The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Three ‘Homegrown’ Jihadists Convicted of Plotting Attacks

By Robert Steinback on October 14, 2011 - 1:26 pm, Posted in Extremist Crime

Three Muslim men – two American citizens and a permanent resident – were convicted Thursday of plotting terrorist attacks overseas and at the U.S. Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va., in a case that highlights the threat of terrorism from “homegrown” jihadists. During the three-week federal trial in New Bern, N.C., prosecutors presented evidence that U.S.-born defendants Omar Aly Hassan, 22, Ziyad Yaghi, 21, and Hysen Sherifi, a 24-year-old refugee from Kosovo, had traveled overseas, raised money and undergone weapons training as they prepared to launch attacks. The men face prison sentences of 15 years to life.

The three were part of an eight-member group of men led by Daniel Boyd, an American-born convert to Islam who, along with two of his sons, pleaded guilty to terrorism-related charges in February.

The men convicted this week were arrested and indicted in 2009 after discussing their intentions, speaking of jihad and distributing radical propaganda – but before setting any plans in motion. According to media reports, defense attorneys and other supporters of the men say the suspects were entrapped by undercover “provocateurs” and convicted of guilt by association. They said the men made “stupid” and offensive statements but had committed no crimes. A jury, deliberating for two days, disagreed.

Ten years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror strikes, some U.S. officials believe the country has made headway against foreign-based terrorist organizations. U.S. counterterrorism officials in July suggested that the killing of Osama bin Laden in May and years of drone aircraft attacks on Al Qaeda leaders have pushed the organization’s Pakistan-based core infrastructure to the brink of collapse. But the threat of terrorism by radicalized U.S. citizens and legal residents is raising new concerns.

The sensitivity of dealing with homegrown terrorists came into sharper focus on Sept. 30 when two U.S. citizens included on the SPLC’s list of 10 “Grown at Home” terrorists, Anwar al-Awlaki, a top leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and his associate, English-language blogger Samir Khan, were killed by a CIA drone missile attack in Yemen. Despite the pair’s unquestioned commitment to anti-American terrorism, some critics questioned the propriety of the U.S. government deliberately marking U.S. citizens for death without any judicial proceedings.

  • skinnyminny

    thanks for exchanging comments with me. I think it would be best for me to stop posting comments for a while. In the meantime, goodluck.

  • skinnyminny

    Robert Steinback,
    Uh oh! Am I in trouble! I sorry!

    I was, again, trying to find out why the stance on ‘removing the phrase.’ I agree with the assessment you have presented.

    I do understand that sometimes information, we, as the public are not privy to. However, I think I have read enough about this guy (Awlaki) to not question the info presented. I think the only thing significant about this is the way it was done, and that is the use of the drone. Meaning, I think this is the argument that will probably carry a lot of weight. I guess I was kinda curious as to why this case is so controversial, when no one, at least, I haven’t heard anyone challenge the statement about Saddam – the public announcement of a reward of ‘dead or alive.’

    I’m not an attorney, but, sometimes I do, at times, push things a little far (if not a lot). Again, I sorry!

  • skinnyminny

    Jonas Rand,
    Again, I see what you’re saying. But again, I have to say that ‘free speech,’ is a good thing when it is done properly. I think people still think that it is absolute, which it is not. In addition, I think people who like to hide behind ‘free speech,’ can care less about the consequences, or the hurting of other people, i.e., the bullying of the LGBT community, especially the recent cases of kids committing suicide.

    I would like to think that with ‘free speech,’ should have responsibility to come with it, as well as being respectful. I also think it is should be fair – across the board. Please refer to the case of 9-month-old Wyatt Garcia – in this case the mother was denied a restraining order against her baby’s father, which had a tragic ending. Then you have people in jail now that have gotten into arguments with neighbors.

    I’m just saying, people like to say free speech, but, sometimes those words are hurtful and disrespectful. I’ll use examples in this, there are a lot of people that come home from work and turn to drugs and/or alcohol because of what they say is a bad boss – one that likes to yell and degrade his workers. You have kids that don’t want to go to school due to teasing or bullying, in addition, some of these kids turn to drugs and/or alcohol to take the pain away, or they bring in weapons saying it is for self-defense. There are kids that act out and blame it on abusive parents. We have a large portion of our society on anti-depressants due to this.

    Here’s what I think. I think we have a large portion of our society that are extremely angry, lack personable and communication skills – meaning they lash out at people, publicly embarass people, yell instead of actually talking, accuse/expose secrets of people in order to make a name for themselves (example would be entertainment celebrities of cheating that would cause a break up of marriages, in addition to public humiliation – when it isn’t their place to do this).

    So, as far as I’m concerned, there is a way for redress, and it just isn’t being done when it comes to disagreeing with the government. I think it is more along the lines of hate,intimidation and not disagreement, meaning, instead of people using the ballot box, showing respect at town hall meetings – yes, I think they need to show respect at town halls, because when you intimidate, this causes the officials to not want to meet in person. Let me explain this one, if someone was hostile towards me or intimidating me – there is no way I would want to meet with this person – so being hostile or intimidating instills fear not motivation or respect. This is just like a job, if your boss was intimidating or hostile – you really don’t want to go to work, but go because you have to, but, you will not be your best, meaning tardiness, absenteeism…

  • Jonas Rand

    Robert Steinback,

    Admittedly, this discussion has become more than a bit discursive, so I can understand that it would be hard to follow. I apologize for the confusion. My argument for removing the phrase is not based on a value judgment or why he was killed. My argument for removing it is based on our uncertainty of the veracity of claims that he was a “top leader” in al-Qaida. For the underwear bomber to have exchanged e-mails with Awlaki (we don’t know what they contained) and to have attended sermons at Awlaki’s mosque does not prove that Awlaki was an al-Qaida top leader. There is not even any proof that operations were discussed with either Abd-al-Muttalib (underwear bomber) or Nidal Hasan (Fort Hood shooter). They could have told Awlaki about them, and he could have kept it a secret, but that does not make him involved in leading the terror attacks. There has not been any conclusive evidence proving that Awlaki was a leader in al-Qaida.

    As for this:

    “For what it’s worth, however, my personal view is to consider people like al-Awlaki in the same way we might regard, say, Bonnie and Clyde — once you’ve proven your willingness to kill and you’re on the run doing all you can to evade capture by law enforcement, you’ve compromised your expectation of being tried in a court of law. ”

    No comment on your personal take on this (it could be debated endlessly but we have two different perspectives and it is a matter of opinion), but Anwar al-`Awlaki neither “prove[d] his willingness to kill” (he was never said to have committed murder) nor was he a fugitive from the law. He was targeted for an extrajudicial assassination, and he was never accused legally of violating US law.

    It is clearly unclear what “linked” to even means. Usage of that term could imply everything from committing a crime, to being involved with a criminal plot at such a low extent that it isn’t even illegal (such as knowing one of the participants). It’s been used a lot in War on Terror-related cases, but that just makes the claims of the establishment media look even more dubious, because it raises the question: how was so-and-so ‘linked’ to terrorism?

  • Jonas Rand


    Free speech is one of the most important rights in this country, and it is equally important that it remains free. Sadly, it sometimes isn’t because of all of those social and legal exceptions and objections to speaking one’s mind. As for my views about the drug laws (since you asked), this country is certainly not the worst one in the world. That there is no death penalty for “controlled substances” does not make the laws in the United States any less abusive and draconian. This country has only 5% of the world’s population, yet 25% of the world’s prisoners reside in US prisons. This mass imprisonment, in addition to the military-industrial complex, is a huge waste of taxpayer money, and it doesn’t really help anyone except private corporations, the Corrections Department, politicians, and military.. Drug usage is a personal thing and is exercising the freedom of consciousness. Even if you destroy your own body whilst doing dope, it isn’t good to ban it, people still get addicted anyway. The way I see it, you should have the right to do what you wish to your own body/mind without anyone else trying to stop you, change who you are or tell you what to do.

    Dissent is patriotic. As far as I’m concerned, you are not a hypocrite for living in your country, relying on government-provided resources, and criticizing your government. If no such people existed (i.e., if “Love it or Leave it” was codified in to law), then the US would be more likely to go down the path of a totalitarian society. Thankfully, we are allowed to disagree with government policies in the USA (though often our government obstructs these rights).

    I don’t know about whether Americans traveling elsewhere do, but I for one do not expect free speech to be guaranteed ultimately around the world, or even here for that matter. Though I personally believe there is nothing wrong with free speech, the rest of the world practices government censorship more often (of what they call “hate speech” and the like). Censorship is repugnant, no matter the justification and wherever it takes place, both in the US and elsewhere. By this I do not mean preventing intimidation of people, but rather, people being prevented from expressing their points of view. If you disagree with a position (hateful or not), the civilized thing to do is debate it, not using force to silence the person expressing it.

    At the moment, the United States is one of the freest countries in the world as regards speech, which is due to hard struggle (the right to unconditional free speech was affirmed in United States v. O’Brien, which involved a man burning his draft card), but there are still improvements to be made. Needless to say, this does not mean that other countries do not need to stop censorship either.

  • skinnyminny

    In re: SPLC should remove from article that Awlaki was a leader…

    See the new article at done 10-20-2011 FOSIS Civil Service Recruitment Event Cancelled – in this article it is mentioned that Awlaki was a leader/minister…in fact, his name was mentioned at least twice and linked to two different people. This article also talks about one guy that we are trying to extradite. There are also videos, screenshots available – BTW, it also mentioned that at least one of these websites used by one of these guys was hosted here in Connecticut. I think that maybe if you want more info on this, you could maybe try to follow the trail of the hosting company as it does name the websites (it would be something if it is owned by an openly anti-muslim person, yet, willing to take the money for the sake of making a profit, because the way I see it, I think some of these people are playing both sides of the fence).

  • skinnyminny

    Okay! Here’s the other scenario, he was not residing in the U.S.

    Now, when you travel, the state department tell our citizens that when you leave our soil, your rights in this country is not always the same rights you can expect in the country you are going to, or residing in. For example, in this country you can be caught with illegal/controled substances and the sentence can be minimal to long incarceration, yet, in other countries it can be a death sentence. I guess I am also interested in what you have to say about this, because there are some citizens that always have strong anti-government views, but, if they are ever caught in a situation in another country, who do they call upon? You guessed it, they call upon us. With this, I’d like to add, there are some that are happy to get away and talk bad about this country, but, and that’s an ‘if,’ they run into legal problems they want this country to be there for them and get them back where! Home! I am using this point because, we, and I’m talking about the people in this country are so used to having ‘free speech,’ regardless if it is not proper or considerate, that they expect it to be this way wherever they go, and this includes European countries.

    I find it outrageous that people like to yell free speech, when it is publicly ridiculing others, abusive speech (something you can and will be arrested for in this country when it comes to children), libelous/defamatory (which you can be sued for in this country), fired from your job if your boss doesn’t like your speech, beaten by the police if they don’t like your speech…I guess what I’m saying is free speech really isn’t free at all because that free speech can cause divorces, a waiter to spit in your food…are you following me on this one?

    As far as Glen Beck, he is still in media. He now has his own, called GBTV, or Glenn Beck TV.

  • Robert Steinback

    To Jonas Rand,

    We at SPLC appreciate your earnestness on all the issues about which you comment, and this is no exception. Still, it seems you have built your argument here on a conviction that al-Awlaki was targeted for death by the U.S. government simply for “expressing his point of view.”

    The writer and researcher who wrote about al-Awlaki in the story “Ten Years After” for the Fall 2011 issue of Intelligence Report determined that he had been “associated with a number of known terrorists and linked to at least 15 plots, including the attempted car bombing of New York City’s Times Square in May 2010 by a Pakistani American. Two of the 9/11 hijackers met with him at his mosques in California and Virginia, according to The 9/11 Commission Report. He also exchanged E-mails with alleged Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan.”

    Could there still be doubt about his role with al Qaeda and its operations, or questions about how high was his position in the organization? Of course… the media are severely hampered when it comes to independently verifying the cases put forth by U.S. intelligence — international terrorist organizations don’t typically feel obliged to respond to media inquiries or to respect the independent role of journalists. But clearly the case against al-Awlaki gives every appearance of going far beyond simple dismay caused by his objectionable opinions.

    As to the question of the right of the U.S. government to target him despite his being an American citizen, many more learned people than you or I will be arguing this point for years to come. For what it’s worth, however, my personal view is to consider people like al-Awlaki in the same way we might regard, say, Bonnie and Clyde — once you’ve proven your willingness to kill and you’re on the run doing all you can to evade capture by law enforcement, you’ve compromised your expectation of being tried in a court of law. Al-Awlaki could have arranged to turn himself in if he wanted to exercise his right to a fair trial. With due respect to skinnyminny’s concerns about police shooting unarmed civilians, a suspect at large who indicates a clear preference for shooting first is asking to be shot first if the opportunity presents itself, as it apparently did to President Obama.

    Robert Steinback
    Deputy Editor, Hatewatch blog
    Southern Poverty Law Center

  • jonas

    My personal feelings about this: I do not think he should have been arrested or apprehended at all. You read that right. Nothing should have been done about him, he should have been allowed to express his point of view freely in the United States. Whether his free speech is considered ‘terrorist recruitment’ or not, he still should have been allowed to express it, because free speech is a right affirmed in both the US Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If significant proof was established that Umar Abd al-Muttalib or Nidal Hassan actually WERE ENCOURAGED BY AWLAKI’S SERMON, and it was a sermon with violent rhetoric, then he should have been brought up on charges of incitement to violence and sentenced to an adequate amount of time (leave it up to a judge). It was never proven that he was guilty of anything whatsoever, which is why I believe that Awlaki should have been allowed to speak his mind freely.

    Moreover, this is certainly not the first time that a person with provocative views and statements infused with violent rhetoric has been linked to or supported by terrorists. some may remember the case of Byron Williams, who attempted, with political motivations, to drive to the Tides Foundation offices with a truckload of ammunition and firearms. The Tides Foundation is relatively obscure, and was largely brought to public attention due to repeated mentions on Glenn Beck’s now-defunct Fox TV show. Beck claimed that the Tides Foundation was part of a socialist conspiracy involving billionaire capitalist George Soros, Obama, and Petrobras (Brazilian state oil company). Byron Williams later admitted that Glenn Beck was an inspiration to him and likened him to a schoolteacher because of the use of his trademark blackboard. Two other Beck fans have also been implicated in political violence. However, the government didn’t see fit to take action regarding Beck’s speech. Why did they apply a double standard with regard to Awlaki? In my opinion they should have done the same thing to Awlaki as they did to Glenn Beck – absolutely nothing, as his speech is legally protected, just as Beck’s is.

  • skinnyminny

    Okay Jonas,
    I get what you are saying. From your standpoint, you are really talking about the legal end of it, this guy not having his right to a fair trial.

    I understand that! However, I will agree with that part. Yet, on the other hand, I will just say that there were no good solutions, or an end. Here’s why. Most people do not want these type trials in their cities. Then you have GB, that people want closed. Then you also have the people that complain that men are being recruited in the prisons. Now, if we had left him in that country he was in to face trial, how could we trust that he would indeed do his time, or get the punishment we wanted? But, again, yes, he was our citizen, yet, we do have people that spend time in foreign jails.

    I guess I’m just asking what do you do with someone like him? Do you put him in a secret prison? Do you conduct a secret rendition, something other countries have complained about us doing? Please understand, I’m not being an idiot about this. As I said in another post, someimes I say things that are hypocritical, or way out there, yet, sometimes I speak from the heart, sometimes I say things to open dialogue, and sometimes I say things to get people to open up with their true feelings. Truthfully, I would like to know how you would handle this, especially in light of what just happen with Gilat!

  • skinnyminny

    Jonas Rand,
    to partially respond to your second post, “back to the topic…” we are well aware of, or at least, have been told about the people that were thought to be, ‘working with the Americans.’ That is how I also base my opinions. It is not safe for anyone that would be considered working with anyone from the West. In fact, we have given some people refuge in this country based on this.

    So, again, with this, I’d like to quote (not sure exactly the exact quote because it could be switched) a rapper, I think he was from Georgia, who says, “hood approved, street tested,” (or it could be switched to hood tested, street approved, can’t remember the exact way it was said.) But, that’s the way I look at it. I am stressing this because, let’s say for argument’s sake, you start a business or an organization, legal or illegal. How would you like it if someone just came in and started taking over? Regardless if that someone did bring in business. You would probably look at like, ‘the nerve of this person trying to take over what I’ve started. What do they want, and why are they doing this when I didn’t ask them too.’ I am expressing it this way, because I think when it comes to things like this (or power) people can be selfish, meaning they want to take the credit, they want to be the leader (meaning calling the shots). What is your take on this?

  • Jonas Rand

    My take on it is that the government’s enforcement of free speech is indeed inconsistent. Supposedly, anyone can say anything they like (and rightfully so). The First Amendment does not list any parameters or exceptions to guaranteeing free speech, and absolute free speech has been assured in this country since the late sixties. A precedent was set by United States v. O’Brien (1968) that affirmed the universal application of the First Amendment speech clause. Thus, every American citizen is legally entitled to that right – from the NSM to `Awlaki. I do not know whether the NSM post flyers – I have lived in Las Vegas for eleven years, and, without exception, I have never awoken from sleep to find neo Nazi pamphleteering in my neighborhood. However, it certainly seems that groups who do are never punished for it.

    It doesn’t seem true that the government guarantees free speech for all US citizens in practice; just look at the aggressive, zealous response to the Occupy protests by some police agencies (Boston and New York), or the killings of Samir Khan and Anwar al-Awlaki (neither of whom were proven beyond a reasonable doubt to have been guilty of any crime), or the suppression of the BART anti-brutality phone protest, or this story from June, in which a police officer tried to tase a man (and eventually shot him to death for attempting to wrest the taser from him) for questioning authority/arguing with him. All of this makes me want to ask: when did this become a totalitarian state? It is starting to get uglier and uglier … thank goodness we have the ACLU!

  • skinnyminny

    Jonas Rand,
    Okay! I think we have both said basically the same thing. Note how you said some people are manipulated to do some of these things – well, that’s why I said that this group is not dumb, and being that he was an American citizen, of course, I would think they would make doubly sure that he was not infiltrating or spying on their group.

    Now, another thing that needs to be looked into, in the article above, it said that these men were arrested/indicted in 2009 for distributing literature – well, doesn’t groups like NSM do that here? Meaning littering neighborhoods, passing out this stuff at schools, leaving this stuff on neighborhood lawns…and nothing happens to them? Another thing that can make this argument, the NSM can get police protection and hold rallies at goverment facilities (i.e., city halls, state buildings…) and even go into minority neighborhoods, now, do you think that this type group can do the same? I am asking this, because the minority neighborhoods, more specifically, black neighborhoods, these are Americans. What is your take on this?

  • Jonas Rand

    Back on topic, are there any ethical benefits to these “entrapment” schemes? How do they protect us all? I think they are just a waste of money, I saw Anjali Kamat of Democracy Now! do a movie report on them and there is a possibility that, on some occasions, the FBI is creating threats from nothing. The way it was described in her report was that an FBI agent basically tries to get people in poor neighborhoods, the most likely people to accept offers like this for money, to participate in criminal activity. If it is initially turned down, then they keep trying to convince them to give in any way they can. Of course, they have a greater likelihood of doing so if they are poor. If the potential marks are religious, like the jihadists, they can base the argument for participating in a terror plot on religious grounds, speaking to their faith. If they agree, then they begin discussing ways to proceed with the plot, weapons, funding, etc, and once there is an opportune time, they apprehend them on attempted terrorism charges or something of the like. These are sly, deplorable tactics that Americans, especially poor people, should learn not to give in to and are useless in stopping terrorism. It seems that constantly nagging people to do something criminal, only to ensnare them if they take the bait, will not prevent crime, but would create false instances of conspiring in crime that wouldn’t ordinarily occur. What if someone is easily manipulated? What if they are desperate for some money? What if they are very devout fundamentalists, believing wholeheartedly in jihad against America, and are further inspired to be more radical by the FBI agent’s persuasion? While I can see how it would prevent those who may have committed a crime from endangering the public, this might be doing more harm than good.

  • Jonas Rand

    Here is another TL;DR post about this. Sorry for the length. Just so there’s no confusion about this, I don’t mean to defend `Awlaki’s positions, but his right to express them (of course, it’s too late, because that right was already violated). We should all have the right to speak.

    “That’s kinda tricky, in that, police do this and similar everyday, not just what a suspect says, but, what he looks like, because he ran…these people as well don’t have due process as well. So, just a trick question, does the police have more authority than the prez when it comes to these type situations? Or, does this simply mean that our justice system needs to be changed (or a common word that’s used nowadays – reformed).”

    You make a good point, Skinnyminny, as regards police brutality and misconduct breaking the law. The problem as I see it, and this is only my personal perspective, is that the court system allows cops to get away unaccountable and unscathed. It does not mean that there are no laws, and it does not make such behavior any less in violation of the law. The President (as well as former presidents), as well as the police, is legally supposed to be held to the same standards as every citizen of this country. Sadly, it seems that neither of them are. George Bush and Dick Cheney are selling books, while peaceful protesters expressing discontent with corporate greed and financial corruption of the government are getting arrested.

    You are correct to note that several police shootings around the country have taken place, with no one to put them in check. I live in Nevada and the same thing happened here. Metro officers, however peacefully they are dealing with the local Occupy protests (and they have done well), have basically been allowed to get away with murder in several instances. The 1st amendment rights violations against the Occupy protesters by certain police agencies have been incredibly blatant.

    Again, none of this justifies the murder of `Awlaki, which is just as illegal and carried out with just as much disrespect for due process as the torture of Abu Zubaydah (which, again, went without a criminal investigation).

    “And last, I’d like to ask you, do you think that AQ will let someone address their potential recruits without having proper permission/authority to do so? I would like to think, that he was definitely an asset to this group because he was able to attract English speaking people to join their cause. In addition, I don’t think this group would just let someone or anyone just out of the blue present themselves as representative of them without expressed permission/proper authority.”

    Well, I don’t think someone would be required to have approval from al-Qaida to promote their perspective, if that is what you mean by addressing “potential recruits”. It isn’t as if they stand in a line in London waiting to register for terrorism training; he was trying to argue al-Qaida’s point of view. I do not think the expression of such views in mosques or anywhere else would need al-Qaida’s permission. Now, I will concede that he was interviewed by al-Malahem (al-Qaida Media outlet), which probably does require contact with/permission of AQ. Even then, however, it does not prove anything new, nor does it make him a “top leader”. As for the “asset to this group” claim, that is not a metric for guilt in participation in a crime, leadership in al-Qaida, or for whether someone’s murder is justified. Whether he was “valuable” or not, it still doesn’t provide a moral or legal justification for killing him.

    I do not know how his killing can be justified by law. Since when is someone to be murdered for what they said in this country? So, he is guilty of speaking his mind and … being bilingual? ¿Porque no fui asesinado ya? It is not a crime, last I checked, to support al-Qaida verbally (it is constitutionally protected under the first amendment; absolute free speech has been precedent in caselaw since the 1960s), and even if it were, last I checked, violators could only be punished after being convicted.

    As for this:
    “Again, I don’t think they would even let our media continue to put this guy high up their if it wasn’t true.”

    The claim that he is considered a high-level leader is not an empirical one, it is a subjective allegation. If you mean that al-Qaida considered him a top-level leader, and that if they didn’t, they would deny it, I believe that they would have rather kept it ambiguous. They do not want the US to have more information about it than they already do. This is only my subjective perception, but if I were Ayman az-Zawahiri or an al-Qaida leader, I would want to keep the US media guessing as much as possible.

  • skinnyminny

    Jonas Rand,
    Okay! Again, I will ask you to go to harry’s place. They do have copies of videos with him addressing the people in London. They have lots of these videos.

    And last, I’d like to ask you, do you think that AQ will let someone address their potential recruits without having proper permission/authority to do so? I would like to think, that he was definitely an asset to this group because he was able to attract English speaking people to join their cause. In addition, I don’t think this group would just let someone or anyone just out of the blue present themselves as representative of them without expressed permission/proper authority. I mean really, he was an American born citizen, which, I think they would really make sure he wasn’t infiltrating/spying on their group.

    Again, I don’t think they would even let our media continue to put this guy high up their if it wasn’t true. I would think they would issue their own statements to refute these claims. Now, these are just my opinions, but, I would think it is true as they do have a way of getting their messages out whether through audio tapes, video tapes…

  • Jonas Rand

    For the record, this is what I’m suggesting be removed…

    “…a top leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula…”

    …and replaced with something more fitting, such as “an imam who expressed support for al-Qaida”. Perhaps that is not quite appropriate either, and it certainly isn’t the best descriptor, but it is better than regurgitating what could be a lie. SPLC, you could do better than this. I really blame the mainstream American media, more than the SPLC or anyone else who repeats this dubious characterization of al-`Awlaki.

    It has been stated in an officially-approved post on a pro-Al-Qaida forum (Ansar al-Mujahideen English Forum) that al-`Awlaki joined AQ. This “confirmation” (published in the name of the forum, not al-Qaida) did not in any way mention or identify his role or how high he ranked in the organization.

    Here is what the quote said: “For he [Awlaki] was not content to merely talk about Jihad, he wanted to ‘practice what he preached’. He left a comfortable life in America and made Hijrah to Yemen, and joined his brothers in Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.” (For reference.)

    The first sentence, upon casual review, appears to imply that his role was not limited to “merely talk[ing] about Jihad”. However, it says “he wanted to ‘practice what he preached'”, not that he actually did, which could mean anything. It then follows by saying that he joined al-Qaida. This could have been the only actual action that he took apart from preaching about jihad from a fundamentalist Muslim viewpoint. It is possible that he was a mere propagandist, and even if he was an actual armed fighter, it does not make him a top leader (quite the contrary, it is most likely that a real militant in al-Qaida would be a foot soldier).

    The claim that he was a high-ranking al-Qaida commander arose in the US media, probably as an exaggeration, to justify his killing to the public (reinventing him as another Usama). Regardless, it begs the question, where is the proof that he was a “top leader”?

    I would not doubt it if he really was an AQ member, but the “confirmation” of his membership is not an official confirmation from an AQ media outlet (yes, they do have them).

  • skinnyminny

    Jonas Rand,
    you said, “it violates federal statutes…” That’s kinda tricky, in that, police do this and similar everyday, not just what a suspect says, but, what he looks like, because he ran…these people as well don’t have due process as well. So, just a trick question, does the police have more authority than the prez when it comes to these type situations? Or, does this simply mean that our justice system needs to be changed (or a common word that’s used nowadays – reformed).

    I ask this question, because, again, here in Califas, there has been a lot of things that make people raise their eyebrows, like the most recent, a man in the Antelope Valley (Lancaster/Palmdale) was allegedly shot 14x’s and his pregnant girlfriend allegedly shot in the back. Yesterday, in Pomona, a male was shot by police, it is alleged that the girlfriend and the male was at a motel, where the girlfriend was reportedly living, Witnesses are coming forward or questioning the incident. Now, I’m not saying that all cases are excessive/deadly force, because sometimes there are bad witnesses. It just makes me wonder why there are so many of these type cases. Another question, I’m wondering why there are so many arrests with the occupy protesters – do they have freedom of speech or what? But, then there were no arrests, at least that I’m aware of, any of the t’s at their protests – so, is this a case of, if you’re liberal, or not christian, you don’t have freedom of speech, or is it that you have very limited speech?

  • Mitch Beales

    Whycome SPLC is only against white christians? Oh…wait a minute…

  • Jonas Rand

    Additionally, killing al-`Awlaki for what he said (no matter what he said, how violent it was, its potential to “inspire terrorists”, etc.) was illegal. It violates a federal statute against murder, as well as his first amendment rights (he was a US citizen). It is outrageous that murdering an American citizen, solely for exercising a right upheld by the US constitution, was even tolerated. Another president, Nixon, whose administration sank that low (namely, with the Fred Hampton assassination) went down as one of the most corrupt politicians in US history.

  • Jonas Rand

    “The news/media here in the U.S. does not give all the information we need.”

    True. The US establishment media is precisely where this (probably exaggerated) allegation about al-Awlaki’s role in al-Qaida came from.

    “To me, the SPLC does a better job of reporting info, in that it doesn’t lead to name calling or, bullying.”

    Well, it often does, but that doesn’t mean it is always better. Sometimes, it gets the facts wrong just as the mainstream American media does not always present all sides of the story.

    “…all that I have seen…”

    Does that include al-`Awlaki claiming to be a high-ranking al-Qaida leader, or even an al-Qaida member at all? If not, why should the poorly documented claim that he was a higher-up in al-Qaida stay?

    By the way, the above “jonas” is me, but I was writing the post on my phone and didn’t feel like typing my whole name in (I am just figuring out how to work a touch screen Android).

  • skinnyminny

    The news/media here in the U.S. does not give all the information we need. To me, the SPLC does a better job of reporting info, in that it doesn’t lead to name calling or, bullying.

    If you want more info, including videos of what al Awalaki had to say (in his own words) to the British youths in London, go to and look up all the articles the section devoted to Islam – the people over there usually go to the mosques and events to report, includes videos and photos, sometimes screenshots of blogs. With all that I have seen, I believe it shouldn’t ‘be removed.’

  • jonas

    The allegation that al Awlaki was a ‘top level’ al Qaida member has not been documented. Why is that in the article? It is not known what role he had in al Qaida, he could have been a simple propagandist. The establishment media exaggerated his importance; the heavily repeated claim about him being a top commander might just be a part of the media’s embellishment.
    I suggest it be removed, but that’s up to you.