WASHINGTON March 31 —
Calls for a holy war against the United States because of its
attack on Iraq have now led to warnings of "100 bin Ladens" an
ominous prospect for Americans who have been living with the fear of
more terror attacks since Sept. 11, 2001.
Indeed, it was Osama bin Laden's anger over the United States
keeping troops in Saudi Arabia after the first Gulf War that spurred
him to orchestrate the terrorist attacks on New York and the
Pentagon. "Expel the heretics from the Arabian Peninsula," bin Laden
declared in 1996.
In the past few days, calls for jihad have been issued across the
In Egypt, president Hosni Mubarak warned on Monday that if the
U.S.-led coalition's war against Iraq drags on, Islamic militancy
will rise across the world.
"If there is one bin Laden now, there will be 100 bin Ladens
afterward," Mubarak said in a speech to army commanders.
In Pakistan, the Taliban's elusive leader Mullah Mohammed Omar
issued a call for a holy war against U.S. troops and Afghans who
work with them. Omar's decree, publicized on black-and-white posters
plastered across eastern Afghanistan, is signed by 600 Islamic
clerics reminding their followers to wage jihad "to rise up against
Iraq's government recently gave $34,000 a fortune by Iraqi
standards to the family of an Iraqi army officer who posed as a
cabbie, waved to troops at a roadblock near Najaf and then blew up
his vehicle, killing four U.S. soldiers.
Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said Saturday's attack
was "just the beginning," and raised the specter of terrorism on
U.S. or British soil.
"We will use any means to kill our enemy in our land and we will
follow the enemy into its land," he said.
The calls for jihad a religious duty for Muslims that includes
fighting to defend Islam, striving to be a better person, giving
money to the poor and fulfilling obligations toward the faith do not
surprise counterterrorism experts and scholars. They worry that such
calls could incite isolated terrorist attacks on America, but say
it's no time to panic.
"The number of people in the world who hate Americans has not
increased in the last three months," said Michael Swetnam,
counterterrorism specialist at the Potomac Institute of Policy
Studies in Arlington, Va. "I would be absolutely astonished to see
waves of suicide bombers landing on our shores and things blowing
up. We're in no more trouble than we were when we went into
Swetnam agrees that the war could generate more hatred against
America if it lasts a long time and television repeatedly shows
innocent civilians being killed in Baghdad. "But it really hasn't
happened yet," Swetnam said.
The day after the war began, a small band of military scholars in
bin Laden's native Saudi Arabia, urged jihad. And some Saudis are
waging personal, low-key jihads.
May al-Jaser, a biology professor educated at U.S. and British
universities, said she's telling women at a U.S. coffee shop in
Riyadh that the money they're spending on java will go "to strike
Still, the recent calls for holy war against America haven't
rattled Dan Reiter, a political scientist at Emory University.
"We don't have any evidence yet that we should panic at the
likelihood of a quantum increase in terrorist incidents," Reiter
said. "We're not at red alert yet."
American counterterrorism officials say they have noted an
increase in recruiting by militant Islamic groups overseas since the
onset of war. But they say they have no way to quantify it or assess
how serious it is.
Officials also say the governments in Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan,
Yemen and Saudi Arabia all friendly to the United States to some
degree appear stable despite protests in some of those
The religious rhetoric, however, could incite acts of terrorism
by individuals in the United States, said Mark Broxmeyer, national
chairman of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs,
based in Washington.
"It's a signal for them to activate," Broxmeyer said. "There
still is a deep concern about the active (terrorist) cells in the
"I'm worried about lone-wolf assassins people who get emotionally
drawn in and go out and start shooting people at a mall or drop a
knapsack with explosives in Grand Central Station."
|An angry protester wields a toy
rifle as others carry a poster of Saudi dissident Osama bin
Laden during a protest rally of more than 100,000 people to
condemn the U.S. -led war against Iraq, in Peshawar, in
northwestern Pakistan, March 30, 2003. Anti-war protests have
been staged by angry Pakistanis daily since the war started
weeks ago. (AP Photo/Mohammad
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