On 12th November 2009, Quilliam issued the following press release:
The firebrand preacher who has been linked to two 9/11 plane hijackers and Major Nidal Hassan — who opened fire on and killed 13 American soldiers in Fort Hood last week — has had support among major British Muslim organizations.
The engineer-cum-cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, has been a popular preacher in major British mosques and events and in some quarters still seems to be held in awe. Much like Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda ideologue Zawahiri, who lack formal Islamic scholarly qualifications, Awlaki’s main qualification is a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University. Despite this, he is perhaps the most influential jihadist ideologue preaching in English today.
In recent days, two major British Muslim organizations, Jamiat Ihya Minhaj al-Sunnah (JIMAS) and the Islamic Society of Britain (ISB), have had the honesty and courage to admit they hosted Awlaki in the past but now condemn his views. The step taken by these two organizations is representative of the positive shifts and intellectual journeys many young British Muslims are making. Quilliam supports their candour and conviction.
JIMAS and ISB have set a powerful precedent that several other organizations should follow.
Organizations active in the UK which have previously hosted Awlaki or helped to distribute his material include:
Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE)
London Muslim Centre
The Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS)
Muslim Association of Britain (MAB)
These activist bodies’ stubborn refusal to publically condemn Awlaki and distance themselves from his jihadist views risks sending a signal of support to Awlaki and his extremist followers, and a message of hostility towards our country, armed forces and American allies. Past association can only be nullified by public disassociation.
Quilliam calls on these organizations to jettison Islamism, the precursor to jihadism. Rejecting Awlaki’s message of hatred, violence and separatism is an opportune moment to take this crucial positive step.
1. Some of the UK organizations which have been connected to Anwar al-Awlaki are:
IFE – hosted Awlaki in 2003 and IFE subsidiary Young Muslim Organisation organized (pdf) two dinners, in 2001 and 2003 respectively, with Awlaki.
London Muslim Centre – allowed its premises to be used to host a video-message from Awlaki at 2009 event.
Islam Channel – allows UK registered company Qadimoon to broadcast advertisements for recordings by Awlaki and Islam Channel’s website also distributes Awlaki material.
FOSIS – hosted Awlaki at its 2003 Annual Conference and various university Islamic societies affiliated to FOSIS, including those at City University London and the University of Westminster, have since attempted, successfully or otherwise, to broadcast video messages from Awlaki.
MAB – organized a series of events at universities in 2003 with Awlaki as a speaker.
Cordoba Foundation – sponsored 2009 Cageprisoners event which was to have included a video message from Awlaki.
2. Quilliam is Britain’s first counter-extremism think tank. It is an independent organization and does not necessarily endorse the views of those organizations cited above.
3. For further information, please call Quilliam’s media line on 0207 182 7286 or 07590 229 917 or email [email protected]