Imam Aulaqi and Yemen's image problem (Updated)

Anwar al-Aulaqi’s website and his statement praising the suspected Fort Hood shooter as a “hero” has vanished from the Internet. (For those who are interested, the statement in its entirety can be found at the end of this post.)

The words of the former San Diego imam — now said to be living hiding in Yemen — have received wide distribution. The timing of his Nov. 8 statement of support for Maj. Nidal Hasan, however, has escaped notice.

While Aulaqi’s name and his links to Maj. Hasan were being leaked to the Western press, U.S. military officials were quietly holding two days of talks on terrorism and other issues with their counterparts in Yemen, according to Saba, Yemen’s official state news agency.

Brig. Gen. Jefforey A. Smith, recently named deputy director for politico-military affairs in the Middle East (J5) for the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, signed a joint cooperation agreement today, confirming U.S. support for Yemen’s shaky government.

Update: The US embassy declined to comment on whether an agreement had been signed, but tells AFP that talks involving Smith had taken place and said they focused on counterterrorism efforts against groups operating in Yemen. (The AFP misidentified Smith.)

This week’s talks in Sana’a have attracted no attention in the United States. But Yemen’s Chief of the General Staff Ahmed al-Ashwal said the talks were of great concern to the government of President Ali Abdullah Salih, which is battling al-Qaida in the east and tribal rebels in the north backed by Iran.

The Economist reported this week:

Yemen’s increasing lawlessness outside shrinking zones of state control around the main cities is one reason why, earlier this year, al-Qaeda’s Saudi branch announced it was moving across the border and merging forces with its brethren in Yemen. The joint operation, calling itself “al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula”, known in intelligence circles as AQAP, has carried out sporadic attacks inside Yemen, where tacit agreements with the government appear to have broken down. But its main target still appears to be Saudi Arabia.

The most recent State Department report on terrorism described Yemen’s efforts as “mixed.” While it took action against al-Qaida, Yemen, despite pressure from the U.S., continued a surrender program for terrorists it could not apprehend and released all returned Guantanamo detainees.

All of which makes the timing of Aulaqi’s statement even more interesting:

Nidal Hassan Did The Right Thing

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.

The heroic act of brother Nidal also shows the dilemma of the Muslim American community. Increasingly they are being cornered into taking stances that would either make them betray Islam or betray their nation. Many amongst them are choosing the former. The Muslim organizations in America came out in a pitiful chorus condemning Nidal’s operation.

The fact that fighting against the US 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.

Allah(swt) says: Give tidings to the hypocrites that there is for them a painful punishment – Those who take disbelievers as allies instead of the believers. Do they seek with them honor [through power]? But indeed, honor belongs to Allah entirely. (al-Nisa 136-137)

The inconsistency of being a Muslim today and living in America and the West in general reveals the wisdom behind the opinions that call for migration from the West. It is becoming more and more difficult to hold on to Islam in an environment that is becoming more hostile towards Muslims.

May Allah grant our brother Nidal patience, perseverance and steadfastness and we ask Allah to accept from him his great heroic act. Ameen.

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