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Encore Presentation - God's Muslim Warriors
Aired December 15, 2007 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The scripture is the blueprint to life and living.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are sure of their mission.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our role is to redeem the entire world.
AMANPOUR: And the stakes are high.
(on camera): Do you really wish that you could have been martyred?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Yes. Martyrdom was my biggest wish.
AMANPOUR: What they have in common...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God promised we would return to this land.
AMANPOUR: ...Jews, Christians and Muslims...
TZIPPI SHISSEL: This is the ultimate sacrifice, to give your soul as a gift to God, the Creator, and the country.
AMANPOUR: The belief that modern society has lost its way.
RON LUCE: They're raping virgin teenage America on the sidewalk and everybody is walking by and acting like everything is OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The problem we have now with the civilizations is you don't offer the man where to go. He doesn't know his place in life.
SHISSEL: The people that don't keep the Torah, they don't understand the meaning of being Jews, they're wasting their life.
AMANPOUR: They say God is the answer.
REV. JERRY FALWELL: I would like to see America become the nation under God again.
AMANPOUR: But their battle to save the world has caused anger, division and fear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that Islam is a real threat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something's gone wrong. We have too closely fused politics and our faith.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hear from those individuals who feel they will go to heaven by killing me. I fear for my life.
AMANPOUR (on camera): Jerusalem, the ancient city filled with sacred meaning to three great religions -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
I'm Christiane Amanpour.
Over the last 30 years, each faith has exploded into a powerful political force, with an army of followers who share a deep dissatisfaction with modern, secular society and a fierce determination to bring God and religion back into daily life, back to the seat of power.
We call them "God's Warriors".
For eight months, I traveled the world exploring who they are and what they want and why this is a battle they say they cannot afford to lose.
(voice-over): God's Muslim warriors -- they are much feared and little understood.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And leave us alone. To establish the Islamic Sharia state
AMANPOUR: The face of the Muslim terrorist has become all too familiar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you have witnessed now is only the beginning.
AMANPOUR: But that mask is a symptom of something larger and more complex -- a rage and distress about what's happening to the Muslim world. It has turned Islam into a political movement.
To understand that movement, I traveled to meet a jihadist who plotted to bring down a president, a leader who says Islam is the road to democracy, a man who prays for martyrdom, a revolutionary who helped bring the United States to its knees and a man who traveled the road to radicalism.
June 29th, 2007 -- a disaster just barely averted. Two car bombs set to explode on London's streets that failed to detonate. The next day, another vehicle rammed into a Scottish airport -- Glasgow. The alleged terrorists were Muslim doctors -- men who have taken an oath to save lives.
The scene was an eerie reminder of an attack two years earlier, when 52 people were killed, 700 were injured on London's bus and subway system. It was Britain's 9/11. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Until you stop the bombing, gassing, imprisonment and torture of my people, we will not stop this fight. Now, you, too, will taste the reality of the situation.
AMANPOUR: As shocking as the violence was the fact that the subway suicide bombers were homegrown terrorists, raised in Britain.
What would make these Muslim men turn against their own country?
I talked to one man who may know the answer.
(on camera): Ed, what makes a young teenager from a pious, Muslim household become a radical?
ED HUSAIN: In my case, I think initially I was duped. It's a slow, gradual process developing ideas that were confrontational, that were radical, that were and extremist. Nobody questioned me, other than my parents.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): As a child, Ed Husain's parents brought him to pray here at the moderate Brick Lane Mosque in London's East End. But at 16 -- call it a religious awakening or teenage rebellion -- Ed ran away from home and through the gates of this hard-line mosque.
HUSAIN: People at the mosque said to me that this was a choice between God and family.
AMANPOUR: Here, Ed found an ideology that put him on the road to radicalism.
HUSAIN: I bought this book here and it's predominantly displayed there, attached to the mosque. So I could look, for example, at this particular book. It's is the same man who is an inspiration to Bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri and others. So these are the godfathers of At least Qaeda.
So it was being sold as a religious duty to kill innocent people on the basis of their religion.
AMANPOUR: In the grip of this ideology, Ed soon joins an even more radical group known as Hiz Ut-Tahrir.
HUSAIN: They're a group of individuals who have members right across the world who are dedicated to overthrowing every single Arab government, every single Muslim government and setting up an expansionist global state in the Middle East. And, in their words, it's a launch pad for a jihad to go out to other countries. So it's basically creating an Islamist empire.
AMANPOUR (on camera): And they operate here in England?
HUSAIN: Openly, in large numbers on university campuses to this day.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Hezbutari openly admits they are working for an Islamic empire. They call it the caliphate, the Muslim world ruled by fundamentalist Islamic law, Sharia, just as it was a thousand years ago.
We went to question the group's spokesman.
TAJI MUSTAFA, HIZ UT-TAHRIR, ISLAMIST ORGANIZATION: Under Islamic rule, under the caliphate, there was stability even in Palestine. Jews, Christians, Muslims lived in harmony under an Islamic political order.
AMANPOUR (on camera): What you say sounds, you know, reasonable. But clearly your methods are suspect because you're banned in just about every country that exists, except for this one.
MUSTAFA: No, no, we are not. Not at all.
AMANPOUR: In fact the group is banned in most Middle Eastern and some European countries. But Mustafa says it's Muslim governments that are the problem, not his organization.
MUSTAFA: Now, let's be clear, there is the tyrants in the Muslim world, who are afraid of the revival of the masses.
AMANPOUR: What's more, he denies Ed Husain was ever a member.
HUSAIN: That's false. I attended cell structure meetings for two years. My direct instructor easiest anybody ordinary, it was a deputy leader of Hezbutari. I radicalized this entire college. In two years, there were Muslim women walking around in veils and face covers.
AMANPOUR: Even today, Hezbutari's ideology methodology can be heard on campus.
JAMAL HARWOOD, HIZ UT-TAHRIR, ISLAMIST ORGANIZATION: I'd like (INAUDIBLE).
AMANPOUR: On this night, as part of an Oxford Union debate.
HARWOOD: The U.S. believes that its interest is of benefit to the world.
AMANPOUR: Jamal Harwood is the British leader of the organization.
HARWOOD: Just like the Victorians learned you cannot impose civilization with a machine gun, Americans should also understand you cannot impose democracy in Fallujah with an Abrams tank.
PETER RODMAN, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Sharia law, which they would like to impose on you.
AMANPOUR: A former U.S. Pentagon official responds.
RODMAN: Banning alcohol and sex and other ideas that I'm sure would go over very well in this university environment.
The values of the west are under siege again by some of these forces of extremism.
AMANPOUR: But those values had little appeal for London's suicide bombers or for Ed Husain when he was an Islamic radical.
(on camera): The people who blew up the trains here on 7/7 were British.
HUSAIN: We'd like to think they were British. But this is the problem, that when I was 16, when I was 17, when I was 18, yes, I was born here. Yes, I was raised here. But I was not British.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): But he does feel British now. What changed him was seeing a Muslim protest on campus turn violent.
HUSAIN: The Christian student was stabbed in his heart and he fell here and he died. It made me realize that the organization I was part of, that had given us those ideas that non-Muslims are expendable, that Muslims are superior, that we need to stick together against the others, this them and us mentality, ultimately led to this.
AMANPOUR: Ed says he left radical Islam there and then, but that it would take another six years and another atrocity to finally decontaminate his mind.
(on camera): What was your reaction to 9/11?
HUSAIN: I was, in an odd way, happy that America had been attacked.
But I asked myself, where did that joy come from?
AMANPOUR: When did you realize that this was a wrong reaction?
HUSAIN: That very evening on -- later on September the 11th. God speaks about the loss of one individual being the loss of entire humanity. And there we were, as Islamists, abusing the book of God.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): And even more shocking for Ed was the reaction of his former colleagues when Britain was attacked.
HUSAIN: I was speaking to my friend from Hezbutari about 7/7. So he said to me, "So what did you make of 7/7?"
And I said, Well, you know -- "
And before I could complete my sentence, he said, "Wasn't it great? Wasn't it great?" was his response.
It was chilling to her that response from some -- an organization that now claims to be "nonviolent."
AMANPOUR: As he walks away from that world, Ed Husain says his duty now is to raise the alarm by writing this insider's account.
(on camera): Why did you write this book?
HUSAIN: Because all around me in Britain I see a form of Islam that is being developed which is highly literal, deeply political and exceptionally confrontational.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to see the Sharia law in (INAUDIBLE) in our country.
HUSAIN: And in the West, we haven't quite grasped the dangerous mentality that these organizations have.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): A mentality that's even spread to U.S. citizens, like the man known as the American Taliban, John Walker Lindh.
JOHN WALKER LINDH: I wanted to hurt them, one way or another.
AMANPOUR: Or like Adam Gadahn, the American who now speaks for Al Qaeda.
ADAM GADAHN: We shall continue to target you at home and abroad, just as you target us at home and abroad.
AMANPOUR: The United States recently released a chilling National Intelligence Estimate that cites a growing number of radical, self- generating cells in the West. Its troubling conclusion -- a violent segment of the West's Muslim population is expanding, including in the United States.
America -- the same place that decades ago inspired one man's radical brand of Islam.
SYED QUTB: This great America, what is it worth in the scale of human values?
I wish I could find somebody to talk with about human affairs, morality and spirit, not just dollars, movie stars and cars.
AMANPOUR: It is a moral indictment of America written in the 1950s. The author, a man who found the country to be a spiritual wasteland. His name was said Syed Qutb. He inspired the likes of Osama bin Laden and his lieutenant, Al-Zawahiri. Qutb's works laid the foundation for the modern jihad movement.
FAWAZ GERGES: Syed Qutb is the philosopher of the militant Islamist movement.
AMANPOUR: Fawaz Gerges is a professor and author who has interviewed hundreds of Islamic jihadists.
GERGES: His views of America are terrifying. They are terrifying because they're narrow. They present America in very simplistic dichotomies. And those simplistic dichotomies have influenced and shaped how radical Islamists and radical jihadists view American and Americans.
AMANPOUR: Qutb, an Egyptian Sunni Muslim, came to America in 1948 to study. But American culture shocked the scholarly Muslim poet and critic.
GERGES: His two years in America turned Syed Qutb into a militant Islamist. He resented the deep philosophical secular roots of American society. He resented the way women and men interact in society. He resented the obsessive nature of America materialism. He believed that America lacks ritualism.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I fear that a balance may not exist between America's material greatness and the quality of its people.
AMANPOUR: Qutb returned to Egypt and preached a message of restoring Muslim nations to their religious roots.
The secular Egyptian government of Gamal Abdel Nasser imprisoned and tortured him; and, finally, in 1966 executed him. His most radical book, "Milestones," was written from prison. It advocated violent jihad, even against Muslim governments.
His writings and what many saw as his martyrdom, inspired generations of Muslim radicals.
MAHFOUZ AZZAM (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): He was my teacher, my instructor, my mentor.
AMANPOUR: Mahfouz Azzam was also Qutb's friend.
AZZAM (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): He used to express in some of his letters about his feelings that the American society is losing its soul because of its materialism. He said that's all they think about.
AMANPOUR: Azzam is also the uncle of the Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian doctor who would take Qutb's message to heart.
AYMAN AL-ZAWAHIRI: We are Muslim. We are Muslims who believe in their religion.
AMANPOUR: Zawahiri has become one of the most notorious terrorists of our time, second in command to Osama bin Laden.
AL-ZAWAHIRI: We want to speak to the whole word
AMANPOUR: Zawahiri and bin Laden were part of what came known in the Muslim world as the sowa (ph), the awakening, a religious movement in the 1970s that pitted young, reform-minded Sunni Muslims against their established governments.
If Syed Qutb provided the inspiration for these future jihadists, Afghanistan was their call to arms.
In 1979, the Soviet Union, officially atheist and communist, invaded Afghanistan, which was an affront to Islam. Thousands of young Muslims signed up for jihad -- a holy war against the invader. Osama bin Laden was one of them, and his exploits in Afghanistan gave him credibility as well as a base.
OSAMA BIN LADEN: (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I have benefited greatly from the jihad in Afghanistan. It would have been impossible for me to benefit as much from any other opportunity.
AMANPOUR: The Soviets, worn down by the Mujahedeen -- the Muslim warriors -- eventually withdrew from Afghanistan.
Bin Laden would go on to establish Al Qaeda. Zawahiri, the Egyptian doctor, would become his adviser, both men inspired by the words of Syed Qutb.
About the same time Sunni Muslim jihadists were taking on the Soviets, the Shiites, God's warriors in another Muslim country, were about to give America its first taste of its Islamic fundamentalism.
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(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
(VIDEO OF RELIGIOUS CEREMONY IN IRAN)
AMANPOUR (voice-over): It's is the holiest time of year for Shiite Muslims. On the streets of Tehran, grown men and women weep and pray. The city stopped dead in its tracks -- from the main streets to the bazaars -- as people across Iran relive the great religious dramas of their faith.
(VIDEO OF RELIGIOUS CEREMONY IN IRAN)
AMANPOUR: I grew up in this country, and as a reporter I come back, because it is here that 28 years ago God's Muslim warriors rocked the world.
This is where America first tasted fundamentalism, when Islamic revolutionary students stormed the embassy and took American diplomats hostage for 444 days. And this set off a wave of Islamic fundamentalism throughout the Muslim world.
(on camera): What were the Iranians reacting against?
KAREN ARMSTRONG, RELIGIOUS HISTORIAN: The Iranians were reacting against decades of Western interference. You could see this as Iran's declaration of independence.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): The ruler of Iran, the Shah, had been restored to power in the 1950s in a CIA coup. He was rushing to modernize his country, like his father before him.
ARMSTRONG: The Shahs in Iran used to make their soldiers go out with their bayonets at the ready, ripping off women's veils and tearing them to pieces in front of them in the streets.
AMANPOUR: Mohammad Reza Shah ruthlessly crushed dissent and exiled mullahs who challenged him. The most prominent, a firebrand cleric named Ayatollah Khomeini, blasted back, calling the Shah the enemy of Islam.
ARMSTRONG: He brought the whole of Iran out onto the streets by pointing out the injustice of the rule.
AMANPOUR: With Iran's constitution in one hand and the Koran in the other, Khomeini offered up Islam as the antidote to corruption and Western dominance of Iran.
ARMSTRONG: And I think many of the Iranians saw it as a purifying ritual. Khomeini and the revolutionary mullahs were able to speak to Shiite traditions, not to Marxism or secularist ideas that had no grassroots among the ordinary people.
AMANPOUR: With Khomeini's revolution came the world's first modern theocracy -- a fundamentalist Islamic republic that stood up to the United States and humiliated a superpower.
DR. MASSOUMEH EBTEKAR, TEHRAN CITY COUNCILWOMAN: We felt very strongly for the independence of our country. We felt very strongly for the dignity of the Iranian people. We felt very strongly about the intervention of the American government in our affairs.
AMANPOUR: Massoumeh Ebtekar would eventually become Iran's first female vice president, pushing for more democracy. Back in 1979, she was the voice of the revolution.
EBTEKAR: These people are spies working in the United States embassy.
We were not terrorists. We were not militia. We had no training, no military training. This was a student movement -- a genuine student movement. But they knew that they had to take some sort of unconventional steps.
AMANPOUR (on camera): Unprecedented in the history of global diplomacy.
EBTEKAR: Unprecedented. Exactly.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): That unprecedented act was the takeover of the American embassy in the heart of Tehran. The relationship between Iran and the United States has never recovered.
Night after night during the holy week of Ashura, religious drama lights up the somber streets and neighborhoods of Iran.
(VIDEO OF RELIGIOUS CEREMONY IN IRAN)
AMANPOUR: Shiite believers, god's warriors, raise the battle standards of their greatest hero, the martyr of all martyrs, Imam Hussein. Faith, they say, bears aloft this massive weight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): It's not our biceps, it's our beliefs that gives us our strength. That and our love for Imam Hussein.
AMANPOUR: To understand just how much they love Imam Hussein, who was the Prophet Mohammed's grandson, spend some time at these rituals.
(VIDEO OF RELIGIOUS CEREMONY IN IRAN)
AMANPOUR: For Shiites, about one tenth of all Muslims, his story represents the eternal battle against oppression and injustice, and the willingness to sacrifice even one's own life for that struggle.
Which is what Imam Hussein did in 680 A.D. In a fight over who would succeed the Prophet Mohammed, Hussein and his entire family were slaughtered in a heroic last stand that would lead to the bloody Shiite/Sunni rift that continues to this day.
(VIDEO OF RELIGIOUS CEREMONY IN IRAN)
AMANPOUR: This passion play is performed by an amateur troupe of bakers and builders and it's directed by a bus driver, Yahya Alimirzai.
YAHYA ALIMIRZAI: When I see this play, my heartbreaks and I cry, because Imam Hussein has answered so many of us by prayers.
AMANPOUR (on camera): This is a very emotional play.
What is the reaction from the crowd?
ALIMIRZAI (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): The people watching are also talking to God. As they shed their tears, they confide their troubles and ask for help in their lives.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): The story may have happened 1,400 years ago, but on Ashura, emotions resurface as raw as if it were just yesterday.
Back in the women's section of the audience, next to Nazarene.
NAZARENE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I love Imam Hussein and I would love him to visit my home, because I've seen the miracles he's performed One day I was penniless and I didn't know what to do. But after praying to Imam Hussein, I found 50,000 rials in my drawer. I have seen many such miracles.
AMANPOUR: Nazarene and the other women may watch but they cannot be on stage.
ALMIRIZAI (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): That's because Islam bars women speaking publicly when young men are present.
AMANPOUR (on camera): But in the story there were women. Women in his family were killed.
ALMIRIZAI (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): But back then, how shall I say it?
Young men were purer. Now we have to cast them to play the roles of women.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): For instance, this mustachioed maiden. The drama, though, is not diminished.
(on camera): It's more than 1,000 years ago since this happened.
Is it still relevant to Iran today?
ALMIRIZAI (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): For us, it's still important, just like it was during the Iran/Iraq War, when young Iranians did not hesitate to be martyrs.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Iran's eight year war with Iraq is seen here as a triumph of faith.
In 1980, Iraq's president, Saddam Hussein, invaded Iran. Hussein was supported by the Soviet Union and the United States. They saw him as a bulwark against the spread of Iranian-style Islamic revolution.
The world assumed Iraq's professional army would score a quick victory. But nobody reckoned with Ayatollah Khomeini's holy warriors -- waves of young boys who volunteered to become martyrs, clearing minefields by running across them. Nobody had ever seen anything like it.
Eight blood-soaked years later, hundreds of thousands of young men and boys had been injured or killed, inspired to fight on by their first martyr, Imam Hussein.
Back then, Amir Fakhar was one of the holy warriors. Tonight as he prepares free food for the Ashura crowds in Tehran, he tells us how he volunteered to fight when he was barely a teenager, seen here on a hilltop during the battle.
AMIR FAKHAR (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I was 13 when I went to the front.
AMANPOUR (on camera): You went to the war at 13-years-old?
How did they allow you to go at 13?
A. FAKHAR (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I did whatever I could. In the beginning, I was trained to defuse land mines and when I was battle- hardened, I ran messages on foot.
AMANPOUR: Did you think of Imam Hussein when you were at the front?
A. FAKHAR (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): He was my example. His courage inspired me. You can never praise him enough.
AMANPOUR: When the West looks at this and looks at the rituals, they see chest beating. They see back beating with chains.
What message do you want the West to have about your religion, about your rituals? A. FAKHAR (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): When we beat ourselves with iron chains and damage our bodies, we want to show that we will stand with our imam and our religion to the bitter end. For the Shiites, his sacrifice has kept Islam alive for 1,400 years.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): And it's alive today, not only in Amir's heart, but in his household. He's brought me to meet his family.
A. FAKHAR (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): This is my son Abbas (ph) and this is Ali.
AMANPOUR: Amir's two little boys are named after his two brothers, who were killed in the war with Iraq, dying to defend their country.
More than 20 years later, his mother doesn't regret the family's sacrifice.
(on camera): Kobra, you're a mother and you sent your 13-year-old son to the front. You lost already two sons.
How could you have done that?
KOBRA FAKHAR (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I never wept for my sons when they went to war. In fact, I was happy. I would have been angry if they had refused to go.
AMANPOUR: Is religion that important in your life?
K. FAKHAR (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): During the Ashura war, one of the Imam Hussein's disciples was decapitated and his head was thrown at his mother. But she flung it back defiantly saying, "Whatever I give to God, I don't want back."
That's how important Islam is for us.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): From the Holy City of Qom, a grand ayatollah tells us that martyrdom for your faith should never be confused with suicide terrorism.
(on camera): The Western world, when they think of Muslims, they think of terrorists.
So what is your answer to those people who say that they are God's warriors, that they're God's soldiers, that they kill in the name of God?
GRAND AYATOLLAH SAANEI, IRAN: I've always said that terrorists should go to Hell, and that is our belief. But if the enemy attacks us, we have the right to defend ourselves in any possible way.
AMANPOUR: (voice-over): Which is what Davoud Abdolhadi did. Like his friend Amir, he was also a teen defending his country.
(on camera): Do you really wish that you could have been martyrs? DAVOUD ABDOLHADI (through translator): Yes, martyrdom was my biggest wish. But for me, it just wasn't meant to be.
AMANPOUR: Everybody understands if your country is attacked, you will defend it. But what I think many people don't understand is the love of martyrdom that exists in Islam and particularly Shiism. Why is it so important to die?
ABDOLHADI: We love martyrdom because it leads us to heaven and because we will be helped on the Day of Judgment.
AMANPOUR: Are you ready to fight again if you have to?
ABDOLHADI: The true believers are still here. We didn't ask for war. But if an enemy attacks even an inch of our territories, all Iranians from children to old men, are ready to fight.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Tonight Davoud sings in honor of Imam Hussein's martyrdom.
ABDOLHADI: When we beat our chests, we feel light. We share the sufferings of Imam Hussein and we tell the world that he is our master.
AMANPOUR: With Iranians ready to fight and die if they have to defend their Islamic state, in Egypt a president was assassinated to bring that country closer to Islam.
It seemed senseless and shocking. Anwar Sadat, the first Arab leader to recognize Israel and offer peace in the Middle East, cut down by assassin's bullets.
KAMAL AL-SAAD HABIB (through translator): There were a group of Islamic jihadists and I was one of them.
AMANPOUR: To Kamal al-Saad Habib, it was part of a moral and spiritual mission. For more than two decades he was a key figure in the radical Islamic movement. I traveled to Cairo, a crowded, bustling city of 18 million, to meet him.
HABIB: I knew that Sadat would be killed a few days before he was killed.
AMANPOUR: Although he wasn't one of the shooters, Kamal was part of a paramilitary group that plotted to bring down the Egyptian government and replace it with an Islamic state.
(on camera): What did he represent to them? Why did he get assassinated by them?
HABIB: He adopted Western modernization and established a relationship with Israel. And to us, that was like an earthquake.
AMANPOUR: After the assassination, Kamal was imprisoned for ten years. These photos were taken just after his release. In prison, he became an influential leader among fellow jihadists. In a prison essay, he wrote that the struggle between Islam and Christianity "will not end unless one opponent defeats or annihilates the other."
Like many in his generation, he was inspired by Syed Qutb, an earlier inmate in Egypt's prison, who redefined the word jihad. Kamal, like other fundamentalists I met, echoes Qutb's criticism of America.
HABIB: America and the Western world have a moral problem. They look at the human being only from a materialistic point of view.
AMANPOUR: Qutb wrote that Islamic values are the cure for spiritual emptiness. He urged Muslims to purge the world of Western influence, if necessary, by force. Fawaz Gerges describes one of the books as "Milestones" as the manifesto of the jihadi movement.
FAWAZ GERGES, CNN MIDDLE EAST CONSULTANT: And "Milestones" has, listen, your mission in life is to replace the secular, non-Muslim society-government that exists in this part of the world with authentic Islamic state, and you must do it. You must do it using all means at your disposal.
AMANPOUR: Qutb's writings were a call to arms for Kamal al- Habib. To this day, he believes Egypt should be an Islamic state. Do you believe sharia should be the law today here in Egypt?
HABIB (through translator): Yes, but not a theocratic state as in the Dark Ages. We want a civil state with an Islamic foundation.
AMANPOUR: His Islamic state would have democratic elections but Kamal rejects other Western values. For example, the Western view of women's rights, which he sees as an American encroachment on Muslim culture.
HABIB: Islamic law allows that the woman can be a judge when it comes to women's issues. When it comes to her being a president to all of the Muslims, Islamic law does not go to that extent, and I agree with that because of the nature of the role that the woman is supposed to perform in life.
(in English): You were angry from me.
AMANPOUR: I am very angry from you.
HABIB: This is not discrimination.
AMANPOUR: To me it's discrimination.
HABIB (through translator): Again, it is not a discrimination against her but it is a discrimination to a basic role to a God, to whom we ascribe all perfection and majesty created for that purpose.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Today Kamal works to bring about reform peacefully through the political process.
HABIB (in English): Not violent.
AMANPOUR: After years in prison, he now says violent jihad didn't bring the rewards he had hoped for. Kamal condemns the carnage of 9/11. He has said "The jihadist is not a beast. We have no cult of death. We love life. We love our families, but we want to live with dignity."
Despite his own journey from jihad to peace, Kamal views the U.S. invasion of Iraq as another attack on Islam by the West. And he is concerned about young Muslims.
HABIB (through translator): I worry that Islamic youth will react violently.
GERGES: What happened in Iraq has really poured fuel on a raging fire. I think we're going to witness a new generation, which is much more dangerous than al Qaeda, bloodier than al Qaeda, that uses terrorism as a rule rather than an exception.
AMANPOUR: Terror in the name of God. The hallmark of the world's most wanted man.
OSAMA BIN LADEN, AL QAEDA LEADER (through translator): May God give victory to the young men who perform jihad to win his approval.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He believes he's doing something good and he believes he's right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bin Laden believes that he's doing God's will, and if he doesn't do what he's doing, that God will punish him.
AMANPOUR: The most infamous of God's warriors, Osama bin Laden, wages a religious war against the West.
BIN LADEN: We are giving the good news that we will gain victory over America and the Jews, God willing.
AMANPOUR: He is the world's most wanted terrorist. To most, Muslims included, a massed murder. But to his true believers, like the widow of an al Qaeda suicide bomber, bin Laden is a great Muslim leader, a pious man defending Islam against infidels.
MALIKA EL AROUD, WIDOW, AL-QAEDA SUICIDE BOMBER (through translator): Most Muslims love him, just like I love him myself. It was Osama bin Laden who stood up against the biggest enemy in the world, the United States.
AMANPOUR: From the beginning it was religion that set him apart. It was at the core who bin Laden is and how he thinks.
KHALID BATARFI, BIN LADEN'S CHILDHOOD FRIEND: I wouldn't go to Mecca every week, for example. He would.
AMANPOUR: Khalid Batarfi grew up with Osama bin Laden in this Jeddah neighborhood in Saudi Arabia. Batarfi says bin Laden liked to play a game where he tested his friends on their knowledge of Islam.
BATARFI: And then he would ask us questions, when the prophet was born, for example. And we raised hand if you knew. And then oh, yeah, great.
AMANPOUR: Over time, Batarfi saw his friend become more and more devout, striding to live according to his ultra strict interpretation of the Holy Koran.
BATARFI: No pictures, no music. And after that not even TV, unless there is news.
AMANPOUR: Bin Laden's religious devotion went behind living a simple, pious life. He spent time in the Saudi desert, exposed to harsh conditions, believing it was his duty to prepare to fight and defend Islam. The opportunity came in the 1980s in Afghanistan. For more jihadis of bin Laden's generation, the first holy war. He organized his own all-Arab army to battle the Soviets occupying the Muslim country.
PETER BERGEN, AUTHOR, "THE OSAMA BIN LADEN I KNOW": Young Arabs he was recruiting were willing to martyr themselves, willing to take incredible personal risk, willing to basically take one-way tickets to Afghanistan to go and fight the Soviets.
AMANPOUR: His army would eventually become known as al Qaeda, and bin Laden would himself fall under the influence of the radical Egyptian doctor, Ayman al Zawahiri, number two in al Qaeda.
BERGEN: Again and again, bin Laden is influenced by Egyptian ideas, Egyptian political organizations and Egyptian people. And they tend to move him in a more radical and militant direction over time.
AMANPOUR: Zawahiri helped hone bin Laden's focus on toppling secular governments in the Middle East to create a vast Islamic nation without borders, a caliphate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wants to go back to the Golden Age of Islam, of a pure Islam.
AMANPOUR: Over the years, Zawahiri pushed bin Laden to a deadly new strategy, to weaken Muslim heads of state, what jihadis call the near enemy by attacking their supporters in the West, the far enemy.
In 1990 the U.S. became his main target. After the Saudi government allowed hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops to use the kingdom as a base. It was to repel Saddam Hussein during the First Gulf War. But bin Laden saw them as infidels on holy Muslim soil. Sacrilege, according to his views.
Prince Turki al Faisal is the former head of Saudi Arabia's intelligence service. Bin Laden, he told me, called for lethal attacks to drive out U.S. forces.
PRINCE TURKI AL FAISAL, FORMER SAUDI AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: A car bomb exploded in front of a National Guard training center in Riyadh and the perpetrators were captured and they said that they had been inspired by bin Laden.
AMANPOUR: Whether it's Saudi Arabia, Iraq, or any Muslim country, bin Laden sees the U.S. presence as an attack on Islam.
AL FAISAL: They want America to go back to its big island and stay there and take their hands out of our affairs.
AMANPOUR: In this extraordinary 1998 press conference, bin Laden declared war against the United States.
BIN LADEN: The Jews and the Christians work together against Muslims.
AMANPOUR: A jihad that he and his followers have been waging ever since. Bombing two U.S. embassies in Africa simultaneously. Two years later, attacking the USS Cole, a navy destroyer in a Yemeni port.
And, finally, the devastating attacks inside the United States that changed the world.
BIN LADEN: We calculated in advance the number of enemy casualties. I was the most optimistic of them all.
AMANPOUR: Bin Laden doesn't just kill Americans. Al Qaeda attacks in Asia, Africa and elsewhere also have lived fellow Muslims dead and now al Qaeda also targets Muslims, those they call infidels in places like Iraq. It's their battle to control Islam itself.
In the years since 9/11, bin Laden has been in hiding. The U.S. has been unable to find him, despite offering tens of millions of dollars in bounty. But his presence is still felt. His theology of violence still preached in his lieutenant's taped declarations.
AYMAN AL-ZAWAHIRI, AL QAEDA (through translation): You are not facing individuals and organizations but in reality you're facing the Islamic nation whose soul is now inhabited by the spirit of jihad.
AMANPOUR: It is twisted message of religion and politics. The call to terror that for some continues to resonate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): When you hear his voice, it makes you want to stand up right away and leave and join him.
AMANPOUR: Next, Egypt. The birth place of political Islam. Will politics and democracy turn it into the next Islamic state?
ANNOUNCER: A holy killing in Europe, waiting for the messiah, an American woman's jihad. God's warriors continues. Christiane Amanpour reports.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Egypt is the beating heart of the Arab world. It is the center of Arab and Muslim culture and civilization.
AMANPOUR: The birth place of political Islam.
GERGES: Anything that's happened in Egypt basically migrates to various Arab and Muslim countries.
AMANPOUR: Egyptians have endured colonialism, authoritarian regimes and now they live in a virtual police state. Religion has become their haven, and Islam their politics.
GERGES: People are terrified. People are exhausted. People are oppressed. And the only way for them to find refuges, to go back to plain (ph) their religion.
AMANPOUR: Reclaiming a central role for religion in a new democratic Egypt is a mission of the Muslim Brotherhood. It's now Egypt's most powerful opposition group. Headquartered on this quiet Cairo street in a nondescript apartment house. I dropped in for a visit.
(on camera): From CNN. Can we come in? Good to see you again.
(voice-over): I was met by supreme guide or leader Mohammed Akef.
AMANPOUR (on camera): It's quite a small office, isn't it?
"We can control the world from here," is what he said.
(voice-over): Numbers have grown from the Muslim brotherhood, as Egyptians have turned to religion as the antidote to the secular government. The brotherhood campaigned under the slogan "Islam is the solution." Despite being banned by the government, its candidates ran as independents in the last elections in 2005 and they won nearly 20 percent of the seats in parliament.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are the true owners of this stage. The stage is ours. The majority of the people support us. They are with righteous Islam.
AMANPOUR: But the Brotherhood has a notorious past, members assassinated a prime minister in 1948 and six years later attempted to kill the Egyptian President Gamel Abdel Nasser in their drive to rid Egypt of its secular government. Osama bin Laden was influenced by the Brotherhood and his second in command, Zawahiri, was a member. But the group has now officially renounced violence and today's supreme guide claims it was never condoned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wasn't a part of the Muslim Brotherhood as a group but there were individuals, individuals who took certain actions that they are solely responsible for.
AMANPOUR: The growth of the Muslim Brotherhood's political base has caused fear that Egypt, a strong U.S. ally, could become another Islamic state.
Is the Muslim brotherhood potentially as scary as what happened in Iran?
GERGES: No, I don't believe so. The Muslim Brotherhood is a mainstream, moderate, Islamist political party that subscribes to the rules of the political game.
AMANPOUR: There are signs everywhere here that more people are openly identifying with Islam. When I walked through Cairo, I found myself in the minority, because most women now wear at least a veil, even as they shop for fashionable clothes, shoes and lingerie.
Gayed Khalek (ph) does not fit the stereotype, playing the guitar and singing Western songs with her father. But even she would never consider removing her veil in public.
GAYED KHALEK: I choose to keep it on because I do believe in modesty and like you shouldn't be like showing off.
AMANPOUR: Gayed Khalek is the daughter of a prosperous, well- educated Muslim Brotherhood family. Her grandfather, Farid Khalek, has been a member for more than 60 years. He spent 12 of those years in prison, where he says he was tortured. Her father, Osama, is a businessman and founded an airline. To him, a secular state is one without moral purpose.
OSAMA KHALEK: The problem we have now with the civilizations is you don't offer the man where to go. He doesn't know his place in life. What he should do with his life.
AMANPOUR: Is there an independent judiciary?
O. KHALEK: People fought for that. We didn't get it yet.
AMANPOUR: Osama and his wife invited me to dinner at their house in a Cairo suburb.
(on camera): What does religion mean in your daily life, in your political life?
O. KHALEK: Of course, it's a great influence.
AMANPOUR: We spent much of the evening discussing religion and politics. Osama knows that many people fear a religious state.
O. KHALEK: And when the Muslims said our Islam is -- is everything, it is politics, it is life, it is everything, people get afraid.
AMANPOUR: But he and his father, Farid (ph), believe that an Islamic government can be democratic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We accept democracy because it is really the best system.
AMANPOUR (on camera): And would these be free elections forever or free elections one time?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forever.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): But many are worried about the true intentions of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders, whether they will impose Sharia, strict Islamic law.
GERGES: I mean, many people are worried about it. Women are worried about the application of the Sharia. Minorities are worried about the Sharia. Secular intellectuals are worried about the Sharia.
AMANPOUR: To allay such fears, the supreme guide of the Brotherhood told me the bar is very high for when Sharia will be implemented.
AKEF (through translator): Only when all the people have what they need, their own house, transportation, food, and this and that, only then, whoever steals will have his hand cut off. Whoever commits adultery will be stoned.
AMANPOUR (on camera): So, are you basically saying the conditions do not exist today for the implementation of strict Sharia law?
AKEF (through translator): That's right. The conditions do not exist now.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Whatever Egyptians may feel about living under Sharia, there is no doubt the Brotherhood has touched a chord with its Islamic message. Observers here say that, if Egypt held free and open elections, the Brotherhood would win, hands down.
While these Egyptians may be waiting for a state based on religious law, Iranians already have one. And they have a president who is waiting for the return of the Shiite messiah.
Once again, the drumbeat of discord is rising between a resurgent Iran and a worried West.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Iranian regime sponsors terrorists and has advocated the destruction of our ally Israel.
AMANPOUR: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president, openly defies worldwide pressure to suspend his country's nuclear program. And he alarms the West with his frequent diatribes against Israel and the United States.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The leaders of America want to resolve issues worldwide using force, arms and bombs.
AMANPOUR: And, when he first addressed the United Nations, Iran's fundamentalist president seemed to see himself as a man on a divine mission.
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Oh, mighty lord, I pray to you to hasten the emergence of your last repository, the promised one.
AMANPOUR: Upon his return to Iran, he told an ayatollah in the holy city of Qom that he had mesmerized his audience. AHMADINEJAD (through translator): One of our people said that, when I praised God, the almighty, he saw a light around me and I was placed inside an aura until the end of my speech.
And, for 27 minutes, the leaders of the world didn't blink. I'm not exaggerating, because I was looking at them, and they were transfixed, as if a hand was holding them.
AMANPOUR: Ahmadinejad now disavows that tape, and claims that it's a media concoction. But he has reportedly made his entire cabinet take an oath of allegiance to the Hidden Imam, a ninth century Shiite cleric who is a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed. He is meant to come back one day as a Shia messiah.
President Ahmadinejad repeatedly says that his government must hasten that day.
To find out more about the mysterious Hidden Imam, I traveled to the holy city of Qom, Iran's center of religious power.
(on camera): Before going into interview some of these conservative clerics, I had been warned to make sure that I wore the strictly traditional head scarf, head covering. So, I'm now going to remove the one I traditionally have to wear here, and I'm going to -- out here in the car quickly put this very tight-fitting covering over my head. I can't do it.
(voice-over): So, I went to this Islamic dress shop for some professional advice.
(on camera): So, this lady is helping me, because it's rather difficult to organize. There's an elastic band around the back of my head holding all this in place.
Can you believe this -- women have to do this every day?
(voice-over): By the time I was deemed sufficiently covered...
(on camera): Salaam alaikum.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Salaam alaikum.
(voice-over): ... the head of the Bright Future Institute, studying the Hidden Imam, wouldn't look at me anyway, nor would he shake my hand, because I'm a woman.
(on camera): My name is Christiane Amanpour from CNN, and we have come to find out about the bright future and how you see it.
HOJATOLISLAM ALI LARI, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, BRIGHT FUTURE INSTITUTE (through translator): You are welcome here, and we are at your disposal.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): I discovered that the Hidden Imam mysteriously disappeared centuries ago and that God has kept him alive since then, so that he can return one day and usher in a new era of peace and Islamic justice.
This center is waiting to welcome him, and it's abuzz with activity. Clerics pore over religious texts, and people even call in to ask exactly when the Hidden Imam is coming back.
(on camera): The phone's ringing.
(voice-over): Right now, clerics tell me, the imam is hiding like the sun on a cloudy day. That's the message they're sending even to children all over the world.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to go to a faraway land, and I want us to go on the journey together to ride on the clouds and go to the land of dreams, the land of wishes, to the end of the world.
AMANPOUR (on camera): What are the conditions, what has there to be in the world, for the Hidden Imam to come?
ABDOLLAH REZAIE, DIRECTOR OF CULTURE AND ARTS, BRIGHT FUTURE INSTITUTE (through translator): All the world's ideologies will falter. Communism came and went, and liberal democracy will also fail. And, when nobody can provide a solution, that's when the Hidden Imam will appear, saying, "I'm the answer." And he will save the world.
AMANPOUR: If Christians and Jews don't follow the Hidden Imam, clerics say there will be trouble.
MOHAMED REZAIE, MAGAZINE EDITOR, BRIGHT FUTURE INSTITUTE (through translator): If Judaism and Christianity don't recognize him, conflicts are possible. So, God will send Jesus to mediate.
AMANPOUR: And, he says, Jesus will tell the whole world to follow the Hidden Imam.
But until that day, thousands of pilgrims come here, to Jamkaran, the shrine of the Hidden Imam. They drop their petitions into the Well of Requests. And it was none other than President Ahmadinejad who ordered the shrine to be refurbished. He believes the day of judgment is near and that sustains him as he confronts the West.
When we return: Meet the women of Iran. How do they fit into the fundamentalist dream?
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Far from Iran's capital, in rural Zanjan, Rafat Bayat is doing what politicians do, meeting her constituents.
(on camera): How many women M.P.s are there?
(voice-over): Bayat is one of 13 women in the Majlis, the parliament of Islam's Islamic Republic.
(on camera): Thirteen out of 209?
(voice-over): But she's a fundamentalist with unusual credentials.
(on camera): I understand that you studied in the United States?
RAFAT BAYAT, IRANIAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: Yes.
AMANPOUR: Where did you study?
AMANPOUR: Were you veiled when you were in America?
BAYAT: Yes. Yes. You have problem with me, no?
AMANPOUR: Well, you know, I might not have a problem with you, but Americans, certainly, when they see a woman dressed completely like this, they say, well, clearly, women don't have rights.
What rights do women have under the Islamic Republic of Iran?
BAYAT (through translator): Every right a woman needs to lead a good life, in her job, her home life, her education. In fact, 65 percent of all university students are women.
AMANPOUR: You say that, under the Islamic Republic, women have all the rights they want. And, yet, in court, a girl who is accused of adultery, whether she's been raped or whatever, can get stoned to death.
BAYAT (through translator): You always pick on isolated cases and blow them out of proportion. We probably have less rapes of minors here than anywhere in the world. But stoning for adultery is part of Islamic law.
AMANPOUR: I can't imagine any religion that would say it's all right to stone a young girl to death, no matter what she's done.
BAYAT (through translator): We have only had three to four cases of stoning in the past 28 years.
AMANPOUR: Do you not think it's violent to stone a woman to death?
BAYAT (through translator): If Islamic law mandates a specific punishment to stamp out a specific vice, I will defend it, even if the whole world is against it. Understand? AMANPOUR (voice-over): But, recently, Iran's highest court exonerated religious vigilantes who had killed five people in the name of moral purity, including one couple just for walking together in public.
KAREN ARMSTRONG, RELIGIOUS HISTORIAN: It's important to say that none of the great world religions has been good for women, not a single one of them.
AMANPOUR: Religious historian Karen Armstrong says that Islam's Prophet Mohammed was actually ahead of his time when it came to women.
ARMSTRONG: The Koran gives women rights of inheritance and divorce that Western women would not receive until the 19th century. There is nothing in the Koran about all women having to be veiled or secluded in a certain part of the house. That came in later.
AMANPOUR: In 2003, lawyer Shirin Ebadi won a Nobel Peace Prize for fighting to restore the rights of Iranian women. She had been Iran's first female judge. But, when the ayatollahs came to power, they tossed her off the bench.
SHIRIN EBADI, NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER (through translator): I have been a judge and a lawyer for 35 years. I teach law at university and, I won the Nobel Peace Prize. But the court here will not admit my testimony unless it's backed by another woman. But the man who cleans my office can testify on his own, even though he's illiterate.
AMANPOUR: That's because, here in Islamic court, a woman's testimony, and even her life, are worth exactly half that of a man's.
(on camera): Is there a pushback of the limited rights that women have?
EBADI (through translator): Yes, of course. Sixty-five percent of our university students are girls. But now officials want to reduce that to 50 percent. It's a regressive step.
AMANPOUR: In a fundamentalist society, can there be women's rights?
EBADI (through translator): Women and men can enjoy equal rights only with a modern interpretation of Islam. Fundamentalism promotes a male-dominated culture.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): And this is the product of that culture, the numbing reality of a woman's everyday life, according to Iranian photographer Shadi Ghadirian.
(on camera): What are you trying to say with this? What's the message? To me, it looks like women have a boring life; all they do is make tea, iron clothes, brush the floor, and cook.
SHADI GHADIRIAN, IRANIAN PHOTOGRAPHER: You know, it's somehow an objection, and that's to the women that always, they repeat these things every day, and they don't think about it. They are like a machine.
AMANPOUR: They are like machines.
(voice-over): Shadi Ghadirian has grown up in Iran. She knows the intricate art of self-censorship.
(on camera): How do you censor yourself?
GHADIRIAN: For example, my women in my photos should have veil in my photos, like our cinema. If you notice, women, when they want to go to bed, they have also veil, you know?
GHADIRIAN: Because we know that, if we want to show our photos, we should do these things.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Because, if they don't, government censors will do it for them.
(on camera): This is how it appears...
GHADIRIAN: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
AMANPOUR: ... in the books at the university?
GHADIRIAN: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
AMANPOUR: Classic pictures of art that are censored?
GHADIRIAN: Yes. Yes. And imagine we have studied art.
AMANPOUR: Is the biggest problem for women like you the veil?
GHADIRIAN: No. I have many, many more serious problems. I think it's for our Islamic laws.
AMANPOUR: So, the laws are the big problem?
GHADIRIAN: Yes. Yes.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Something even conservative parliamentarian Rafat Bayat discovered when she tried to run for Iran's highest political office.
(on camera): Mrs. Bayat, you put your name forward to be a candidate for president. What was the answer?
BAYAT (through translator): I was told that I didn't have enough executive experience. But there was another thorny issue, the ambiguous wording in our constitution that currently says only important men of politics can become president.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): The clerics blocked her candidacy. But she wants to change the law.
(on camera): Can Iran have a woman president?
BAYAT: I think. I hope.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Women keep pushing the boundaries here. But now President Ahmadinejad's enforcers are trying to stop them. In a new Tehran-style spring cleaning, thousands of women have been detained for dressing un-Islamically, like this woman, screaming as she's pushed into a police car, according to the bystander who captured it on his cell phone.
Many women in Iran are refusing to go quietly.
GHADIRIAN (through translator): If they try to turn the clock back, they will set off an explosion.
AMANPOUR: Next: why a Muslim woman in America takes the veil.
REHAN SEYAM, AMERICAN-BORN MUSLIM: It's a requirement by God. He wants us to cover.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): She's a lifelong American.
SEYAM: When I was growing up, we mowed the lawn. We shoveled the driveway when it was snowing.
AMANPOUR: Born and raised in Islip, Long Island.
SEYAM: I was very involved in sports.
AMANPOUR: But Rehan Seyam is a jihadist, just not the sort you're thinking of.
SEYAM: The word jihad means struggle. I treat me wearing hijab in the United States as a struggle, jihad itself, struggle. That's my jihad.
I mean, holy war, really? Who made that up? That's really a very bad translation. It's a self-struggle. Living in a secular society, where you have to work to maintain your Islamic values, that's jihad.
AMANPOUR: Rehan Seyam's parents came here from Egypt. They were devout. But, like so many immigrant children, she was a typically Americanized teenager.
SEYAM: So, when I would be called to pray by my parents, I would just run between commercial breaks, and wash up and pray, and run back, and hopefully I didn't miss my TV show. AMANPOUR: But, as she grew up and went to college in what was now a post-9/11 world, she began to get closer to Islam. And, one morning, she made a decision that would change her life, to wear the hijab, the traditional Muslim head scarf.
SEYAM: It was very dramatic for me. And I remember how -- like, even now, thinking about it, it really does make my heart beat a little bit faster, because I was making a decision I knew was permanent. You put on hijab, you don't take it off. So, I said, that's it.
AMANPOUR: Rehan's jihad isn't violence, not even close, but it is public. It is a deliberate display of faith, not just covering her head, but swearing off alcohol, praying five times a day, which isn't easy in a typically busy American life.
SEYAM: Sometimes, it's uncomfortable if you're in the mall. What do you do? Where are you going to go? Pray in your car?
AMANPOUR: Rehan is part of a new generation among America's approximately two million Muslims.
GENEIVE ABDO, AUTHOR, "MECCA AND MAIN STREET: MUSLIM LIFE IN AMERICA AFTER 9/11": Young Muslims here are becoming much more religious than their parents. And this is being expressed by more women wearing head scarves, the increase in mosque attendance, more mosques being built, more Muslims wanting to attend Islamic schools, rather than the public school system.
AMANPOUR: Geneive Abdo is the author of "Mecca and Main Street." She says that, since 9/11, the majority of American Muslims feel they're singled out for suspicion and surveillance by the government and by ordinary people.
SEYAM: They will look at me as if I'm threatening. And I don't feel like I'm very threatening-looking. I don't feel like I should instill fear in anybody's hearts. But I do feel like I get dirty looks. It's because they see me as a Muslim.
AMANPOUR: A recent Pew Forum poll offered the first look at attitudes of Muslims living in America. The majority, it found, are highly assimilated, moderate, and see no conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in the United States.
But there was a distinct difference between young Muslims and their parents. Young Muslims were almost twice as likely to attend mosque as their parents and considerably more likely than their parents to say they are Muslims first, Americans second. And, while most American Muslims reject extremism, younger Muslims, 26 percent of them, say suicide bombings can sometimes be justified.
Author Geneive Abdo found, young Muslims often feel a disconnect with the American lifestyle.
ABDO: They're rejecting a lot of things about American culture. They don't want to date. They don't want to drink alcohol. They don't want to engage in premarital sex. They consider many aspects of American society immoral.
AMANPOUR: For Rehan and her husband, Rahmi (ph)...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good.
AMANPOUR: ... and most practicing Muslims, Islam is their identity. It shapes every aspect of who they are.
SEYAM: Islam is a way of life. Ask anyone who practices. They will tell you, it's not just your religion. A lot of people go to the church on Sunday, and that's their religion for their week. Mine is every single day, every minute of my day.
AMANPOUR: Islam even shaped their courtship. Rahmi (ph) asked Rehan's parents for permission before he asked her out.
SEYAM: I like that. I was like, he's, like -- he's religious, like, I could tell he wasn't going to try to meet me without any sort of, like, parental notification.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you read about Islam, many of the things that we do are actually to protect the woman. You know, going to her parents and doing -- and doing things in a proper way, you know, you're not hiding anything.
AMANPOUR: Rehan insists that covering up is not a sign of a woman's inferiority, as many Westerners believe, but a sign that Muslim women refuse to be degraded, as she feels they can be in American culture.
SEYAM: I don't want any guy looking at me, except for my husband, provocatively. Why would I want that? Why do I want to be a piece of meat?
AMANPOUR: A feeling echoed by religious historian Karen Armstrong, who herself used to wear a habit as a former Roman Catholic nun.
KAREN ARMSTRONG, RELIGIOUS HISTORIAN: In some ways, it was very liberating. For seven whole years I never had once to think about my hairstyle, my makeup, my clothes. I never had to wear man-pleasing garments. I never had to fill my head with the junk that society tells women, to trivialize their lives about.
SEYAM: I think the western belief is that the more you have, the more prestigious you are and you compete with other people as to what you have. Who has a better car, who has a bigger house, who has the nicer purse. In Islam, it's actually the total opposite. You're supposed to be humble.
AMANPOUR: So Rehan Seyam is committed to her struggle to live a religious life in a material world. It's her jihad.
SEYAM: I want to be praying to God. I'm lucky that I wake up every morning and I can think of God. I don't know that everybody has that, and I think that I'm lucky for it.
DAVEED GARTENSTEIN-ROSS, MUSLIM CONVERT: I began to pray for the Mujahideen, for these holy warriors who were trying to topple secular governments throughout the world.
AMANPOUR: Those are the words you might expect to hear in the Middle East or even in Europe. But it might surprise you that this man became a radical Muslim in Ashland, Oregon.
GARTENSTEIN-ROSS: Ashland is an adorable countercultural town with very liberal, progressive and tolerant ideals.
AMANPOUR: Daveed Gartenstein-Ross was born Jewish to parents who call themselves mystics. His transformation into a radical Muslim raises disturbing questions about how extremism can flower in America. It's happened before to Americans like John Walker Lindh...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long have you been here in Afghanistan?
JOHN WALKER LINDH, FOUGHT WITH TALIBAN: About six months.
AMANPOUR: ... who became a fighter for the Taliban. Or Adam Gadahn, who became a spokesman for al Qaeda.
ADAM GADAHN, SPOKESMAN FOR AL QAEDA: And warn the unbelievers of defeat and humiliation.
AMANPOUR: Daveed's journey began in college. He was looking for his own spiritual identity when he encountered Islam.
GARTENSTEIN-ROSS: The form of worship was something that drew me towards it. Islam is a very simple faith, and as I learned more about it, it seemed more and more fascinating to me.
AMANPOUR: In the fall of 1997, Daveed called home and told his parents he was planning to become a Muslim.
MOSHE ROSS, DAVEED'S FATHER: We felt it was OK. We were glad that he was going to study something and hopefully seriously. And we were happy with Islam.
AMANPOUR: Home for a visit, Daveed met local Muslims here at this makeshift mosque in Ashland.
GARTENSTEIN-ROSS: And it was then that I saw my first radical sermon. His argument was that the west was so inherently corrupt, so inherently anti-Islamic, that if we stayed in the society, that inevitably our faith would be eroded.
AMANPOUR: The mosque would soon trade in its humble home for a hilltop headquarters.
GARTENSTEIN-ROSS: The house off to the right, that's the house where we used to have prayers. It was clear to me that the group had more money than ever before. AMANPOUR: Money from a Saudi Arabian charity, the Al-Haramain Foundation. A man named Pete Seda, who ran the charity's local office, offered Daveed a job.
GARTENSTEIN-ROSS: As they say, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Seemed like an opportunity to learn more about my new faith, an opportunity to help advance Islam.
AMANPOUR: Seda became Daveed's mentor. Within a few months, Daveed found himself agreeing with extreme views.
GARTENSTEIN-ROSS: The ideas that I once thought unthinkable, like the idea that the state should force the modesty of women, the idea that the state should ban homosexuality, all these things seemed like very -- much more reasonable ideas -- and indeed seemed like good ideas to me.
AMANPOUR: At Al-Haramain, Daveed saw the religion which he had embraced for its tolerance, become obsessed with rules and ideology.
GARTENSTEIN-ROSS: I wasn't to shake hands with women. I wasn't to pet a dog. I wasn't to wear shorts that came up above my knees. But conversely, my pants legs couldn't be too long.
AMANPOUR: Daveed says whenever he questioned the rules, his Muslim co-workers would tell him his own views were irrelevant.
GARTENSTEIN-ROSS: Your moral inclinations do not matter. All that matters is whether this is what's right according to God's will. Because if God exists then ultimately he is the only arbiter of right and wrong.
AMANPOUR: Daveed eventually quit his job at Al-Haramain to attend law school. Away from his co-workers, he began to question the radical doctrines they had all embraced.
AMANPOUR: My moral impulses did rebel against the idea that jihad was an obligation that should be undertaken against non-Muslim societies. That didn't seem right to me.
It didn't seem right to me that people who left the faith should be killed, which is something that was caught at Al-Haramain.
AMANPOUR: In 2004, federal agents raided the Ashland offices of Al-Haramain. The United States would designate the organization as a sponsor of terrorism for funding rebels in Chechnya.
Daveed's mentor, Pete Seda, would be indicted for financial crimes and would flee the United States. And Daveed would provide information to the FBI.
GARTENSTEIN-ROSS: I knew about some of Al-Haramain's contempt for U.S. tax law. And I knew about the support these guys had for the Mujahideen in Chechnya.
AMANPOUR: Just last week, Pete Seda voluntarily returned to the United States to fight the government's charges. He pleaded not guilty.
And earlier this month, lawyers for the now defunct Al-Haramain organization sued the government in an attempt to remove its name from a list of terrorist organizations, saying its work had, quote, "nothing to do with terrorist or violent activities."
On the whole, most Muslims in America are well assimilated. They make as much money and are just as well educated as the average American.
But Daveed, now a counterterrorism consultant, believes his process of radicalization, while not violent, might have eventually led to something much more sinister. And he wrote a book, "My Year Inside Radical Islam", to try to explain the grip religious extremism had on him.
GARTENSTEIN-ROSS: There is a number of instances of people who have gone through processes of radicalization who have ended up, you know, going operational. Famously, John Walker Lindh and Adam Gadahn. Both of these men went through some similar steps to my own.
AMANPOUR: And in the Netherlands, a radical Muslim acted on his beliefs, stunning his country by killing one of its most famous men.
Amsterdam, November 2004. The scene of a grisly and shocking murder. The victim, the great-grandnephew of artist Vincent Van Gogh. The killer, Mohammed Bouyeri, a home-grown radical Muslim.
Bouyeri gunned down Theo Van Gogh as he rode his bicycle, and then he cut his throat, nearly decapitating him.
EMERSON VERMAAT, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: And this whole killing of Van Gogh in Bouyeri's ill mind was a sort of holy killing, a sort of sacrifice, like killing an animal.
AMANPOUR: A holy killing? In the Netherlands? A country known for its windmills, its canals and its tolerance. A new battlefront between God's Muslim warriors and the west.
Bouyeri was part of a Dutch terrorist cell called the Hofstad group. Another member had plans to blow up government buildings and kill politicians in parliament in a suicide bombing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Just as you have spilled the blood of Muslim citizens in Iraq, we will spill your blood here.
AMANPOUR: Many of the group's members were sent to prison.
I traveled to the Netherlands to find that this country's once tiny Muslim community has swelled to more than a million in a country of 16 million.
Across Europe, Islam is the fastest growing religion, the number of Muslims tripling in the last 30 years. This increased Muslim presence, and violence like the Van Gogh murder, play into the hands of right wing politicians, like Geert Wilders, a member of the Dutch parliament...
GEERT WILDERS, MEMBER OF DUTCH PARLIAMENT: Yes, here we have my seat.
AMANPOUR: ... who fears the Dutch are losing their country to an alien culture.
The party he's founded has staked its political future in large part on an anti-Islam platform. He's proposed shutting down immigration from non-western countries and banning burkas and nikabs, the head-to-toe coverings worn by some Muslim women, even though few here wear them.
(on camera) Why have you chosen Islam as your battleground, so to speak?
WILDERS: Islam is, I believe, one of the most major threats to the west and also to western Europe and to the Netherlands today and, more especially, radical Islam is a major threat to all of society. Those are people that hate everything that we stand for and are proud to use every means possible to kill us.
AMANPOUR: Do you fear for your life?
AYAAN HIRSI ALI, FORMER MEMBER OF DUTCH PARLIAMENT: I fear from those individuals who feel that they will go to heaven by killing me. I fear for my life.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Ayaan Hirsi Ali has reason to fear. A former member of the Dutch parliament, her name was on a death threat stabbed to Theo Van Gogh's chest.
Her crime: she had collaborated with Van Gogh to make this provocative film called "Submission". It is an indictment of the way some Muslims mistreat women.
Hirsi Ali was born in Somalia and raised in a devout Muslim family. She rebelled when her father chose a man for her to marry.
(on camera) You bolted?
ALI: I bolted, yes. I went to Holland and started to lead a different life. I removed my head scarf. I started to wear trousers. I started to ride on bicycles. And I made friends with the infidels, the Dutch.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): She became a Dutch citizen, then an atheist and an outspoken critic of Islam. In 2003, she was elected to parliament.
She says that even in Europe, religious traditions dominate many emigrant Muslim households, and women are subjugated by family members, suffering abuse and even death.
ALI: Fathers who, when girls choose to go finish school or find their own boyfriends, beat them or kill them. AMANPOUR (on camera): That's happening today?
ALI: In Holland, in Germany, in France, in the U.K. They will say, "It's because of my religion, and you need to respect my religion."
AMANPOUR (voice-over): The Netherlands is perhaps the epitome of a liberal secular society, where prostitution is legal and quite visible. And where you can smoke marijuana in a cafe.
As in much of western Europe, religious worship has dramatically declined, except among Muslims.
IMAM FAWAZ JNEID, MUSLIM CLERIC (through translator): The devil is always present, even when you eat, even during intercourse.
AMANPOUR: Imam Fawaz Jneid, leader of a mosque in The Hague, believes Muslims are under attack, victims of religious discrimination.
JNEID (through translator): There are some who want to challenge the Muslim's beliefs and the Muslim's values, and here lies the problem.
AMANPOUR: Jneid even asked God to punish people like Van Gogh and Hirsi Ali, who he believes are attacking Islam.
(on camera) What are people meant to think when you, an imam, says, for instance, "Oh, God, blind Hirsi Ali like you have blinded her heart. Please bring cancer to her brain and to her tongue"? I mean, what are people meant to think when they hear somebody like you saying that?
JNEID (through translator): We did say that prayer in a time when they were attacking Islam and lying about it. And we didn't have anyone who would carry our voice to the media. And Muslims in reality are like any nation that is under attack. They would be in a state of boiling anger.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Concerned about the imam's rhetoric, Dutch authorities are investigating whether a sermon he delivered before Van Gogh's murder violated Dutch laws on hate speech and discrimination.
Moderate Muslims here say the Dutch backlash from the Van Gogh murder has put them all under siege.
AHMED MARCOUCH, MEMBER OF AMSTERDAM'S CITY COUNCIL (through translator): There were mosques that were attacked. Islamic schools were burned. So the atmosphere was very, very tense.
AMANPOUR: Ahmed Marcouch is a Muslim member of Amsterdam's city council. He says that most young Dutch Muslims aren't radical or violent but worry that some could fall prey to extremist influences.
MARCOUCH: The problem is that we don't have an Islamic society that can help the young people to find their answers for their questions, religious questions. If we don't organize it, we're going to lose a big group in extremism.
AMANPOUR: Extremism like that of the Hofstad group.
Emerson Vermaat, a Dutch investigative journalist, has spent years studying the group and the murder of Van Gogh.
VERMAAT: There was a meeting of Hofstad (ph) in Amsterdam, and they said, "We must do something. We must maybe kill someone, but we must revenge. Allah has been offended. The Koran has been offended."
ALI: They would sit together. They would watch videos with beheadings and read the Koran together and then plot jihadi activities.
AMANPOUR: It is a twisted version of Islam fuelled by the culture clash here. But also by a steady stream of Internet websites which offer radical Islam as the antidote to western culture.
This extremism has generated an extreme response from far right politicians like Geert Wilders.
(on camera) Can I just quote something to you, something that you said? That "If Mohammed lived here today, I would propose tarring and feathering and hunting him out of the country as an extremist."
WILDERS: This is what I said.
AMANPOUR: And you stand by it?
WILDERS: Of course.
AMANPOUR: You don't think it's extreme?
WILDERS: No, no.
AMANPOUR: To say the Koran should be torn up and Mohammed should be tarred and feathered?
WILDERS: No. If you look at the context on why I said it, I believe it's not extreme.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Geert Wilders' rhetoric has earned him death threats from Muslim extremists. Both he and Ayaan Hirsi Ali live under 24-hour protection.
From Amsterdam to Tehran to London, "God's Warriors" are manning the front lines of a battle they believe they cannot afford to lose. And nowhere is this fight more significant than in the holy land.
(END VIDEOTAPE) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking foreign language)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The radical Palestinian group Islamic Jihad opened fire at random.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): It was mass murder and terror on an Israeli street. For the gunmen, it was martyrdom.
FIRYAL SWATAT, GUNMAN'S SISTER: The biggest thing to a human is his soul. So this is the ultimate sacrifice, to give your soul as a gift to God that creates us and the country.
AMANPOUR: A young man was dead. For most families, it would be a terrible loss. But not for this one. For this family, it was an honor.
AUM YOUSEF, GUNMAN'S MOTHER (through translator): I am proud. He went to God. I am not sad, and I'm not sorry.
AMANPOUR: Armed with automatic rifles, Yousef Swatat and another Palestinian opened fire at a busy intersection in the Israeli city of Hadera. They killed four people and wounded dozens more before police shot Yousef.
Among his victims, a health clinic worker, a woman returning from the dentist, and two mothers of young children.
I traveled to a Palestinian neighborhood in the West Bank city of Jenin to meet Yousef's family. Yousef left behind a note that spoke of martyrdom and heaven. He expected to die.
(on camera) Do you think your son is going to heaven?
YOUSEF (through translator): The Koran guides us and tells us this is so.
BRUCE LAWRENCE, RELIGIOUS HISTORIAN: Martyrs don't have to wait for judgment day. They, bingo, go straight to their reward in paradise. This is all part of the Islamic belief system, very clearly spelled out.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Religious historian Bruce Lawrence says suicide martyrdom has become the last resort for those who feel powerless to fight any other way.
LAWRENCE: It's a message of despair, saying, "We haven't got any opportunity in this world, but we know because of our interpretation of scripture, our reading of the Koran, that martyrs go to paradise. So join us and do this and you're vouchsafed (ph)."
AMANPOUR: There is probably nothing more frightening and symbolic of Islamic extremism than the suicide attacks. It is the weapon of choice for terrorists in Israel. Iraq. Indonesia. England. And the United States.
While those who turn themselves into human bombs are a tiny minority, they leave millions terrified and bewildered about how someone can kill in the name of God.
(on camera) The Koran says that suicide is haram, that you don't go to heaven if you kill yourself.
YOUSEF (through translator): The Koran tells us this is not forbidden. What our son did is not haram. Shouldn't it be forbidden for Israelis to kill our sons in front of our eyes?
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Yousef's family says they had no idea he was preparing to die.
YOUSEF (through translator): He wanted to get married and to have kids. His ambitions were about having a house, a car of his own.
AMANPOUR: They remember him as a young boy, a budding artist and actor. The family showed me some of Yousef's work.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When he was younger, he used to like painting. He wanted to study fine art and to become both a painter and an actor.
AMANPOUR: But Yousef never fulfilled his childhood dreams and ended up in a low-paying job with the Palestinian police.
In October of 2001, in retaliation for the assassination of an Israeli cabinet minister, Israeli troops went into the West Bank in force. This young Palestinian girl was badly wounded, and Yousef was the first to reach her.
F. SWATAT (through translator): He carried her to take her to the hospital, but she died in his arms before he got there. It was a horrible scene, and Yousef couldn't take it. He couldn't save her.
AMANPOUR (on camera): Did he start changing after that?
F. SWATAT (through translator): He stopped laughing and talking to us in the house. He was no longer how he used to be, joking, talking to everyone. He became silent and quiet. He started to pray all of the time, to fast and spend most of his time in the mosque. Even sleeping at the mosque and always, always carrying the Koran and praying.
AMANPOUR: Yousef, distraught over the girl's death, was ripe for recruitment by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist group that wants an Islamic state where Israel is today.
They claim responsibility for numerous suicide attacks in Israel since the 1990s. Among them, killing nine and injuring dozens at a restaurant; leaving five dead and many more wounded at a nightclub; and, on a crowded bus, murdering 14 and injuring 50.
Yousef's friends say Islamic Jihad supplied him with the weapons for his mission.
YOUSEF (through translator): In all honesty, I never wanted my son to reach this point. When it came to my own son carrying out an attack, I was surprised and confused, because my son is very dear to me.
AMANPOUR: But they seem to find great comfort in seeing their loss as a divine mission, their son's suicide as martyrdom, as portrayed in this Islamic Jihad poster.
F. SWATAT (through translator): martyrdom is the highest level of sacrifice. We all wish to be martyrs: me, my mother, father and all the Palestinian people.
AMANPOUR: As with many of their recruits, Islamic Jihad had Yousef tape a final message to his family.
YOUSEF SWATAT, GUNMAN (through translator): My brothers and mother, it is precious to my heart and all those whom I love, I send you all my regards in peace. And I ask you not to be upset, because this is martyrdom. And I ask you to pray for me and for all Muslims to achieve victory. Heaven is precious. Your brother and your son.
AMANPOUR (on camera): Muslims, like people everywhere, abhor terrorism. The small minority who resort to violence is symptomatic of something many of us have failed to understand.
God's warriors, the emergence of millions of people around the world who view life through a religious prism and who fear that modern society is trampling their beliefs.
With this report, we have tried to bridge the gap of understanding about the Muslim world.
I'm Christiane Amanpour. Thank you for joining us.
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