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. HMS

    Proper burial?
    What about the thousands that perished on Septemb 11, 2001.

    October 1, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
  2. 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

    i stand by my SUN. I know that there are a great deal more stars in the universe then the number you state, but mine is the one that gives me warmth, air, food, drink, basically – life- and so as i stated its MY GOD – THE SUN... i stated that there may be lesser gods on an earthly realm, but mine created the earth, and keeps it living. I preach its energy, and by transferrence becomes us and all living things on this planet. When it dies is when the memory of it begins if we as a species still exist, but long before its implosion it will engulf the earth during an expansion of the star, called a red gaint, just before going super nova, then finally poof- black hole lives for a split second, then again poof! I have an ok/whatever understanding of stars. The logic of whorshipping our SUN is beyond arguement, calling it a GOD is illogical but nessesary to gain a following as to move the civilization past the moronic idea of god as its currently understood.

    Oh my God can power a car so you have no need for earth based fuel. My God gives its power freely and to all creatures, we are stupid to not use it!

    using the law of conservation of matter and energy, the energy given off by the sun simply transferrs to us thru food and warmth, but the whorshipping goes beyond that. if the planet were even just a few hundred feet closer to mars we would be very cold all the time, if closer to the sun by equal distance, very very hot. so everything points to the sun as the true life giving object to whorship if you were to whorship anything- logically speaking!

    fear not my friends for all answers can be answered.

    October 1, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
  3. Howard

    al-Awlaki, al-Aulaqi, all-whacky, whatever. All gone.

    October 1, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
  4. Stephen G

    I don't care what they think, bring it on.

    October 1, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
  5. rockychance

    The trouble is that all magor religions have had great people and very bad people in their particular following and all claim to have the only true answer. I do believe in a Creator for I find the world and man's mind so vast that I cannot believe they just evolved without external impetus and that being a super power. Would not it be great if the real God just one day told all men on the planet to knock off their arrogant garbage and work to unite instead of threatening to kill you if you do not see it their way!

    October 1, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
  6. Pastafarian

    All in the name of God! Awesome.

    October 1, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
  7. Pastafarian


    October 1, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  8. Name*Othman

    There already montioring all the Muslims, rightfly so bcuz we can't tell whose who, this is a big blow if cleric is everything they make him out to be, idk man this whole religion thing is causing nothing but lose of life, civilians, soldier, ext every body wants to stir a whole mess of conflict to say that there god is number one period, I thought religion was a good peace promoting thing, I think we should get rid of all biblical context n just stop with the one god thing n whose the right n wrong one in this whole conflict

    October 1, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
  9. reader 2010

    He wants to be in the history book.

    October 1, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  10. bikemonkey

    Just shut that mosque down. They have been involved in terrorist activities before. Damn the muslims...

    October 1, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
  11. David

    Well done gentlemen.

    October 1, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  12. Keerview

    Steven Hawking had to say about religion :"One can't prove that God doesn't exist, but science makes God unnecessary." Any religion essentially wants to control people and take their money. That's fine as long as people feel better giving in to the preachings and brainwashing of the men of the cloth. Their right to the pursuit of happiness, When they break the law, they must be stopped. Good job Drone !!

    October 1, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • Pastafarian

      If only everyone was as smart as Dr. Hawking.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • Yes, he's a genius... but

      Steven Hawking has religion confused with organized religion.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Yes So do most religious people, which is a much bigger problem.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • Fair player

      As Dr Stephen Hawkins and his ilk know very well -'Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence'.

      October 1, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • Mikej

      The Fool has said in his heart there is no God. Proclaiming himself to be wise they become fools. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Sounds like Hawking is not too wise brain smart wisdom stupid.

      October 1, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
  13. Rudedog

    He turned terrorist when he was tortured in Yemen.

    October 1, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • sjw827

      You are an ass. He was radical long before he was arrested in Yemen. Glad they turned him into a grease-spot in the desert. Soon to be followed by others of his ilk.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
  14. mj. emerson

    Finally, the Muslim community speaks against the radical elements that are hijacking their faith. I think if this happened more those who who feel threatened by them might be more inclined to revise their view of those of this religion.

    October 1, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  15. Muneef

    Poverty and Terrorism;
    Why do feel there is a connection between poverty and terrorism...? Jobless and Hopeless for an employment will be driven to become joining gangesters thieves,burglars,robbers,militias,pirates.. Violence is even worse if hooked addicted on some few things other than food and water that demands from them more and more money...!!

    what obstructs the investment in world nations development of the world nations in creating  jobs opportunities to enable all to live and dream of success... There are misdistribution of world wealth,countries are heading towards obtaining more arms than businesses, investments or developments...!! Others rather went on the highest or biggest or fanciest concrete jungles....!!
    While few others have treasured,hoarded their money in banks for the sake of u-s-ury living on interests doing nothing and losing nothing...! Banks for sake of giving high interests will claim for the more financial interests revenue  rather than taking for the morality of fighting poverty in generating more opportunities...unfortunately even if they thought they can do that there will come those who will take it easily because of his gvt connections but will not do that all fake con and will use the money in other things bribing buying the silence of all those...!!

    Some thing should be worked out and serious laws have to be imposed with an aim to fight poverty not by feeding the people but rather in helping them to creat businesses feeding them selves and those whom they employ or work or deal with..... You will find out even more from "the Wall Street Protests & Demands. although even more from the following subject link;
    "Decommissioning The IMF, World Bank and WTO"
    (This report analyses the negative impacts of the IMF, World Bank and WTO on sustainable development and suggests an alternative mechanism for regulating the international economy which can allow these inst-i-tutions to be progressively decommissioned.).

    If we can just leave out religions as enemies and take "Poverty" as being the main enemy for mankind existence as a human being and not as a working animal....?!?

    October 1, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
    • John Richardson

      The oil rich Islamic countries have more than enough money to do a lot of investing in the development of the poorer countries. But it's pretty clear from such terrorist acts as those committed by the doctors in the UK,, etc, that terrorism has pretty serious appeal amongst certain people who can't possibly plead poverty.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • John Richardson

      And it's not unique to Islamic terrorism. The leftist terrorist groups of the 70s included a lot of young people from fairly privileged backgrounds. Violent people often invoke the poor in their self-serving rhetoric, but what they really are are ambitious people seeking to change the game to their own political advantage.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
    • Muneef

      John Rich.

      Dear with out know how and finance it is difficult to make use of such natural resources... But as you mentioned there are people from the inside making it difficult for those countries to develop keeping populations to remain poor while they monopolies such resources for them selves....

      October 2, 2011 at 7:38 am |
  16. LV

    I hope we monitor every mosque in the country. Closely. We have more people marching around about Wall St. than we ever had Muslims marching for peace, tolerance, hope.......... or anything. Beware the silent jihad.

    October 1, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • Liberals Worst Nightmare

      You have it right! These islamist SOB's need to be watched very closely........in fact, they should ALL be expelled from the USA!!

      October 1, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  17. Jose

    Way to go Obama! That's how a President does it!

    October 1, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • Liberals Worst Nightmare

      You either have to be stupid or ignorant or..........BOTH. obama is an empty suit. He is in way over his head and offers no leadership. We must work to make him a 1-term president.

      October 1, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • Jose

      @Liberals Worst Nightmare I'm not a liberal nor do I follow the conservative agenda. I'm just celebrating the fact that the President of the United States of America took out a bad guy.

      October 1, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • He wants all the credit

      Obama is only following up on (and taking advantage of) the policies put in place by the Bush administration. Then when there's a success he crows about how "he" did it. He is indeed an empty suit.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Every president wants to take all the credit and every president has opponents who want to deny him ANY credit. Why can't you all grow up?

      October 1, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
  18. T N A

    Why is it, that they always tall about tolerance when they talk about one of these POSs... who are they tolerating? Are they tolerating Christians??? I guess I don't understand what the tolerance is supposed to signify...

    October 1, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • LV

      ..I think they are tolerating the delay in converting us all or, to be more clear, taking America by numbers alone. See: Lebanon.

      October 1, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • T N A

      I believe you are correct sir!

      October 1, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
  19. hot won


    October 1, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  20. hippypoet

    Belief is needed for ALL gods, but proof of existence is given only by one: THE SUN, my god, the giver of life, the fire of life and civilization. By which the heat gave the raise to power of metal workers, great empires then flurished on the power of the SUN which was freely given. No other god has ever freely given anything. The SUN alone allows the birth and death of ALL living creatures on this planet. Sure there are things that can kill large numbers of people, but only the SUN can take the planetary existence of earth and take it away. The Hebrew god destorys cities and religions, mine just controls the entirity of everything earthly and other worldly. Lesser gods may exist on an earthly realm but can't hold a "candle" to the SUN! 🙂 gotta love puns and be faithful to the one true by proof GOD the Almighty life giving SUN!

    October 1, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • Thomas

      The Almighty SUN? Are you out of your mind hippy poet? What stuff are you smoking now days? Must be good quality.
      Surely you don't mean the sun in the sky, because if you do then we better call the witch doctor. You and him are worshipping
      the same god. That demon that has blinded you should be rebuked and denounced. You are saying what the devil has put
      in your smoked mind, and you repeating it like a parrot.
      The one that can give you eternity is Jesus Christ. He has paid for your horrible sins on the cross.
      It does not matter how big they are, He will take them away from you and the dirt will be cleaned. It's time to know the truth for
      your children's sake.Only if you call him. You have to make the first move and call him. The rest will be done by God.
      He has already paid the price for you. Just stretch your hand and take the gift of eternal life. It is free.
      Is the only way to avoid the fires of hell that the dirty demon is pushing you to. If you only say repent and say sorry to Him that
      can forgive you. Don't believe the lies of that dirty demon any mote. He wants to destroy you, and if you don't repent, the only way to go is to the lake of fires. There are many like you down there. The sun does not give you a promise for the next life.
      Only Jesus does.He has given you guarantee for eternity. Just call him. His name is Jesus, Call him now and give him a try.
      that is a dirty demon and he lies to you.
      Regards my friend and please try it: CALL HIM.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • Arran Webb

      A little sun worship goes a long way.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Thomas You make hippypoet sound perfectly reasonable.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • Pastafarian

      Given the choice between hippypoet and Thomas, I'll take hippy's beliefs any day!

      October 1, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Thomas you are making promises you can't keep. I'm happy that you feel as though you are no longer responsible for your negative actions because you talked to your invisible friend. However, I will continue to take responsibility for my own actions. That's what grown-ups do.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • TopCat

      im ready to pick a religion, i thought hindu,budah, hebrew, christian or islam. but thats a good choice. did someone
      write a holy book about it? and what is the religion called?

      October 1, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @TopCat You should check out the Unitarians and Baha'is.

      October 1, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      @ Thomas et al,,,

      "I am the bright and morning star" ring any bells? Is it not up to one's own self to believe and in believing find something worthy of contemplating?

      What do you Thomas know regarding our bodies being buildings and temples and even the kingdoms of the Gods? What do you even know about the "hidden things of darkness"?

      Let's start with a simple statement of scripture,,,,,,,,,,,,,

      Mat 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

      Ah seeking God's kingdom for where do you Thomas say that God's Kingdom is? Do you declare His Kingdom to be of those who go to church or is the church itself the building of God? Where shall we follow in your Word of Truths?

      Jhn 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."

      Are you still there Thomas? Our savior and redeemer of all lost souls does proclaim that "this world is not His Kingdom"! No place upon this celestial plain of mankind can compare to or even be God's Kingdom domain. Where than is the Kingdom of God to be located?

      1Cr 3:9 “For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.”

      We, mind you, "We are labourers together with God" and we are "God's husbandry" and alas "we are God's buildings" So what? We are but buildings of the Gods. Many a God does inhabit our bodies of buildings. At least this is my perception about our being but buildings where within our built bodies are but multiple buildings holding God, His family members and servants and subjects. What happens to them when they have filled up the many rooms within our embodied buildings?

      1Cr 3:16 "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"

      Wait one minute God! Now you are saying we are Temples? What gives God? You are confusing my mind! Could it be that some of our body' buildings are temples? That much I can fathom God. Just how many buildings are temples?

      Luk 17:21 "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is inside/within you."

      C'mon God! Now you are proclaiming that our bodies are Kingdoms! Where are you leading my Presumptive mind toward?

      God, your word says we are buildings and that some of our body like buildings are as temples and then you say that the kingdoms of the Gods are inside us. How so and why and what does all this truly mean?

      So Thomas, there lays my mind's thoughts. Help me to see that which might solve the dilemma I am in.

      October 1, 2011 at 8:50 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.