Former San Diego imam Anwar Awlaki — who once called Islam a religion of peace — has given an interview to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and justified the killing of American civilians in no uncertain terms:
Interviewer: Do you support such operations, even though they target what the media calls ‘innocent civilians?’
Anwar Al-Awlaki: Yes. With regard to the issue of ‘civilians,’ this term has become prevalent these days, but I prefer to use the terms employed by our jurisprudents. They classify people as either combatants or non-combatants. A combatant is someone who bears arms – even if this is a woman. Non-combatants are people who do not take part in the war. The American people in its entirety takes part in the war, because they elected this administration, and they finance this war. In the recent elections, and in the previous ones, the American people had other options, and could have elected people who did not want war. Nevertheless, these candidates got nothing but a handful of votes. We should examine this issue from the perspective of Islamic law, and this settles the issue – is it permitted or forbidden? If the heroic mujahid brother Umar Farouk could have targeted hundreds of soldiers, that would have been wonderful. But we are talking about the realities of war. (Via MEMRI.)
He calls Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Christmas Day “underwear bomber” as his “students” and urges Muslims to follow in their footsteps.
Our unsettled account with America includes, at the very least, one million women and children. I’m not even talking about the men. Our unsettled account with America, in women and children alone, has exceeded one million. Those who would have been killed in the [attempted Christmas Day bombing] are a drop in the ocean.
Former San Diego imam Anwar Awlaki is no longer the man he once was a few years ago. After the Sept. 11 attacks, the US-born Awlaki categorically rejected violent jihad against American civilians. Trace his (de)evolution via my Anwar Awlaki Timeline.
It’s interesting to contrast this with Awlaki’s own words after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks when he gave numerous interviews to the press
About killing, the greatest sin in Islam after associating other gods besides Allah is killing an innocent soul. Source
As he has in the past, Awlaki makes repeated references to the propaganda war he says the US is waging against Islam. He recites a phrase from an anonymous CIA official quoted in a 2005 US News & World Report article and makes reference to a 2004 report by the RAND Corporation titled “Civil Democratic Islam.”
This is the undercurrent of the discussion about Awlaki among his fans, as filmmaker Kamran Pasha, writes in The Huffington Post:
When I have publicly criticized al-Awlaki, I have received emails from his devotees saying that he is being “set up” by the US government. And yet when I ask them what they mean by this, there is always pin-drop silence. His followers seem to want to believe that the good, charismatic man that they adore is somehow being falsely portrayed in the media as a villain as part of some PSY/OPS manipulation game. And yet when I ask if someone else is posting his increasingly radical and extremist sermons through his website (a CIA agent posing as al-Awlaki, let’s say), there is more silence. It is as if his followers want to keep clinging to the man he once was and selectively ignore his recent calls for the murder of civilians in the name of Islam.
There have been so many twists and turns in the Awlaki story that it’s difficult to keep track of them all.
Back in his San Diego days, Awlaki was himself accused by another imam of being part of a CIA plot, as Brian Fishman noted on Jihadica.