2001 Speech

Ambassador Fawzi Shobokshi's statement on terrorism to UN General Assembly
Statement by Ambassador Fawzi Shobokshi, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, before the 56th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism, New York, Tuesday, October 2, 2001

In the name of Allah, most compassionate, most merciful.
Blessing and peace be upon the most noble of prophets.

Mr. President:
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.

Mr. President:
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.
Mr. President:
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 sins.
Mr. President:
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.
Mr. President:
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.
Mr. President:
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.
Mr. President:
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."
Mr. President:
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.
Mr. President:
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 of innocents.
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.
Mr. President:
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 world.