In 2018, Robert Spencer published a remarkable book, called “The History of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS.” In one of the chapters (chapter 10), he discussed the matter of how the Western world caved into Islam’s demands. In this series, we look at some highlights from this chapter.




On September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda initiated a new phase of the jihad against the United States, and the free world in general, only to find that the traditional foes of the warriors of jihad were no longer interested in fighting.

On that day, al-Qaeda operatives hijacked jetliners and flew them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Passengers resisted on a fourth jet and managed to bring it down in rural Pennsylvania, far from its intended Washington target, which may have been the White House or the Capitol building. Nearly three thousand people were killed.

This was jihad, but it was markedly different from jihad attacks that the West had faced before. The free world was not facing a state that had declared jihad against it, but an international organization operating in the name of Islam. Yet this was not a “hijacking” of Islam either, as was widely claimed at the time; the underlying principles of jihad remained the same.

Osama bin Laden explained in a 2004 interview that al-Qaeda’s overall objective was to drain the United States economically, a shrewd jihad objective to bring down an enemy many times stronger than the jihad force: “We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. Allah willing, and nothing is too great for Allah.… We, alongside the mujahedeen, bled Russia for 10 years until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat.”1 He further said, “So the war went ahead, the death toll rose, the American economy bled, and Bush became embroiled in the swamps of Iraq that threaten his future.”3

The war against the United States would only end with the submission of the United States to the warriors of jihad, as bin Laden stated succinctly: “The first thing that we are calling you to is Islam.”

Other al-Qaeda plotters involved in planning the September 11 attacks, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, issued a statement in 2009 that explicitly grounded their actions in Islamic religious terms: “Many thanks to God,” they wrote about the attacks, “for his kind gesture, and choosing us to perform the act of Jihad for his cause and to defend Islam and Muslims. Therefore, killing you and fighting you, destroying you and terrorizing you, responding back to your attacks, are all considered to be great legitimate duty in our religion. These actions are our offerings to God. In addition, it is the imposed reality on Muslims in Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, in the land of the two holy sites [Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia], and in the rest of the world, where Muslims are suffering from your brutality, terrorism, killing of the innocent, and occupying their lands and their holy sites.”


On September 17, 2001, U.S. President George W. Bush appeared at the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C., in the company of several prominent Muslim leaders, and said: ”These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith. And it’s important for my fellow Americans to understand that…. The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war. When we think of Islam we think of a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. Billions of people find comfort and solace and peace. And that’s made brothers and sisters out of every race—out of every race.”

As Americans still searched the smoking ruins of the World Trade Center for the remains of their loved ones, President Bush cautioned Americans against thinking ill of Muslims, as if the 9/11 attacks had been perpetrated by Americans targeting Muslims:

“America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country… . And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect… Those who feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take out their anger don’t represent the best of America, they represent the worst of humankind, and they should be ashamed of that kind of behavior.”

Political leaders all over the West echoed his words about Islam’s being a religion of peace, having nothing to do with terrorism. After September 11, this became a commonplace of the Western political discourse, rejected only by a small minority, who were quickly stigmatized as cranks.

The Saudi Involvement in 9 / 11

The best explanation why Bush turned so quickly after the September 11 attacks remains Saudi influence in Washington, including within his administration itself. For many years this involvement was concealed. The 28-page section of the 9/11 report detailing Saudi involvement in the September 11, 2001 jihad attacks was finally released in July 2016 (albeit with substantial portions redacted), and made it clear why one president who held hands with the Saudi king (George W. Bush) and another who bowed to him (Barack Obama) worked so hard for so many years to keep these pages secret. They confirmed that the 9/11 jihad murderers received significant help from people at the highest levels of the Saudi government.

The Saudi ambassador to the United States was Prince Bandar, about whom The New York Times later noted: “No foreign diplomat has been closer or had more access to President Bush, his family and his administration than the magnetic and fabulously wealthy Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia.”

Bassnan “spoke of Bin Laden ‘as if he were a god.’ He also stated to an FBI asset that he heard that the U.S. government had stopped approving visas for foreign students. He considered such measures to be insufficient as there are already enough Muslims in the United States to destroy the United States and make it “an Islamic state within ten to fifteen years.”

David D. Aufhauser, a former Treasury Department general counsel, told a Senate committee in June 2004 that estimates of how much money the Saudis had spent worldwide since the 1970s to promote Wahhabism (an Islamic doctrine and religious movement founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab) went “north of seventy-five billion dollars.” The money went to mosques, Islamic centers, Islamic schools, Islamic preachers, and the printing of hundreds of millions of copies of the Qur’an and other Islamic religious books.29

Terrorism expert Yehudit Barsky noted in 2005: “The people now in control of teaching religion [to American Muslims] are extremists… Eighty percent of the infrastructure is controlled by these extremists.” Nor was this happening in the United States alone. In December 2015, German vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel declared: “We have to make clear to the Saudis that the time of looking away is over. Wahhabi mosques all over the world are financed by Saudi Arabia. Many Islamists who are a threat to public safety come from these communities in Germany.”

Seven years after the September 11 attacks, a U.S. government cable noted: “Government and non-governmental sources claimed that financial support estimated at nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in the region from ‘missionary’ and ‘Islamic charitable’ organizations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ostensibly with the direct support of those governments.” The Deobandi was a Sunni revivalist movement found primarily in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh; the Ahl-e-Hadith was another revivalist movement based in India. As we have seen throughout Islamic history, revivalist movements quite frequently resort to jihad.

The following year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s office noted: “While the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) takes seriously the threat of terrorism within Saudi Arabia, it has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority… Still, donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide… “

But there was still no hint of a rift in the U.S.–Saudi alliance. It was a tough analytical problem because the United States, even as it faced a comprehensive jihad challenge, was politically and economically entangled with one of the chief financiers of the jihad.

And when there was a regime change in Washington and Donald Trump became president of the United States, he did the sword dance in Riyadh with Saudi royals.

The Iranian Involvement in 9/11

Less noted but no less significant is the Islamic Republic of Iran’s role in the September 11 attacks—also a subject of U.S. government cover-up attempts.

On December 22, 2011, U.S. District judge George B. Daniels ruled in Havlish, et al. v. bin Laden, et al., that Iran and Hizballah were liable for damages to be paid to relatives of the victims of the September 11, 2001, jihad attacks in New York and Washington, as both the Islamic Republic and its Lebanese proxy had actively aided al-Qaeda in planning and executing those attacks.

Daniels found that Iran and Hizballah had cooperated and collaborated with al-Qaeda before 9/11 and continued to do so after the attacks.

Former operative Abolghasem Mesbahi, a defector from Iran, testified that during the summer of 2001, he received messages from Iranian government officials regarding a plan for unconventional warfare against the U.S., entitled “Shaitan dar Atash” (“Satan in Flames”).

“Satan in Flames” was the elaborate plot to hijack three passenger jets, each packed full of people, and crash them into American landmarks: the World Trade Center, which jihadis took to be the center of American commerce; the Pentagon, the center of America’s military apparatus; and the White House.

A classified National Security Agency analysis referred to in the 9/11 Commission report reveals that eight to ten of the 9/11 hijackers traveled to Iran repeatedly in late 2000 and early 2001. The 9/11 Commission called for a U.S. government investigation into Iran’s role in 9/11, but none was ever undertaken.

The Ayatollah Khamenei knew about the plot. During the summer of 2001, he instructed Iranian agents to be careful to conceal their tracks and told them to communicate only with al-Qaeda’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Imad Mughniyah of Hizballah.

Mughniyah was Iran’s key player in the 9/11 “Satan in Flames” plot. During the Havlish trial, former CIA agents Clare M. Lopez and Bruce D. Tefft submitted an affidavit stating that “Imad Mughniyah, the most notable and notorious world terrorist of his time, an agent of Iran and a senior operative of Hizballah, facilitated the international travel of certain 9/11 hijackers to and from Iran, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan, and perhaps various other locations for the purpose of executing the events of September 11, 2001.

The Obama-era CIA went to great pains to try to ensure that information about Iran’s role in 9/11 did not come out in the Havlish case.

Judge Daniels determined that Iran, Hizballah, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security, and other Iranian government departments, as well as the Ayatollah Khamenei himself and former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani were all directly implicated in Iranian efforts to aid al-Qaeda in its 9/11 plot.

Confirming all of this was the revelation in November 2017 of a document captured in the May 2, 2011, American raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan. It details a mutual agreement between al-Qaeda and the Islamic Republic of Iran to strike American interests in “Saudi Arabia and the Gulf”; the Iranians agreed to supply al-Qaeda “money, arms,” and “training in Hizbollah camps in Lebanon.”


Standing with President Bush in the mosque in September 2001 was Abdurrahman Alamoudi, who was then one of the most prominent Muslim leaders in the United States. During the presidency of Bill Clinton, Alamoudi served as a State Department “goodwill ambassador” to Muslim lands. In June 2001, he attended a White House briefing on George W. Bush’s faith-based initiative program.

Even though it was universally taken for granted that Alamoudi was a “moderate,” he never bothered to conceal his true allegiances. In 1994 he declared his support for the jihad terror group Hamas. He claimed that “Hamas is not a terrorist group” and that it did “good work.”

At a rally in October 2000, he encouraged those in the crowd to show their support for Hamas and Hizballah. As the crowd cheered, Alamoudi shouted: “I have been labeled by the media in New York to be a supporter of Hamas. Anybody supports Hamas here?” As the crowd cheered, “Yes,” Alamoudi asked the same question again, and then added: “Hear that, Bill Clinton, we are all supporters of Hamas, Allahu akbar.” But even that did not raise any concern among those in Washington who were confident that he was a sterling and reliable “moderate Muslim.” And so, in January 2001, the year he was invited to the Bush White House, Alamoudi traveled to Beirut to attend a conference with leaders of al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hizballah, and Islamic Jihad.

Then, in September 2003, Alamoudi was arrested in London’s Heathrow Airport while carrying three hundred and forty thousand dollars in cash—money that, as it turned out, he had received from Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi in order to finance an al-Qaeda plot to murder the Saudi crown prince, the future King Abdullah.58 Indicted on numerous charges, Alamoudi was found to have funneled over one million dollars to al-Qaeda; he pled guilty to being a senior al-Qaeda financier and was sentenced in October 2004 to twenty-three years in prison. In 2011, the Obama administration reduced Alamoudi’s sentence by six years, without making public its reasons for doing so.

So, as he proclaimed that Islam was a religion of peace that had no connection to the September 11 attacks, George W. Bush was standing in the company of a financier of the organization that was responsible for those attacks.

That denial made the American response to 9/11 curious and wrongheaded in numerous ways. The war went ahead in both Iraq and Afghanistan, both rather off the point if the United States really wanted to confront the sources of jihad activity worldwide. The invasion of Afghanistan made some sense, since the Taliban government was cooperating with al-Qaeda and allowing it to operate training camps on its soil. The invasion of Iraq, however, was based on allegations of cooperation between bin Laden and Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein that were much more tenuous. Operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq became quagmires, immense drains on American personnel, money, and materiel, with little to no upside.

This may have been attributable to Muslim Brotherhood influence in the United States government. The Muslim Brotherhood spelled out its goals for the United States in an internal document seized by the FBI in 2005 in the Northern Virginia headquarters of an Islamic charity, the Holy Land Foundation. The Holy Land Foundation, once the largest Islamic charity in the United States, was shut down for sending charitable contributions to Hamas. The captured document was entitled, “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America.”62

In it, Muslim Brotherhood members were told that the Brotherhood was working on presenting Islam as a “civilizational alternative” to non-Islamic forms of society and governance, and supporting “the global Islamic state wherever it is.” In working to establish that Islamic state, Muslim Brotherhood members in the United States: “must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”64

The Muslim Brotherhood has been active in the United States for decades, and is the moving force behind virtually all of the mainstream Muslim organizations in America: the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), the Muslim American Society (MAS), the Muslim Students Association (MSA), the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT), and many others.

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