Following are excerpts from an interview with Egyptian cleric Hisham Al-'Ashri, which aired on Al-Tahrir TV on January 10, 2013. Al-'Ashri, who recently returned to Egypt from the U.S., has established a committee for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice.
Interviewer: "Does the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11 constitute Jihad?"
Hisham Al-'Ashri: "Well, it depends who did it. Jihad is only for Muslims. They even say 'Jihad' in English because they have no equivalent. [...]
"I call on everybody to type in Google '911,' and then click. You will get an incredible amount of videos, documents, and documentaries made by Americans – not Muslims, Arabs, or people of Arab origin – proving that the Islamists had nothing to do with 9/11, unless they were targeted.
"The two planes that hit the World Trade Center were military planes, not civilian ones."
Interviewer: "So, those who led this...
"They were controlled by..."
Hisham Al-'Ashri: "By the U.S. airforce. [...]
"Under Mubarak, Egypt did not have a war for 30 years. Israel, on the other hand, did not last for 30 days without a war. The U.S. did not last for three months without a war."
Interviewer: "That's true."
Hisham Al-'Ashri: "England and France did not last for three years without a war."
Interviewer: "But these were not direct wars..."
Hisham Al-'Ashri: "Yes, they were. America is fighting a direct war..."
Interviewer: "I was referring to England and France."
Hisham Al-'Ashri: "They joined America in the Iraq war..."
Interviewer: "They fought wars outside their borders."
Hisham Al-'Ashri: "They sent fighters to fight. Our concept of war is that it is great to live in peace, as long as you do not enter a war in which you will be defeated. Got it? When I do not engage in a war for 30 years, but I allow my enemy to have a war every 30 days – this is negligence."
Interviewer: "Does that mean you are calling us to wage a war against Israel?"
Hisham Al-'Ashri: "It is the dream of my life to wage war against Israel, under the command of the state, the president, the regime, and the army. I will not decide all by myself to start a war. [...]
"There is no such thing as a Christian religion. Did Jesus come to prophesy the Christian religion?"
Interviewer: "He came to prophesy his religion..."
Hisham Al-'Ashri: "The Christian religion?"
Interviewer: "Or did he come to call people to monotheism?" [...]
Hisham Al-'Ashri: "In Islam, we believe that our religion is the true religion, and that the Muslims will enter Paradise. Out of love for the Christians, I call upon them to enter Paradise with me." [...]