RE: Time to lower the boom (was: Dawkins View)

From: Lawrence DeBivort (
Date: Fri Sep 21 2001 - 14:59:35 BST

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    Subject: RE: Time to lower the boom (was: Dawkins View)
    Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2001 09:59:35 -0400
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    I should have said a bit more about Bush's speech and Muslim law...

    There was enough vagueness in it to indicate that cooler heads may be
    prevailing and the right questions may be beginning to surface, though we
    must still worry about misuse of the military capacity that has been
    dispatched toward the Middle East.

    And we can only hope that behind Bush's dismissal of the importance of the
    Taliban's response on expelling Bin Laden lies an appreciation that indeed
    this is a strong signal that the Taliban will not protect his efforts. For
    those who are knowledgeable about Muslim law, the action by the council of
    clerics and the way it was phrased will hold a positive significance and
    provides a sound basis for a US-Taliban negotiation about next steps. But
    the Bush admin. has shown little comprehension about Muslim law and so the
    importance may be missed.

    Islamic law provides that a person is obligated to offer hospitality to
    travellers. Formally, this specifies 3 days of hospitality, at which point
    the traveller must be prepared to move on. Even one's enemy must be provided
    with these three days of refuge, and then not molested when he departs. This
    injunction traces to Arabic tribal nomadic custom, and has been interpreted
    in Islam to cover political refugees, for as long as they do not jeopardise
    the well-being of the host. Bin Laden was expelled from the Sudan (even
    after dropping $millions on public works and charity there), and in essence
    the Muslim clerics of Afghanistan are doing the same thing to him now.

    I do wonder though at the wisdom of encouraging him to move. At least now we
    can watch him, knowing where he is. But what if he leaves for Uzbekistan or
    Tajikistan with only a handful of followers? He could be virtually
    untraceable, though with his lines of communication still intact.

    I expect now that while the US insists that the Afghan government turn him
    over to us, that in fact Bin Laden will slip away to another country and
    that the government will simply say, 'he's no longer here and we don't know
    where he is. And then let some UN observers in to check the 'training camps'
    to confirm that indeed there is no one left there.


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