Islamism

Anwar al-Awlaki’s father and Al Muhajiroun

This is a cross post of an ICSR Insight by Senior Research Fellow, Shiraz Maher

A speech by the father of Anwar al-Awlaki, Dr Nasser al-Awlaki, was released on 2 December 2011 in the United Kingdom by a group calling itself ‘United Ummah’. This group is an incarnation of the now banned ‘Muslims Against Crusades’ which was itself one of many successor groups to al-Muhajiroun first established by Omar Bakri Mohammed in the mid-1990s.

The group led protests outside the American embassy in London following Anwar al-Awlaki’s death in September and performed funeral prayers for the al-Qaeda preacher there. To express his gratitude, Nasser al-Awlaki sent the group a message which has now been published on YouTube.

For authoritative analysis on Anwar al-Awlaki see As American As Apple Pie: How Anwar al-Awlaki Became the Face of Western Jihad by ICSR Research Fellow Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens.

Key points

•    The six minute video urges Muslims in the United Kingdom to “spread his [Anwar al-Awlaki’s] knowledge and keep it alive”.

•    Nasser underscores the enduring nature of Awlaki’s threat by stating, “Anwar will [God willing] continue to be alive by spreading his teaching, sermons, and lectures. It is the precise thing that he lived and died for…It is the job of all of us to spread his knowledge and keep it alive”. The recent arrest of Jose Pimental, a New Yorker who allegedly planned to bomb returning American servicemen from Afghanistan and Iraq is testament to the ongoing potency of Awlaki’s message.

•    Awlaki is the primary ideologue for so-called ‘lone wolves’; individuals who self-radicalise through the internet before committing acts of terrorism. Their self-starting and isolated nature makes it particularly difficult for authorities to identify and stop these individuals. For more on love wolves see A Typology of Lone Wolves: Preliminary Analysis of Lone Islamist Terrorists by ICSR Associate Fellow, Raffaello Pantucci.

•    It would appear that Nasser is now endorsing his son’s message, stating, “My son’s blood did not, and will not, go in vain”.

•    This is a significant development given that Nasser al-Awlaki previously maintained some distance from his son’s position and instead worked with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), to try and prevent the American government from targeting him as part of its controversial drone programme.

For the full transcript of Nasser al-Awlaki’s speech, please click here.

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