A former council member of al-Qaida says he opposed the 9/11 plot because it involved killing civilians, and the Taliban already had warned that such a horrific action would produce “consequences” that would be intolerable.
The comments come from Abu Hafs al-Mauritani, who identified himself as a former al-Qaida Shura council member in an interview just days ago on the Al-Jazeera TV network.
The interview was documented by the Middle East Media Research Institute, which monitors media, translates and offers commentary.
According to the MEMRI report, al-Mauritani, who also is known as Mahfouz Ould al-Walid, told the interviewer that during the al-Qaida preparations for the 9/11 attacks, the details were not revealed.
“Nobody said anything about hijacking airplanes, about destroying towers, or about attacking the Pentagon with hijacked planes. It was not presented this way, but just as a violent operation that would be carried out against the USA, leading to thousands of casualties,” he said.
He recalled discussing the strategy with others.
“All those present predicted that the U.S. response to such an operation would not be restricted to a missile attack from afar, as was the case following the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam attacks. They thought the natural response would be an invasion into Afghanistan and the toppling of the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan.”
He continued: “I was the staunchest opponent to such an operation. My opposition was based on religious legal grounds: Jihad is not about pointless killing and destruction.”
He said in the interview: “Jihad is the pinnacle of Islam, one of the finest acts possible, but it does not mean that you can kill and destroy regardless of the consequences. While Islam considers it to be a form of worship, it takes into consideration the consequences of these actions. Anybody who considers the consequences of 9/11 back then realizes that it did more harm than good.”
He said his concern was that civilians would be killed, “and our religion forbids us to kill civilians.”
“In Islam, a civilian is anybody who is not involved in fighting. This includes women, children, the elderly, and ordinary people.”
He also said it violated a type of honor among Muslims, because the hijackers and killers entered the United States with visas, and in that position, had accepted a pact with the U.S.
“Anybody who enters the U.S. uses an entrance visa, which we consider, from a religious perspective, to be a binding treaty of protection. Anybody who is protected by the enemy should not harm the enemy. He is prohibited from breaching this treaty of protection,” he said.
The attacks killed nearly 3,000 Americans of all backgrounds as two jets hit the Twin Towers in New York, which later collapsed. A third jet hit the Pentagon and a fourth that apparently was intended for the White House ended up in a field in Pennsylvania when passengers fought back against the hijackers.
“Another thing that led us to object to 9/11 was that we were guests of the Taliban Emirate. They said to us time and again: ‘Do not undertake such an operation because we will not be able to tolerate the consequences,’” the ex-council member said.
He said the conflict resulted in his resignation from his positions with al-Qaida, although he agreed not to publicize the break “to avoid having a negative impact on al-Qaida’s stance, and to avoid help our opponents and weakening the Islamic position.”