Last year, to mark the fourth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001, this column included translated proclamations by Al Qaeda leaders promising the future killing of millions of Americans and the collapse of America, as well as statements by Arab writers calling the war on terror "a chapter in World War III."
Some pundits have chosen to reject such analogies. But, as Osama bin Laden wrote in his "Letter to the Muslims of Iraq and [Islamic] Nation" on December 27, 2004: "The conflict in the West is a fateful war between unbelief and Islam, between the army of Muhammad, the army of belief, and the people of the cross. … The important, tremendous, and dangerous issue today in the entire world is this Third World War."
Much has happened in the war on terror over the past year. The Arab press has been full of articles on the end of America. Walid Nouhad wrote in the Bahrain daily Al-Wasat on June 20 on the coming "breakup of the United States … in the same fashion as those empires that came before it." America's "destiny" is to be "just like the Soviet Union" when "it falls apart," Saud Mokhtar wrote in the Saudi daily Al-Madinah on July 10.
Other articles in the Arab press have featured interviews with religious and Islamist figures making crude calls for the West to convert to Islam.
"Our aim is to put down roots in the European continent, and to act quietly and in accordance with the laws, so that one day we may see all of Europe Muslim!" the Turkish fundamentalist leader Nijmuddin Erbakan, a former Turkish prime minister who headed the Islamic Welfare Party, said, according to an April piece on the Arabic reformist Web site Elaph.com by a Germany-based Kurdish journalist, Tarek Hamo.
Previous statements like "Islam will return to Europe as a conqueror" and take over Rome — by one of the most influential clerics in Sunni Islam, Sheik Yousef Al-Qaradhawi — are well-known.
In another headline-making instance, Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris said on Palestinian Authority TV on May 13, 2005: "The day will come when we will rule America. The day will come when we will rule Britain and the entire world."
The Ayatollah Ahmad Husseini Al-Baghdadi gave a series of statements from April through May to Al-Jazeera, Syrian TV, and ANB TV, in which he said, "We [Muslims] will conquer the world, so that ‘There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah' will be triumphant over the domes of Moscow, Washington, and Paris."
He added, "We will annihilate America."
The Internet edition of the Norwegian daily Dagbladet interviewed a Kurdish Iraqi Islamist, Mullah Krekar, on March 13. "Look at the development of the population in Europe, where the number of Muslims increases like mosquitoes. … By 2050, 30% of the European population will be Muslim," he said.
In a speech that aired April 10 on Al-Jazeera, the Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi similarly stated, "We have 50 million Muslims in Europe. There are signs that Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe — without swords, without guns, without conquests … [they will] turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades. ... Europe is in a predicament, and so is America. They should agree to become Islamic in the course of time, or else declare war on the Muslims."
Sheik Omar bin Bakri, a Beirut-based, Syrian-born British Islamist and former leader of Al-Muhajirun, an organization in Britain, gave an interview to the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat on July 7. "What is today called ‘Londonistan' is in fact ‘Heretistan,' that is, dar al-kufr [the abode of heresy]," he said. "I think that loyal Muslims in Britain will one day turn it, with Allah's help, into ‘Islamistan,' that is, dar al-islam [the abode of Islam]. … Then the great Islamic dream will be fulfilled — that we will see the banner [proclaiming] ‘There is no God but Allah' flying over Big Ben and the British Parliament."
Ahmad Abu Matar, a Palestinian Arab academic who lives in Oslo, criticized such statements in an article on Elaph.com on April 30, 2005. He also criticized Muslim groups in Europe, including the Islamic Liberation Party, which announced "from London its political platform — to establish the Islamic caliphate over all corners of the earth — and declares that the party will suggest to the queen of England that she convert to Islam."
This year also saw calls for other world leaders to convert to Islam. On June 15, the Indonesian militant cleric Abu Bakar Bashir called on Prime Minister Howard of Australia and President Bush to convert, saying it was "the only way to save their souls." Iran's Ayatollah Jannati called for Fidel Castro to convert this year, and President Ahmadinejad of Iran invited Mr. Bush to embrace Islam in a now infamous May letter.
Al Qaeda leaders also continued their threats against the West and invited Westerners to convert to Islam. Deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri's speech of July 27 called for all "former Muslims countries," including Spain, to be liberated. This followed an interview on the fourth anniversary of September 11 in which he said, "We invite the Americans to join Islam … and to realize that their current faith … will only lead them to destruction."
This past week, Mr. Zawahiri appeared on another video with Al Qaeda's Adam Gadahn, aka Azzam the American, who stated: "The truth of Islam is sweeping across America and constitutes a fearsome challenge to … the survival of the crusader state [America]."
As the war on terror continues, it is worth quoting a line from Mr. Bush's speech yesterday: "We know what the terrorists intend to do because they've told us — and we need to take their words seriously."
Mr. Stalinsky is the executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute.