Anwar al-Awlaki was such bad news even the Obama administration wanted him dead. An American citizen, no less, with no Miranda warning.
For once we’re all in agreement this guy was a terrorist.
But a reminder is in order of just who Awlaki was not so long ago.
Just before the 9/11 attacks, he was the imam of the large Falls Church mosque in northern Virginia. He was the Muslim chaplain at George Washington University. The New York Times reported that, a few weeks before 9/11, Awlaki preached a sermon in the U.S. Capitol.
After the 9/11 attacks, Awlaki was widely believed to be a moderate. He was first imam to pray at the U.S. Capitol with the Congressional Muslim Staff Association in 2002. (Present that day was Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR.) He was honored with an invitation to talk at a Pentagon luncheon, because the Secretary of the Army “’was eager to have a presentation from a moderate Muslim'.” In his presentation Awlaki reportedly condemned al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks. As late as May 2010 the New York Times quoted the “moderate” Awlaki approvingly:
“We came here to build, not to destroy,” the cleric . . . said in a sermon. “We are the bridge between Americans and one billion Muslims worldwide.”
The Times believes Awlaki only turned radical after the U.S. response to 9/11.
I disagree, not least because Awlaki was a liar long before 9/11. He was born in New Mexico, and his family returned to Yemen when he was 7. When he came back to attend Colorado State University he lied on his visa application and said he was born in Yemen, enabling him to collect $20,000 in scholarship money for foreign-born students.
And long before 9/11 he joined the Muslim Students Association, the Muslim Brotherhood front. He even became president of his chapter. In 1993, the year of the first World Trade Center bombing, he took his “vacation” in Afghanistan, and came back quoting Sheikh Abdullah Azzam.
According to Steve Emerson, “Azzam is more responsible than any Arab figure in modern history for galvanizing the Muslim masses to wage an international holy war against all infidels and non-believers until the enemies of Islam were defeated.”
During the Afghan war against the Soviets Azzam declared: “"The Jihad in Afghanistan will broaden until the entire world will be conquered because Allah has promised the victory to Islam."
Azzam preached at a Brooklyn mosque in 1988 that:
. . . Every Moslem on earth should unsheathe his sword and fight to liberate Palestine. The Jihad is not limited to Afghanistan. Jihad means fighting. You must fight in any place you can get. Whenever Jihad is mentioned in the Holy Book, it means the obligation to fight. It does not mean to fight with the pen or to write books or articles in the press or to fight by holding lectures.
Awlaki’s radicalism was getting noticed. According to the New York Times,
[T]he F.B.I. had first taken an interest in Mr. Awlaki in 1999, concerned about brushes with militants that to this day remain difficult to interpret. [I.e., difficult to the New York Times. t.r.c.] In 1998 and 1999, he was a vice president of a small Islamic charity that an F.B.I. agent later testified was “a front organization to funnel money to terrorists.” He had been visited by Ziyad Khaleel, a Qaeda operative who purchased a battery for Osama bin Laden’s satellite phone, as well as by an associate of Omar Abdel Rahman, the so-called Blind Sheik, who was serving a life sentence for plotting to blow up New York landmarks.
In 2008 the Washington Post reported:
Federal prosecutors in New York alleged in a 2004 terrorism-related trial that a U.S. branch of a Yemeni charity for which Aulaqi served as vice president was a front that sent money to al-Qaeda. Documents filed around the same time in federal court in Alexandria assert that a year after 9/11, Aulaqi returned briefly to Northern Virginia, where he visited a radical Islamic cleric and asked him about recruiting young Muslims for "violent jihad."
And since Awlaki the jihadist was a liar, it was easy enough to lie to the Kuffirs about what Islam meant to him. And with so many Kuffirs absolutely desperate to paste a “moderate” label on anything in a Kufi that moved, it was almost too easy. Not everyone was fooled. But the ones who weren’t fooled, like the FBI, somehow failed to impress upon those who were what kind of guy they were dealing with.
But what’s important here is to recognize that the same moderate façade that shielded the real Awlaki in the months after 9/11 is just as effective for those wearing it today:
Leadership of a large mosque; so what?
An MSA/Muslim Brotherhood connection; and? A Muslim chaplain at a prominent university; what about it?
Sympathies with a Palestinian Islamist; something wrong with that?
Association with CAIR; what of it? Association with Congressional Muslim Staff Association; Yeah?
High-level involvement with the U.S. branch of a Muslim “charity”; your point being?.
Viewed by some in the U.S. government as an “’up and coming member of the Islamic community'”; exactly.
Leader of “a chorus of outrage” after post-9/11 over a series of raids on Muslim community leaders, “noting that some of the targets were widely viewed as moderates”, (just like Awlaki was widely viewed as a moderate);
Publicly condemns al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks;
Claims to be a “bridge” between Americans and the Muslim world;
Known for “interfaith outreach, civic engagement, and tolerance’”';
So? Does all that mean that every al Qaeda condemning, moderate-sounding imam who gets himself invited to government meet-and-greets is a lying jihadist who despises the Kuffir fools who line up to shake his hand?
No, it doesn’t.
But, having said that, that’s all the defense these guys will get from me.
Because Awlaki sounded just like them, and the onus isn’t on me to prove that, behind the façade, they don’t think just like him.