Hani Al-Siba’i

Responding to questions about the terrorist attack on London, a Muslim scholar in the British capital asserted Islam makes no distinction between civilians and military targets.

“The term ‘civilians’ does not exist in Islamic religious law,” said Hani Al-Siba’i, head of the Al-Maqreze Centre for Historical Studies in London.

Al-Siba’i, in an interview with the Arab news channel al-Jazeera, elaborated, “There is no such term as ‘civilians’ in the modern Western sense. People are either of Dar Al-Harb or not.”

Dar Al-Harb refers to the Muslim concept of the world being divided into two “houses,” the House of Islam and the remaining territories, the House of War, or Dar Al-Harb.

Al-Siba’i speculated that a Western nation could have been responsible for the attack, but he acknowledged it could have been carried out by Osama bin Laden’s terrorist organization, according to a transcript provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI.

“If al-Qaida indeed carried out this act, it is a great victory for it,” he said. “It rubbed the noses of the world’s eight most powerful countries in the mud.”

But al-Siba’i said British Prime Minister Tony Blair “made a grave error when he spoke before the investigation and claimed that the perpetrators of these acts were acting in the name of Islam.”

The Muslim leader said “the possibility that it was done by the intelligence agency of another Western country hostile to Britain” should not be ruled out.

He also conjectured it could have been done by “some Zionist Americans who wanted to overshadow the G-8 summit.”

Al-Siba’i finally said al-Qaida could not be ruled out as the perpetrator.

He asserted the terrorist organization controls the “war agenda” in Iraq and “imposes its policies” on the Middle East.

As an example, he pointed out that al-Qaida’s beheading of an Egyptian envoy prompted Cairo to lower its level of representation in Baghdad.

On the subject of targeting civilians, the al-Jazeera host asked Al-Siba’i: “You, as a Muslim and as the director of a center for Islamic history. … Is targeting wretched civilians considered brave or manly?”

Al-Siba’i replied that after the Madrid bombing, bin Laden called on the people of Western nations to pressure their governments.

“He told them: We did not attack you. You have been attacking us for more than two centuries, and your campaign continues. He said to them simply: Withdraw your soldiers from the Arabian Peninsula, withdraw from Afghanistan and Palestine. …”

Asked whether he considered bin Laden a religious scholar who issues fatwas or the head of al-Qaida, Siba’i said, “First of all, he is one of this (Islamic) nation. … We have no clergy or a pope, or anything like this. Anyone can carry out his religious duty, even if he is by himself.”

The host argued that the religious law assembly in Mecca at the end of last month issued a fatwa forbidding the killing of civilians.

“Should we follow it or Osama bin Laden?” the host asked.

Al-Siba’i said, “These assemblies resemble the assemblies of the church. These assemblies forbid young people from going to Iraq to fight the jihad. … The Higher Religious Authority (in Saudi Arabia) are the ones who allowed the presence of Crusader forces in the Land of the Two Holy Places (Saudi Arabia).”

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