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Behind the Terror
 
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COVER REPORT

Using Islam as a Tool

 O
sama bin Laden and his closest friend and associate, psychiatrist Ayman al-Zawahiri, have been accused of many things, from murder and mayhem to drug-trafficking and extortion—so many criminal activities, in fact, that one Afghan interviewed by Freedom likened their al-Qaeda organization to the Mafia. If there is any connection to Islam, he said, it is that they have exploited this great religion as a cover for their acts.

Another observer, Noor Delawary, accused bin Laden and al-Zawahiri of “using Islam as a tool for their own political gains.” Delawary, a native Afghan, reinforced what many have said: the terrorist actions of bin Laden, al-Zawahiri and al-Qaeda have “nothing to do with Islam.”

Evidence also suggests that the same political influences in al-Qaeda are at work in the Taliban (one source in fact said al-Qaeda and the Taliban are virtually indistinguishable from one another). Exploitation of Islam is evident in the Taliban; Canadian journalist Michael Petrou, who spent a month on the front lines in northeastern Afghanistan shortly after the American bombing started, told Freedom, “I frequently heard—many, many times—from Afghans in Northern Afghanistan that the Taliban weren’t real Muslims.”

Islam means “submission” (to the will of God). Counting its history from the flight of Muhammad in 622 from Mecca to Yathrib (later Medina), over the centuries followers of Islam have made countless positive contributions to thought, culture, science and art throughout the world—a rich heritage mocked by terrorists who claim to act in its name.

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