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. Iqdal Khan


    October 1, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  2. David Phillips

    Islam is a lost hope. Jesus won the fight. The quarn is a joke. The bible is the word of God. He comes first before all others. I spit on the quarn.

    October 1, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Tom

      Does not really matter what what these guys says. al-Awlaki himself condemned 911 in public, but he preached exacly the opposite in private to hate non-muslims. All these worshippers say the similar nice-to-hear comments in public and stab the backs of the very people who help them to make decent living in countries like US.

      October 1, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  3. Jeremy

    John Lennon – Imagine

    October 1, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  4. Chris

    I hope his 72 virgins are
    72 old, bitter, pretentious,
    Arrogant, selfish, ugly dominat Drag Queens
    Who are in desperate need of an
    Extreme Makeover, and hung like
    John holmes.

    October 1, 2011 at 5:43 pm |

    It was Allah's will!

    October 1, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • gupsphoo

      No it isn't. Allah was simply unable to stop the drone that killed al-Awlaki.

      Allah is incompetent.

      October 1, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  6. OMG - Obama Must Go!

    Obama is guilty of murder. He killed an innocent American.


    October 1, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • ruemorgue

      OMG – One Murderer Gone !!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      October 1, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • Dan Johnson

      Innocent man?

      October 1, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • matt houston

      And you have been living under a rock or you are a terrorist who thinks making videos urging the death of innocent people is harmless, providing leadership and allegiance to a terrorist group is harmless. You are guilty.

      October 1, 2011 at 5:11 pm |

      You sir are a filth and a terrorist!!!

      October 1, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • T N A


      October 1, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  7. hippypoet

    May the Almighty Sun's warmth be upon all of you. Walk in the light.

    October 1, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • ruemorgue

      May The Prophet violate Anwar al-Awlaki virginal anal cavity in Paradise! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAH

      October 1, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • Michael

      Right on. 🙂

      October 1, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • T N A

      may the seed of 1000 camels infest his anal cavity in paradise

      October 1, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  8. Earnest Angley

    he could have turned himself in but did not. If we can kill a known terrorist without any US service men being hurt or killed , do it every time. The crusade against Islam must continue .

    October 1, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  9. Burtm1234

    Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww !!!!
    Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww-Laki !!!!
    Al Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww-Laki !!!!
    Al-Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww-Lucky !!! No wait....KABOOOOOOOOOOOMMM
    Al-Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww-UNLUCKY !!!
    Poof.......nothing below his waist.....now its on to Paradise without anything below the waist......NEXT

    October 1, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  10. OMG - Obama Must Go!

    Obama is guilty of murder. He killed an innocent American.


    October 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • T N A

      sarcasm... right?!

      October 1, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  11. Kebos

    Moderates, such as those at this mosque, only provide a breeding ground for extremists. Only when all of religion is purged from our planet will it then be a better place for mankind. This will take many centuries so unfortunately not in my time, but it will come to be.

    October 1, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Chris Collino

      Purging all religions: I think Pol Pot, Stalin and Hitler to name a few, were on their way to doing that. That was great for mankind and ended well for them too: NOT!

      October 1, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  12. Jack Ax

    He got his just rewards. The only burial he deserves is to be flushed down the toilet.

    October 1, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  13. jarda cervenka

    Do not burn Koran – it all must be read to learn about the basis of the religion of your good neighbour. Kill infidels, women worth 50% of man etc etc – it is unbelievably primitive and dangerous. In Minnesota they voted muslim to the legislature. Read koran, please.

    October 1, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Mike Buck

      Of couse everyone knows there is no violence in the Bible either.

      October 1, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Lou

      Obviously you haven't read the Quran. It's is THEE most profound book on earth. There are plenty of non-muslim scholars and philosophers that agree. The least you could do on this forum is speak the truth.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  14. hippypoet


    Come one come all, see the fantasticly real god! feel its touch, warmth, the burn, feel the god that you have been without for so very long! come with me and you will see a true sight to behold more then anyother and the best part is, no special offerings are needed, no place of whorship, just an open hand of life and death. This is the one true god as we know any form of gods on earth. This is the one and only creation that can bring life and death by simple existence. It knows more about the history of our planet then our planet itself. It is what scorned the jews in the dessert not an invisible creation of man! This is what people see when they claim to have seen the light! Only two special days a year, and we get a bonus show of dissappearance and reappearance every so often. My God has shown me the path that lay before me, and said not to me to follow one or the other but instead left it upon me to make my own choice of which way to go. The most important thing about my God is that is has children, but they are not to be whorshipped as they are rivals in the cosmos for the love of my God. The closer you are to my God is not always the safest however, as is being the furthest away. Both have a negitive affect. My God knows math, and science, most importantly knows balance, and teaches without teaching. But my God does scorn the ignorant! Come and whorship with me that which has been whorshipped by the greatest people ever known, whorshipped the longest by the most people in history. Come feel the warmth of my God, and know what it is to live with God always there to shining a light on you. I call my God the SUN. Others have called it Aton the sun disk, but that was 3000 years ago in Egypt, even then the whorship of the SUN was an ancient one long forgotten by the Eyptians at that time. E ven if you wish not to follow belief is not needed as proof of my God is there, all around you, in every thing you touch shows its power.Oh and my God doesn't do to anyone differently then anyother, all shall recieve equal treatment. Go and be in the light

    October 1, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      @ hippypoet et al,,,,

      The cyclical cycles of atomized cosmologies may well bare out to be "Rah", the Old Time's Egyptian Sun God. After all Christ Jesus is said to have "ascended". My perceptions regarding the kingdoms of the Gods being inside our bodies may ell be just a preface. Ya think hippypoet?

      October 1, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • hippypoet

      i like that breakdown – its a connection between the earthly made up belief systems and the clear existence of my Sun, the only provible God by any definition of God. And that also allows me to stated beyond bs as an alternative motive behind the so called jesus, whom i know as joshua. So thought must be given to this before stating anything but i think its a good one. thank you.

      October 1, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  15. John Geheran

    While no fan of our C-I-C, he deserves mucho credit for his moves in DOD and CIA. Now if he would make similar appointments to straighten out DOJ, DHS and the Office of National Security and cease all the PC rhetoric that further masks a political ideology already masquerading as a "religion", we might get somewhere.

    October 1, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  16. John Geheran

    Pity poor al-Awlaki getting hammered for doing what Islamic sacred texts, ahadith and the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence command the faithful to do – convert, collect jizya or kill the "infidels". When the West finally awakens from its slumber, it will realize that the root cause of Islamic violence is not al-Qaeda, Haqqani, some wacko imam or Muslim "lone wolf" but a political ideology masquerading as a religion that is fundamentally flawed.

    October 1, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  17. lacoaster

    Regardless of what they believe, it would be stupid not to say what they said.

    October 1, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  18. James Salander

    .."he should have gotten a proper burial?" Like those who died in the World Trade Center towers? Why do people always get stuck in such dull details instead of focusing on the important parts: the guy encouraged young muslims to become killers and murderers. And I doubt very much that those martyrs end up with 72 virgins anywhere near heaven.

    October 1, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  19. Chris

    Who cares!!!
    He's dead
    Good riddens

    Good job president Obama

    Now lets cremate his body and toss his
    Ashes in the nearest raw sewage pit, so
    We can say we gave this piece of *%$#
    A proper burial.

    October 1, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • Mike Buck

      Good job President Obama? I could swear Hannity was giving all the credit to Bush and the Tea Baggers!

      October 1, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  20. Andrew

    “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."

    Like in Christianity and Judaism. Extremists ruin everything. Are you listening, islamophobes?

    October 1, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • ch

      "Are you listening, islamophobes?"
      Andrew please let me know one thing how many times have you seen Christians dancing in the street when someone kilss another person, when in fact they turn in those who do that kind of act.
      On the other hand when a terrorist attack occurs Islam dances in the streets, to include in Dearborn Michigan on 9/11. As I myself witnessed. They hide the terrorist and celebrate them, once they start turning them in then we can say things are changing until then not so much

      October 1, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Sam

      I completely agree with ch, Islam can claim all it wants that it is a religion of peace, but at the end of the day you don't see Christians and Jews going out and blowing themselves up in the name of God.

      October 1, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Nah, sam. They just blow up other people.

      October 1, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Chris Collino

      Sam says, 'you don't see Christians and Jews going out and blowing themselves up in the name of God'

      tallulah13 says, "Nah, sam. They just blow up other people."

      Just like Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, and the like. Common Denominator: They're humans just like the rest of us.

      October 1, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • matt houston

      Andrew: "Are you listening, islamophobes?"

      You obviously have not read the Koran and do not understand the fundamental goal of Islam. Please educate yourself before calling people names. Remember, surahs in the early eras are replaced by later surahs...whatever the subject may be, make sure you follow instructions from the last surah on that subject. You will then see just how "peaceful" this religion really is.

      October 1, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • Lou

      Matt- What are you talking about?. Please indicate one surah in the Quran that you think has replaced another surah...whatever the subject may be....And please enlighten me as to what you think the "fundamental goal" of Islam is? You may not be an islamophobe but your definitely ignorant...

      October 1, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
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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.