"Jihad Is an Individual Duty"

The following is excerpted from the fatwa, or edict, of February 1998, issued by Osama bin Laden, whom U.S. National Security Advisor Samuel Berger calls the "most dangerous nonstate terrorist in the world." U.S. investigators have focused on Bin Laden as the most likely suspect behind the coordinated bombings of the U.S. Embassy buildings in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in August of 1998. At least 250 people - including 12 Americans - and injured more than 5,000 in Nairobi. Ten people died in an almost simultaneous explosion at the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam.

For more than seven years, the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors and turning its bases in the peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.

The best proof of this is the Americans' continuing aggression against the Iraqi people, using the peninsula as a staging post, even though all its rulers are against their territories being used to that end, but they are helpless.

...These crimes and sins committed by the Americans are a clear declaration of war on God, his messenger and Muslims. And ulema [Muslim scholars] have throughout Islamic history unanimously agreed that the jihad [Holy War] is an individual duty if the enemy destroys the Muslim countries.

On that basis, and in compliance with God's order, we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims:

The ruling is to kill the Americans and their allies is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it, in order to liberate the Al Aqsa mosque [Jerusalem] and the Holy Mosque [Mecca]... This is in accordance with the words of Almighty God...

We call on every Muslim who believes in God and wished to be rewarded to comply with God's order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it.

Cars burn in the parking lot outside the U.S. Embassy
in Nairobi, Kenya after terrorist bomb attack on August 7, 1998.