The Secret Story Behind Obama’s Assassination of Two Americans in the Name of Fighting the 'War on Terror'
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So, Awlaki comes out of prison and starts a blog, and essentially becomes—and that’s why people often refer to Awlaki as like the YouTube imam or the Internet imam. You know, he comes out, and he starts pontificating on the state of affairs in the world, and he has a vibrant comments section in his website, and young Muslims around the world are asking him questions about different interpretations of the Qur’an or the hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad. And Awlaki becomes this sort of figure on the Internet. And his mosque was the Internet. And as the U.S. wars intensified, Awlaki’s rhetoric intensifies.
And really the turning point in this story was in 2009, when Major Nidal Hasan opened fire at Fort Hood, Texas, on his fellow soldiers. He was an Army psychiatrist and gunned down more than a dozen of his fellow soldiers and wounded many, many others. And he, himself, was shot and paralyzed. It emerged, after Nidal Hasan did this massacre in 2009, that he had been in email contact with Anwar al-Awlaki.
AMY GOODMAN: In Yemen.
JEREMY SCAHILL: While Awlaki was in Yemen. And so, the story was floated in the media, and it continues to this day, that Awlaki helped to plan the Fort Hood shooting. There has never been a shred of evidence produced publicly that Awlaki had anything to do with the Fort Hood shooting before it happened.
What we now know, because the emails have been released, the communications between Awlaki and Nidal Hasan, that Nidal Hasan was sort of a pathetic man who was writing to Awlaki saying everything from—asking him everything from questions about the proper conduct of a Muslim in a military—one of them should have caught the eyes of investigators. He was asking Awlaki, basically, is it OK to shoot a fellow soldier if you think that they’re engaged in, you know, crime against Islam, you know, if they’re going to be going to another country? But he was putting it in the context of Israel and Palestine, and not sort of directly asking about himself. But he also asked Awlaki if he could help find him a wife. And then he tried to donate money to Awlaki and said, "I want to give a prize in your name for the best essay."
AMY GOODMAN: But as you point out in your book, he actually had interaction with this man 10 years earlier.
JEREMY SCAHILL: So, Awlaki—so, in one of the emails, Nidal Hasan says, "You might not remember me, but I met you once at your mosque in Falls Church, Virginia." And Awlaki didn’t remember him, but it turned out that Nidal Hasan’s parents were members of Awlaki’s mosque, and they had gone to Awlaki concerned about their son at one point, that he wasn’t—I don’t want to mischaracterize it, because I haven’t talked to the Hasan family. But in any case, they went to Awlaki, and they asked him for some guidance for their son, and so Awlaki had met him at one point, but it wasn’t—you know, he was the imam at a big mosque, and this would happen. And Awlaki said that, you know, he didn’t remember him.
Then, you know, the shooting happened, the discovery of the emails between Awlaki and Hasan comes out, U.S. intelligence reviewed them, said there was nothing to indicate that Awlaki had anything to do with it, yet the story still persisted in the media. Then the shooting happens, and Awlaki writes a blog post that says Nidal Hasan is a hero, and he praises the Fort Hood attack and says, "This should be a sort of a model for Muslims in the military going forward," and essentially calls on other soldiers to do this. And that’s—he hit the tripwire there when he did that. And then it became a thing from being concerned about Awlaki’s speech and the idea that he would radicalize young people to actually praising this killing and calling on other Muslims in the U.S. military to do the same thing. The U.S. intelligence then got Awlaki’s blog shut down, and Awlaki started to be harassed by Yemeni intelligence, and he eventually went to his family’s province of Shabwa in southern Yemen to basically lay low.