|Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is accused of trying detonate explosives on a US-bound plane [AFP]
The US has accused the US-born Yemen-based religious scholar Anwar al-Awlaki of being linked to an attack on a military base in Texas and the alleged attempt to blow up a passenger plane over Detroit on Christmas Day.
US officials accuse al-Awlaki of either inciting or ideologically influencing Major Nidal Hasan, a US army psychiatrist who shot dead 13 people at the Fort Hood military base in November, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian suspect in the attempted bombing of a US-bound plane.
In this interview with Al Jazeera Arabic, al-Awlaki says he supports the failed bombing of the plane but did not encourage the attack.
Al Jazeera: The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal have quoted CIA investigators as talking about the possibility of targeting you in a drone attack. Why do you think the Americans want to kill you?
Awlaki: Because I am a Muslim and I promote Islam. The charge is “incitement”; my relationships with Nidal Hasan, Umar Farouk and some 9/11 attackers, and now I am accused of being linked to 14 cases. All this comes as part of the attempt to liquidate the voices that call for defending the rights of the Umma [Muslim nation].
They reject the principle of pride and demanding justice, they want to promote the principle of humiliation and compliance. They want to market the democratic and peaceful US Islam that calls for obeying the superiors even if they were traitors and collaborators, they want an Islam that recognises the occupation and deals with it, they want an Islam that has no sharia ruling, no jihad and no Islamic caliphate.
We call for the Islam that was sent by Allah to Prophet Muhammad, the Islam of jihad and sharia ruling. Any voice that calls for this Islam, they either kill the person or the character; they kill the person by murdering or jailing them, or they kill the character by distorting their image in the media.
Have you met Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and did you issue a fatwa [a religious edict] allowing him to carry out the operation?
My fellow mujahid [a Muslim engaged in jihad] Umar Farouk, may Allah free him, is one of my students, and yes there was some contact between me and him, but I did not issue a fatwa allowing him to carry out this operation.
Does describing him as a “mujahid” mean you support what he did?
Yes, I support what Umar Farouk has done after I have been seeing my brothers being killed in Palestine for more than 60 years, and others being killed in Iraq and in Afghanistan. And in my tribe too, US missiles have killed 17 women and 23 children, so do not ask me if al-Qaeda has killed or blown up a US civil jet after all this. The 300 Americans are nothing comparing to the thousands of Muslims who have been killed.
You have supported Nidal Malik Hasan and justified his act by saying that his target was a military not a civilian one. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s plane was a civilian one, which means the target was the US public?
It would have been better if the plane was a military one or if it was a US military target. Al-Qaeda organisation has its options, and the American people live [in] a democratic system and that is why they are held responsible for their policies.
The American people are the ones who have voted twice for Bush the criminal and elected Obama who is not different from Bush as his first remarks stated that he would not abandon Israel, despite the fact that there were other anti-war candidates in the US elections, but they won very few votes. The American people take part in all its government’s crimes.
If they oppose that, let them change their government. They pay the taxes which are spent on the army and they send their sons to the military, and that is why they bear responsibility.
Do you think Yemen’s government would facilitate your assassination?
The Yemeni government sells its citizens to the United States, to earn the ill-gotten funds it begs the West for in return for their blood. The Yemeni officials tell the Americans to strike whatever they want and ask them not to announce responsibility for the attacks to avoid people’s rage, and then the Yemeni government shamelessly adopt these attacks.
For example, the people of Shabwa, Abyan and Arhab have seen the Cruz missiles, and some people saw cluster bombs that did not explode. The state lies when it claims responsibility, and it does so to deny collaboration. US drones continuously fly over Yemen. What state is that which allows its enemy to spy on its people and then considers it as “accepted cooperation”.
You accuse the Yemeni government of lying while it publicly rejects any direct intervention. Does this mean the country is occupied?
Undoubtedly. The sea is occupied; the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, Suqatra island, and the air is occupied by the drones.
There is also [a] US presence on the land, violating the state sovereignty under the pretext of the embassy’s practices. There is also [a] military presence training the interior forces to fight Muslims and kill the sons of Yemen. The Americans were training Yemeni forces to kill the sons of Yemen. This is occupation, Yemen is occupied.
Some people and governments are distinguished by certain qualities; as you may say this person is tall, and that is stubborn. The Yemeni government’s special quality is lying, the Yemeni government is a lying government, it lies internally and externally, it lies to its people, to its neighbours and to America, it lies to everyone. The government has claimed it killed this and that, and then it turned out to be lying. The Yemeni government only wants to offer presents to the United States, and you can see how low it has gone.
Some Yemeni scholars, who have issued fatwas of jihad in case of direct intervention by the US or the West in Yemen, disagree with your opinion that there is currently direct intervention in the country.
It is a good fatwa, but it is incomplete and conditioned. The United States has entered [Yemen] by all means, even if it has not sent its army like what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan, it does not dare to [send troops] because the Yemeni people will “swallow” them and will make them forget the terrors they have seen in Iraq and still face in Afghanistan.
I want to draw these scholars’ attention to the fact that there are US officers, whether intelligence or army officers, now in Sanaa and other areas, and this is US intervention. Why do not these scholars issue fatwas to kill these officers? They are spying, killing and training Yemeni soldiers to kill.
The Western media says that you are ‘inspiring’ Muslims in the US and the West. Is this an exaggeration?
I have said in an earlier interview with Al Jazeera’s Yusri Fouda that the United States is a tyrant, and tyrants across history have all had terrible ends. I believe the West does not want to realise this universal fact. Muslims in Europe and America are watching what is happening to Muslims in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan, and they will take revenge for all Muslims across the globe.