Short Open Letter to Anwar al-Awlaki

In response to his blog posting “Nidal Hassan Did the Right Thing.”  I would post this letter as a “comment” on that blog entry, but I do not trust that that blog is legitimately his.  Some of the blog postings are so shortsighted and simplistic that I do not expect that they are from Anwar al-Awlaki or any scholar in his/her right mind.  Compare the loose accusations in the Nidal Hassan entry with the careful comments in this National Geographic interview.


I am posting this note with the respectful hopes that you will reconsider or clarify some of your recent comments.  Shaykh, I disagree with you that Nidal Hassan is a hero.  He is not anything close to being a hero.

If he had this alleged problem with being a Muslim and American soldier, he should have resigned.  He should have gone AWOL.  If his plan was to kill American soldiers, then he is obviously a fool for having spent so many years in the military to do what he did.  Further, if his plot was to kill American soldiers, he is an even bigger fool because it will not stop any wars and — if anything — it will result in the death of more Muslims.

But, he is not a hero or a fool.  Rather, he seems to be someone with serious mental problems.  Unfortunately, there are many who are attempting to link his conduct with some sort of Islamic interpretations, but as my above paragraph illustrates, he would be a fool (at best).

Indeed, this war that the United States is engaged in is wrong and should be condemned again and again.  Iraq did not attack us.  Afghanistan did not attack us.  Yet we are wiping out hundreds of thousands of lives to sustain these occupations. But, we also know that in the cycle of empires, whether we speak of the Umayyads or the Americans, empires in decline eventually engage in wars to sustain themselves, which often accelerate their own declines.

But, regarding this point that you make:

“The American Muslims who condemned his actions have committed treason against the Muslim Ummah and have fallen into hypocrisy.”

Treason is a very serious charge.  I am assuming you have already contacted each of these American Muslims to address your concerns before having accused them/us of treason.

But, his actions are most definitely to be condemned.  It is absurd that Muslims have to condemn the horrific actions of Muslims, while it should be understood that horrific actions are implicitly condemnable.  It is all the more absurd because members of other communities are given the privilege of silence.

Indeed, we wish that American Muslim leaders would be more aggressive in criticizing the government on each major and minor infraction.  In time they will be.  But, if Nidal Hassan shot and killed those soldiers, then he was dead wrong.  If you regard my comment as treason, then I’m sorry:  we disagree.  There are likewise plenty of Americans who regard any criticism of the United States (especially by a Muslim) as equally treasonous, and I disagree with them also.

But, speaking of hypocrisy, let us look at this point:

“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.”

You are someone who spends quite a bit of time blogging and lecturing, so there is an obvious question here:  where are you fighting?  As you know, it is frowned upon us to say what we do not do.  So, the question is:  who is falling into hypocrisy?

Now, I am not calling you to fight.  Rather, I am calling you to say what you do, and to not say what you do not do.  Indeed, you should continue lecturing, but shift your focus to something productive.

And Allah knows best.

Omer M



Filed under Pakistan

8 responses to “Short Open Letter to Anwar al-Awlaki

  1. wajid

    Good reasonable response. And You have a point that in the NG interview, he has a different position but you should also have to notice that, that interview was conducted right after the 9/11, – with in the first 15 days – and he was in Walls Church Va, mosque. which is few miles away form the Pentagon building.
    Now, he’s outside of US, in Yemen – and preaching the again twisted interpretation of Islam.
    This, i believe also makes hell of a difference.

  2. wajid

    * I mean Falls Church, of course

  3. Milind Kher

    The senseless acts of people like Major Nidal go beyond what they do. They put an entire community in danger.

    People like him as also all shades of extremists are people who have to be singled out and isolated. When the intellectuals of Islam lead the way, they will truly win and the world will benefit in the process.

  4. Hossp

    The tentative picture emerging of Nidal Malik Hasan is of a man who likely subscribed to radical Islamic beliefs, but who was not acting on behalf of any group in allegedly carrying out the shootings in which 13 died at Fort Hood last week.

    The leaks are coming fast and furious in the investigation of the shootings, so we thought we’d put together a digest of the recent coverage.

    Bear in mind that what’s missing from many of these reports are named sources, and that many of the initial stories about the case were totally wrong.

    Here we go:

    Investigators searching Hasan’s computer have found “no evidence of any connection to terror groups or conspirators,” CBS reports. They say he did, however, visit sites promoting a radical Muslim ideology.

    Hasan communicated this year and last year with radical Yemen-based cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, once a leader at a mosque in Viriginia visited by Hasan, the New York Times reports, citing anonymous government officials. Intelligence agencies were aware of the communications, but decided “the messages warranted no further action.” Not publicly known is what exactly was in said in the communications. Awklaki reportedly left Virginia for Yemen in 2002.

    But as to Hasan’s motivation, the Times reports:
    The officials said the communications did not alter the prevailing theory that Major Hasan acted by himself, lashing out as a result of a combination of factors, among them his outspoken opposition to American policy in Iraq and Afghanistan and his deepening religious fervor as a Muslim.

    Awlaki hailed Hasan today in a blog post titled, “Nidal Hasan Did the Right Thing.”

    A senior former counterterrorism official told the Washington Post that plenty of people attended the same Virginia mosque “who are not terrorist suspects.”

    Awlaki reportedly had a relationship with two of the Sept. 11 hijackers, and makes an appearance in the 9/11 Commission report, Seth Hettena explains. The New York Post took that link and ran with it today.

    ABC has a much-cited story that leads with: “U.S. intelligence agencies were aware months ago that Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan was attempting to make contact with people associated with al Qaeda, two American officials briefed on classified material in the case told ABC News.” Note the use of “people,” plural, one of whom could be Awlaki. The ABC story notably does not flesh out its own lead.

    Relatives say Hasan was taunted for being a Muslim and desperately wanted out from the military.

    Michael Isikoff talks to a (unnamed) law enforcement official who believes the timing of Hasan’s gun purchase shows he planned the shooting for some time.

    Were the shootings an act of terrorism? Many still-unknown facts about Hasan and his motivation bear on that question, but Matt Duss, Glenn Greenwald, and James Taranto each weigh in with serious points. Meanwhile, Michael Mukasey and Joseph Lieberman answer the question in the affirmative.

  5. Hossp

    Posted by romath

    November 9, 2009 7:31 PM
    on TPM cafe

    “The tentative picture emerging of Nidal Malik Hasan is of a man who likely subscribed to radical Islamic beliefs..”

    This displays a typical ignorant American’s cartoonish understanding and confusion about politics, religion and psychology. Add it up:

    – Hasan opposes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and didn’t mind speaking out about it, which makes him like not enough of us;

    – He recognizes that suicide bombers against foreign occupier troops are fundamentally no different in motivation than were Japanese Kamikazee pilots (and one might add, in a sense, Soviet Army troops that marched wave upon wave on German batteries, facing certain death, in WWII);

    – He is from the Near East (Palestine?) and thus has special feelings about what the U.S. is doing there and special motivation about not wanting to be there, at least in a U.S. military uniform;

    – He and his ethnic and religious brethren faced frequent discrimination in the U.S. military, including an attack on his car not many days before;

    – He listened almost daily to the most horrific stories of U.S. military colonial brutality, as well as what it was doing to American soldiers;

    – Due to a shortage of clinicians in the army, he was probably grossly overworked as well, thus emotionally stretched to the limits of human endurance;

    – And thus, like a real human, he cracked over time, bit by bit, until a final explosion in the face of deployment to a place he couldn’t go for political and religious reasons; being politically and religiously isolated, and without practicable political alternatives, he turned to religion to find some semblance of stability and justification – and failed in the most tragic and criminal manner.

  6. Milind Kher

    Whatever the reasons behind why he acted as he did, he has created a lot of suspicion and hatred.

    Unfortunately, the silent majority has to suffer on account of an irresponsible and violent minority.

  7. wajid

    Can’t agree with you more MK. The American muslims and specially the ones serving in the army are under suspicion for no reason.
    I remember just two years ago – an American Muslim of Pakistani descent, serving in Iraq, threw himself in front of a truck loaded with ammunition, making it impossible to hit the main barrack.
    Now, am not advocating war, or iraq insurgency, but this was the standard of commitment and loyalty he set for others like him.

  8. Milind Kher

    Wajid, that’s the sad part. The media never picks up stuff like that. They would prefer to discuss nut jobs like Nidal, OBL et al rather than talk about many who did, or are doing a fine job.