Muslims in America are being asked to endorse a “fatwa,” or religious judgment, against terrorists by an educational committee whose founder says the nation’s Islamic community is “sleeping through” a crisis.

“One thing we’re trying to do is get patriotic American Muslim leaders to come out of the woodwork and denounce Islamic militancy with specific references to who is innocent and name terrorist leaders,” said Jesse Petrilla, founder of the United American Committee.

A “fatwa,” he said, is an Islamic verdict citing Quranic verses and the teachings of Islam that is issued by Islam’s high leaders in the name of Muhammad.

“It’s a holy law that’s passed down from the imams,” he told WorldNetDaily in an exclusive insight into the situation. He said his group, a non-partisan, non-sectarian assembly of thousands of volunteers, wants to promote the awareness of threats that face America from within, primarily focusing on “Islamic extremism.”

The group specifically seeks the condemnation of Osama bin Laden, who has admitted on videotape he was responsible for the more than 3,000 deaths during the terrorist assault on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, and bin Laden’s No. 2 man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who has also admitted complicity.

Their actions certainly should qualify them as “apostates” to true Islam and therefore deserving of death “at the hands of all true Muslims,” committee officials said.

There should be no obstacle, because the American Muslim community maintains those actions did not represent true Islam, but even so major organizations representing Muslims have yet to announce their intentions, Petrilla said.

“Those who claim to represent the mainstream Muslim community in America, such as CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, claim they oppose terrorism and violence,” the UAC said in its website announcement on the issue. “Now, the United American Committee … places an open challenge for American Muslim leaders to issue a fatwa against Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.”

CAIR describes itself as America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group and boasts 32 offices, chapters and affiliates nationwide and in Canada. Its mission, it says, is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

However, CAIR is a spin-off of the Islamic Association for Palestine, identified by two former FBI counterterrorism chiefs as a “front group” for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Several CAIR leaders have been convicted on terror-related charges.

CAIR describes the current military confrontations in the Middle East between the Israeli army and the Hezbollah terrorist group as “Israel’s campaign to destroy Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure,” even though it was triggered by a brazen incursion into Israel by Hezbollah attackers.

The idea of a fatwa isn’t new; in fact, many American Muslim groups announced participation in one in 2005. However, the UAC said that one was ambiguous because while it condemns the use of violence against innocent lives, it does not identify the innocent.

Petrilla noted that the Quran technically describes anyone who is not Muslim as an “infidel” worthy of death, so only a Muslim could be “innocent.”

Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammad of London recently confirmed that interpretation.

“Yes, I condemn killing any innocent people, but not any kuffar,” he said. Kuffar refers to any non-Muslims.

“The United American Committee believes that most American Muslims do not condone violence or jihad against American soldiers and civilian citizens,” said the UAC, whose members will be contacting leaders of Muslim congregations around the United States to personally deliver the request.

“This gives Muslim-Americans the same opportunity to stand up for our country as those brave volunteers did in the 442nd Regiment during World War II without actually going into combat,” said Peter James, a UAC member. He was talking about the all-Japanese regiment of the U.S. Army.

“If an imam refuses to issue such an edict, one can only assume he does so out of a desire that Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri not be stopped. … For Islamic leaders who consider themselves patriotic Americans, this should be a no-brainer.”

The UAC was founded in 2005 as a grass-roots effort to allow American residents to stand up and put pressure on the government and let people know the nature of their enemies.

“We want the government and our people to confront our enemies, and keep our future safe,” Petrilla told WND. “Our primary focus is on confronting Islamic extremism, and really trying to reach out to the Muslim community to try to get them to stand up and work with America in the war on terror.”

Petrilla also said his group is working to stop plans for a broadcast headquarters for the anti-America Arab Al-Jazeera International network, which is known primarily as a mouthpiece for al-Qaida, in the United States. His group is working with the group Accuracy in Media on that project.

The UAC does take a hard line on terrorism, requiring in its purpose statement that terrorists who are captured while committing a terrorist attack in the United States “shall be dealt with by capital punishment, regardless of creed or race.”

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