Islam and Terrorism: Lebanese Muslim Views on September 11
Author(s): Simon Haddad and Hilal Khashan
Source: The Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 46, No. 6 (Dec., 2002), pp. 812-828
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
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Islam and Terrorism
LEBANESE MUSLIM VIEWS ON SEPTEMBER 11
Political Science Department
Political Science Department
LebaneseMuslim reactionsto the September11 attacksare assessed using the hypothesesthat receptivenessto dogmasof militantIslamandyoung age wouldpredictapproval the attacks,andeducationand
income, althoughimportant explainingthe domesticcomponentof politicalIslam,wouldhaveno bearing
on supportfor the September11 terrorist
attacks.In view of the recentsurgeof SunniMuslimmilitancy,it is
proposed that Sunni respondentswould show greatersupportfor the attacksthan Shi'is. The data were
obtainedfroma stratifiedrandomsampleconsistingof 337 SunniandShi'i male andfemale respondents
an opinionpoll conductedin the GreaterBeirutareaduringOctoberandNovember2001. The findingsverof
ify thepropositionthatpronenessto militantIslamandage predictedapproval the attacksbutdo not verify
the hypothesisthat Sunni respondentsexceeded Shi'is in approvalfor the attacks.
Even though Islamic militants,especially Usama bin Laden's al-Qa'ida organization, have repeatedlyattackedU.S. targetsduringthe past two decades, hardlyanybody imaginedthatthey would mount such horrificacts as those carriedout on September11, 2001. Foryears,Islamicmilitancyhas presenteditself as a securityissue on
both the domestic and global scenes, which generatedan intense academic debate
aboutits nature,scope, and strengthin Arab-Islamicsocieties. The evolutionof antiand
Islamicmilitancyhas been paraWestern(specifically anti-American anti-Israeli)
doxical. SuicidalShi'i militancyin the 1980s and 1990s servedas an unlikely precursor to a far more destructiveversion of Sunni suicidal militancy,one that has been
acceleratingsince the early 1990s. Sunnis, who prevailin the world of Islam, do not
generally look up to Shi'is-often treatingthem as apostates-as role models. The
politically dominant Sunnis for centuries persecuted and marginalized Shi'is on
rangholgroundsof defectionfromthe community;the latter'sconceptof martyrdom
low in the former'sreligiousinterpretation. thatdid not seem to withstandthe test
AUTHORS'NOTE:The datafile pertainingto this study is availableat http://www.yale.edu/unsy/jcr/
jcrdata.htm from the authors.
RESOLUTION, 46 No.6, December 812-828
AND TERRORISM 813
of the 1980s and the ultimateachievementof Israel'sunceremoniousdeparture
southernLebanonin May 2000.
Supportedby Iranand toleratedby Syria, Shi'i Hizbullahintroducedin 1983 the
concept of martyrdom waging war againstthe Westernmilitarypresence in Lebanon. On September23 of thatyear,in two simultaneousandwell-coordinatedattacks,
Hizbullah suicide bombers destroyedthe headquarters the U.S. Marines and the
force operatingin Beirutundera manFrenchcontingentattachedto the multinational
date from the UnitedNations (UN) SecurityCouncil following Israel's 1982 invasion
of Lebanon. The bombings proved decisive in ensuring the pullout of all U.S. and
Encouragedby its remarkable
ment in evicting two major Western powers from Beirut, Hizbullah immediately
unleasheda wave of takingWesternnationalsliving in Lebanonas hostages in a saga
thatendedin the killing of a few of themandthe releaseof the restafterseveralyearsin
suicidebombingsas a new variablein
captivity.In the meantime,Hizbullahintroduced
the equationof militaryconfrontationbetween Arabs and Israelis. The new rules of
combatin the Jewish state'slow-intensityLebanonwar seemed utterlyincomprehenIsraelipolitical-military
sible to the Western-minded
religious militancy inspiredthe second intifada, led by Hamas and al-Jihad,in September2000 in the West Bank and Gaza less than4 monthsafterIsraelitroopspulled
out from southernLebanon.Curiously,the al-Qa'ida-linkedOctober12, 2000, attack
on USSCole in the portof Aden occurredonly 2 weeks afterthe beginningof violence
in the PalestinianTerritories.
STATEMENT OF OBJECTIVE AND SIGNIFICANCE
Appleby and Marty(2002, 16) stressthatreligious militantsare not the monopoly
of the Islamic faith.They statethatthey "arelikely to springup anywherepeople perceive the need to fight a godless, secularculture-even if they have to departfrom the
orthodoxyof theirtraditionsto do it."Thereis no dearthof social scientists,nevertheless, who claim that the Muslim communityunquestioninglysupportsanyone who
opposes the hegemony of the United States in world politics, even if they do not possess religious credentials,such as Libya's Mu'ammarQhaddafiand Iraq's Saddam
Hussein.Rashid(2001,397), for example,lists bin Ladenas "thelastfigurein thispantheon of heroic rogues."Using dataobtainedfrom a public opinion poll of 337 Lebanese Muslims surveyedshortlyafterthe WorldTradeCenter(WTC)andthe Pentagon
attacks,this studyaims to empiricallyassess the incidenceof approval the terrorist
act in the Muslim sectorof Metropolitan
Beirut.The studyseeks to accountfor (1) the
amongthe respondents, the extentof support
for the September11 attacks,and (3) the determinants that support.
We areinterestedin assessing the strengthof political Islam,age, income, andeducation as determinants supportfor the September11 terrorist
we propose that Sunni political Islam has replacedits Shi'i counterpart the main
proponentof anti-Westernism ArabandIslamic societies. The brief Shi'i encounter
with the West in the 1980s was inspiredby a transientmessianicperspectivethatthen
galvanizedIran'sIslamic revolution.Shi'i Islam appearsmore concernedaboutmere
world of Islam thanworryingaboutthe pitphysical survivalin the Sunni-dominated
falls of an unevenconfrontationwith the West.
Ourcontentionis thatpolitical Islamandage, regardlessof gender,serve as importantdeterminants support the terrorist
not. This line of reasoningdeviatesfromthe conventionalwisdom of Westernscholarship,whichholds thatpoorsocial andeconomic conditionsfostermilitancyandterrorism. In theirexplanationof Islamicmilitancyin Egypt,Esposito andVoll (1996, 186)
arguedthat "youth,unemployment,and lack of housing have createdconditions for
recruitment Islamists and have made for an explosive mix." Following the same
logic, Anderson(1997, 20-22) attributed ascendancyof Islamic militancy in the
MiddleEast to the economic difficultiesthatArabcountriesbeganto encounterin the
pasttwo decadesas a resultof the oil glut in the 1980s, the cessationof Moscow's economic assistanceafterthe collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, andthe accumulation
of foreign debt. Nevertheless,Andersonsoundeduncertainabouteducationas a predictor of supportfor religious militancy.This uncertaintywas most evident in her
statementthat"althoughthe Islamistmovementshad widespreadappealin the lower
strata of society, the active adherentstended to be university graduates"(p. 23).
Huband(1998, 99) saw the resurgenceof political Islam as a directreactionto social
andeconomic failures.He soundedconfidentthatpooreducationstandards rising
illiteracyhave exacerbatedthe phenomenonof Islamic militancy.Conversely,Euben
violence to the frustration
(1999, 26) attributed appealof Islamicfundamentalist
the overeducatedand underemployedclass "who might have led the modernization
MarkTessler (1997, 107-11)
process undermore fruitfuleconomic circumstances."
dwelt on the social andeconomic discontentment NorthAfricansandotherArabsas
a preconditionfor turningto Islamistpolitical movements.
A few scholarshave stressedthe inadequacy the social andeconomic variablesto
accountfor the rise of the Islamic movementsince the late 1960s. Using surveyfindcollege studentslivings datingbackto the early 1980s aboutmiddle-classPalestinian
in Kuwait,Sivan (1985, 170) notedthe salience of religion in the students'hieraring
chy of groupaffiliation.These urbanized well-educatedstudentsexhibiteda great
deal of opennesson issues relatedto family,child rearing,genderrelations,andcareer
orientation. observedthat"therealmof religion has been... the least amenableto
transformation" 176). Indeed,manyArabssee in revitalizedIslaman alternative
defeated Arab nationalismand stifled leftist ideologies. This probablyexplains the
ease with which manyLebaneseShi'i communistsandArabnationalistshadshiftedto
Hizbullahin the 1980s.
The unfavorablesocial and economic conditions that frequentlyinvite Western
scholars to interpretIslamic radicalism in their light fail to account for the antiWestern agenda of political Islam. In our opinion, the destructionof the Islamic
Caliphatesome 80 years ago, the inception of Europeancolonialism in Muslim and
Arab lands, and Westernendorsementof the creationof a Jewish state in Palestine
seem to betterexplain political Islam's grudge against the West than the simplistic
Lawrence(1989, 201) concurredwith this assessmentand
thatthe long-termconsequencesof colonialism on Araband Muslim peosuggested
AND TERRORISM 815
ples "have yet to be exhausted."Rejwan (2000, 137) detected a general Muslim
response to the West that confirmedits perceived attempt"to dominateand subvert
Muslim societies througheconomic and culturalpower."
The presentstudy'seffortto shed light on the reactionof LebaneseMuslims to the
September11 attacksis significantfor threereasons.First, it is necessaryto put into
perspectivethe inundation criticismin the WestagainstIslamas a belief system. For
Yuksel(2001, 4) seeks to convince us that
Islamhaslittleto do withMuhammad's
message. hasbecomea reliwho
gionconcocted scholars traded teaching theQur'an fabricated
Second, Lebanonhouses Sunni and Shi'i Muslims in significantnumbers,especially
Beirut,where the two sects have nearlyequal demographicstrength.
militantIslamicgroups,includingShi'i Hizbullah,enjoy strongsupportin West
Beirutand its southernsuburb,the Muslim partof Metropolitan
Beirut.Third,Lebanon is the only Arab country where the authoritiesneither require permission to
public opinionpolls norplace hurdlesin theirway.Even thoughfew public
opinion polls surveyedAraband Muslim reactionsto the September11 attacks,none
seem to havedealtwith sensitivequestions.Thus,the GallupPoll, which includednine
Muslim countries,contenteditself with reportingthattwo-thirdsof those interviewed
opinionsof the UnitedStatesandthatthe September11 attacks
had no moraljustification(CNN.com-poll 2002). Similarly,a poll by Birzeit University (2001) limited itself to reportingthat64% of Palestiniansit interviewedbelieved
thatattacksagainstU.S. civilians were anathema shari'a. One of the advantagesof
conductingpublic opinionspolls in Lebanonhas to do with the fact thatthe Lebanese
are probablythe most politically informedand outspokenArabs,thanksto the availmediasourcesandunobstructed
access to the Internet, faciliall
tatedby the widespreaduse of English and French.
Before we proceedwith the presentation ourfindings,we deemedit necessaryto
bringto the attentionof the readerthe gist of Arabreactionsto the terrorist
September11 as reportedin the media.In addition,we will say a wordaboutIslamand
violence in relationto the conceptofjihad, a corrupt
disaffectionwith the West.
ARAB REACTIONS TO THE
REPERCUSSIONS OF SEPTEMBER 11
That Arabs and Muslims express anger against the United States is hardlynews.
"callousindifferenceto theirsufJoyce (2001, iii) readilyattributes to Washington's
fering."Khashan(1991) found sweeping supportamong Lebanese Sunnis for Iraq's
1990 invasionof Kuwait,with the vast majorityof respondentscondemningthe U.S.
militarybuildupin SaudiArabiain preparation the reinstatement Kuwait'ssovereignty.Most of respondentsbelieved that SaddamHussein expressed the ethos of
Arab nationalismmore convincingly than formerEgyptianPresidentGamal Abdel
Nasser,the celebratedchampionof pan-Arabism
duringthe cold waryears (Khashan
1991, 110). Based on his findings, Khashanpredictedthat the last years of the 20th
centurywouldwitness a shiftin IslamicmilitancyfromShi'ism to Sunnism(p. 116).
By and large, Arab press commentariesand news coverage immediately recognized the severity and seriousness of the September 11 attacks.Analyses centered,
lines of thinking:the firstcalled for dispassionatereflection
however,on two disparate
and advocatedeffecting fundamental
changes in Arab-Islamicthinking.It also urged
Arabsto revisit core societal values and behavioralpatterns.The second put all the
blame on the United States and its arguablyanti-Arabposition on the Middle East's
In a commentaryon the strongpossibility thatU.S. investigatorswould eventually
establish a connection between Muslim militant groups and the WTC-Pentagon
attacks,the senior diplomaticcorrespondent the Saudi-ownedpan-Arabnewspahercoreligioniststo avoidproviding
be counterproductive Arab intereststo connect between the suicide airfor
linerattacksand"ill-conceivedU.S. policy on MiddleEasternissues"(Dirgham2001,
1). A Lebanesecolumnistclaimedthat"traditions violence, which permeateall levels of social interactions,continue to thrive in Arab and Islamic societies" (Hijazi
2001, 11). The secretary-general the London-based
dationdenouncedthe attacksas incompatiblewith Islamic moralsandrebukedArabs
and Muslims who imploredthe United States to retaliatewisely and responsibly.He
addedthat"it would be more appropriate us to eradicatethe malignantcancerous
tumors from Arab and Islamic societies and take the initiative to crush the culprit
[meaning bin Laden]" (Al-Khaw'i 2001, 6). A Saudi academicianwent as far as
describingthe outpouringof emotion in Araband Muslim countriesagainstthe U.S.
militarycampaignin Afghanistanas an indicatorof "aseriousflaw in the reasoningof
Muslimmasses"(Al-Rawwaf2001, 9). A Libyanwriterreasonedthatthe perpetrators
of the attacksexemplify a twistedformofjihad, which is "theproductof an obscuranof
tist interpretation Islamheld hostageby deludedandhallucinating
Arabproponents eliminatingthe core of religiousmilitancyfromtheirmidstdid
not spare U.S. policy for fanning the flames of Islamic fundamentalism.
advised the United States to reevaluateits policies in the Middle East in a
way thatwould serve its long-terminterestsin the region,includingthe establishment
of a Palestinianstate and putting treatmentof Arabs on a par with the Israelis. An
Egyptianwriterechoed the mood of the Arab streetby linking the attacksto "America's flagrantbias for Israel"(Huwaidi2001, 11). This view is sharedby manyArabs,
who saw the attacksas
including,for example, a memberin the Lebaneseparliament
treat"theend productof a cumulativeprocess of humiliatingArabsand preferential
ment for Israel"(Qansu 2001, 5). Warningagainsta grandconspiracyagainstMuslims, Huwaidi(2001, 11) seemed contentthatthe attackswere the work of a Western
fanaticreligiousgroupintenton using violence to expeditethe secondreturnof Christ
AND TERRORISM 817
Haddad, Khashan/ ISLAM
and bringpeace to earth.A Saudi columnist noticed that the Septemberattackshave
revealedthe intensityof Westernhatredfor Islamby referring unsubstantiated
accusations that it "embodies a terroristphilosophy"(Lari 2001, 10). Qusaybi, another
SaudiArabiancolumnist,was impelledby the events to takea stand.He called on fellow Arabs"todevelop a strategybasedon the premisethatthe West-the articulator
and humanism-has committedgross injustice againstthe Palesdemocracy,liberty
tinians when it coerced them to pay for its own mischievousdeeds againstthe Jews"
ISLAM AND VIOLENCE
Violence is a qualityinherentin mankind.It is an afflictionthatwreakshavoc both
at the level of nationalpolitics and the global system. After all, birthand death are
essentially two violent, life-shaping events. Islam has certainlyhad its fair share of
truesince this universalisticreligion has assumed,since
violence. This is particularly
its inceptionin the 7th century,a worldlyrole thatrequired regulationof the behavthe
ior of both believers and infidels. Anderson(1997, 17) assertedthat "the substantive
dogma of Islam does not tell us when or why its adherentswill actuallyresortto violence to furthera quest understood be Islamic."Evidence suggests otherwise.Islam
came with a zeal for conquest and to spreadthe world of Allah to humanityin its
entirety.After successfully taking control of the North African coast, Arab-Muslim
Uqbabin Nafi criedat the Straitof Gibraltar, God:if the sea had
not preventedme, I would have coursedforeverlike Alexanderthe Great,upholding
your faith and fighting all who disbelieved"(in Brett and Fentress 1998, 82). The
Qur'anmandated conquest,with the aim of proselytizingnonbelievers,was one of
the majorfunctionsof the headof the Islamicstate.Using the faithfulas the instrument
of war on the infidel, it proclaimedthat
soonshallWecastterror thehearts theUnbelievers, thattheyjoinedpartners
withAllah,forwhichHehadsentnoauthority; abode betheFire; evilis the
It exhortedMuslims to fight anddie in the name of Allah: "Forlife of this worldis but
goods and chattels of deception"(Suratal-'Imran,verse 185). The Qur'anpromised
heavenin exchangefor deathduring
jihad:"Thinknot of those who areslain in Allah's
way as dead.Nay, they live, findingtheirsustenancefromtheirLord"(Suratal-'Imran,
verse 169). In less thana century,Muslimarmiesestablisheda spectacular
spreadfromSpainin the Westto the gates of Chinain the East.Ottomanarmiesclosing
in on ChristianEurope approachedthe walls of Vienna and helped engenderin the
West an enduringapprehension
againstIslam. Reciprocally,the initiationof the Crusades (1095-1271), Europe'scolonizationof Arab-Islamiclands in the 19th and 20th
centuries,and the subsequentdestructionof the Caliphate(1924) resultedin a correspondingandequallyenduringMuslimapprehension
Dissension in Islam emergedshortlyafterthe deathof the prophetMuhammad
632. CertainMuslims, the kharijites(seceders), felt that the caliph should epitomize
the best qualitiesof the communityof believers (i.e., deep faith, humility,justice, and
fairness).In 644, they assassinatedcaliphUmarandusheredin a periodof bloody violence againsttheiropponentsthatservedas a prototypefor the current
wave of Islamic
fundamentalism has been ragingsince the early 1970s (Mustafa1995, 89). Shukri
Arabrenais(1990, 8) ascribedIslamic militancyto the demise of a Western-inspired
sance andits pragmatism. litanyof resoundingdefeatsthatdoomedthe Arabs'drive
for modernityfor two centuries eventually preparedfor the emergence of pristine
Islamicmovementscalling for the reenactment Islam'sgolden age. Shukriputmuch
of the blamefor the Arabs'failureto modernizeon theirseeming inabilityto reconcile
the veneerof secularismthey took fromthe Westwith the deep-seatedelementsof theocracythatprevailin Islamicsocieties. Theyessentiallyfailedbecausetheybasedtheir
new thinkingon a set of dualisms.Arabscould not reconcile the presentwith turath
with Islam,knowledgewithfaith,andmodernitywith tradi(heritage),Westernization
tion (Shukri 1990, 123).
Verily, is MyWayleading
from Path: dothHecommand that mayberighteous.
Upon succeeding the prophetMuhammadas the leader of the Muslim community,
AbuBakr,the firstorthodoxcaliph,addressedfellow Muslims:"Assistme if I abideby
the wordof Allah andcorrectme shouldI deviate"(in 'AbdulWahid1974, 9). In fact,
jihad as the highestformof piety,andhe made it very clearto the
believers: "Itis your duty to rally behind everyjihad-mindedprince,whetherhe is a
just ruleror not" (in 'AbdulWahid 1974, 134). Inspiredby the Qur'anicmodel, the
movement,which set the pace and directionof reformand
transformation Arab-Islamicsocieties, pronounced
jihad the duty of the
entire communityof believers and advocatedthe idea of political organizationas an
Islamic necessity to reverse their state of backwardness(see Al-Mawla 2000). Displaying an elitist conception of politics, the militant Islamic movement considered
political struggleandthe attainment power"asthe most pivotalfunctionin its strategy as a whole....
Direct action becomes the substitute for detailed programs and
compensatesfor lack of materialpower"(Choueiri 1996, 27). The militantssaw the
Islamic statethe only hope for redeemingMuslims.
creationof the Qur'an-mandated
To secure their unquestioning involvement in highly risky operations that often
resultedin self-destruction,militantgroupsdemandedthatthe rankand file "surrento
der ... theirown rationality the belief into a God ordainedsystem"(Farah1986,43).
The idea of jihad ranksprominentlyin the thinkingof militantIslamic thinkers.Salih
jihad as the sixth pillar
Sirriya,the founderof the Egyptianjihad movement,regarded
of Islam, calling it the forgottenobligation (see Voll 1991, 383).
Pronenessto join the ranksof militantIslamicmovementsis often relatedto young
age. Membershipis usually associated with a clash between traditionalvalues and
AND TERRORISM 819
Haddad, Khashan/ ISLAM
exposure to secularlearning.In connection with this, Hoffman (1993, 210) asserted
that "thevalues learnedfrom the past and the realities of the presentconfrontyoung
people with bewilderingcontradictionsand often a multitudeof moral choices that
createa sense of anxiety,loneliness, anddisorientation."
(1993, 141) insisted
that those contradictionsand others (such as the adverse effects of urbanization,
immiseration of rural areas, and national appeals) afflict women, not just men:
"Womenare thus powerfully attractedby fundamentalisms'
that invoke the language of kinship and in which the religion itself is portrayedas a
Dekmejian(1995, 3-4) noted the polycentricnatureof the contemporary
revival movement, despite its pervasiveness and persistence. This implies that, in
essence, Islamic movementsemerge in responseto local conditions.Even thoughthe
proliferationof Islamic movements in certain countries may encourage the rise of
elsewhere,it is unlikelythatthey will join in a commoncause or see eye to
eye on issues. Khashan(2002, 111) opined thatthe roots of the Islamic movementin
Egypt and the Levant,which revealthe extentof theirdisaffectionwith the West, "go
back to the last days of the eighteenth century,when Napoleon's armies landed in
Egypt and showed Muslims, in a spectaculardisplay of force, the extent of theircultural,scientific, and militarybackwardnessvis-a-vis the West."The Wahhabimovein
ment, which appeared Najdin the 18thcentury,seemed morepreoccupiedwith rectifying the doctrinesof Islamthanwith the adventof Westernmightinto the core of the
Islamic world. Saudi Arabia'spresentIslamic resurgence,which resents the corrupt
regime of the Saudi royals and their American sponsors, finds its recruits mostly
among "recentlyurbanizedBedouins, whose statusof relativedeprivation
more affluenturbanitesmade them eager convertsto the activist cause" (Dekmejian
Six well-trainedfield-workerscollected a stratifiedrandom sample, which consisted of 337 LebaneseMuslims,duringOctoberandNovember2001. We selectedthe
orgaBeinizations,and eight privatebusinesses.All respondentscame from Metropolitan
rut, the hub of the Lebanese political system and the home base of its main political
movements.The sample included 51% Sunnis and 49% Shi'is, of whom 37% were
females (see the appendixfor the items of the survey).To circumventthe problemof
lack of opinion formationthat obstructsfield researchin underdevelopedcountries,
the principalinvestigatorsdecided againstincluding illiterateor minimallyeducated
elements of the populationin the sample.Forthis reason,50% of the respondentshad
college degrees, 36%had completedtheirhigh school education,and 14%had diplomas of vocationaltraining.The distribution the respondentsby income showedthat
high incomes, 55%averageincomes, and30%low incomes. As
Factor Analysis Scores for Approval of
September 11 Attacks Using Varimax Rotation
Supportfor the September11 attacks
GrievancesagainstU.S. policy warrantattacks
Supportfollow-up attacks,includinguse of weapons of mass destruction
Emotionalreactionto the images of September11
far as the distributionof the respondentson the basis of displaying radical Islamic
views, the sampleconsisted of 15%highly radical,23%moderatelyradical,and62%
nonradicalrespondents.Because the literatureon the appeal of religious radicalism
strongly suggests that most of its recruitsand sympathizerscome from among the
young, we chose to overrepresent age group.Therefore,the breakdown respon62%for those in the 18 to 28 years
dentsby age grouptook the following distribution:
category,20% for the 29 to 39 years category,and 18%for respondentsolder than39
The dependent variable pertainedto approvalof the September 11 attacks. Its
operationalization a scale (M= 2.00, SD = 0.79) consistedof fouritems whose text
and factor scores, which ascertaintheir constructvalidity,appearin Table 1.
variablesto test theirhypotheses:endorseWe used the following fourindependent
mentof politicalIslam,'education,income, andage. Education(M = 1.50, SD = 0.50),
income (M = 2.15, SD = 0.66), and age (M = 1.57, SD = 0.78) were measuredby one
item each. The text and factorscores of the four items that measuredendorsementof
political Islam (M = 1.97, SD = 0.77) appearin Table 2. To ensure the unidimensionalityof the dependentvariableandits distinctionfromthe politicalIslamscale, we
factoranalyzedthe eight items pertainingto the two scales in one procedure.
items representingsupportfor the terroristattacksloaded on the first factor,whereas
the otherfouritems indicatingpoliticalIslamloadedon the secondfactor.The strength
of the loadings precludedthe possibility of item interactions.
We took pains to ensure the reliabilityof the instrumentby ascertainingits adeof
quacythroughpretesting(n = 25) andthe administration the congruencewith reality
of responsesreliabilitytests. Cross-tabulation representative
1. Endorsement politicalIslamdiffersfromreligiosity,andwe deliberatelyavoidedusing the latter
Muslims confine theirpiety to engagementin Islam's five basic pilfor two main reasons.First,traditional
lars, which do not allude to political action. Second, radicalMuslims believe in the need to re-createthe
Islamicstateon the basis of shari'a, even if it requiresusing force to overthrow government.In addition,
they hold a deep grudgeagainstthe Westfor dismantlingthe Islamicstateand,arguably, encroachingon
who describedthe intensityof theirreligiosthe lives of Muslims.The sampleincluded78%of respondents
saidtheyeitherhighly or moderately
ity as high or moderate.On the otherhand,only 49%of the respondents
endorsedpolitical Islamic inclinations.
Haddad, Khashan/ISLAM AND TERRORISM 821
FactorAnalysis Scores for the Political Islam Items Using VarimaxRotation
Supportcertainreligious groups'use of violence to achieve their objectives
Religious leaders should assume public office
An Islamic state is the best political system in which one can live
Warmth feeling towardAfghanistan'sIslamic regime
invariably produced very high correlations, thus attesting to the reliability of
ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS
Frequencydistributionsexpectedly showed that a clear majorityof respondents
(70%)expresseddisaffectionwith U.S. policy in the MiddleEast. For90%of responsource of disaffectionrelatedto U.S. supportfor Israel.For
dents, the most important
source of disaffectionconcernedthe U.S.
more than 30%, the second most important
role in the Gulf Warandthe sanctionsagainstIraqthathavebeen in place since its invasion of Kuwaitin 1990. On the issue of eradicatingglobal terroremanatingfrom the
believedthatthe taskcould be accomplishedby a more
balanced U.S. policy on the Arab-Israeliconflict, as well as the terminationof the
Does disaffection with U.S. foreign policy suffice to supportthe September 11
attacks?Apparentlynot. Table 3 demonstratesthat there is a gap between the two
because only 30% of the respondentssaid they supportedthe attacks. A sweeping
majorityfelt, nevertheless,that Arab grievancesagainstthe U.S. did indeed warrant
those attacks.More than one-thirdof the respondentsindicatedthey would support
follow-up attacksby Islamic militants,includingthe use of weaponsof mass destrucfromthe images gention. Anotherone-thirdreported
eratedby the destructionof New York'stwin towers.
The dispersionof the reactionsto the September11 attacksbetween supporters
dissentersnecessitatedfurtheranalysis, namely,possible linkage to militantIslamic
tendencies. Answers to the four items on wedding extremistpolitical tendencies to
Islamrevealeddiverseresponses,as shownin Table4. Significantlyfewerrespondents
manifestedsupportfor militantviolence or the defunctTalibanregimein Afghanistan
than for the right of religious leaders to assume public office or for perceiving the
Islamic stateas the best political model. Obviously,the responsesregistereda sizable
endorsementof militantpolitical tendencies.The summaryscale revealedthatnearly
half of the respondentseither stronglyor moderatelyapprovedof the September11
The strengthof the approvalratefor the attacksraiseda questionaboutwhetherit
was associated with membershipin religiously militantorganizations.Even though
Approvalof September11 Attacks (N = 337) (in percentages)
use of weapons of
images of attacks
a. Percentagesdo not add up to 100 due to rounding.
Salient Componentsof EndorsingPolitical Islam (N = 337) (in percentages)
of public office
state as the best
a. Percentagesdo not add up to 100 due to rounding.
affiliationwith political partiesshowed a greaterincidence of approvalof the attacks
than the sample average, membershipin militantIslamic, especially Sunni, groups
producedoverwhelmingapprovalrates (see Table5). These resultsconformwith the
findings of Khashan's(1991) study of Lebanese Muslim supportfor Iraq'sposition
supduringthe 1990-1991 crisis in the Gulf, which pointedto muchmorepronounced
portfor the invasionof Kuwaitandthe Iraqipresident'srhetoricamongSunnirespondents than their Shi'i counterparts.
Eventually,the events of September11 demonstratedbeyond a shadow of doubt that the most formidablesource of anti-Western
religious militancycame from Sunnism,not Shi'ism. Khashan(1989, 585) attributed
lukewarmShi'i hostility for the Westbecause "Shi'i fundamentalism-in sharpcondebatesoverthornyrelitrastwith its Sunnicounterpart-is engrossedin intra-Islamic
AND TERRORISM 823
Haddad, Khashan/ ISLAM
PartyAffiliation and Approvalof September11 Attacks(n = 62) (in percentages)
Hizbullah(n = 33)
Amal movement(n = 8)
Seculargroupings(n = 10)
Sunni groupings(n = 11)
NOTE:Cramer'sV = 0.36. Level of significance = 0.02.
who shouldpresideover the Muslim community." data,
gious issues, particularly
show thatSunni respondents'mobilizationinto politics remainsquite modhowever,
est comparedwith the Shi'is.2Unlike the regressionanalysisthatfollows, mere statistical associationshave no inferentialutility.
The regressionequationfor determiningthe correlatesof approvalof the September 11 attacks included the following four independentvariables:endorsementof
political Islam, age, income, and education.Analysis sought to take note of possible
differencesbetween males andfemales, Sunnisand Shi'is. We expectedthe correlates
of approval the attacksto be strongeramongSunnisthanShi'is, males thanfemales,
and youngerthanolderrespondents.Regressionanalysis for the entiresample,which
appearsin Table6, revealsthatthe paramount
strengthof political Islam,followed by
for the September11 attacks.As expected,income andeducaage, predictedapproval
tion failed to providesignificantscores. Many scholars,such as Hoffman(1993, 208),
refuseto link militantIslamto povertyandlow levels of education.Youngage persists
as a significantcorrelateof extremism,butit no longerpossesses a quasi-monopolyin
predictingit, as it did in the 1970s (Hiro 1988, 274). Since then, the Arabpublic has
growndismayedby the generalpoliticalfailureof theirrulingelites andthe increasein
foreign power interventioninto their local affairs,namely by the United States.
The summaryregressionanalysis for determiningapprovalfor the attacksby gender(see Table6) showedpoliticalIslamas a stronger
predictor age as a weakerone
for males than for females. Comparatively,
this implied that the tenets of political
Islamhad a relativelysmallerimpacton females, whereasage appearedslightly more
significant.Even thoughyoung men carriedout the suicide attackson September11, it
is plausibleto arguethattheirappealextendsto olderage groups.It is commonknowledge thatmanyof bin Laden'sal-Qa'idarankandfile foughtas mujahidinin the 1980s
againstthe Soviet armyin Afghanistan,andseveralof his top leadershipwere veterans
of the Egyptianjihad movement.In Lebanon,Hizbullah'sfrequentralliesto condemn
U.S. policy in the MiddleEastandexpresssupportfor the intifadausuallyattractaudiences from all age groups.
2. For years, it has been the policy of Syria, the majorpower brokerin Lebanon,to fight off Sunni
political groups.It eventuallysucceeded in virtuallyeliminatingthem. Syria's Alawite rulingelite seemed
concernedthatif they allowed LebaneseSunnis to grouppolitically,they might eventuallylink up with the
Sunnis in Syria, who form the country'smajorreligious group.
Summaryof MultipleRegressionAnalysis Showing
the Determinants Approvalof September11 Attacks
NOTE:t scores are in parentheses.
*p< .05. **p < .02.
yielded almostidenticalresultsfor politRegressionresultsfor female respondents
ical Islam and age as predictorsof approvalfor the attacks(see Table6). Whatmakes
attacks?It is likely
youngerfemales more inclined thanmales to supportthe terrorist
which alteredLebanon'sdemographicdistributionin recent
years, has acceleratedwomen's political awareness.Many life roles, such as breadwinning, which had hitherto been performedby men, suddenly became women's
domain soon after relocating to Beirut. Heavy Israeli retaliatory raids against
Hizbullahcaused immense sufferingfor civilians;these developmentsbroughtLebanese women into directcontactwith the country'spoliticalrealitiesandchargedthem
with resentmenttowardthe United States for unconditionallysupportingthe Jewish
state. Unlike their mostly uneducatedmothers,young women, especially those who
migratedto Beirut,have been able to receive an educationand form opinions, sometimes militant,aboutpolitical events.
Regressionanalysisevinced the saliencyof politicalIslamandthe moderatesignifas
icance of age in predictingSunni approvalof the attacks.As important they were,
both variables lagged, notwithstanding,behind their predictive strength for Shi'i
respondents (see Table 6). Regression verified the hypothesis that Sunni respondents'
adherence to the imperatives of political Islam generated stronger approval for the
September11 attacksthanShi'is. Likewise,age seemed somewhatstronger predictShi'i than Sunni approvalfor the attacks.
When Lebanese Sunni clerics harshly criticized the U.S. military campaign in
Afghanistan,the Sunni prime ministersummonedthe GrandMufti and admonished
him for not silencing them (Nassar 2001, 3). Unlike the predominantlyrural and
impoverishedShi'is, the Sunni communityis largelyurban,well educated,and affluent. The data showed that, even when they turnedto political Islam, they were less
likely to perceive the September 11 attacks in cathartic terms.
AND TERRORISM 825
Haddad, Khashan/ ISLAM
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS
The extentof supportfor the September11 terrorist
is disturbing.The most strikingresult of this study was not the confirmationof the
impactof militantreligiousdogmaon predictingthe endorsement the September11
attacksbutthe findingthatSunnirespondentsexpressedit considerablyless intensely
thanShi'is. The findingssuggest thatHizbullahcontinuesto play a key role in fomenting anti-Americansentiments.This bringsto the picturethe need for restoringLebanon's sovereigntyandterritorial
integrity,which would makeit moredifficultfor radical groupsto disseminatebelligerentideas.
Sunnis included in this sample do not representSunnism at large; therefore,the
magnitudeof theirsupportfor the September11 attacksdoes not accountfor the rapid
increasein the Sunniversionof political Islam in countriessuch as Egypt, SaudiArabia, Algeria, and Pakistan.Still, this finding suggests thatthe rapidincreasein Sunni
militancy is neitheruniversalnor uniformand that a more equitableglobal environment has the capabilityto arrestit and reverseits surge.
Westernfearof radicalIslamis not new.Writingimmediatelyafterthe end of World
WarI, Bury (1919) noticed the absence of militanttendenciesin medieval Islam. He
saw Islam as a totally peaceful religion as long as Muslims did not feel threatened
foreign intruders.Bury reservedstrong words for WesternEuropeansdrummingup
us havecalledit a politicalbogeyandsomea world-menace, theseareextremist
views-it is really practical
against exploitation their
tual and materialresourcesby outsiders.... Hithertopan-Islamhad been an instinctive
riposte themenace actual
aggression non-Moslems. 11(Pp.
More than eight decades after Bury's (1919) declaration,most Arabs and Muslims
continueto see militantIslamas a consequenceof Westernincursionsagainstthem, as
well as a result of the abuses of local political elites whom they installed in power
The mass media and otheragents of socializationin Araband Muslim lands never
cease telling theirpublics thatthe Western-led
United Statesis largelyresponsiblefor
theirdebacle.They have inculcatedamongmanyArabsandMuslimsdeep resentment
for the Westand apparently
convinceda good cross section thatterrorist
againstcivilians, amountedtojihad. ArabsandMuslimsneed to takepositive actionto
reformtheirmediaandmakethemamenableto inquisitivereporting criticalanalyand
sis. Since its birthas a symptomof frustration,
militantIslamhas been aggressive.3
movement that started as a local phenomenon in the early 1970s soon became a
nationaltrend.Before too long, it acquireda global dimension.The approvallevels for
the September11 attacksby a significantcomponentof the Lebanese sample are as
3. Bandura(1973) stated in his frustration-aggression
hypothesis that frustration
triggersa state of
incitementto act aggressively.
alarmingas the attacksthemselves.Humanbehaviorusuallyresultsfrom observation
and imitation. The sporadic suicidal attacks launched by Hizbullah against Israeli
troopsin southernLebanonin previousyears became a daily occurrencein the Palesafterlaunchingthe second intifadain September2000.
The cycle of religiously inspiredviolence has punctuated lives of Middle Eastthe
ernersfor more than three decades. It eventuallyspilled into WesternEuropebefore
hitting the United States with unimaginableferocity. Bringing peace, stability,and
orderto the Middle East is long due. If the problemsof the region are not acted on
immediately,they may soon slip past the point of resolution. Since September 11,
manyArabshave been imploringthe United States to help resolve the region's problems anddisplaymagnanimity
towardthem.Al-Jisr(2001, 7) regarded positive gesa
ture from the United States as essential to sway Arabs from furthersupportingthe
cause of militantIslam. Speakingin a more seriousvein, Sahhab(2001, 10) implored
the United Statesto listen to the "voice of reasonand cease to treatArabsas nonentities."The resolutionof the Palestinianquestionandthe lifting of sanctionson a postSaddamHusseinIraqwould go a long way towardimprovingthe Arabpublic'simage
of the United States and stemmingthe tide of political Islam's global dimension.
Items Used in the Study on
Attitudes toward the September 11 Attacks
1. Education(1 = high to 3 = lowa)
2. Occupation(1 = high to 3 = lowa)
3. Income (1 = high to 3 = lowa)
4. How do you describethe intensityof your religiosity? (1 = high to 3 = lowa)
5. Tell us youropinionon the following statement: supportcertainreligiousgroups'use
of violence to achieve theirobjectives."(1 = stronglysupportto 4 = stronglyoppose)
6. Shouldreligious leadersacquirepublicoffice? (1 = stronglysupportto 4 = stronglyoppose)
7. Tell us your opinion on the following statement:"AnIslamic state is the best political
system to live in."(1 = stronglyagree to 4 = stronglydisagree)
8. How do you feel aboutthe Islamicregimein Afghanistan? (1 = stronglyapproveto 4 =
9. What is the name of the political party/groupingwith which you identify? (1 =
Hizbullah,2 = Amal Movement,3 = seculargroups,4 = Sunni groups)
10. How do you feel aboutthe attacksthatdestroyedthe WorldTradeCenterand damaged
the Pentagon?(1 = stronglysupportto 4 = stronglyoppose)
11. Describe the intensityof your grievancesagainstthe United States. (1 = majorgrievances to 4 = no grievances)
12. Do you feel thatyour grievancesagainstthe United States warrant
supportfor the September 11 attacks?(1 = definitelyto 4 = definitelynot)
13. Do you personallysanctionfurtherattacksin the futureagainstU.S. targets?(1 = definitely to 4 = definitelynot)
14. How do you describeyouremotionalreactionto the images generatedby the attackson
September11 (hijackedplanescrashinginto the WorldTradeCenterandthe Pentagon)?
(1 = vindication,2 = approval,3 = nonchalance,4 = somberness)
Haddad,Khashan/ISLAM AND TERRORISM 827
15. Assume that U.S. policy in the Middle East does not change and that militantIslamic
groupsacquireweapons of mass destruction.Should such a situationarise, would you
approveof using these weapons againstthe United States?(1 = stronglyapproveto 4 =
a. High to low choices were determinedby the interviewersaccordingto agreed-oncriteria.
b. The administration the questionnairetook place before the overthrowof the Talibanmovement.
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