoughts.

Dr. John C.K. Daly is an adjunct scholar at Washinton’s Middle East Institute, and author for Jane’s Intelligence Review.

Stephen Ulph is a political analyst specializing in the Islamic world and a managing editor at Jane’s Information Group.


1 Da‘wâ in text: ‘calling’, i.e. proselytisation.

2 Folio 12.

3 Qur’an, VIII, 72.

4 It is general practice in Islamic texts to append the phrase ‘God pray for and keep him’ after every men

tion of the term ‘Prophet’. For the translation this has been omitted.

5 Text note: [‘agreed upon’]; this refers to the level of credence given by Islamic scholars to a Prophetic Hadith or ‘saying’. The proliferation of hadith in the early centuries of Islam led to the necessity of developing an academic discipline of quantifying the levels of credibility, ranging from ‘sound’ to ‘weak’. The stronger the credibility of the source hadith, the stronger the argument of the scholar.

6 See concluding note.

7 Text note: [Al-Ikhtiyârât al-‘Ilmiyya, p. 609].

8 Qur’an, VIII, 72.

9 October 4th 2001

10 Qur’an, III, 187.

11 Qur’an, VIII, 65.

12 Qur’an, IX, 111.

13 Qur’an, II, 261.

14 Qur’an, IX, 5.

15 Text note: [‘From the admonition of Shaykh Hammûd to the mujahidîn in Afghanistan taken from the tape recording by phone of the Shaykh following the recent events in America’].

16 Qur’an, V, 51-52.