Osama bin Laden, “Letter to America”
Published on al-Qaeda’s website al-Qala’a (October 6, 2002) and translated in the
(November 24, 2002)
Osama bin Laden was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 1957. His family was one of the
richest in the country, with close tie to royalty. He was raised as a devout Wahhabi
Muslim, and studied economics and business administration. He ha four wives and
somewhere between twelve and twenty-six children. Some tie after 1979 he moved to
Afghanistan to fight the Soviet occupation and set up Maktab al-Khadamat, an
organization that funneled money to the mujahideen. After the Soviet collapse in 1989 he
returned to Saudi Arabia and founded al-Qaeda. A violent critic of Saudi
accommodation with the United States after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in
1990, he moved to Sudan in 1992 and then returned to Afghanistan in 1996. Throughout
the 1990s he sponsored terrorist attacks on the United States and secular Arab
governments, culminating in the September 11 2001, attacks on New York and
Washington, DC. Since the collapse of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan bin Laden has
probably been in hiding in Pakistan. He periodically releases videos or letters, of which
the October 2002 “Letter to America” is the most important.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, "Permission to fight
(against disbelievers) is given to those (believers) who are fought against, because they
have been wronged and surely, Allah is Able to give them (believers) victory" [Quran
"Those who believe, fight in the Cause of Allah, and those who disbelieve, fight
in the cause of Taghut (anything worshipped other than Allah, e.g., Satan). So fight you
against the friends of Satan; ever feeble is indeed the plot of Satan." [Quran 4:76]
Some American writers have published articles under the title 'On what basis are
we fighting?' These articles have generated a number of responses, some of which
adhered to the truth and were based on Islamic Law, and others which have not. Here we
wanted to outline the truth - as an explanation and warning—hoping for Allah's reward,
seeking success and support from Him.
While seeking Allah's help, we form our reply based on two questions directed at
(Q1) Why are we fighting and opposing you?
(Q2)What are we calling you to, and what do we want from you?
As for the first question: Why are we fighting and opposing you? The answer is
(1) Because you attacked us and continue to attack us.
(a) You attacked us in Palestine:
(i) Palestine, which has sunk under military occupation for more than 80 years. The
British handed over Palestine, with your help and your support, to the Jews, who have
occupied it for more than 50 years; years overflowing with oppression, tyranny, crimes,
killing, expulsion, destruction and devastation. The creation and continuation of Israel is
one of the greatest crimes, and you are the leaders of its criminals. And of course there is