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Denouncing Anwar al-Awlaki

This is a post by Robin Simcox which is also posted at Centre Right

Anwar al-Awlaki – the jihadist preacher who was in direct contact with Nidal Hassan, the sole suspect in the Fort Hood, Texas killings – recently wrote a blog approving of Hassan’s actions, calling him a “hero”.

A briefing paper issued yesterday by the think tank I represent, the Centre for Social Cohesion, outlined the connections to the UK that al-Awlaki has and some of those over here that have previously praised or hosted him. This was today picked up by the Times and it has obviously come as a source of embarrassment to those in the UK who previously praised him that al-Awlaki really is as dangerous as many of us had tried to previously warn. Someone who should be feeling suitably ashamed is Osama Saeed.

In 2006, Saeed – an SNP Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Glasgow Central, and the chief executive of the Scottish Islamic Foundation, who received £215,000 from the Scottish government – vociferously defended al-Awlaki following his arrest for his links to al-Qaeda. Saeed called this “further evidence of what a crock the war on terror is” and that al-Awlaki had “preached nothing but peace”.

Following the story in the Times, Saeed has today tried to distance himself from al-Awlaki. He now believes al-Awlaki’s “opinions have swung dramatically”, and that “he has changed”. The SNP say that “Anwar al-Awlaki formerly expressed moderate views – his more recent comments are disgraceful and have been condemned by all right-thinking people”.

All of this is very welcome, but it is unclear why exactly it is only now that Saeed has decided to speak out. He today said that he disagrees with “a host of other matters which [al-Awlaki] has more recently written and spoken about”, so is perhaps not shocked that al-Awlaki regards Hassan’s acts as heroic. And Saeed is right about one thing – it has been clear for a while from al-Awlaki’s output where he stands.

His ‘44 ways to support Jihad‘ is a reasonable indicator. Stating that ‘Jihad today is obligatory on every capable Muslim’, extracts include:

“Preparing for Jihad is obligatory since Jihad today is obligatory and the sharia rule states that: ‘Whatever is needed for an obligatory act becomes obligatory’. Arms training is an essential part of preparation for Jihad…The issue is so critical that if arms training is not possible in your country then it is worth the time and money to travel to another country to train if you can.”

On non-Muslims:

“The hatred of kuffar [non-Muslims] is a central element of our military creed. We need to realize that Allah will not grant us victory as long as we still have some love towards his enemies in our hearts.”

Until it was recently shut down, al-Awlaki also espoused his views on a blog. He said the following of Israel, in December 2008:

“The illegal state of Israel needs to be eradicated. Just like Rasulullah drove them out of the Arabian peninsula the Jews of Palestine need to be driven out to the sea. There are no Israeli civilians unless they are Muslim. When the enemy targets our women and children we should target theirs.”

On al-Shabaab – the Somali group linked to al-Qaeda, banned in the US and currently doing its best to decimate Somali with suicide bombings and medieval interpretations of Sharia law, al-Awlaki said in December 2008:

“[Al-Shabaah] not only have succeeded in expanding the areas that fall under their rule but they have succeeded in implementing the sharia and giving us a living example of how we as Muslims should proceed to change our situation.The ballot has failed us the bullet has not.”

Recent ‘living examples’ include the whipping of women for wearing bras and men without a beard.

All of this comes on top of the fact that the 9/11 Commission identified al-Awlaki as a ‘spiritual advisor’ to two of the 9/11 hijackers and that he has been cited as an inspiration to the Toronto 18 terror cell in Canada arrested in 2006.

Saeed went on record to publicly defend him, even after the findings of the 9/11 commission. Fair enough – a bold stance, perhaps, but one honestly taken and it is encouraging that he has now decided that al-Awlaki’s views are unacceptable. What is interesting is that it has taken until November 2009 for Saeed to get there. It was hardly a secret before Hassan’s killing spree that al-Awlaki was a consistent glorifier of terrorism and his ideology identical to al-Qaeda.

Yet until al-Awlaki’s links to Hassan emerged – and Saeed was subsequently embarrassed in the national press – a man who has every chance of being in the next British parliament felt no desire to nuance his position whatsoever. He did not publicly distance himself from al-Awlaki’s reprehensible views. Not on jihad, not on his racist views towards non-Muslims, not on his desire to see Israel eradicated and not in his support of the al-Shabaab.

From a potential member of the next British parliament, that is nowhere near good enough.