On February 23, 1998, Al-Quds al-Arabi, an Arabic newspaper published in London, printed the full text of a "Declaration of the World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and the Crusaders." According to the paper, the statement was faxed to them under the signatures of Usama bin Ladin, the Saudi financier blamed by the United States for masterminding the August bombings of its embassies in East Africa, and the leaders of militant Islamist groups in Egypt, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The statement -- a magnificent piece of eloquent, at times even poetic Arabic prose -- reveals a version of history that most Westerners will find unfamiliar. Bin Ladin's grievances are not quite what many would expect.
The declaration begins with an exordium quoting the more militant passages in the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, then continues:
"Since God laid down the Arabian peninsula, created its desert, and surrounded it
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