On July 24, 2005, two Lebanese muftis – the mufti of Mt. Lebanon, Dr. Muhammad Ali Al-Jozo, and the mufti of Tyre, Ali Al-Amin – appeared on ANB TV to debate the situation in the Middle East. In making a point about tight security at the U.S. border prior to 9/11, Dr. Al-Jozo related gleefully how, when entering the U.S., he had "made fun" of U.S. Border Patrol personnel. (To view this clip, visit http://memritv.org/clip/en/778.htm).
The following are excerpts from the TV show. (Please note that […] represents a break in scene):
Al-Jozo: "We all rejected what happened in London and America [9/11], but who is the real perpetrator? Who is behind these operations? We must ask ourselves these important questions. For the sake of argument, we agreed that 9/11 was carried out by a group belonging to Al-Qaeda, however, reality says otherwise. I could never accept such a thing, because many experts have told us that this operation could have only been carried out by professionals..."
Garaudy Proved the U.S. was Behind 9/11
Host: "So you don't think Al-Qaeda is responsible?"
Muhammad Ali Al-Jozo: "I don't think so, and I cannot believe that Al-Qaeda has the ability to fly four planes simultaneously over Washington without any military plane budging. I am holding a book by French author Roger Garaudy called Western Terrorism. He brings proof from the Americans themselves. He says: 'The Bin Laden theory seems very weak, even technically speaking. An in-depth discussion among many civilian and military American pilots has made it clear that such a large-scale and precise operation could only be carried out by professional and highly-trained pilots who can hit with precision a target that looks like a pole from the altitude of a huge passenger jet..."
"We must distinguish between the national resistance of Muslims defending their land – for instance, when an Iraqi fights an American, it is undoubtedly legitimate, since he is defending his land. America is the one that attacked and tried to occupy it. The same applies to people collaborating with America. We cannot distinguish between those who collaborate with America and the Americans themselves."
Host: "But there are different types of resistance. Some attack American, or even Iraqi, military targets, while others target civilians. How can you explain the fact that all Al-Qaeda's operations target the Iraqis, especially recently, when Al-Zarqawi announced the formation of the Omar Corps against the [Shiite] Badr Corps, thus calling for civil strife? What interest does such a force have in civil strife?"
Al-Jozo: "That is what America aimed at. It wants to sow civil strife among Muslims. We are opposed to this.
"Some even say America itself is carrying out some of the operations in which a man blows himself up to kill many civilians, in order to distort the image of Muslims."
Host: "You can't simplify things like that, as though America and Israel are responsible for everything."
The Zionists Are Involved in the London Bombings; Martyrdom Operations Are "100% Good"
Al-Jozo: "America and Israel... There is no doubt that Israel plays a major role in distorting the image of Islam. Even in London – I said that Zionists are involved in that operation – they want to distort the image of Islam in Britain and Europe, and to drive a wedge between Muslims and the West. This is obvious.
"Many of our young men here have carried out martyrdom operations, and we have said that these are 100% good operations, and we have defended this martyrdom."
Host: "But they target soldiers."
Al-Jozo: "Not only soldiers. They target civilians as well."
Ali Al-Amin: "How can you be a martyrdom-seeker, while targeting peaceful and innocent civilians?"
Al-Jozo: "Some of the martyrdom operations in Palestine have targeted civilians – soldiers as well as civilians. A Palestinian who lives on his land and is punished undeservingly does not distinguish between civilians… He views them all as Zionists."
Al-Amin: "He may not distinguish, but Allah does."
Al-Jozo: "All the Zionists... They are all occupiers."
Host: "This argument proves that there is no agreement among Muslims about who is a mujahid and who is not."
Al-Jozo: "A mujahid is someone defending his cause and land, and a terrorist is someone who kills civilians in a place that has nothing to do with..."
Host: "Are Al-Qaeda members terrorists or Jihad warriors?"
How Can We Call Osama bin Laden a Terrorist When He Fights the U.S. and the Zionist Enemy?
Al-Jozo: "In no way can I say that they are terrorists. Some operations target the enemy and cannot be called terrorism. It's terrorism only when he kills civilians. This is terrorism – when civilians are killed unjustifiably. But when he fights the American or Zionist enemy, how can we call him a terrorist?"
Host: "But the question is how should we respond? When the Crusaders occupied the countries, the response was one of war and Jihad, and not one of terrorism and of targeting civilians."
Al-Jozo: "When America attacked with its planes, did it attack only soldiers, or civilians as well? Did it not kill civilians as well? Did it distinguish between civilians and soldiers?"
Al-Amin: "America was wrong and unjust..."
Al-Jozo: "So we say that America was wrong, but this [operation] was in response to things done by America and Britain. We don't want to ignore the cause and say that the result is such-and-such. True, we condemned what some people did in London, and we totally disagree with killing civilians like this, but we are saying that these causes must be removed and taken care of, and to stop this oppression. Britain has a lot of thinking to do about its oppression of Arab states, and about planting Israel in our lands. It must rectify this. The European conscience in particular should awaken and rectify this equation, which they created by planting Israel in our lands, and causing us grief and injustice."
Al-Amin: "One of the reasons for the rise in acts of vengeance may be the occupation. The Israeli occupation of Palestine, its inhumane actions against civilians and peaceful people... The same occupation in Iraq, by America and Britain, and what happened in Afghanistan – all these are factors that naturally may cause anger among groups – not only among Muslims, but among all people who reject injustice and persecution, and who may, at some point, into time bombs. But I do not support justifying such acts with these reasons. I think we should put these reasons aside, because they do not deny free will and choice. This is still a person who wants, chooses, thinks, and is free. His ability to think and choose, and his culture, should all prevent him from harming peaceful people."
"What the Sheik said about oppression and persecution throughout history, in the past and present – we reject all this. This injustice by the British and the French is unacceptable. But you cannot respond to injustice with injustice. Even if the British mistreated us in the past – does this justify our mistreating them? Mistreating innocent civilians?"
"Islamic wartime morality states that when the Prophet Muhammad sent a military unit, he would tell them not to uproot a tree, not to kill an old man, a child, or a woman – they must be kept out of it. This principle was adopted even by UN resolutions – the principle of keeping civilians aside. Israel's injustice towards civilians is part of its nature, but it should not encourage me to perpetrate injustices upon peaceful civilians anywhere in the world."
I Cannot Give Osama bin Laden Credit for 9/11
Al-Jozo: "I cannot give bin Laden credit for the operation in America [9/11]. He does not have the capabilities, and his personality in no way suggests that he might carry out an operation like those that occurred in America, London, or Madrid. There are Zionist hands..."
Host: "You are trying to exonerate Al-Qaeda completely, even though it issues communiqués and..."
Al-Jozo: "It issues communiqués, but it cannot... I've said... I visited the U.S. several times before this [9/11] happened, and even clerics were thoroughly searched. Once I was at the Canadian-American border, going into America. They stopped my car and searched it for two hours. I laughed. They asked me if I had weapons, and I said yes. They asked what weapons, and I said a cannon and a few missiles. I was making fun of them. They searched the car like madmen. With such a meticulous search, and the security checks at the airports are the best, how did this happen?"
Al-Amin: "You are exonerating them [Al-Qaeda], even though they claimed responsibility."
Al-Jozo: "That is nonsense. Nonsense. When bin Laden said 'some of the good faithful men did this' – It's nonsense. He denied it at first and said he didn't carry out the operation."
Al-Amin: "These are crimes that even a wild beast would not take pride in, and he calls them Jihad, struggle, and so on. The principle of who stands to lose or gain... I think it goes too far. Did the U.S. gain anything from the bombings of 9/11? What did it gain? And who could have done it? I don't want to justify it, but at least there is a man and an organization who say 'I did it.'"
Al-Jozo: "Israel profited from the bombings."
Al-Amin: "We should all stand against these abominations, so that these actions will be condemned, no matter who perpetrated them. This may be a considerable obstacle preventing such incidents from recurring."