Jihadis Debate Attacks on Western Interests and U.N. Peacekeepers

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 19

Osama bin Laden serves as a point of reference for many Salafi-Jihadis on the topic of determining Western targets

Jihadi internet forums recently discussed the religious permissibility of attacking Western interests in the Islamic world. Many jihadi forum members gave their opinions on a posting entitled “Do you endorse attacking Western interests in the Islamic world,” contributed by a forum member nicknamed Abi Mogheera (hanein.info, June 24).

Mogheera asked whether jihadis should attack Western interests and “the Crusader enemies of Islam” present all over the Islamic world in places such as Syria, Lebanon and the Arabian Peninsula, or concentrate jihadi efforts on the Iraqi and Afghan fronts. In Syria, for example, U.N. forces move around freely in the Syrian-held portion of the Golan Heights in their military and civilian vehicles. “Do you endorse striking at U.N. forces in Syria or is it too soon and the priority is for Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine?” asks Mogheera, revealing that he has been contemplating the issue for some time before posting the question in many jihadi forums. [1]

The first response to Mogheera’s poll came from a forum member nicknamed Nimir, who said the strategy of striking the Western and colonial presence in the region has proven successful and desirable because the battlefield is the whole world.  Nimir legitimizes his argument by referencing Kuwait’s Abdullah al-Nefisi—a pro-al-Qaeda Islamic ideologue who suggested a suitcase of anthrax carried across the Mexican border to the U.S. could cause hundreds of thousands of casualties—who  has expressed his support for attacks on Western targets anywhere in the world (see alnefisi.com). Further, Nimir outlines the war strategy adopted by the mujahedeen against Western Crusaders as follows:

•  Attack the enemy’s vital and economic domains.

•  Attack the enemy’s interests and colonial presence in the Islamic world.

•  Strike the enemy at home to elicit media and public support.

•  Open up new fronts and quagmires in a war of attrition.

These are the main confrontation tactics the mujahedeen have used successfully for the last seven years according to Nimir, who claims dominance over the enemy and views the peace initiatives U.S. president Barak Obama was “forced” to launch as proof of that dominance. Nimir believes the global jihad is strong, making steady strides in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq. All countries in the way of the jihadi advance are on the verge of explosion. “Toward al-Aqsa [Jerusalem] …toward al-Aqsa we shall press our ranks. We will not enjoy life until al-Aqsa is liberated,” concludes Nimir.

Other forum members support Nimir’s allegations of jihadi victories despite, in their words, the many wounds inflicted on Muslims. Hence, the vast majority of forum members support attacking enemy targets all over the globe.

Regarding the legitimacy of attacking U.N. forces, Mogheera does not see any difference between the U.N. and other Western or non-Western forces, saying they all participate in the war on the Islamic umma [community], whether in Iraq, Palestine or Lebanon. “Haven’t civilians sought refuge with U.N. forces in Palestine many times during [the] Israeli invasion? But what happened? The U.N. refused to help them and allowed Israeli forces to kill them,” says Mogheera, referring to the U.N. school that was bombed during the Israeli assault on Gaza. The January 6 attack killed 40 Palestinian civilians who had gathered at the U.N. facility for protection.

Even though most jihadi forum members support attacking Western and U.N. interests anywhere, a few expressed reservations because of the possibility of killing innocent Muslim bystanders. In response, a forum member nicknamed Hafeed Yousi Bin Tashfeen declared, “Destroying the Ka’aba stone by stone is easier in God’s eyes than unjustly spilling a drop of Muslim’s blood,” changing the Prophet’s original saying, which reads “a drop of innocent human blood,” to suit Salafi-Jihadi beliefs. In addition, Tashfeen provided the Salafi-Jihadi target list created by a prominent Syrian al-Qaeda ideologue, Abu Musab al-Suri (a.k.a. Mustafa Setmariam Nasar). None of the forum chatters questioned al-Suri’s religious jihadi guidelines. Tashfeen describes the permissible jihadi targets as stipulated by al-Suri as the vital targets of Jews and Crusaders, including military bases, embassies, diplomatic missions, oil facilities, maritime routes, Israeli hotels and private Western security companies.

Mogheera posted his question in other jihadi forums. Forum members from al-Fallujah said the mujahedeen should target military bases in the Land of the Two Holy Places [i.e. Saudi Arabia] and the Gulf States, as well as carry out attacks against the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), because the peacekeeping force blocks jihad and protects Israel (al-faloja1.com, June 24).

After viewing comments from different forums, Mogheera assured those concerned with killing innocents by reiterating the Salafi-Jihadis’ high concern for Muslim blood, accusing the Western media of twisting facts about the mujahedeen.

While almost all the postings on different jihadi forums supported attacking Western interests in Muslim countries and beyond, a very small number opposed targeting U.N. forces and facilities, especially in Palestine. The dissenters argue the U.N. facilities extend badly needed help to Palestinians, insisting that an attack on any American military base has a higher priority than attacking the U.N.

Regardless of all other Salafi-Jihadi ideologues, most pro-jihadi opinions are in concord with Osama bin Laden’s preaching. Bin Laden remains their most reliable source on jihadi issues. On the permissibility of attacking Western targets, the most repeated comment was a quote from one of Bin Laden’s speeches: “Don’t consult with anyone on the issue of striking the Americans – execute with God’s blessing.”


1. Mogheera refers here to the 76 members of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) Observer Group Golan and the 1045 members of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which includes troops from Austria, Canada, Croatia, India, Japan and Poland.