Monday, April 12, 2010

Did Awlaki Have Foreknowledge of the 9/11 Attacks?

The (Possibly) Tell-Tale Publication Date and Other Circumstantial Info

By Paul Iorio

Awalki's copyright for much of his life's work. Was
he summing up and getting his affairs together, a few
weeks before 9/11, in anticipation of some sort of upheaval?

Anwar al-Awlaki, the Islamic militant known to have met

with two of the September 11th hijackers, spent the weeks

prior to 9/11 collecting much of his life's work for publication

and copyright.

The proximity of his work's official publication date to the

9/11 attacks arguably gives the appearance of someone summing up or

getting one's work and affairs in order before an anticipated upheaval or

interruption of some sort.

Analogously, the Securities and Exchange Commission often launches

investigations and even indicts based on this sort of

circumstantial evidence (i.e., increased business activity preceding

a dramatic market downturn or upturn).

According to the online records of the U.S. Copyright Office,

reported for the first time here, Awlaki has filed for a copyright

only twice in his career: for a 22-CD audio compilation of his

lectures that was published on August 15, 2001, and for a cassette

tape version published months earlier. (The formal copyright for

both works was registered in subsequent months.)

Awlaki's copyrighted oeuvre -- "The Life of the Prophets," an audio

anthology of his speeches spanning some two dozen discs and

18 cassette tapes -- was published by the Denver, Colorado-based

Al-Basheer Company For Publications & Translations, which

shares the copyright with him. (The company has not yet

responded to a question about whether it still pays royalties

to Awlaki and, if so, who it now pays.)

The Al-Basheer Company initially promoted the CD-set prominently

on its website's front page but has since removed it from its

online catalogue altogether. However, the publisher does

currently publish and promote works by another jihadi, Bilal Philips,

who the U.S government has called an "unindicted co-conspirator"

in the World Trade Center attack of 1993. (It was previously

thought that Philips' works were only availablea t the few

western libraries that hadn't yet removed them from the shelves.)

In the period before the 9/11 attacks -- from August 24 to August

27, 2001 -- Awlaki and Bilal Philips both appeared at a Da'wah

Conference at the University of Leicester in the U.K. with

other Muslim activist speakers, including Rafil Dhafir, now

in prison in the U.S. on terrorism charges.

When the circumstantial evidence about Awlaki's activities

in the weeks before 9/11 is put together, one has to wonder

and ask about the possibility that Awlaki had

foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks.

First, as has been widely reported, Awlaki knew two of the

hijackers -- Hawaf al-Hizmi and Hazmi's roommate Khalid al-Mihdar --

in the months prior to the hijackings. (A third, Hani Hanjour,

attended the mosque where Awlaki was the imam). Second, as

reported exclusively here, Awlaki spent the months and weeks

before the attacks getting his life's work together, assembling

together a sort of 'collected works' retrospective of his

lectures (though he had never before and hasn't since

copyrighted his material). Third, in the week before the

hijackings, he was participating in a seminar with a militant

involved in the World Trade Center bombing of '93.

(It should be noted that a cassette tape edition of Awlaki's

work had been published in January 2001, and even this date

supports my theory that he was tying up loose ends. After all,

the hijackings were originally scheduled for early 2001 and

then for July 2001, with the final date of 9/11 decided only

at the last minute. So if hijacker al-Hizmi had confided

in Awlaki in 2000 about the upcoming attacks, Awlaki would have

come into 2001 knowing only that the hijackings would take

place some time that year.)

For the record, the conventional wisdom has it that Awlaki

publicly condemned the 9/11 attacks at the time. But

close scrutiny of his statements reveals that he almost always

talked about 9/11 in highly ambiguous and almost sneaky terms

that could easily be read as an endorsement of either side.

For example, Awlaki was quoted by The New York Times in '01 as saying

the following about incendiary jihadi talk that leads to violence:

''There were some statements that were inflammatory," Awlaki told The Times --

while not specifying whether he was referring to statements by

Muslim radicals or by the so-called infidel -- "and were considered

just talk, but now we realize that talk can be taken seriously and

acted upon in a violent radical way." (Again, his meaning was

slippery and could have easily been along the lines of:

'now we realize that blasphemy and anti-Islamic talk must be

taken seriously and should be combated with violence.')

By the time of the 9/11 attacks, al-Awlaki had already been under

investigation for a couple years by the F.B.I. for suspected al Qaeda

ties. (The myth that he was a moderate then and has become an

extremist only recently is evidently just that: a myth.) He is currently

thought to be hiding in Yemen and is considered a high priority target

by the U.S. government.

Awlaki's collected lectures, prominently promoted
by its publisher, Al-Basheer, in '01.

* * *

Awlaki's publisher has gone on to publish
books by other jihadists like Bilal Philips,
who helped plan the bombing of the twin towers in '93.

* * * *

Awlaki and Bilal Philips both shared the bill
at a conference at the University of Leicester a couple
weeks before 9/11.

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