PA Religious Leader: Muslims Shouldn't Join US Anti-Terror Fight

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:10 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - An Islamic religious leader appointed by the Palestinian Authority is urging Muslims not to join the U.S.-led coalition against terrorism. He also urged America not to wage any war because it brings "hardships."

PA Chairman Yasser Arafat has pledged his support for the anti-terror coalition, which President Bush has been building in the wake of the September 11 slaughter in New York and Washington.

Jerusalem Mufti Sheikh Ikrimeh Sabri, who recently made a public call for the destruction of the U.S., Israel, and Great Britain, discussed the events stemming from the September 11 terror attacks in the U.S. in a sermon, a translation of which was provided on Monday by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

A man is innocent until proven guilty in Islam, Sabri told worshippers. "Therefore we tell America: 'It is forbidden to accuse a person before the beginning of the investigation.' Until now, the American administration could not present proof to convict the accused in the [attacks] in New York and Washington," he said on Friday at the Al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Although U.S. officials have released few details about their investigation, they insist they have proof that Saudi militant Osama bin Laden is involved in the attacks, which left thousands dead and missing.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said last week that he had been shown indisputable evidence that bin Laden was behind the attacks in New York and Washington.

According to Sabri, it is forbidden in Islam to kill innocents no matter where they are and to burn trees and destroy homes and economies.

"The aggressor will not be secure in his country, just like the party that was attacked," Sabri said. "In as much as it is forbidden to kill innocents in America, it is forbidden to kill innocents in Palestine, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries."

Further he added that it was forbidden for Muslims to kill one another or band together with non-Muslims against other Muslims.

"It is forbidden from the religious legal aspect that a Muslim would kill another Muslim; this killing is regarded as a severe sin... It is far more sinful for a Muslim to ask for the help of a non-Muslim to kill another Muslim. This is a grave heresy," he said.

He called upon America, superpowers and other states in the fight against terrorism not to engage in war "because it brings hardships on all mankind." Speaking in the name of Muslims he said they were saying "no" to what he called Western "guardianship...imperialism ...[and] occupation."

Sabri was taken in for questioning by Israeli authorities shortly after the September 11 terror attacks for comments he made in August when he called upon Allah to "destroy the occupation" and those who support it in a sermon on the Temple Mount.

"Destroy the U.S. and its helpers and its agents. Allah, destroy Britain and its helpers and its agents. Allah, prepare those who will unite the Muslims and march in the steps of [12th century Islamic warrior] Saladin...Allah, grant victory to Islam and the Muslims," he said in the message broadcast on PA television a month before the attacks in the U.S.