Charles Cameron has been guest blogging here in a series on radical Islamism and terrorism. A former researcher with the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University, his most recent essay, an analysis of the powerpoint presentation of Ft. Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan, appeared in the Small Wars Journal.
al-Awlaki: Constants on the Path of Jihad.
by Charles Cameron
Jarret Brachman, formerly Director of Research at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, spoke on CNN today about Anwar al-Awlaki, the Imam of a mosque in Falls Church, VA, where Major Nidal Hasan apparently prayed in 2001 (as, it seems, did several of the 9-11 hijackers at some point), with whom Hasan later had an extensive email correspondence.
The program referred in particular to a volume of al-Awlaki’s lectures titled Constants on the Path of Jihad, and Brachman commented:
I refer to what Awlaki puts out as “Radical Islam for Dummies”. … From the Yemen, Awlaki is able to put out these “how-to” manuals, and the jihadis on the internet right now are referring to the Fort Hood shooter as al-Qaeda’s version of a predator drone — and you can say that Awlaki is perhaps the guy at the end of the remote control, at least ideologically.
I got hold of a copy of the Constants on the Path to Jihad and even given my strong sense that jihadism is in some sort of apocalyptic mode, was surprised to note that the “First Constant” in that document is “Jihad will continue until the Day of Judgment”.
That’s an eschatological statement on the face of it, and one that Awlaki links with both Jewish and Christian expectations of the Messiah in his first paragraph in that section:
The entire world is standing against one ritual of Islam and that is Jihad. Many nations, especially the powerful ones, are mobilizing on various fronts (i.e., religious, political, social, economical, media, popular mass etc.) to fight against Jihad fe Sabeelillah. In terms of religious strength, we see that the USA and Israel are working for the State of Israel for a religious purpose: the descent of the Messiah. In terms of political strength, diplomacy around the world is concerned with fighting “Islamic terrorism”. Every single government in the world, both Muslim and non-Muslim, is united at the political level to fight against Islam (specifically, Jihad). On the media front, they are doing an excellent job of deceiving the masses on what Islam really is. They are giving Islam a face in this Country which is a very deceptive one.
While linking it in his last paragraph with the return of ‘Isa / Jesus, together with an event that follows Jesus’ subsequent death, and strangely echoes the Christian dispensationalist notion of the pre-tribulation Rapture:
On a side note, Jihad will end when ‘Isa rules the world. Why’s that? Because ‘Isa will fight kufr and there will be no more disbelief whatsoever. And after ‘Isa’s death, there will be no more Jihad because Allah will take away the souls of the believers and leave all the kuffar left on earth to go through the Last Hour. In addition, there is no Jihad against Ya’juj and Ma’juj because there is no capability of fighting them; they will be destroyed by a miracle.
I am not suggesting the apocalypse is imminent here, just that it is prominently placed in al-Awlaki’s work.
A further note: It appears that al-Awlaki’s lectures were posted in the form of a group of .mp3 files on the Islamic Awakening forums on 27th December 2005:
[Zen – Note: As this is an Islamist site, some readers might not want to casually click through on a work computer for cybersecurity reasons, so I have not embedded the link in the text.]
I do not have access to the .mp3s, but the .pdf version carries an epigraph that includes the phrase, “The shaheed is granted seven gifts from Allah: 1) He is forgiven at the first drop of his blood…” This is the same hadith which I noted in my commentary might in part explain Hasan’s willingness to attend lapdancing clubs, shortly before the shootings at Fort Hood.
Hasan might therefore been aware of this hadith at any point after 2005 via this web posting (someone would need to find, download and play the .mp3s to be sure) or from whenever the text version first became available — the point being that these lectures, in English, were in circulation by the end of 2005.