September 30th, 2011
05:33 PM ET

Worshippers at al-Awlaki's old mosque 'not glad' he's dead, but 'it's helpful'

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Falls Church, Virginia (CNN)– Worshippers hurried by a host of cameras and reporters on their way to Friday prayers at the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center. Many of those who stopped to ask about the gaggle of media found out for the first time American Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who once stood in their pulpit, had been killed Friday by a CIA drone strike in Yemen.

“I think he should have gotten a proper burial as a Muslim, but as a human being I don’t think he was right for his mentality and his morality,” said Jouwad Syed, who recently started attending the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center.

“In a way, we’re not glad that he’s dead. At the same token, it’s helpful. We’re trying to clear our name. There’s crazy people everywhere you go in different religions. He’s just one of the few and he definitely doesn’t represent what Islam is all about,” Syed said.

Al-Awlaki was the imam at Al-Hijarh from January 2001 until 2002, when he left the United States for London before eventually resettling in Yemen. While he was in the States he preached to and interacted with three of the September 11, 2001, hijackers, according to the 9/11 Commission report, but he publicly condemned the attack afterward.

“While employed at Dar Al-Hijrah, he was known for his interfaith outreach, civic engagement, and tolerance in the Northern Virginia community,” Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, the current leader of the mosque said in a written statement. “However, after Mr. Al-Awlaki’s departure in 2002, he was arrested by Yemeni authorities and allegedly tortured. It was then that Al-Awlaki began preaching violence.”

His ability to speak English and communicate the positions of al-Queda drew al-Awlaki the nickname “the bin Laden of the Internet.”

“Al-Awlaki will no longer spread his hate speech over the Internet to Muslim youth provoking them to engage in violence against Americans. We reiterate that as an American faith community we do not accept violence nor extremism and recommit ourselves to our message living our faith in peace, tolerance, and the promotion of the public good,” Abdul-Malik continued.

Read more about al-Awlaki on CNN's Security Clearance blog

“Some one that’s not in line with Islam; you gotta break away from them,” said Monsoor Rashid, who works for the Army National Guard as a civilian contractor and was on his way into the mosque for noonday prayers.

“Actions of some folks who go to this mosque don’t represent what the mosque is all about. I live in the area, born and raised in America. We don’t obviously feel the same way he did or any of the other terrorists,” Rashid said.

While the mosque has condemned the actions and statements of al-Awlaki, who helped recruit a Nigerian man who tried to blow up a plane in Detroit in 2009 using an underwear bomb, they also expressed their displeasure with manner of his killing.

“We must also add that in previous statements we have rejected the use of extrajudicial assassination of any human being and especially an American citizen which includes Al-Awlaki. We reiterate our commitment to 'due process under law' and justice and are concerned that the alleged drone attack sends the wrong message to law abiding people around the world,” Abdul-Malik’s statement read.

“I would have preferred that he had suffered life in prison. If he’s dead, he’s dead. He didn’t really get to suffer,” Syed said.

Arsalan Iftikhar, the managing editor of the Crescent Post and author of Islamic Pacifism said, “There might be people who might not have fully agreed with the methodology used but I think there are very few people in the Muslim community who are going to lose any sleep at all over the death of Anwar al-Awlaki. If anything he was a stain on the community, both here domestically and globally.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 9/11 • Belief • Islam

soundoff (610 Responses)
  1. daphnola

    I am a liberal to the core, but even I am getting tired of the U.S. being disrespected by nations we support financially, militarily or peace talking till we are blue in the face.. Its time the U.S. shows its might again, and not boots on the ground, not ships at sea or planes in the air, the U.S. has weapons that would make all these crazy middle-eastern terrorist and the nations that support them think twice again about ever messing with us again... They have forgotten who we are and what we are truly capable of doing, they keep at us like mosquitos or biting flies, its time we send over a huge flyswatter and turn some of that sand to glass.... Then maybe they will leave us alone ...

    October 1, 2011 at 3:00 am |
  2. mohamed

    Is so sad everyone in here hates islam is obvious look at the majority of the comments...all I gotta say is ready the Koran the english version nd tell me if islam is voilence..nd remember every religion has a terror.

    October 1, 2011 at 2:32 am |
    • James

      Their religion isn't based solely on the Koran, Mohamed. Their prophet, your differently spelled namesake, also has his books. Read those if you want to see some prime examples of violence and intolerance. Thankfully, most Muslims only want peace, just like everyone else. Their religion, however, leaves the door wide open to violent extremists to usurp for their causes. The majority need to stand up to them and get rid of them decisively rather than looking the other way or hiding them. That is the only way to fix their standing the the world's eyes.

      October 1, 2011 at 3:05 am |
  3. mohamed

    Even christians kill u if u dnt blv in them...every war that's around the world is caused my religions.

    October 1, 2011 at 2:13 am |
    • JD

      No, religion is used as a tool. Governments attack each other and use religion to incite fury and hatred into its people to reach its goals. If religions are followed in a practical manner they would peaceful.

      October 1, 2011 at 2:17 am |
    • Bruce

      That's not true, Christians do no kill you if you don't believe in Christ. We are taught the opposite. People may take their entire lives to come to Christ... they get one lifetime... however long that is. Generally, our religion teaches to turn the other cheek, wipe the dust off our sandals... and leave. There is no place in the new testament, where Jesus forces or beats people into some kind of subjugation. That is plain to any casual reader.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:53 am |
    • Really???

      The New Testament of the bible is actually what Christians base their faith upon. In those teachings of Christ; followers are asked to spread the word of G*D, but NOT to use physical force. If the teaching was ignored, Christ's followers were to shake the dust from their sandals & leave. They described what G*D might possibly do to those ignoring the message, but Christ advocated pacifism. By contrast, the passages of Islam's prophet's actions towards those who spurned his teachings are nauseating. Beheading & torturing, convert or die, leave Islam & be murdered. Clearly there ARE differences among religions & even inside a religion.
      Most wars are actually political in nature with many different reasons. Wars can be like a mugging for gain ( Iraq's 1989 invasion of Kuwait), or to respond to acts of war (like The United States war with Afghanistan in 2001 after 911). Obviously those who believe their religion should dominate the world will always be in opposition to those who believe in each person's right to choose & peacefully practice their own religion. War is not usually motivated by religion however. World domination is a power play( like Hitler who used superior race as his tool). Stop claiming religion is the cause of ALL wars; because everyone remembers Rwanda in 1994, where tribal cultural differences triggered the bloodbath. These people were murderous thugs. If you live by the sword........

      October 1, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • RR

      Not True

      October 2, 2011 at 8:11 am |
  4. rat man

    Treason invites/incites the death penalty.

    In this case no judge or jury was needed. Execution was carried out as a matter of course.

    Problem solved.

    October 1, 2011 at 2:08 am |
    • sjw827

      Exactly what he had comming. Now smoke A. Gahdan.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
    • Another Perspective

      His case should have went before a judge with criminal charges first. If he did not appear to his summons the case should have went on in his absence and a court of law should have determined his fait first. If the judge and jury had issued the death penalty for treason then I would be more comfortable with this tactic by my Government.

      October 2, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  5. Tom

    Your religion or your government? They both have rules to abide by. Would you choose your religious laws over govt's?

    October 1, 2011 at 1:16 am |
    • Tony

      You cannot be a slave for two masters. You will come

      October 1, 2011 at 1:18 am |
    • lance

      fair game he is a muslem take him out !

      October 1, 2011 at 1:55 am |
  6. Dice

    God bless the US military for fighting and seizing victory over evil. The terrorists would slit any American's throat if given the chance–including you brainwashed idealists who mourn their death.

    October 1, 2011 at 1:07 am |
    • Bruce

      God bless them.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:54 am |
  7. John Brown

    In war Anwar would be carrying big drum to give more spirit for war to the Soldiers! Thats what he did on 911. He took part on that day. His place is with Satan now!

    October 1, 2011 at 1:05 am |
  8. Moztecka

    The new great war is of thespirit and no one religion or belief and save it.

    October 1, 2011 at 12:54 am |
  9. tepid

    funny how they speak of :due process under law", where are those statements when an infidel has his or her throat cut on video that is posted all over the internet? I demand the drone video bearing down on thiis evil group be posted on youtube for us all to see so we can take satisfaction in the fact a mentally retarded individual prmoting killing of people who do not believe in his religion is finally gone.

    October 1, 2011 at 12:48 am |
  10. Count of Monte Cristo

    He never killed anybody. He incited. So if he is guilty, then for every drunk, bartender is guilty. For every crime with gun, gun dealer should be punished or be executed.

    October 1, 2011 at 12:46 am |
    • JD

      Yes, let compare someone who wants murder on a mass scale to a bartender. That's intelligent thinking.

      October 1, 2011 at 2:10 am |
    • James

      Recruiting, getting training for, and planning their murders are part of his crimes. w Wether he ever struck a killing blow himself or not he is accessory to many murders at the least. Your bartender analogy is weaker than the GOP presidential candidates.

      October 1, 2011 at 3:08 am |
    • Really???

      Bartenders are required to stop serving alcohol when a person is inebriated & gun dealers are also required to follow laws that limit the sale of weapons too. When they do not follow laws, they are charged with crimes.This cleric was using his position as a religious leader to get Muslims drunk on his violent rhetoric & sending them out as weapons against humanity, to kill innocent people. History does not forget how words can be used to incite atrocities. A better analogy would be that he made himself a treacherous international outlaw hiding from the authorities while directing assassins he trained to perform murder. More like part of an international crime syndicate than a humble cleric.

      October 1, 2011 at 6:53 am |
    • Really???

      Oops! I forgot to remove the word "too" in my post & created a double negative. Ignore the mistake please.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:10 am |
    • Bruce

      Bartenders and Gun Dealers can't incite riots... If they do, they can get sent to jail... what are you talking about?

      If this man incited killings of Americans... that offense is called Treason. It's been punishable by death since 1776.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:57 am |
  11. baby_g


    October 1, 2011 at 12:45 am |
    • Cdn-84

      Well said

      October 1, 2011 at 1:47 am |
    • Bruce

      Balogna. Look at your history. Almost all of the Native Americans you speak of died of disease. Granted, it was disease introduced by the Spaniards or the English. When the indigenous population ran into humans that carried flus they had NEVER been exposed to, there were massive deaths. This was an unintended consequence. Look, the Mayans committed human sacrifices, and possibly cannibalism. They took the beating hearts out of innocents... don't claim that early explorers were blood thirsty criminals... They were explorers... Drop the revisionist history.

      October 1, 2011 at 8:00 am |
  12. Moztecka

    I must say our president pronounced his name perfectly.

    October 1, 2011 at 12:40 am |
    • Joey

      So? I've heard it twice and can say it fine. I expect my President has at least the same mental capacity as me and doesnt want to sound like a redneck pronouncing names like George did.

      October 1, 2011 at 1:09 am |
  13. Red White and Blue

    Munreef is right – al Alawi or whatever his name is is probably not dead, and hopefully he is in the same location as bin Laden – getting his toenails pulled out while his testicles are hooked up to electrodes. Why we put up with their crap is beyond me – Muslims are less than 2% of our population, and most of those probably hate our Nation. We have the greatest Nation on God's green earth, and I welcome those that want to come be a part of us. To the rest, I say screw you and know that someday Uncle Sam is going to put his boot up you a$$. It's the American way. If you aren't happy with that, build a nation-state that can drive the global economy and change it. Otherwise, shut the f*** up.

    October 1, 2011 at 12:28 am |
    • martin2176

      good words patriot..and how much have you yourself contributed towards this great nation

      October 1, 2011 at 12:32 am |
    • Tia

      Yeah, like the rest of the world cares what some fat, lazy American has to say from behind his keyboard. Your Uncle Sam did a good job of brainwashing you (it was probably easy since your post would indicate you don't have that much of a brain).

      October 1, 2011 at 12:45 am |
    • Cdn-84

      I Lold @ u

      October 1, 2011 at 1:50 am |
  14. commonman01

    these islamic people are not Americans by values or beliefs. " proper burial" ? Whats the difference between blowing yourself up or having a drone blow you up? Just one thing ....... they get to kill innocent people when they blow themself up!

    October 1, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • 2011cnn2011

      ya hit the nail right on

      October 1, 2011 at 12:21 am |
    • maestro

      Spot on. Its a no-win situation for the government. The only way they could have "won" was by capturing him but that would have meant either A) invading another country and that didn't go over very well with Osama Bin Laden or B) get another country to arrest him and that has failed SEVERAL times in the past. In this case, they went for C) kill him and be done with it.

      October 1, 2011 at 12:40 am |
  15. Cherry

    My fellow americans dont generalize all muslim,dont inject bad ideas to our young minds, muslim kids are not to be generalize,they are ordinary citizen who wants to have a good future just like our kids.not all americans are perfect,we have killers too,to rob people because of drugs and other reasons.but many of us are good people same way for other muslims...

    October 1, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • mikola

      How does a young person who, as you say, wants a good future, reach that goal by flying a plane full of innocents into a building? Or when they strap on a bomb to kill as many shoppers as possible in a marketplace?

      If you are speaking as a representative of Arab youth, don't waste your breath. There is a simple formula that you should repeat over and over: If you try to kill people, especially Americans, then don't be surprised when there is a reaction to your behavior.

      October 1, 2011 at 12:50 am |
  16. rafael martinez

    Kill them all (the terrorists)

    October 1, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  17. allien;;;;.....


    October 1, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  18. 2011cnn2011

    muslim religion= violence? Lies? hate? jealousy? terrorism? dont speak out against terrorism? those who are little bin ladens, theres a drone with your name on it....peace

    September 30, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  19. Habte...S

    War and violence can not be a solution to a problem,if there is any problem. I am not an American but I live in America with freedom and joy like any American. Loved and treated right like any American. I always say and believe that to plan violence and move against Americans is wrong and devilish. How many refugees all over the world are fed by the Americans(generous)people?
    How many people are given re settlement opportunities and live in America now? The answer is:Millions! God is always at the side of this innocent and generous people. God
    is at the side of this generous people. Bin Laden and Al-wlaki/the messengers of devil/ are gone.

    God Bless America.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • Rahm Atuj

      Yes war and violence does work sometimes. Look at how the native peoples of the Americas were conquered, murdered subjugated and their lands taken. We are now "the greatest nation on the planet Earth"

      October 1, 2011 at 2:08 am |
  20. ari

    “While employed at Dar Al-Hijrah, he was known for his interfaith outreach, civic engagement, and tolerance in the Northern Virginia community,” Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, the current leader of the mosque said in a written statement. “However, after Mr. Al-Awlaki’s departure in 2002, he was arrested by Yemeni authorities and allegedly tortured. It was then that Al-Awlaki began preaching violence.”

    BULL. he's been violent since way before that, this guy's just trying to cover his a$$ so the feds don't come after him.

    foreignpolicy . com/articles/2011/08/10/the_myth_of_anwar_al_awlaki

    September 30, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
    • Steve Lyons

      Just like Reverand Wright.

      October 1, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • Really???

      He camouflaged his murderous religious bigotry behind pious good works that touted his "tolerance". His behavior is one of the reasons people of other religions find it hard to trust Muslims who say they are moderates.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:05 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.