Those were the words President Bush spoke, when, from a room in a Florida elementary school, he watched live as United Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
Mr. Bush was only partly right: On that morning we realized we were at war, that fact brought home by the death agonies of 2,996 Americans and foreign guests in New York City, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C.
Our enemies had been at war with us for far longer, however. Al Qaeda, organizers of the 9-11 attacks but only one of one several salafist jihadist Muslim groups, declared war on America and the West in 1996. Iran, ruled by millenarian Muslim theocrats who feel it is their duty to prepare the world for the return of the Mahdi, have been waging a terror war against the West (with a special focus on the Jews) since 1979.
But the war is even older than that. In one form or another, through periods of relative quiescence and violent activity, Islam has been at war with the non-Muslim world (the “Dar ul-Harb” or House of War) since Muhammad fled with his followers from Mecca to Medina in 622 A.D. This war, this jihad, is a religious duty of pious Muslims, supported by example and exhortation in the biographies of Muhammad, the accounts of his sayings and deeds, and even in verse after verse of the Qur’an. For example, sura 9, verse 5, the “verse of the sword:”
Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
While I have no doubt that there are many, many peaceful and tolerant Muslims who were as horrified as we that day (although surveys show millions support violent jihad), I doubt seriously that there is a peaceful, tolerant Islam. Towards non-Muslims, an honest examination of Islam and Islamic History reveals an expansionist, chauvinist, supremacist, and, yes, violent creed. It is this theology of jihad, supported and reinforced by all the major schools of Islamic jurisprudence, that inspired the terrorists of September 11th, 2001. Not “root causes” found in poverty or Western imperialism or justice for the Palestinians or any other excuse the jihadis and their Western apologists may offer.
The roots are in Islam, itself.
Thus, as we remember those murdered in Islam’s name that day, bear in mind that the attacks of 9-11 were then only the latest battle in a very long, very old war. How to prosecute that war is a topic for another day. But, as the man said:
“We’re at war.”
LINKS: Many sites are remembering September 11th today: Andrew Klavan at Big Hollywood; Sarah Palin; Sister Toldjah; Power Line; Ralph Peters; Jihad Watch; Mark Tapson; Tigerhawk; Ed Morrissey; Rudy Giuliani; Exurban League; Fausta; The Anchoress; Iowahawk; Baseball Crank; Steveegg.
UPDATE: On September 14th, 2001, then-President Bush stood amidst the smoking rubble of the World Trade Center, spoke to the assembled rescue workers, and made them and the nation a promise:
NOTE: Originally posted September 11th, 2008, edited with some additional links. The first video above is the first of 18 recording CNN’s coverage of that terrible day. You can find the rest here. This long after the events, perhaps people should watch them as a reminder.