Osama bin Laden, “Declaration of Jihad Against Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Mosques” (1996)

Praise be to Allah, we seek His help and ask for his pardon. We take refuge in Allah from our wrongs and bad deeds. Whoever has been guided by Allah will not be misled, and who ever has been misled, he will never be guided. J bear witness that there is no God except Allah, no associates with Him and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and messenger. . . .

It should not be hidden from you that the community of Islam has suffered from aggression, iniquity and injustice imposed on them by the Zionist-Crusaders alliance and their collaborators; to the extent that the Muslims’ blood became the cheapest and their wealth as loot in the hands of the enemies. Their blood was spilled in Palestine and Iraq. The horrifying pictures of the massacre of Qana[1] in Lebanon are still fresh in our memory. Massacres in Tajikistan, Burma, Kashmir, Assam, the Philippines, Fatani, Ogadin, Somalia, Eritrea, Chechnya and in Bosnia Herzegovina[2] took place, massacres that send shivers in the body and shake the conscience. All of this and the world watched and listened, and not only didn’t respond to these atrocities, but also with a conspiracy between the USA and its allies and under the cover of the iniquitous United Nations the dispossessed people were even prevented from obtaining arms to defend themselves.

The people of Islam awakened and realized that they are the main target for the aggression of the Zionist-Crusaders alliance. All false claims and propaganda about “Human Rights” were hammered down and exposed by the massacres that took place against the Muslims in every part of the world. The latest and the greatest of these aggressions experienced by the Muslims since the death of the Prophet is the occupation of the land of the two Holy Places,[3] the foundation of the house of Islam, the place of the revelation, the source of the message and the place of the noble Kabah, the Qiblah of all Muslims,[4] by the armies of the American Crusaders and their allies.

Today we work. to lift the iniquity that had been imposed on the Umma [the Muslim cornmunity] by the Zionist-Crusaders alliance, particularly after they have occupied the blessed land of Jerusalem, route of the journey of the Prophet,[5] . . . and the land of the two Holy Places. . . . We wish to study the means by which we could return the situation [in Saudi Arabia] to its normal path and to return to the people their own rights, particularly after the large damages and the great aggression on the life and the religion of the people. An injustice that had affected every section and group of the people: the civilians, military and security men, government officials and merchants, the young and the old people as well as school and university students. Hundreds of thousands of the unemployed graduates were also affected.

Injustice had affected the people in industry and agriculture. It affected the people of the rural and urban areas. And almost everybody complains about something. The situation at the land of the two Holy Places became like a huge volcano at the verge of eruption that would destroy the Kuffar[6] and the corruption and its sources. . . .

People are fully concerned about their everyday living; everybody talks about the deterioration of the economy, inflation, ever increasing debts and jails full of prisoners. Government employees with limited income talk about debts of ten thousands and hundred thousands of Saudi Riyals. They complain that the value of the Riyal is greatly and continuously deteriorating among most of the main currencies. Great merchants and contractors speak about hundreds and thousands of million Riyals owed to them by the government. . . .

Through its course of actions the regime has torn off its legitimacy:

(1) Suspension of the Islamic Sharia law and exchanging it with man-made civil law. . . .

(2) The inability of the regime to protect the country and allowing the enemy of the Umma, the American crusader forces, to occupy the land for the longest of years. . . . As a result of the policy imposed on the country, especially in the oil industry where production is restricted or expanded and prices are fixed to suit the American economy, ignoring the economy of the country. Expensive deals were imposed on the country to purchase arms. People are asking what then is the justification for the very existence of the regime?

Quick efforts were made by individuals and by different groups in society to contain the situation and to prevent the danger. They advised the government both privately and openly; they sent letters and poems, reports after reports, reminders after reminders, they explored every avenue and enlisted every influential man in their movement of reform and correction. They wrote in a style of passion, diplomacy and wisdom asking for corrective measures . . . from the “great wrongdoings and corruption’ that had engulfed even the basic principles of the religion and the legitimate rights of the people.

But to our deepest regret the regime refused to listen to the people. . . .

Under such circumstances, to push the enemy out of the country is a prime duty. No other duty after Belief is more important. . . . Also to remind the Muslims not to be engaged in an internal war among themselves, as that will have consequences, namely:

1. Consumption of the Muslims’ human resources as casualties and fatalities. . . .
2. Exhaustion of the economic and financial resources
3. Destruction of the country’s infrastructures
4. Disruption of society
5. Destruction of the oil industries. . . .
6. Division of the land of the two Holy Places, and annexing of the northern part of it by Israel. Dividing the land of the two Holy Places is an essential demand of the Zionist- Crusaders alliance. . . .

The regime is fully responsible for what has been incurred by the country and the nation; however, the occupying American enemy is the principle and the main cause of the situation. Therefore efforts should be concentrated on destroying, fighting and killing the enemy until, by the Grace of Allah, it is completely defeated....


It is incredible that our country is the world’s largest buyer of arms from the USA and the area’s biggest commercial partner of the Americans who are assisting their Zionist brothers in occupying Palestine and in evicting and killing the Muslims there, by providing arms, men and financial support. To deny these occupiers. . . the enormous revenues from their trade with our country is a very important help for our Jihad against them.

We expect the women of the land of the two Holy Places and other countries to carry out their role in boycotting the American goods. If economic boycott is intertwined with the military operations of the Mujahideen [holy warriors], then defeating the enemy will be even nearer, by the Permission of Allah.


A few days ago the news agencies had reported that the Defense Secretary[7] of the Crusading Americans had said that “the explosions at Riyadh and Al Khobar[8] had taught him one lesson: that is, not to withdraw when attacked by coward terrorists.”

We say to the Defense Secretary that his talk can induce a grieving mother to laughter! . . . Where was this false courage of yours when the explosion in Beirut took place in 1983? You were turned into scattered bits and pieces at that time; 241 marine soldiers were killed.[9] And where was this courage of yours when two explosions made you to leave Aden in less than twenty-four hours![10]

But your most disgraceful case was in Somalia;[11] where . . . you moved an . . . international force, including twenty-eight thousand American soldiers. .. . However, when tens of your soldiers were killed in minor battles and one American pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadishu you left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you. Clinton appeared in front of the whole world threatening and promising revenge, but these threats were merely a preparation for withdrawal. You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew; the extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear.

Since the sons of the land of the two Holy Places feel and strongly believe that fighting against the nonbelievers in every part of the world is absolutely essential; then they would be even more enthusiastic, more powerful and larger in number upon fighting on their own land, the place of their births, defending the greatest of their sanctities, the noble Kabah (the Qiblah of all Muslims). They know that the Muslims of the world will assist and help them to victory. To liberate their Holy Places is the greatest of issues concerning all Muslims; it is the duty of every Muslim in this world. I say to you William [Perry] that: These youths love death as you love ilk. They inherit dignity, pride, courage, generosity, truthfulness and sacrifice from father to father. They are most . . . steadfast at war. They inherit these values from their ancestors.

These youths believe in what has been told by Allah and His messenger about the greatness of the reward for the Mujahideen martyrs....

Those youths know that their reward in fighting you, the USA, is double their reward in fighting someone else. . . . They have no intention except to enter paradise by killing you.

Those youths will not ask you for explanations, they will tell you. . . there is nothing between us that needs to be explained, there is only killing and neck smiting.

In the heat of battle they do not care, and cure the insanity of the enemy by their ‘insane’ courage. Terrorizing you, while you are carrying arms on our land, is a legitimate and morally required duty. It is a legitimate right well known to all humans and other creatures. Your example and our example is like a snake which entered into a house of a man and got killed by him. The coward is the man who lets you walk, while carrying arms, freely on his land and provides you with peace and security.

Those youths are different from your soldiers. Your problem will be how to convince your troops to fight, while our problem will be how to restrain our youths to wait for their turn in fighting....

The youths hold you responsible for all of the killings and evictions of the Muslims and the violation of the sanctities, carried out by your Zionist brothers in Lebanon; you openly supplied them with arms and finance. More than 600,000 Iraqi children have died due to lack of food and medicine and as a result of the unjustifiable aggression imposed on Iraq and its nation.[12]

The children of Iraq are our children. You, the USA, together with the Saudi regime are responsible for the shedding of the blood of these innocent children. Due to all of that, whatever treaty you have with our country is now null and void….

It is a duty now on every tribe on the Arab Peninsula to fight in the cause of Allah and to cleanse the land from those occupiers. Allah knows that their blood is permitted to be spilled and their wealth is a booty; their wealth is a booty to those who kill them. . . . Our youths knew that the humiliation suffered by the Muslims as a result of the occupation of their Holy Places cannot be removed except by explosions and Jihad.

[1] In April 1996 the Israelis launched a two-week bombardment of territory in southern Lebanon where the terrorist group Hezbollah was located. On April 18, 100 civilians were killed when the Israelis shelled the battalion headquarters of a UN peacekeeping force where some 800 Lebanese had taken refuge. The Israelis blamed “technical and procedural errors,” an explanation questioned by an official UN report.

[2] This is a rather wide-ranging list. The massacres in Assam, a province of northeastern India, were carried out by an Assam separatist group in 1990 and claimed several dozen victims, not all of whom were Muslims. Attach on Burmese Muslims in the early 1990s were carried out by Buddhists.

[3] Mecca, the birthplace of Muhammad, and the site of the Kabah, Islam’s holiest shrine, and Medina, the city to which Muhammad and his followers fled in 622 CE.

[4] The Kabah is the cube-shaped shrine in Mecca; the Qiblah is the direction pointing to the Kabah toward which Muslims must pray.

[5] Muhammad’s miraculous “night journey” took him and the angel Gabriel from Mecca to Jerusalem, from which they ascended into heaven then returned to Mecca the following morning. They rode a horselike creature or Buraq.

[6] Those who do not believe in God.

[7] Perry, secretary of defense between 1994 and 1997.

[8] In November 1995 a car bomb in Riyadh at a Saudi National Guard training center killed five Americans; the bombing of Kohbar Towers, a U.S. Air Force housing complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killed nineteen Americans.

[9] President Reagan ordered the withdrawal of marine peace- keepers after a bomb killed 241 marines and navy seamen in October 1983 in Beirut.

[10] The Pentagon withdrew 100 army personnel after the U.S. embassy was bombed in Aden in 1993.

[11] President Clinton ordered the withdrawal of U.S. peace- keepers from Somalia by March 1994 after a clash with Somali warlords in Mogadishu in October 1993 resulted in the deaths of eighteen army rangers.

[12] The alleged victims of economic sanctions imposed on Iraq after the first Persian Gulf War.