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Focus on Islamism
Tuesday 23rd March 2010
New audio message from Anwar al-Awlaki

SHIRAZ MAHER

He's back.

The jihadist theorist with an extensive network of British supporters, Anwar al-Awlaki, is currently on the run in Yemen. Still, that hasn't stopped him issuing a new audio message.

You can listen to the speech in full below but I want to examine some excerpts from it first. It is a remarkable offering, giving perhaps the clearest indication yet that al-Awlaki is a member of al-Qaeda. He says:

...al-Qaida cut off Obama from deceiving the world again; by issuing their statement claiming responsibility for [Abdulmutallab's] operation.

However, we are transparent and open in proclaiming our message to the world: our objective is to bring back Islam to life, we seek to remove the tyrannical and parasitical rulers of the Muslim world, and replace them with men of God, who know the difference between right and wrong, good and evil.

We seek to apply the rule of Qur'an, and make the Word of Allah supreme over all other, and God willing, we will strive to achieve these goals with all what we possess, and we fight to the last man against whoever stands in our way.

Awlaki's use of the words ‘we' and ‘our' when talking about al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, their aims and Abdulmuttalab is particularly revealing.

The rest of his speech is boilerplate al-Qaeda stuff:

I for one, was born in the US, I lived in the US for twenty-one years. America was my home. I was a preacher for Islam, involved in non-violent Islamic activism. However, with the American invasion of Iraq, and continued US aggression against Muslims, I could not reconcile between living in the US and being a Muslim, and I eventually came to the conclusion that Jihad against America is binding upon myself, just as it is binding on every other able Muslim.

You can watch it in full here:

And:

 

Awlaki's British supporters having been running for cover lately.

Their defence rests on two arguments. The first is that Awlaki changed recently after being briefly detained by the Yemeni authorities in 2006-07. Secondly, they claim that when he was in the UK he only preached about spiritual matters - not politics. Both claims are demonstrably wrong.

Going through Awlaki's old speeches I have demonstrated here and here that he was always a radical and not someone who is a recent convert to the global jihad.

The latter claim about the nature of Awlaki's speeches in Britain is also incorrect. On occasion, I am sure that he did give a speech about purely theological matters such as the Islamic concept of heaven or the day of judgement - but that was not his primary aim in the UK.

Just look at the two flyers below issued by the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) who toured Awlaki around the UK in 2003. It is clear he was speaking about political matters. After all, his events were titled: ‘Muslim students: remaking of a great nation' and ‘To be a Muslim: think globally, act locally'.

It is not just the MAB who have promoted Awlaki in Britain. In August 2009, Cage Prisoners boasted that Awlaki would submit a special ‘video message' (from Yemen) to help their Ramadhan Fundraising Dinner. Theirs is an outfit which finds Awlaki ‘inspirational'.

It was not the first time Awlaki has been advertised at an event by Cage Prisoners. He was also invited to speak at the 2008 Ramadhan fundraiser - again, by video link.

Similarly, a message from Awlaki was broadcast at the East London Mosque in January 2009. By their own admission:

A video of al-Awlaki was shown by an external hirer on 1 January 2009 in which he talked about life after death. Nothing controversial or extreme was said in the video.

That blasé attitude sums up the approach adopted by Awlaki's erstwhile supporters. There is no contrition. No apology. No mea culpa. Now that he has essentially admitted his membership of al-Qaeda it will be interesting to see what his British cheerleaders have to say.

For now, the silence is deafening.

 
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About Focus on Islamism

Focus on Islamism is a blog dedicated to analysing and exposing the modern ideological phenomenon known as Islamism.

Shiraz Maher is a writer and broadcaster.

Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens is a PhD student at King's College, London.  He has contributed to various online and printed publications including, The Daily Telegraph, Lebanon's Daily Star, Standpoint and NOWLebanon. 

To contact the authors, click here

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