2004 Public Statement

"We will lose our war against terrorism, unless ... "
Translation of article by Ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar bin Sultan published in the Arabic daily 'Alwatan' on June 1, 2004 (*)

Crown Prince Abdullah has declared war on terror and terrorists, and he is right in doing so.  Many officials in our government have reiterated the Crown Prince’s declaration.  With all due modesty, and out of apprehension for my beloved land, I would like to express my opinion on this sensitive and important matter from thousands of miles away, from America, as a Saudi citizen and not in my official capacity.

What qualifies me to do so, I believe, is that for 17 years I had the honor of serving my religion, my homeland, and my King, as a member of the gallant Saudi Armed Forces. Although I left military service nearly 20 years ago, and I have abandoned military affairs and daily dealings with warfare as a professional soldier, my memories still help me to express an opinion and engage in military analysis in general terms.

War, in the final analysis, means tragedy, pain, and sacrifice.  The harder, faster, more determinedly, and more aggressively a war is fought, the fewer the casualties.  But basically this depends on the will of God Almighty, and on general mobilization for that war.  I personally believe that neither the State nor its citizens have reached that important and basic stage necessary to win the war: that is, the phase of general mobilization for war, in contemplation and in action, both specific and general, throughout the media and in the society; and including mobilization of all institutions of both the State and the private sector.  Everything in our daily life should be viewed in the light of our being at war.

We should be confident that we can decisively win this war, God willing.  We are not going to win by depending solely on praying to God to defeat the terrorists, although that is fitting.   We are not going to win by hoping alone, although that is fitting.  We are not going to win by passion alone, although that is, sometimes, fitting.  We will ultimately win this war through our dependence on God.  But that dependence should be accompanied by conducting this war as a war in the full sense of the word, against those deviants and traitors who have betrayed their faith, their families, and their homeland.

War means war.  It does not mean a boy scout camp.  War does not mean softness, but brutality.  And this war cannot be waged on the basis of referring to those deviants as people who are pious, but have inadvertently taken a wrong path: it is a war against terrorists and aggressors, with whom there can be no compromise.

Either we believe, as a State and a people, that we are righteous, and therefore obligated to fight and kill these terrorists in order to defend our religion and our people;  or, God forbid, they are the true believers, and we, as a State and a people, are the renegades, and they have the right to kill us all: women, children, the elderly, and those who are our guests.

If we address these alternatives, the picture will become clearer, and we will be divided into two groups.  The first group comprises those who are with us, as a Muslim State, ruled according to the law of God, and people who believe in God’s law and in the Sunnah [way] of His Prophet.  The second group comprises those who deviate from the religion.

We, as a State and a people, must insist that everyone choose between the righteous path that we believe in, and the false path, which we consider those deviants to be following.  In my opinion, with all due modesty and respect, our honorable clerics must call for the ruler to declare jihad against those deviants, and unequivocally support him in that endeavor.  They should take a firm stance on it, since whoever keeps reticent about the truth is “a silent Satan”.

My personal conclusion is that this crisis is both easy and difficult.  If we confront it the way the founding father King Abdulaziz confronted it at the Battle of Al-Sabla, against those who advocated the same ideology as these deviants, and, with God's help, defeated them, then the crisis will be easy.  If we confront it with hesitancy, thinking of the deviants wishfully as misled young Muslims, and that the solution is to call upon them to return to the path of righteousness, hoping they will come to their senses, then we will lose this war.  That means we are going to squander everything this State and its people have accomplished over the past six decades.  That will lead us into a dark world, whose end only God knows.

I personally do not believe these deviants are any stronger than those who fought against the State at the Battle of Al-Sabla.  I can attest to the fact that the State today, God be praised, is much stronger than it was during the period of the founding father, the late King Abdulaziz. Therefore, the outcome of this confrontation relies on the following question: Do we, or do we not, as a State and a people, believe we are fighting a just war?

If the answer is yes, then triumph is ours, as a State and a people, God willing, provided we declare a general mobilization in order to wage this war.  The aberration would be the victory of the deviants over us as a State and a people.  Their victory would mean their excesses, their extremism: killings, discrimination between Islamic factions, apostasy and carrying out aggression against what God has sanctified - the soul, honor, and property.

We have a religious and national duty not to be lured into following those who have deceived us into believing that the flaw lies with us, as a State and a people, and that this terrorist phenomenon is an outcome of the cultural situation in which we are living, with the bad as well as the good. These are words that appear to be the truth, but are intended to deceive.

Deviants did not appear for the first time in our era.  They emerged already during the era of the four Righteous Caliphs.  They did not appear because our nation has connections with America or with Christians and Jews, or because of Israel's aggression against the Palestinian brethren, or because of events in Falujah or Chechnya.  They emerged for the first time during the era of the Companions of God’s Messenger, Prophet Muhammad.

Those who perpetrated the plot leading to the murder of the Third Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan, were neither Christians nor Jews.  They were the descendents of the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad.

Enough of this futile vindication of what these criminals do.  We should stop blaming others.   What ails us lies within our own ranks.  Enough of demagoguery and confusion at this critical stage in our history.  We should all, as a State and a people, expose these criminals.  They are disseminating corruption in the land, and we are obligated, as rulers, clerics and citizens, to follow and implement the words of God: “The recompense of those who wage war against God and His Messenger and do mischief in the land is only that they shall be killed”. [Qur’an 5:33].  Period.  No deliberation or hesitancy.  We must all obey God’s honored directive, and kill those who spread mischief in the land. Any preaching other than that, in my opinion, is a violation of the word of the Lord God.

May God preserve our religion, our country, and our King.  If we do not obey this directive from God, and call for a general mobilization, we will lose the war against terrorism.

(*) original Arabic text