In a letter to Osama bin Laden, published in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Watan, Kuwaiti MP Dr. Walid Al-Tabatabai, from the Islamic bloc in the Kuwaiti parliament, praised the jihad fighters' activities and advised him on avoiding mistakes in the jihad that Al-Qaeda is waging.
Al-Tabatabai's letter, which came in response to the speech by bin Laden that was broadcast on September 11, 2007, appealed to bin Laden to distinguish between fighting the American invader and attacking the Muslims, and to refrain from random operations which harmed innocents because such operations damaged the image of jihad and sabotaged the spreading of Islam. Al-Tabatabai also called on bin Laden to consult with Muslim clerics in order to reassess Al-Qaeda's activities and avoid mistakes in the future.
The Kuwaiti press published responses to Al-Tabatabai objecting to his letter's praise of and respect for bin Laden. The responses included the argument that this support for bin Laden and his activities conveyed a dangerous message and harmed Kuwait.
The following are excerpts from the letter and from responses to it in the Kuwaiti press:
Either Fight the Americans – Or Call On Them to Convert to Islam
Al-Tabatai wrote: "...The author of this letter (i.e. Tabatabai) is one of those who appreciate and honor the jihad that you carried out during the liberation of Afghanistan from the Soviet Russian invasion... Your most recent speech, which the media broadcast several days ago, aroused in me many questions regarding its negative impact, considering that it was lacking a political dimension. Unfortunately, the speech was like a lifesaver to the American president, who is dealing with great internal pressures to withdraw his forces from Iraq... Thus, commentators said that Bush found what he wished for in this speech, since [bin Laden] provided [Bush] with clear-cut evidence of [the need] to restrain his adversaries: That is, the continued presence of the U.S. military in Iraq is for the sake of defending the entire American people from the ongoing Al-Qaeda threat... Your speech damaged all the efforts underway to speed up the American exit from Iraq – unless you are not interested in this!!
"Also, Sheikh Osama, how can you preach to the American people [to join] Islam when you boldly acknowledge that you are behind the killing of thousands of them in 9/11? Don't you think... that this will arouse in them revulsion towards Islam? You must either call on them to join Islam by making them to want to, with beautiful words, or you must fight them. But when you declare war against them and fight them, and at the same time preach to them to join Islam – these two things do not sit well with each other; moreover, they will only increase [the Americans'] hostility towards the Muslims, their hatred of Islam, and their revulsion towards it."
Al-Qaeda's Operations Are Destroying the Image of Jihad
"Sheikh Osama, what the [organization] called Al-Qaeda has carried out in Iraq [is] mixing together jihad against the occupation with operations for kidnapping, killing, and bombing public places and harming worshippers of God – Shi'ite and Sunni civilians alike – when even imams of mosques, and preachers, have not been spared in the operations carried out by those belonging to Al-Qaeda in Iraq... These operations strike civilians and harm the image of jihad and of the resistance in Iraq against the occupation...
"The West and its helpers from the Arab and Islamic countries saw what they wished to see in 9/11 – [a pretext] to fight Islamic activity in general, and charity activity in particular. The big Islamic charity societies were closed down, and other societies and institutions were significantly downsized and restricted – harming millions of Muslims receiving help from the activity of these institutions and societies, even though they had no direct or indirect connection to these events [of 9/11]..."
Bin Laden Should Consult With Muslim Clerics
"I ask Sheikh Osama, and I say to him: The line that you are taking has harmed Islamic activity and the spread of Islam across the world. Why, then, do you not reexamine your policy and your plans? Why do you not consult with the reliable clerics and men of prudence and wisdom in the Islamic world? Because the consequences of your actions affect not only you and your followers and aides... Why do you act [alone,] of your own accord, and drag the Muslim nation to an unknown fate – because of your isolationist views and behavior? Why was there no consultation with prudent men and thinkers on the matter [of Al-Qaeda operations], so that they could learn whether your deeds are correct or mistaken? How [will you be able] to rectify the mistakes and again advance the nation?"
Groups Belonging to Al-Qaeda Are Harming Islamic Activity
"Finally, I wish to ask Sheikh Osama about his view of the operations by some groups belonging to Al-Qaeda, that carry out random bombings and whose victims are innocent people, some of whom are Muslim. Are these groups connected to you? Are you pleased with their behavior and their operations?
"I would like for Sheikh Osama to tell us – and we would appreciate this – regarding an Al-Qaeda group in the Maghreb states that is perpetrating various bombings, the victims of which are innocent people – mostly, or all, Muslims. In addition to killing innocents, these bombings are a weapon that is being exploited by the authorities [in the Maghreb] to harm Islamic activity and the spread of Islam, to restrict the activity of the mosques, and to hobble the imams and preachers... Sometimes preaching goes wrong, and [a sense] of fear, distress, and persecution spreads among all the Muslims – and also secular elements incite against the Islamic [elements] while exploiting these operations. Is this [Maghreb] group indeed part of you [i.e. Al-Qaeda], or is it [only using] the name of your organization? Is its activity acceptable to you or not?
"If the answer is yes, then what is the logic of bombing here and killing there? What are the political goals behind such operations? And what are the short- and long-term consequences of these operations? Tell us, and we will be grateful to you, because we cannot understand at all your motives, your goals, and the results of such operations, when we see them causing grave damage to Islamic activity... What are you thinking?
"I ask Allah to protect the men of jihad, to strengthen Islam and its men, and to distance [from us] internecine wars, suffering, and disasters..."
Would Al-Tabatabai Like Us to Remind Him of His Boastful Speeches Supporting the Al-Qaeda Operations in Falluja?
In a response to Al-Tabatabai's letter, Kuwaiti writer Ahmad Al-Saraf condemned Al-Tabatabai's support for bin Laden, and stated that the honor that he showed him in the letter conveyed a dangerous message: that bin Laden's operations were justified. In the Kuwaiti daily Al-Qabas, Al-Saraf wrote: "...We know that Osama bin Laden is wanted in dozens of countries because he is responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocents... and is hunted by all the governments in the world, without exception – something that is unprecedented in human history. Thus, we know the extent of the danger posed by the contents of public letters like that of the Kuwaiti MP... The fact that MP Al-Tabatabai repeatedly calls bin Laden 'sheikh' is enough to cause a large group of young people who are misled by him to consider his operations justified, as long as he is a 'sheikh!'...
"Likewise, the MP's call to Allah not to refrain from rewarding bin Laden for his jihad serves this criminal – as if everything he has done to Islam, to the Muslims, and to the rest of humanity were not sufficient to condemn him – because in this Tabatabai's view, [bin Laden] will receive his just reward for his good deeds. This is another dangerous message, which is that we can kill and destroy, but there will be someone who will later ask forgiveness on our behalf so that all will end well.
"...MP Al-Tabatabai also did not forget to weep and wail... over the victims of the violent events in dozens of countries across the world that Al-Qaeda has acknowledged being behind – ignoring his own support and the support of those like him for Al-Qaeda's crimes over the past six years. [This support] is the reason why this organization has continued to spread its horrifying evil, the likes of which the world has never known. Would Al-Tabatabai like us to remind him of his own boastful articles and speeches, in parliament and outside it, supporting the Al-Qaeda operations in Falluja... Where was Mr. Walid [Al-Tabatabai] all this time, when Al-Qaeda [was carrying out] these crimes [?] ...
"In none of his statements do we find any sign that what bin Laden has done and is doing are crimes of murder and expulsion. [Al-Tabatabai] depicts these as events and operations, and persists in playing the innocent, hinting at doubts that his admired fighting 'sheikh' is behind these 'operations!' It seems as if [Al-Tabatabai] is looking for a way to protect [bin Laden] from his inevitable fate...
"The statements made at the conclusion of the letter by Al-Tabatabai, [i.e.] that he is completely incapable of grasping the motives and goals of bin Laden's operations, clarify his lack of understanding of Al-Qaeda's rationale and of the principles on which it is based. He is free to study them – after all, he is an academic and a politician – before asking such a childish question, since the many explanations given by bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri [themselves] for their criminal motives are sufficient!..."
The Fact that the Kuwaiti MP Considers bin Laden to Be His Sheikh is a Catastrophe for This Country and Its People
In another response to Al-Tabatabai's letter, Kuwaiti columnist Khaled 'Eid Al-'Anzi wrote in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai that in the letter, Al-Tabatabai comes across as a close advisor to bin Laden who shares the same beliefs, and that he is causing damage to Kuwait with his statements:
"...We would not be exaggerating to say that the sender and the recipient of this letter belong to similar schools of ideology and belief. When Al-Tabatabai turns to bin Laden with the appellation of 'sheikh,' it means a great deal to those who think deeply to understand the kind of thought [of this school], its ways of behavior, and the logic behind it. That is, to them, a sheikh is not the same sheikh that we know, but rather a supreme rank that commands respect and obligation, in addition to the deference and admiration that surround this appellation. It was not Al-Tabatabai who gave this appellation to bin Laden, but he acknowledges it...
"Anyone who considers bin Laden to be a sheikh must obey him and follow in his path. Even if he does not [fully] follow in his path, the area of agreement [between them] is great, and the difference is narrow and limited. This letter has a meaning that cannot be disregarded... namely, that the fact that the Kuwaiti MP considers bin Laden to be his sheikh is a catastrophe in and of itself, for this country and its people. Had Al-Tabatabai been an MP from Tora Bora, we would have accepted his statements – but he is an MP representing the Kuwaiti people...
"...I do not know why in his letter Al-Tabatabai focuses on the lack of political dimension in bin Laden's most recent speech. This shows him as both someone who criticizes bin Laden's plan from within, and as a faithful advisor to his sheikh [bin Laden] – not as someone who opposes his plan. What Al-Tabatabai does not realize is that his letter causes trouble for us, and that it would be no wonder if his name appeared on the wanted list or on the list of Al-Qaeda members...