Why did Osama bin Laden hate Americans, Jews and Christians?

Osama bin Laden, over two decades, told us repeatedly why he hates Americans, Jews and Christians and how he would seek to destroy us. The man was a text book profile of a radical Muslim terrorist. He left behind many disciples. Photo: Associated Press

WASHINGTON, May 11, 2011 - Osama bin Laden interview transcripts dating back to the mid-1990s reveal a haunting profile of radical Muslim terrorists and clearly answers two questions: why do they hate us and why is what they believe evil.

Osama bin Laden, militant terrorist

Osama bin Laden, militant terrorist

Following September 11, 2001, TIME Magazine author Lisa Beyer described bin Laden as the typical Muslim extremist: fanatical religiosity, hard-line interpretation of Islam, outrage toward the U.S. for being a secular, domineering presence in the Arab world and hatred for those who support Israel. 

Hate toward Americans, Jews and Christians

“Every Muslim the minute he can start differentiating, carries hate towards Americans, Jews and Christians, this is part of our ideology. Ever since I can recall, I felt at war with the Americans and had feelings of animosity and hate towards them,” said bin Laden in an interview with al-Jazeera Arab television in 1998.

That same year, in an interview with TIME magazine he said, “Our work targets world infidels. Our enemy is the crusader alliance led by America, Britain and Israel. It is a crusader-Jewish alliance.” 

Influencing factors 

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, bin Laden was born in Saudi Arabia in 1957 to a Syrian mother and Yemeni father. Mohammed bin Laden made a fortune building palaces for the Saudi royal family. Osama bin Laden’s inheritance was estimated at between $30 million to $300 million. 

As a young college student, he fell in with the radical, Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood. Throughout the 1980s, Osama bin Laden fought with and helped fund the mujahedeen, holy warriors, against the Soviets in Afghanistan. The Afghan resistance was primarily financed by the Saudis and the U.S. 

Emboldened by the defeat of the Soviets in Afghanistan, bin Laden began extending his ties with radical Muslims worldwide, and making plans to take the fight to the U.S., organizing al-Qaeda in 1988. His hatred toward the U.S. was solidified when American troops, instead of his Arab brothers, confronted Saddam Hussein during the 1990 Kuwait invasion. To bin Laden this was “a violation of the sanctity of Muslim territory.” 

After nearly a decade on the move, including a stint in Sudan to establish his al-Qaeda training camps, bin Laden found refuge back in Afghanistan with the Taliban. The Taliban gave him a base and cover, in exchange for funding for their fighters.  In 1998, bin Laden led the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.

Bin Laden and al-Qaeda took credit for the September 11, 2001 attacks on America, killing 2,792 that day alone.

September 11, 2001


Bin Laden did not keep his beliefs or intentions secret

Bin Laden didn’t sneak up on us. A thorough chronology of his edicts and statements is posted on PBS Frontline.

August 1996: 

Bin Laden’s Fatwa or “Declaration of War Against the Americans Who Occupy the Land of the Two Holy Mosques” foreshadows the events of September 11, 2001.

“Due to the imbalance of power between our armed forces and the enemy forces, a suitable means of fighting must be adopted, i.e. using fast-moving, light forces that work under complete secrecy. In other words, to initiate a guerrilla war, where the sons of the nation, and not the military forces, take part in it.”

March 1997: 

In an interview with CNN he says, “We declared jihad against the US government, because the US government is unjust, criminal and tyrannical…”

“For this and other acts of aggression and injustice, we have declared jihad against the US, because in our religion it is our duty to make jihad so that God’s word is the one exalted to the heights and so that we drive the Americans away from all Muslim countries.”

February 1998: 

Bin Laden announces the creation of the International Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders, in association with extremist groups from Egypt, Pakistan and Bangladesh:

“We—with God’s help—call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God’s order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it. We also call on Muslim ulema, leaders, youths, and soldiers to launch the raid on Satan’s U.S. troops and the devil’s supporters allying with them, and to displace those who are behind them so that they may learn a lesson.”

“The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies — civilians and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim.”

November 2002: 

Only the United Kingdom Observer chose to run a “Letter to America” from bin Laden. In it, he goes point-by-point describing the sins of America, with special emphasis on support for the Jews, and preaching a call to repentance and warning that “If the Americans refuse to listen to our advice and the goodness, guidance and righteousness that we call them to, then be aware…”

He affirms his seriousness by including a couple paragraphs on “The Nation of Martyrdom; the Nation that desires death more than you desire life.” The letter brought Harley Sorensen, self-proclaimed liberal iconoclast, to write in the San Francisco Gate that, “As the events of Sept. 11 showed, and as we see almost every day in Israel and other nations, we are opposed by a totally dedicated enemy who doesn’t fear death.”

We won a battle but not the war

In the 1998 al-Jazeera interview, when asked if the U.S. “economic war” against him caused any “discomfort,” he replied: “War is war. You win some days, you lose others.” 

We needed a win.

Thank God we got one Sunday, May 1. Bin Laden may be dead, but his legacy lives on. The war, in both figurative and literal terms, is not over. We must take seriously the beliefs of Muslim extremists, like bin Laden, because their numbers are many. We must teach our children who this man was, and why we had no choice but to take his life. They will be faced with the choice of continuing the fight or giving in to the “advice and the goodness, guidance and righteousness” of the many bin Laden disciples.

Writer, Carla Garrison follows current events with one eye on history and one eye on the future.  Her goal is to encourage people to think critically about their lives and the world. Follow Carla at Twitter: CarlaMGarrison



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Carla Garrison

Carla writes about current issues and events with an aim toward telling the truth, using the writings of great thinkers, dead and living, as well as common sense.

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