“I invite you to embrace Islam,” says Osama, and yes, that is a prerequisite for an observant Muslim before he can commit an act of violence against an unbeliever.
Muhammad directs Muslims to issue this invitation first, and if they refuse, to invite non-Muslims to enter the Islamic social order as second-class dhimmis, and if they refuse both, to go to war with them:
Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war, do not embezzle the spoils; do not break your pledge; and do not mutilate (the dead) bodies; do not kill the children. When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them….If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them. (Sahih Muslim 4294)
No one is noting that Osama, like Adam Gadahn last year, accompanies this invitation with unfavorable comparisons of Christianity and Judeo-Christian Western culture to Islam, and an appeal based on the Qur’an’s presentation of Jesus as a Muslim prophet:
That the jihadists are mounting this kind of theological appeal is one of the least-noted aspects of their communiques to the West. Most analysts don’t understand and don’t care what they are doing in these statements, and just brush past them.
In reality, however, such statements go right to the heart of why Al-Qaeda and other jihadists are fighting, and what they are fighting for. I discuss this in my book Religion of Peace?, but I’m not seeing it much of anywhere else. The ideological challenge that the jihadists are making to the West is still almost universally misunderstood. Here is Osama inviting us to accept Islam, and probably very few Americans would be able to articulate why they wouldn’t want to accept the invitation. If more attention is not paid to this, Osama’s appeal will surely make inroads among Westerners that will deeply surprise most analysts.