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. Ed


    "The man was a traitor to this country. He become an enemy combatant, he was also a coward because he took no risk of his own but send others to do the dirty work."

    LOL, the guy was killed with an unmanned drone. How much risk did the amercan operatoring that drone take. Seriously though, most of the comments on this page act to show a picture of a group of Americans who are really just american versions of the terrorists themselves. This is why enlightened educated people warn americans as a whole that while it is right and acceptable to find and kill terrorists who are gunning for this country-it is not acceptable to become terrorists ourselves. When I read the hate filled messages attached to an article which describes a community apparently doing everything it can to distance itself from fundamentalist muslims, the only thing I can say is that its embarrassing to have so many wood headed, low IQ, morons in this country. Oher forefathers understood how important it was to have absolute tolerance for other religions. No group of Americans have ever been in charge of our country who were smarter and more enlightened than our forefathers. Therefore honor your forefathers you dumb lug heads and have tolerance for other religions like you've been told to. Otherwise, get the hell out of this country you obviously hate so much that you can't honor our heritage and the men who died for it.

    October 1, 2011 at 9:31 am |
  2. Redneck louie

    now thars a blowed up mooslim that awent by his own self

    October 1, 2011 at 9:30 am |
  3. jason

    hey sheep if you brand yourself liberal how can you be against civil liberties... if you brand yourself conservative how can you be for foriegn wars and occupations... you are all missing what is really happening people need to wake up cause soon all this division this country has will be debated and argued in government operated bread lines! the economy is in shambles and so is the morality of the people... end the wars end the fed RON PAUL 2012

    October 1, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  4. Jumping Jack

    “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
    Muslime can never live in peace without Jesus Christ. How can a muslim live in peace when they have a Koran that spread nothing but hatred and violence against non-muslims? Islamic is not even a religion. So, how can they live in peace when all they do is worshiped an idol that is called Allah and a moon and star gods? Muslims need to repent of their sin and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for there is no other way to Heaven. Muslim are the non-believer of Jesus Christ and of God. Why? Because if you don't believe in Jesus you more likely don't believe in God.

    October 1, 2011 at 9:03 am |
    • ExLonghorn

      Your basic grasp of English is lacking. In addition, SO WHAT if they aren't fans of JC? I'm pretty sure they, and billions of others living and dead, have enjoyed perfectly lovely lives without being inundated by religious brainwashing.

      October 1, 2011 at 9:28 am |
    • Seb

      Your ignorance is astounding.
      Muslims believe in Jesus, In Arabic, his name is Isa. Muslims believe he was a prophet of God (Arabic name for God: Allah)
      So they believe in Jesus, and even worship him, but to them Muhammad was the last prophet send by God (Allah).
      Qur'an states that Jesus (Isa) will come back to earth to announce that Islam is the last Religion, and Qur'an is the last book of God (Allah).
      Muslims even believe in the Archangels, such as Michael.

      I am not even religious, nor do I claim a religion, but I study things before I open my mouth, so at least I have some kind of knowledge of something.

      You should do the same, this way, you don't sound like a total ignorant clown.

      October 1, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • Steve

      Having a myopic view that only your religion is the "true" religion is just as polarizing as the terrorist Muslim view. In this country, we are all free to find God in our own way and worship if we choose.

      October 1, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • herbert juarez

      The God of the Bible is not allah,and muslims do not believe in Jesus, as jumping jack has pointed out,the muslim "belief" in Jesus falls well short of the Biblical Jesus.

      October 1, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • Seb

      Herbert Juarez,

      Your lack of knowledge of Islam makes you sound as dumb, if not dumber, as the poster of the comment we are all replying to.
      Get a Qur'an and read it, study it, got to a Mosque, like I did, and learn about something.
      I did not convert to Islam by studying it, I did not convert to Christianity by learning about it, as Religion is wasted on me.

      People like you are the reason why there is still hate, ignorance and war, in name of "God"
      I hope you find the knowledge to set aside your blind hatred for something you, obviously, have the slightest clue about.

      October 1, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • herbert juarez

      Simple statement of fact does not equal hate.That is one lame response when challenged,allah is not the God of the Bible plain and simple,the two are incompatible as is the muslim Jesus.If you do enough study you will find that the false prophet mohammed and the false prophet joseph smith are eerily similar in the writings and beliefs of their respective cults.I do not believe i need to "got" to a mosque.When confronted with counterfeit it is essential not to know the fake but rather the genuine.

      October 1, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Seb

      Herbert Juarez,

      And you decide which religion is "fake"??? hahahaha!
      You just made such a mockery of yourself, So you claim that "your" religion is the one and only "true" one?
      What facts do you have? do you have proof of Jesus his existence? do you have proof Muhammad was "fake"?
      Do you have proof that God/Allah is real?

      I don't think so! all your beliefs are based on a book that was written by man, to control mankind.
      You put stock in a book full of fairy tales, you blindly follow the writings of ancient men, who saw an opportunity to obtain power over the weak mind of mankind, to instill fear with "Thou shalt not..bla bla"

      You are as irrelevant as the book you live by, as it is full of fiction, and not fact.

      Good luck in your journey of being unable to think for yourself, keep living like a blind sheep.

      I pity you.

      October 1, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  5. justan opinion

    The USA needs to build larger drones with larger missles and use them more often,this is much better than water boarding.

    October 1, 2011 at 9:01 am |
  6. Kevin

    While I am an atheist, I don't bother religious people of any religion by telling them to believe what I do. I just want to live in peace and be left alone.

    October 1, 2011 at 8:53 am |
    • ExLonghorn


      October 1, 2011 at 9:29 am |
  7. Mkat2

    They (media) continue to refer to him as 'American'. He was American by virtue of his geographical location at birth. His family & he. returned to Yemen when he was '7'. That's hardly growing up, 'American' or, as his father referred to him; "The all American boy"! He grew up in YEMEN & returned to America to spew his indoctrinated hate as an ADULT. I don't see many 'all American boys' with Head-Dress, beards & long white robes......

    October 1, 2011 at 8:47 am |
    • Brian

      Yeah! Al-Awlaki wasn't an American! A real American would have never done that! Its not like he was a christian fundamentalist upset about being investigated by the FBI, so he goes and blows up a building killing nearly a thousand people! Come on! And I'm certain he wasn't a religious fanatic that also liked living in the woods and was a gifted mathematician. I mean those are real Americans Christians. What about this guy in the news lately that was born raised and educated here in the USA? Was he an American? I know I am an American, but he is not christian like me, so there is no way he is a real american...

      Get over yourself and realize that both Muslim and Christian have extremist that only want to kill people. Or maybe you can just get over the fact that Christians are not all pure and sweet like the edited version of the bible tells you. 600 years ago Christians were just like the Muslims. Destroyers of lives, conqueror of lands and religious barbarians killing anyone for any reason.

      October 1, 2011 at 9:00 am |
    • Traitors

      Your comment started out good then ended racist. Being American has nothing to do with how you look. With that said I am just glad none of our troops were put at risk trying to arrest him. Proof of his guilt is plastered all over the Internet with him inciting violence. Obama has damaged al Qaeda more in 3 than Bush did in 7. 🙂 OBAMA2012

      October 1, 2011 at 9:01 am |
  8. Albert oinstain

    Muslims clear their name? i would love to see that!

    October 1, 2011 at 8:39 am |
  9. Guest

    The imam is not glad that UBL is dead either.

    October 1, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • Ian Michael Gumby

      I think a lot of people misinterpret the statements by the inman and the other worshiper.

      One should not take pleasure in the death of another. Their comments are that he's dead and that's it but they would rather see him suffer alive in prison. While you may not agree with their opinion, you have to respect it. They are true pacifists.

      To Malcom XY... no those that commit terrorists acts are not true believers or are following the Koran verbatim. They are misguided and are taking texts out of context. Something many of the Christian Fundamentalist do all the time.

      October 1, 2011 at 9:20 am |
  10. K2

    There is a way to greatly curb and eventually end Islamic Fundamentalist terrorism in our backyard and around the world. The people in the Islamic majority who say these terrorist don't represent what Islam is all about can put an end to it in their Faith community by not accepting it among them. Of course these Fundamentalist are more likely to kill people of their own Faith than they are likely to kill the "infidels"

    October 1, 2011 at 8:22 am |
  11. send drone to that recruiting center

    thats their recruiting center send drone to that masque

    October 1, 2011 at 8:17 am |
    • Brian

      That's a lot of hatred your carrying around....

      October 1, 2011 at 8:47 am |
  12. killterrorist

    kill all those fkn terrorists

    October 1, 2011 at 8:12 am |
  13. Bill

    The man was a traitor to this country. He become an enemy combatant, he was also a coward because he took no risk of his own but send others to do the dirty work.

    October 1, 2011 at 8:07 am |
    • Albert oinstain

      Well said!

      October 1, 2011 at 8:41 am |
  14. Davis

    Muslim imams and leaders in Pakistan and Afganistan, Yeman etc preach hatefulness and violence against west and particularly americans. after getting all the support from america, why do they teach hatefulness in their religious schools? If they dont like western culture, then why do they immigrate to America. let them all go to Pakistan, Afganistan arabian etc. lets put the rats in their holes.

    October 1, 2011 at 8:06 am |
    • Khalsa

      Good riddence ... more to come . Good job cia.

      October 1, 2011 at 8:41 am |
  15. Insight

    One billion Muslims reject five million non Muslims and worship Allah. What a screwed up religion?

    October 1, 2011 at 8:06 am |
  16. Omen

    There’s crazy people everywhere you go in different religions. NOT,the crazy ones are Muslims who else blow them selfs up for religion.....exactly.

    October 1, 2011 at 8:02 am |
  17. Guest

    You could feel how uncomfortable the people interviewed felt about the death of this terrorist.
    The iman did not interviewed at all, but he supports the view that terrorists should be given life after thay execute innocents and are not repentant of their faith based actions.
    The imam seems to be lying about the fact that awlaki was not spreading hatred in that mosque prior to his departure, since he had some questions to answer.
    That imam must be in the FBI watch list big time.

    October 1, 2011 at 7:50 am |
  18. Guest

    Its a matter of thrust, and at this point in time, the practice of islam only beggots fear and distrust due tot he sympaties and actions, albeat of a minority. The problem is that they have the encouragement of the majority, not only in the USA but around the islamist world. You can't deny its faith based. That seem to be the problem.
    Quote by the muslim:"“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."
    The potential for acts of terror is latent in this group, since the only way to address their concerns is by violent methods that carry faith based solutions, easily exploited by their leaders.

    October 1, 2011 at 7:37 am |
  19. works4me

    He chose his destiny... he chose poorly.

    October 1, 2011 at 7:26 am |
    • Chuck

      I'm thinking in those last couple of seconds he may have reconsidered some of the choices he made after high school, yeah.......

      October 1, 2011 at 7:28 am |
    • Albert oinstain

      He is in hell with his 74 virgins (to bad they are men!)

      October 1, 2011 at 8:43 am |
  20. Chuck

    God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked and neither do I. This man was not motivated by religion, he was motivated by hatred. Stamping out peaceful religion is not the answer. Religion is not responsible for the worlds problems anymore than video games are responsible for Columbine.

    October 1, 2011 at 7:21 am |
    • works4me

      Not motivated by religion? The number one reason for wars in our world is religion... followed by power and greed of resources, money and property. His hatred was seeded largely by his religion.
      Every religion has its' zealots.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:48 am |
    • CJ

      If you think that religion is not at the root of many of the world's problems, that I think that you are actually playing too many video games! It may replace money as the root of all evil!

      October 1, 2011 at 7:54 am |
    • Tbard

      Anyone who can look at history and the current world affairs and say "Religion is not responsible for the worlds problems" must have been asleep in class and now never watches the news.

      October 1, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • Joe

      This man's hatred was fueled by religion... he didn't grow up in the current first-shooter gaming generation. I'm sure if someone took the time to put together all of the deaths caused by a video game (curse you Pac-Man!) and all of the deaths caused by religion, there would be a *slight* tipping of the scale towards religion

      ...and for those of you who can't sense digital sarcasm, the death toll would easily be in the billions on the religious side.

      October 1, 2011 at 8:13 am |
    • Malcolm XY

      You might want to actually READ the religious texts that you are defending before saying they are peaceful. To say that religion has nothing to do with these acts committed by the faithful is ignorant. Unfortunately, those committing atrocities in the name of religion are actually the TRUE followers of the Word. It is the modern moderates that have CHOSEN to ignore the parts of their holy books that conflict with modern ethics or morality.

      October 1, 2011 at 8:25 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.