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Anwar al Awlaki is dead (again)

This is the third time that radicalized Al Qaeda celebrity Anwar al Awlaki has been reported killed, but this is the first time it has been confirmed by the US as well as “tribal sources”. According to NYT:

In a significant and dramatic strike in the campaign against Al Qaeda, the Defense Ministry here said American-born preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, a leading figure in the group’s outpost in Yemen, was killed on Friday morning.


In Washington senior Obama administration officials confirmed that Mr. Awlaki was dead. But the circumstances surrounding the killing remained unclear.

Mr. Awlaki’s Internet lectures and sermons have been linked to more than a dozen terrorist investigations in the United States, Britain and Canada. Faisal Shahzad, who tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square in May, 2010, cited Mr. Awlaki as an inspiration.
Mr. Awlaki’s name has been associated with many plots in the United States and elsewhere after individuals planning violence were drawn to his engaging lectures broadcast over the Internet.

Those individuals included Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged in the 2009 shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, in which 13 people were killed; the young men who planned to attack Fort Dix, N.J.; and a 21-year-old British student who told the police she stabbed a member of Parliament after watching 100 hours of Awlaki videos.
Last year, the leader of Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen sought to install Mr. Awlaki as the leader of the group in Yemen, which apparently thought Mr. Awlaki’s knowledge of the United States and his status as an Internet celebrity might help the group’s operations and fund-raising efforts.


Mr. Awlaki was accused of having connections to the Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a former engineering student at University College London, who is awaiting trial in the United States for his attempt to detonate explosives sewn into his underwear aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it landed in Detroit on Dec. 25, 2009. The bomb did not explode.

Mr. Awlaki has been linked to numerous plots against the United States, including the botched underwear bombing. He has taken to the Internet with stirring battle cries directed at young American Muslims. “Many of your scholars,” Mr. Awlaki warned last year, are “standing between you and your duty of jihad.”

Major Hasan had exchanged e-mails with Mr. Awlaki before his attack on Fort Hood.


There are two stories here. One is the impact of Awlaki’s death on Al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula, the political survival of Yemeni’s president Saleh, and the Arab Spring. I don’t care about that story, frankly. The story I do care about is the impact on American muslims, who were targeted by Awlaki and exploited and preyed upon by him to wage his jihad on our shores. As the story above makes clear, Awlaki has had a frightening success in encouraging domestic jihad. Though he was a amateur and dilettante scholar of Islam, he was a master propagandist, and shamelessly leveraged his credibility from his pre-9-11, pre-radicalized days as an imam in Virginia to lend his post-9-11, psychotic delusions a stamp of authenticity which has led weak minded and troubled American Muslims astray.


The inevitable debate will rage over his citizenship and whether the Obama Administration was justified in an “extrajudicial killing” without due process. I’m not comfortable with the State having the power to kill, but the argument here is far stronger than that for capital punishment, especially since Awlaki removed himself from the reach of the law by hightailing to Yemen’s backwaters, something no one on Death Row can do. As Awlaki renounced his citizenship, and called on other American muslims to wage war against America, there really should be no debate – the man was a literal traitor to his country, and on this point at least the Constitution is quite clear: Article 3, Section 3 and the landmark Supreme Court ruling of Haupt vs. the United States (1947).


American muslims should at least not mourn his passing. The man was a clear and present danger to our muslim community in America, our “public enemy #1″ who labeled all of us “traitors to the Ummah” for our condemnation of violence and terrorism. The burden we have borne because of the actions of those like Hasan who acted on Awlaki’s urging has been a terrible one, and would have continued had Awlaki remained alive.

We should all feel relieved that Alwaki will no longer prey upon us. Does this mean we should celebrate his death? No, we should not celebrate the death of any human being. But as far as Awlaki self-declared himself to be a muslim, the only appropriate response is Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un – to Allah we belong, and to Him is our eventual Return.


What Allah will do to Awlaki is of course up to Him. Allah knows best.

Related: fantastic debates at Talk Islam about the legality of extrajudicial killing, and an excerpt from a magnificent rebuttal to Awlaki’s call to jihad by a real American imam, Abu Laith Luqman Ahmed.

Also, for the legal geeks among you, the case of Hamdi vs Rumsfeld, which is often quoted in reference to Awlaki. For the record, I do not think the Hamdi case applies, but that’s a debate for another time.

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posted October 1, 2011 at 1:00 pm


posted October 1, 2011 at 1:03 pm


posted October 1, 2011 at 10:09 pm

“CivilusDefendus” What a scream! Thanks Erik it’s good to see what the truly fearful (or those who would exploit them) are up to.

Aziz and others here’s a thoughtful consideration of killing our citizens without trial/a>.

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posted October 3, 2011 at 11:02 am

November 2001, Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki of the Falls Church Mosque was busy answering questions for Washington Post readers on its website. Al-Awlaki did his part to assure WaPo readers that Islam was a religion of peace. “The greatest sin in Islam after associating other gods besides Allah is killing an innocent soul.”

“I have no sympathy for whoever committed the crimes of September 11th,” Al-Awlaki said, and in a Washington Times interview said that, “We want to bring those who had done this to justice.”

In the months after his Al-Qaeda colleagues murdered thousands, Al-Awlaki managed to do get himself into every media outlet around. At the end of September 2001, he was at National Geographic with the same message. “There is no way that the people who did this could be Muslim, and if they claim to be Muslim, then they have perverted their religion.”

The rest of the spiel was the same. Jihad means struggle. Bin Laden is an extremist. America needs to head off radicalization by listening to the concerns of Muslims about its foreign policy. The same lies you can hardly turn on a television anymore without hearing a Muslim spokesman repeat were all neatly packaged here.

In October, Al-Awlaki assured the New York Times that there would no longer be any tolerance for incitement. “There were some statements that were inflammatory, and were considered just talk, but now we realize that talk can be taken seriously and acted upon in a violent radical way.”

And the New York Times’ Laurie Goodstein nodded along, accepting this nonsense from the man who would become revealed as the chief propagandist of the Jihad in America. And the Washington Post and National Geographic and NPR and PBS and every liberal media outlet that Al-Awlaki stopped at all bought it.

But there was one thing that Al-Awlaki told the truth about. “The best thing our non-Muslim friends could do is to do some reading of the Quran. The Quran is the center of the religion and by reading it one would be able to get the best explanation of what Islam is about.”

Those words were lost on a media and on politicians on the left and the right who had decided that Islam meant peace and that was that. Whose positive relationships with schemers like Al-Awlaki blinded them to the truth of the ideology he represented.

Now nearly ten years after Al-Awlaki was touring media outlets, he’s dead. At least if you believe the official kill count and not unnamed Yemeni officials. His extremism validated by no less than the man whom the media anointed to put an end to the Bush era. But there are plenty more Al-Awlakis out there.

It doesn’t take much to become Al-Awlaki. Unlike Bin Laden he wasn’t a billionaire. His Yemeni ties gave him cover at home, but he didn’t need them to become a popular Jihadist preacher in the West. There are thousands more Al-Awlakis working in mosques across America, smiling at reporters and explaining that Islam means peace, Jihad means struggle and terrorism would go away if we all just surrendered to it. The tapes they sell, the books they write and the sermons they preach are something else.

There is a peculiar irony that the media chose an Imam who not only was an Al-Qaeda ally, but had contact with some of the hijackers beforehand, to represent the voice of Islamic moderation after the attacks that his associates carried out. That true moderate Islam that they insist is hiding out of sight among all the little mosques on the prairie. But while the sheer wrongheadedness of the media’s choice is staggering, it was only a matter of playing the odds.

Scratch the average Imam, peel back all the programmed responses and you end up with someone who is very much like Al-Awlaki. Your average Imam may not have Al-Qaeda ties, he may not even support Bin Laden, but the odds are excellent that he supports someone like him. In Afghanistan or Iran or Egypt or Israel or anywhere else.

The idea that most Muslims denounce terrorism is as fanciful as the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus dancing a tango. Most Muslims view terrorists the way that most Americans view the army, they may oppose some engagements, but they can no more disavow the Jihadist than they can burn a Koran. And what goes for the average Muslim, goes tenfold for the average Imam who emerges out of a religion where the Jihadist has once again become the standard bearer of the faith.

The vision of an Islam where handing out food to the poor is more important than fighting for the faith is still a delusion in the minds of people who take the Al-Awlakis at their word. Such an Islam has never existed and it is not likely to ever exist until Muslims are forced to make a moral reckoning and come to terms with the cost of their wars. And that will not happen as long as the next Al-Awlaki gets softball questions at NPR or PBS.

After Al-Awlaki went to the big virgin hut in the sky, at his old Falls Church Mosque, the imam and worshipers prayed for Al-Awlaki’s soul and warned that those who killed him “need to equally prepare for that moment” when Allah will judge them. Worshipers interviewed emitted the same whines and complaints that have been emitted by them for ten years. All the moans and whines add up to them being the real victims.

The official mosque statement explained that while he was employed there, he “was known for his interfaith outreach, civic engagement, and tolerance in the Northern Virginia community.” And also for his bake sales. Echoing the same Al-Awlaki line, mosque officials condemned the “extra-judicial assassination” without due process and blamed his turn to the dark side on being tortured by Yemeni officials.

Again the same old dirge is playing from the jukeboxes. “We were good people until you made us kill. Until you humiliated us and degraded us, blamed us for killing you, stropped us at airports, shut down our terrorist charities and forced us to live side by side with pig-eaters, dog-washers, homosexuals, Christians and Jews. Look what you made us do now.”

Ten years after Al-Awlaki made a mockery of the media, no one in the press has learned anything at all from the experience. The media is too busy debating whether it was legal to kill Al-Awlaki to bother questioning their own premises.

CNN warns that Al-Awlaki’s death may spur new attacks against America. Which is true. But that just means killing him has the same effect as letting him live, or putting him on trial or sitting back in our chairs and chewing bubble gum. It doesn’t really matter what we do. The terrorists will still keep on trying to kill us.

We’re not at war with Islam because there is something wrong with us, but because there’s something wrong with them. It’s the same something that’s been wrong with them long before the Stars and Stripes was waving in the breeze. Centuries after most major religions decided that mass murder wasn’t a good way to make friends and influence people– the Sheikhs and Imams and Mullahs still haven’t gotten the message.

The English Mountaineer, George Mallory was asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest and his famous reply was, “Because it’s there.” That’s about the same reason that Muslims want to kill us. Because we’re there. Or rather we’re here.

Mallory died in the attempt and there is something noble to us about his effort to conquer a great mountain. That is how the Muslim world sees us. We’re their Everest. But where Mallory wanted to take a look around and then climb back down, they want to tear down the mountain and plant a green flag on what’s left of it.

It’s easy enough to deny all this. The conventional wisdom says over and over again that the idea is absurd. Most Muslims just want a house, two cars and a place to raise their children in peace. But if that’s so then why is there so damn little peace in the Muslim world. And even more damningly, why is there so little peace in the formerly peaceful places that they move to.

America has a violent history and New York City was considered one of the most violent cities in the country and yet nothing like the September 11 attack numbers had ever piled up. The Harlem Riot of 1964 killed one person. The Muslim massacre of 2001 killed 3,000 people.We’re no saints, but Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Buddhists, Zoroastrians and a few hundred others manage to live in one city without blowing up each other’s houses of worship. Except for one religion. The peaceful one.

And where do all those peaceful people come from? The ones who ram planes into skyscrapers and plot to blow up synagogues. They come out of mosques where they listen to their Imams and then begin studying maps of bridges, tunnels and buildings. Of course this has nothing to do with Islam, the way that smoke has nothing to do with fire. And if it walks like a duck, it’s bound to be anything but a member of that species. But just to be on the safe side, we should start appeasing them anyway.

Whether Anwar Al-Awlaki is dead or lives on makes only so much difference. Any Imam who can rattle off the Koranic verses on Jihad and tie it together with a New York Times article on how evil America is can be the next Al-Awlaki. And most of them can. One Imam bites the dust, but in the mega-mosques of cities and towns, the voices of his successors rise and fall. “Allah Akbar. Follow in the way of the Prophet. Death to the unbelievers. Paradise waits for the martyrs who walk in the way of Jihad.”

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posted February 27, 2012 at 4:15 pm

You are Murtadin, fassiq, & munafiq of these generation a venmous snake if u r a muslim ofcourse for name sake then u shud start eating pork co-hibit with ur mother coz thats wat is american culture all about..And Ali may be ur the americans pleasures not may be for sure,,

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