"I invite you to embrace Islam,” says Osama bin Laden in his latest videotape. Most analysts take this as pious window-dressing and focus on what they believe to be the more substantive points of his message: his comments on the war in Iraq, his critique of capitalism, the similarity of much of what he says to Democratic Party talking points, and the like. But in fact the invitation to Islam is the heart, and the most revealing aspect, of bin Laden’s entire statement.
The chief reason for this, of course, is because in traditional Islamic law, the invitation to Islam must precede an attack on non-Muslims. The Islamic prophet Muhammad makes this clear, directing Muslims to issue this invitation first, and if the unbelievers refuse, to invite them to enter the Islamic social order as second-class dhimmis, and if they refuse both, to go to war with them:
Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war, do not embezzle the spoils; do not break your pledge; and do not mutilate (the dead) bodies; do not kill the children. When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them....If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya [the poll tax on non-Muslims]. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah's help and fight them. (Sahih Muslim 4294)
Is, then, a major attack imminent? There are numerous indications of that – suggesting that one of the primary audiences, at least for this part of Osama’s message, is the Islamic world. If such an attack comes, Osama has by means of this videotape attempted to forestall criticism by Muslims, and has laid claim to Islamic legitimacy for Al-Qaeda’s actions.
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Robert Spencer is very knowledgeable about this topic. Could this mean an attack is coming?