During the recent fighting in Najaf between U.S. forces and Muqtada Al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, prominent Islamist leaders from throughout the Middle East and the Muslim world signed a statement expressing solidarity with the Iraqi fighters, and calling for Muslims to join it the fight against the U.S. The following is further information about the statement and its signatories:
Support for the Fight Against U.S. Troops in Iraq
During the fighting in Najaf, the Muslim Brotherhood movement issued a public appeal for support of the forces fighting the coalition in Iraq. Discussing the increasing Islamic support for the fight against U.S. forces, the former editor of the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, labeled it 'The Clerics' War:' "[The war] in Najaf is a battle for political control … a battle [conducted by] political Shi'ite clerics, and is being watched by Sunni [religious] groups so that they too may gain from the political fallout [of the war]." 
The appeal to support the fighting against U.S. forces was signed by 93 Muslim clerics from countries throughout the world, and was published by the London pro-Saddam daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi on August 23, 2004.
The London Daily Al-Hayat newspaper reported on September 2, 2004 that Sheikh Yousef Al-Qardhawi, head of the newly-established (in July) London-based International Council of Muslim Clerics and head of the European Committee for Religious Law published a new fatwa declaring that "it is an obligation incumbent on the Muslims to kill American citizens in Iraq, since they are in Iraq in order to assist the soldiers and the occupation forces; it is forbidden however to desecrate their corpses."
The leading figure among the signatories are Sheikh Muhammad Mahdi 'Akef, an Egyptian who is the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood movement ; his deputy in Syria, Dr. Hassan Huweidi ; his deputy in Egypt, Muhammad Habib; and Isam Al-'Attar, former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, who resides in Germany after having fled Syria.
A number of well-known clerics also signed the appeal, such as Sheikh Dr. Yousef Al-Qaradhawi; Sheikh Faysal Mawlawi, Secretary-General of the Al-Jama'a Al-Islamiyya in Lebanon and spiritual leader of the Union of Islamic Organizations in France; and Sheikh Muhammad Al-Jouzo, the Mufti of Mount Lebanon.
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Among the other signatories are leaders of terrorist organizations, such as Khaled Mash'al, head of the political bureau of Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood; Dr. Ramadhan Abdallah Shallah, Secretary-General of Palestinian Islamic Jihad ; and well-known Shi'ite figures, such as Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary-General of Hizbullah.
Text of the Appeal, and Other Statements for Jihad Against the U.S. in Iraq
One of the clauses of the appeal read: "[There is an] escalation in the aggression and the distraction [perpetrated] against the Iraqi people, its cities and its holy sites, the epitome of which was the bombing of Najaf, the burial place of the greatest Imam in Islam, the righteous Caliph, Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib. This was part of the comprehensive barbaric colonialist attack that the USA is conducting against Islam in general and against Iraq in particular …"
The statement further said: "In light of the barbaric crimes being perpetrated in Iraq and in Palestine by the American-Zionist alliance against the Arabs and the Muslims, and even against all of humanity as [barbaric crimes] are occurring in Darfur in Sudan, the clerics, the leaders of the Islamic movement, the intellectual figures and those who labor to spread the message of Islam who have signed this call … emphasize their complete solidarity with the Iraqi and Palestinian peoples, and with the noble and brave national Islamic resistance, and call on them to join ranks in the struggle against the occupation… [In addition] they call on our people, the Arabs and the Muslims, on all of the religious authorities and the liberation forces everywhere, to oppose the occupation and its barbaric crimes in Iraq and in Palestine through offering every type of, material, and moral support, to the honorable resistance and its prisoners … and their families." 
On August 17 the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood movement Muhammad Mahdi 'Akef published an open letter in which he expressed his support for the resistance in Iraq: "There is no alternative other than that the [Muslim] peoples continue their political and national support of the resistance, materially and morally, in Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan…
"Islam considers the resistance to be Jihad for the sake of Allah and this is a commandment, a personal obligation [ fardhayn ] incumbent on all of the residents of the occupied countries. [This commandment] takes precedence over all other [religious] duties. Even a woman is obligated to go to war, [even] without her husband's permission, and youth are permitted to go out and fight." 
On August 19, Hamas also published a statement of "solidarity with Muqtada Al-Sadr and with his brothers who are resisting the American occupation," and called on the Iraqi people, Sunnis and Shi'ites, Arabs and Kurds, "to express their solidarity and to strengthen the national unity in the struggle against the repressive aggression directed against [us] all." 
The Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi, in an interview with the UAE daily Al-Khaleej, also expressed support for the resistance in Iraq, but qualified it with opposition to attacks on innocent civilians: "No right-thinking individual would dispute that the resistance to occupation is a right which is firmly grounded in all of the divine laws, religious rules and customs. According to Islam, this is not only a right but an obligation. However, we emphasize both to the Muslims and to the non-Muslims that the killing of innocents and the frightening of peaceful people is not Jihad but rather terrorism, and Islam condemns it… Jihad is [the fight] against the criminal aggressors and not against innocents slain because of arbitrary operations here and there…" 
 Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 24, 2004.
 Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), August 23, 2004.