The NYTimes reports that there are objections to a seven-minute documentary planned for the forthcoming 9/11 Museum. Why? Because the film indicates that Islam had something to do with the mass murder. From the report:

The film, “The Rise of Al Qaeda,” refers to the terrorists as Islamists who viewed their mission as a jihad. The NBC News anchor Brian Williams, who narrates the film, speaks over images of terrorist training camps and Qaeda attacks spanning decades. Interspersed with his voice are explanations of the ideology of the terrorists, rendered in foreign-accented English translations.


The terms “Islamist” and “jihadist” are frequently used in public discourse to describe extremist Muslim ideologies. But the problem with using such language in a museum designed to instruct people for generations is that most visitors are “simply going to say Islamist means Muslims, jihadist means Muslims,” said Akbar Ahmed, the chairman of the Islamic studies department at American University.

“The terrorists need to be condemned and remembered for what they did,” Dr. Ahmed said. “But when you associate their religion with what they did, then you are automatically including, by association, one and a half billion people who had nothing to do with these actions and who ultimately the U.S. would not want to unnecessarily alienate.”

This politically correct lie must not be allowed to shove aside inconvenient truths at the 9/11 memorial. The truth is not determined by who may or may not be offended by it. And the truth is that Al Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks were motivated by the group’s own interpretation of the Islamic religion. It makes as much sense to say that the Crusades had nothing whatsoever to do with Latin Christianity and its ideology. In 2007, the Washington Post‘s Bob Woodward reported on a letter to the hijackers that the FBI found in the luggage of 9/11 lead hijacker Mohammad Atta. It was plainly a religious exhortation to and justification for the 9/11 attacks. Excerpt from Woodward’s piece:

The first four pages of the document obtained by The Post are handwritten on large paper and recite some basic Islamic history about the prophet fighting infidels with 100 men against 1,000. They also include prayers such as, “I pray to you God to forgive me from all my sins, to allow me to glorify you in every possible way.”

The fifth and last page is on standard stenographer paper that apparently had been ripped from a pad and is headed, “When you enter the plane”:

It includes a series of prayers or exhortations. “Oh, God, open all doors for me. Oh God who answers prayersand answers those who ask you, I amasking you for your help. I amasking you for forgiveness. I amasking you to lighten my way. I amasking you to lift the burden I feel.

“Oh God, you who open all doors, please open all doors for me, open all venues for me, open all avenues for me.”

The author doodled on the paper, drawing a small, arrowhead-like sword. Two circles entwine the shaft, which also has serpentine swirls drawn onto it. The doodle also resembles a key.

The word “ROOM” is written vertically in large double-block letters at the end.

The document continues: “God, I trust in you. God, I lay myself in your hands.”

It closes, “There is no God but God, I being a sinner. We are of God, and to God we return.”

The document, several scholars of Islam said, draws on traditional Islamic prayersand alludes to Koranic verses. It begins with the universal Islamic benediction recalling God’s mercy and compassion. And the last two paragraphs repeat the basic Muslim belief that “there is no God but God.”

However, some noted that words like “100 percent” and “optimistic” are modern vocabulary not found in ancient prayers.

“Except for the section that talks about going into a plane and the knives, virtually everything else you could find in some medieval devotional manuals,” said John Voll of Georgetown University’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.

It seems to have been written, Voll added, “by a person who lives in a devotional environment that involves a significant amount of memorized material. . . . It is embedded in a broad Islamic devotional discourse.”

Other scholars noted the document’s use of Islamic language to clothe a practical call to action.

“The jargon is authentic Islamic jargon,” said Imad ad Dean Ahmad, president of the Bethesda-based Minaret of Freedom Institute. “It’s obviously phrased to make it sound like it’s part of a message to people going on a mission from which they will not return.”

Richard C. Martin, professor of Islamic studies at Emory University, said the document appears to refer to “the purification that martyrdom represents” before it gets to “the quotidian matters of entering the airplane and gives final instructions.”

Martin added, “This is a kind of spiritual preparation as I read it, or so it sounds.”

The 9/11 hijackers were devout Muslims who did what they did in service to their god. They were Islamists, in that Islamists by definition want a society governed by the Quran (but not all Islamists as nearly as radical as they). They believed in jihad — in fact, that is the raison d’etre of Al Qaeda.

If the 9/11 Memorial is to be faithful to the truth, it must identify the hijackers as devout Islamists who believed they were waging holy war. It must also make clear that not all Muslims agree with their ideology. But to say that the terrorist acts only incidentally had anything to do with Islam is a lie, and a consequential lie.