Ambassador Fawzi Shobokshi, Permanent Representative to the UN
"Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism"
United Nations General Assembly
New York, New York
October 2, 2001
The disgraceful terrorist acts against the United States on September 11, 2001
are, by any standard, ugly crimes. They should be condemned by every person
with an iota of faith, and by all peace-loving peoples who believe in human
rights and adhere to principles and values.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, its King, its government and its people, have condemned
those criminal acts, which resulted in great losses in human life and tremendous
destruction and damage to property. The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
has issued a declaration condemning this criminal act, which is contrary to
all religious values and civilized concepts.
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques sent a message to the President of the
United States of America, in which he underlined his strong denunciation and
condemnation of such acts. He also conveyed his sincere condolences to the families
of the victims and to the friendly American people. He confirmed Saudi Arabia's
solidarity with the international community in standing in the face of terrorism
and fighting it in all its forms and manifestations. In a telephone conversation,
Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, the Deputy Prime Minister and Commander
of the National Guard, conveyed his condolences to the President, and to the
American people for the victims of these painful acts of terrorism, which are
condemned and rejected by all religious faiths. Crown Prince Abdullah expressed
the full cooperation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the American government
in all its efforts to uncover the identities of the perpetrators of these criminal
acts and bring them to justice.
The condemnation of these criminal acts was not limited to the official authorities.
It included all segments of Saudi society. The mufti [top religious leader]
of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and President of the Council of Senior ulema
(Islamic scholars) affirmed that the explosions that occurred in the United
States, the acts of plane hijacking, frightening peaceful people, and unjustly
killing people, are forms of aggression and oppression which the Islamic Law
not only does not condone, but also considers a major sin.
The Chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council in the Kingdom affirmed that this
inhuman act is beyond comprehension. The scenes of this carnage were beyond
what any Muslim mind could comprehend. He noted that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,
the land of the Two Holy Mosques, governed by the teachings of Islam, condemns
these brutal acts. So, it is no wonder that the Kingdom considers it anathema
for Muslims to commit such deeds or protect such criminals. He also noted that
the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has declared, through its religious leaders, and
before any Saudi aircraft was ever hijacked, that such acts are criminal, regardless
of whether the passengers were Muslims or not. They considered such acts oppression
and that aggression against people and terrorizing them are the greatest of
While my country denounces this terrorist and inhuman act, it emphasizes the
need to avoid linking terrorist acts with any particular religion or ethnic
group whether such linkage is made by government bodies or the news media. Such
linkage will not help in effectively combating terrorism, and is considered
an affront to truth.
It feels concerned about the attempts of some news media and politicians to
arbitrarily accuse Islam and Muslims. Islam is absolutely innocent of all such
criminal acts which are considered violations of Islamic values and moral principles.
It also feels deeply concerned about some widespread phenomena in some societies
which discriminate against religious beliefs, especially Islamic ones. There
is also the attempt to link Islam and some negative phenomena, such as terrorism
and fanaticism: all the while forgetting that Islam rejects terrorism and fanaticism,
while promoting tolerance and cooperation.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has suffered from terrorist acts in the past. Therefore,
it sympathizes with what the United States is going through. The Kingdom of
Saudi Arabia has exerted all efforts for a long time to combat this dangerous
phenomenon. It has always taken appropriate measures on all levels. On the national
level, it has enacted laws that punish perpetrators of terrorist acts. Combating
terrorism became a principal item in the curriculum of colleges. On the regional
level, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was among the first signatories of the Arab
convention for combating terrorism, which was adopted by the League of Arab
States in 1998. It also signed the anti-terrorism convention of the Organization
of the Islamic Conference. On the international level, the Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia adhered to numerous United Nations conventions about terrorism. They
included the convention for the suppression of unlawful acts against the safety
of civil aviation. It is about to join the international convention on terrorist
bombings, and the convention for the suppression of the financing of terrorism.
The government of my country believes that joining anti-terrorism conventions
should be accompanied by sincere intentions to combat this dangerous phenomenon
and eradicate it. We call upon all member states to categorically condemn all
terrorist acts, which constitute a grave violation of the objectives and principles
of the United Nations, threaten international peace and security and endanger
friendly relations among states, as well as inhibiting cooperation among them.
Concerned about this dangerous phenomenon and intent on combating it, the Kingdom
of Saudi Arabia supports all the efforts of this organization through related
resolutions and conventions, particularly Security Council resolutions 1368
(2001) and 1373 (2001), which condemn the horrible terrorist attacks against
the United States of America. The delegation of my country, in its efforts to
combat this dangerous phenomenon, supports the convening of an international
conference on terrorism. We believe that the need is urgent, and that the time
has come to convene such a conference. It should have as one of its main objectives,
a clear definition of terrorism which differentiates between terrorism as a
dangerous phenomenon that threatens the security and stability of the international
community, and the right of peoples to struggle against and resist occupation,
according to international law and the United Nations charter.
Although the Arab and Muslim peoples are subjected to terrorist acts, there
are pernicious attempts to falsely accuse Arabs and Muslims of terrorism. Some
biased media repeat unjust hearsay about Islamic terrorism, Islamic threats
and Islamic bombs. It is as if terrorism is committed only by Muslims. We have
not heard that bombs have religions, and terrorism has religious sects. Nobody
would repeat such hearsay unless he/she is malicious, or ignorant of history.
Arabs and Muslims cannot be accused of terrorism because a person or a group
from among them committed terrorist acts. Terrorists are found among every sect
and religion, and among all human societies. Islam prohibits terrorism because
God Almighty cannot be but just, and He prohibits injustice against human beings.
Killing the innocent is a major sin: it is considered similar to perversion
on earth and destruction of crops and progeny. God Almighty says: "Let
not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just. That is
nearer to piety." Inflicting mass punishment is considered by Islam an
act of abomination, aggression and wickedness.
Islamic law was cognizant of this danger fourteen centuries ago. It established
the first complete law against terrorism. Thus, Islamic jurisprudence considers
oppression and rebellion as forms of terrorism. The Supreme Judicial Council
in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia imposed capital punishment on those who commit
the crimes of terrorism and sabotage. This was based on God's words in the Holy
Qur'an: "There is the type of man whose speech about this world's life
may dazzle thee. And he calls Allah to witness about what is in his heart. Yet
he is the most contentious of enemies. When he turns his back his aim everywhere
is to spread mischief through the earth and destroy crops and progeny, but Allah
loveth no mischief." God Almighty says again: "If anyone slew a person
unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land, it would be as
if he slew the whole people."
The Arab governments and the Arab peoples condemn terrorism in all its shapes
and forms. This position is based on their faith and culture. Nevertheless,
the Arabs call for avoiding any confusion between terrorism on the one hand
and, on the other hand, the right of peoples to defend their independence, freedom
and human rights when they are subjected to foreign occupation and dominance,
itself a violation of international law.
The general condemnation of terrorism extends to state terrorism as practiced
by Israel continuously. Paragraph 6 of General Assembly Resolution 40/61, adopted
by the 40th session in 1985, referred to official terrorism practiced by some
states. This resolution makes a clear distinction between terrorism, which is
a criminal act and an unlawful form of warfare, and armed resistance to colonialism,
racism, and foreign occupation, which is a legitimate struggle sustained by
the principle of self-determination, which is part of the law of nations as
embodied in the Charter and other international resolutions. In paragraph 9,
the Resolution calls upon all member states to work, individually and in collaboration
with each other and with United Nations bodies, towards the gradual elimination
of the causes of international terrorism.
There is no doubt that states where terrorist acts take place have the right
to pursue the wrongdoers, to arrest them and to put them on trial. The objective
should be to eradicate all forms of terrorism, and not revenge. The history
of terrorism shows us that the best way to suppress it is to explore its roots
and identify the causes which engender it and find just solutions to the different
conflicts. What happened in the United States places the international community
in a position of great responsibilities but terrorism was not born on September
11, 2001. It will not be eradicated by military means or by being treated as
a mere problem of law and security. Developed armaments and new techniques are
not sufficient response either.
The international community is required to deal with terrorism, in a spirit
of responsibility and seriousness, from all its aspects. The best context for
such action is the United Nations, which embodies the international community.
It alone is entitled to define terrorism and take international decisions to
fight it. International law should be the basis of dealing with terrorism and
of deciding what measures to take against it. The mere use of force could lead
to arresting a few suspects while inflicting mass pain and suffering on multitudes
International cooperation in facing terrorism requires an agreed definition
of the phenomenon in legal terms in order to avoid motivations of different
interests and objectives. All faiths and creeds must be respected and cannot
be tarnished under the pretext of defending freedom of speech. Issues of human
rights should not be politicized. And attempts to impose some values on other
nations which might contradict its beliefs and principles should cease. No double
standards should prevail in dealing with international problems. Therefore,
international laws and legitimacy should be respected.
Terrorism has become a universal phenomenon not limited to one ethnic group
or one faith. Combating it also needs to be universal in nature and extent.
Only through a coordinated plan in the context of the United Nations could our
common efforts bear fruit, eradicate terrorism, protect the lives of the innocent,
maintain the sovereignty of the states and the security and stability of the