Exclusive: Who is Anwar al-Awlaki?
by ADRIAN MORGAN
November 10, 2009
At Ford Hood on Friday November 5th
, after giving away a Koran, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan called out "Allahu Akbar" and began shooting at his fellow military personnel. Ultimately he killed 13 and wounded more than 30, and the media was buzzing with rumors.
Recently, one American born Islamic academic has been in the headlines, apparently connected to both Major Hasan and also to al Qaeda terrorists. Anwar al-Awlaki
was born in New Mexico. He has lived in Yemen since late 2001 or early 2002, but possesses
a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University, a M.A. in Education Leadership from San Diego State University.
Though he has not returned to the United States, Awlaki has made promises to appear in Britain, a country that has a less-than-perfect approach to issues of immigration and Islamic extremism. On December 18, 2003, in Britain's parliament
, Louise Ellman, MP for Liverpool, Riverside, brought up the associations of Alwaki with the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), a Muslim Brotherhood front organization, which had been founded by Kemal el-Helbawy, a senior member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
Ms. Ellman said:
"It is time that the spotlight fell on the Muslim Association of Britain, particularly the key figures, such as Azzam Tamimi, Kemal el Helbawy, Anas Al-Tikriti and Mohammed Sawalha. All of them are connected to the terrorist organisation Hamas. The Muslim Association of Britain itself is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood—an extremist fundamentalist organisation founded in Egypt in 1928, and the spiritual ideologue of all Islamic terror organisations. It is militantly anti-Semitic and always has been. In June 2003, the Muslim Association of Britain organized a series of meetings with an American imam, Anwar Al Awlaki, as guest speaker. That gentleman is reportedly wanted for questioning by the FBI in connection with the 9/11 al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on New York and Washington."
In America, Awlaki has also been associated with senior figures within the Muslim Brotherhood.
At the start of April 2009
London's City University had advertised that Anwar al-Awlaki would be a guest speaker at the annual dinner of the college's Islamic Society. When the event did take place, Awlaki did not appear in person
but via a video link. In places like Britain, official Muslim "representatives" insist that they are peace-loving good citizens, the leaders of many campus Islamic Societies, such as the one at City University, clearly support the ideologues of extremism and terrorism.
Awlaki's reputation as an extremist is hard for Muslims to deny. His own website
carries messages in support of armed jihad. On the subject of Major Nidal Hasan, Awlaki 's site carries an uncompromising message
. The message, repeated in full here
"Nidal Hassan is a hero. He is a man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people. This is a contradiction that many Muslims brush aside and just pretend that it doesn’t exist. Any decent Muslim cannot live, understanding properly his duties towards his Creator and his fellow Muslims, and yet serve as a US soldier. The US is leading the war against terrorism which in reality is a war against Islam. Its army is directly invading two Muslim countries and indirectly occupying the rest through its stooges."
"Nidal opened fire on soldiers who were on their way to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. How can there be any dispute about the virtue of what he has done? In fact the only way a Muslim could Islamically justify serving as a soldier in the US army is if his intention is to follow the footsteps of men like Nidal."
In case anyone is any doubt as to Awlaki's direct involvement with terrorists, they should look at the message which Awlaki published
on his website. This claimed to come from the al Qaeda-related terrorists of al-Shabab, who have been fighting the official government of Somalia and imposing their own brutal and misogynistic version of Islam onto civilians. The message from December 2008 thanks Awlaki for his advice that he sent them. Al-Shabab claimed that Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow
, the girl who was stoned to death on October 27, 2008
, was 20 years old and was practicing adultery.
The girl was stoned to death in front of 1,000 people. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch reported claims by Aisha's father that she was only 13 years old and had been raped. Al-Shabab told Awlaki: "O Sheikh, we would not only look at you as only a soldier, but as the likes of Ibn Taymiya during the trials of the Tatars
." Ibn Taymiyyah
(1263-1328) was a scholar whose views strongly influenced Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the 18th century imam who founded the brutal and intolerant Wahhabism
that is officially practiced in Saudi Arabia.
Awlaki was born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents, but was taken to Yemen while young and spent 11 years there. He became well known after the events of 9/11 as he allegedly had links to three of the terrorists involved in the plot that caused the deaths of nearly 3,000 people.
Evan Kohlmann on the Counterterrorism Blog
makes mention of a work by Awlaki called "Constants on the path of Jihad" (Thawaabit ‘ala darb al Jihad). Kohlmann maintains that the document and its author, seem "to surface in every single homegrown terrorism investigation, whether in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, or beyond." It certainly has appeared on extremist websites, often described by an alternative name "Constants on the Path of Allah."
A Pakistani website has MP3 copies of the oral lecture on this subject, as well as a PDF transcript of the entire lecture. However, I am loath to give a link to such a document. In brief, it maintains that there are constants in jihad. The first: Jihad will continue until the Day of Judgment. The second: Jihad does not depend on an individual or individuals. The third: Jihad is not dependent on a particular land. The fourth: Jihad is not dependent on a particular battle. The fifth: Victory is not limited to military victory. The sixth: The definition of defeat.
There is no compromise in any of part of this work - Awlaki urges Muslims to reject any non-Muslim authority, and to ignore any peaceful coexistent with Christians or Jews, the "People of the Book" (ahlul khitaab). Living with them is considered a "defeat." These people should be fought until they are not only defeated but ultimately humiliated. Like Marxist/Trotskyite "permanent revolution," there must always be war for the sake of Allah.
"Jihad to them (weak Muslims) means an inner struggle more than anything. This is a very twisted concept of Jihad via Western propagation albeit it is true from a linguistic point of view. However, the overall Islamic connotation of Jihad is fighting for the sake of Allah (Jihad fe Sabeelillah)..."
"...Regarding Martyrdom bombings, when you have a Muslim who has a chance of success from the worldly point of view, and searches for martyrdom, it completely destroys the theories of the kuffar (i.e., suicide, poor, oppression etc.) and forces them to look at the true reason as to why someone would give up his life."
Awlaki quotes violent Hadiths and violent verses from the Koran. Even ambiguous texts are interpreted as messages of total war against anyone who does not conform to his fanatical and bloodthirsty version of Islam. According to his treatise, there should be no discussion with those who insult Mohammed, only savage retribution.
Despite presenting an image of himself as morally scrupulous, by Western standards could be considered as a sex pest. Chitra Ragavan wrote
that in San Diego, "al-Awlaki had twice been busted for soliciting prostitutes in 1996 and 1997 but had avoided jail time.... FBI sources say agents observed the imam allegedly taking Washington-area prostitutes into Virginia and contemplated using a federal statute usually reserved for nabbing pimps who transport prostitutes across state lines. But in March 2002, al-Awlaki abruptly left the country for Yemen."
In Yemen, Awlaki has continued to promote his jihadist arguments. In November 2006
, it was reported that he had briefly been incarcerated in Yemen. Awlaki had been arrested in August 31, 2006
and had been held in Central Security Prison in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital. He was finally released without charge on December 12, 2007.
Awlaki is regarded as a protege of Abd-al-Majid Al-Zindani, who was designated by the U.S. Treasury as a terrorist on February 24, 2004
. Zindani was a close associate of Osama bin Laden, and he set up the Al Iman University in Sanaa in Yemen. Awlaki also teaches at this college, which has about 5,000 students. Graduates of this institution were arrested for the murder of three American Baptist missionaries on December 30, 2002
. The missionaries worked at a Christian missionary hospital in Jibla, southern Yemen. One of those arrested - a man called Abed Abdulrazzak Kamel - was convicted in 2003 and given a death sentence.
During his trial, Kamel (pictured) had justified himself by claiming that he thought the missionaries - Martha Myers, 54, an obstetrician from Montgomery, Alabama, William Koehn, 60, hospital director, from Kansas, and administrator Kathleen Gariety, 53, from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin - had been trying to convert Muslims. They all worked for the American Missionary board, based in Richmond, Virginia. A fourth individual (Donald Caswell, 49, from Texas) was shot in the stomach but had survived.
On February 27, 2006
, Kamel was executed by firing squad. Kamel was linked by Yemeni authorities to Islah, the Islamist opposition party. It was also argued that Kamel had links to al Qaeda. This was denied by his lawyers, but on May 13, 2003
a week after Kamel had been condemned and given his death sentence, a bomb had exploded in the courthouse in Jibla, where he had stood trial. Several individuals, including a judge, were injured.
As reported by the Jamestown Foundation
, there have been rumors that Al-Zindani gave a fatwa that resulted in the attack on USS Cole in the Gulf of Aden in 2000, an event that killed 17 U.S. sailors. Following this incident, Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh had become an ally of America in its war on terror.
Perhaps on account of a request from the U.S., the Yemenis had arrested Anwar al-Awlaki in 2006. Both Zindani (above) and Awlaki continue to reside in Yemen, with little interference from the authorities. Zindani has a center where he administers a controversial "cure" for AIDS victims - prayer. He also believes that women are intellectually inferior to men.
Links to Major Nidal Malik Hasan
Awlaki was, at one stage in the 1990s, an imam in Colorado. He later moved to the Washington D.C. vicinity and became the Muslim chaplain
at George Washington University. He became involved with the Dar-al Hijrah Islamic Center mosque in Falls Church, Virginia, and in 2001
he headed this institution. This mosque has had a checkered history. Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, who was sentenced to 30 years' jail on March 29, 2006 for plotting an assassination of George W. Bush, was a frequent worshipper
at this mosque. Ali had attended the mosque, which was founded in 1983, on a daily basis.
Others who had attended the mosque included
known and suspected terrorists, and extremists. Muhammad al-Hanooti
who, according to the FBI, raised money for Hamas via the Holy Land Foundation. Ismail Selim Elbarasse, one of the mosque's co-founders was an unindicted co-conspirator
in the Holy Land Foundation case.
Many of the attendees of this mosque are of Palestinian descent. One former member of the mosque congregation was Abdurahman Alamoudi (above), who was sentenced to 23 years' jail on October 15, 2004
. A senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Alamoudi had pleaded guilty to charges of financing terrorism. Alamoudi had also been a frequent guest
at the Clinton White House. Through the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veteran Affairs Council he had been responsible
for choosing and vetting the Muslim chaplains for both the U.S. military and also the US prisons.
It is known that on May 31, 2001
, Nidal Malik Hasan had a funeral service for his mother at the Dar-al Hijrah Islamic Center. At that time, Awlaki would have been an imam at the mosque. Awlaki had been under FBI surveillance before the events of 9/11. He had admitted to the FBI that when he was living in San Diego, he met Nawaf al-Hazmi
on a few occasions. Hazmi had been living with Khalid al-Mihdhar
. In April 2001, Hazmi and Hani Hanjour
had attended the Dar-al Hijrah Islamic Center. Hanjour, al-Midhar and al-Hazmi were among the five men who hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 on 9/11. This was the plane that was flown into the Pentagon, killing all 64 plane passengers, and 125 people inside the Pentagon building.
There will be much that will appear in the following days about Awlaki's possible links with both Major Nidal Malik Hasan and the perpetrators of the Pentagon terrorist attack.
What is certain is that Awlaki continues to have a malignant influence. His website is popular. On October 18th
this year, the Toronto Star
reported that Awlaki was influential upon the people who had been arrested in Canada after attending a terror training camp. The "Toronto 18," as they are called, had apparently planned to burst into the parliament building at Ottowa and decapitate prime minister Stephen Harper.
Most disturbingly of all, Awlaki has a Facebook page
. A month ago, Awlaki had 4,800 "fans." Since the recent events involving the army gunman at Fort Hood, Awlaki's fans now number 5,107.
Make no mistake - despite all attempts to reach out to Muslims, who are predominantly peaceful, there are still some who do share Awlaki's interpretation of Islam. In today's times of touchy-feely rapprochements with the political elements within the Islamic world, it is perhaps salutary to read Awlaki's words
on the slaughter of the soldiers at Fort Hood:
"The fact that fighting against the U.S. army is an Islamic duty today cannot be disputed. No scholar with a grain of Islamic knowledge can defy the clear cut proofs that Muslims today have the right -rather the duty- to fight against American tyranny. Nidal has killed soldiers who were about to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in order to kill Muslims. The American Muslims who condemned his actions have committed treason against the Muslim Ummah and have fallen into hypocrisy."
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Adrian Morgan is a British based writer and artist. He has previously contributed to various publications, including the Guardian and New Scientist and is a former Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Society. He is currently compiling a book on the demise of democracy and the growth of extremism in Britain.