Investigating Ft. Hood: Anwar al-Awlaki's "Constants on the Path of Jihad"
By Evan Kohlmann
One of the key questions for investigators who are now looking into potential links between radical Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and the accused perpetrator of the massacre at Ft. Hood, Maj. Malik Nidal Hasan, is understanding to what degree al-Awlaki's extreme sermons may have influenced Hasan's actions. Toward that end, they should be keeping an especially close eye out for one such al-Awlaki sermon in particular--"Constants on the Path of Jihad"--which itself is based upon an Arabic-language text penned by the founder of Al-Qaida's network in Saudi Arabia, Yousef al-Ayyiri. In order to bring al-Ayyiri's words to an English-speaking audience, al-Awlaki dedicated a lengthy lecture to his work--a lecture that over time has become the "virtual bible" for lone wolf Muslim extremists. In "Constants", al-Awlaki argues:
“Jihad does not end with the disappearance of a person. Jihad must continue regardless because it does not depend on any particular leader or individual… Jihad does not depend on any particular land. It is global. When the Muslim is in his land, he performs jihad… No borders or barriers stop it. The message cannot be conveyed without jihad. If a particular people or nation is classified as… ‘the people of war’ in the Shariah, that classification applies to them all over the earth. Islam cannot be customized to suit the conditions where you are, for instance Europe.”
According to Awlaki, al-Ayyiri also instructed that “victory” cannot be limited to mere “military victories” alone, and should also include “sacrifice. The Mujahid sacrificing ‘his self’ and his wealth is victory. Victory of your idea, your religion. If you die for your religion, your death will spread the da`wa… Allah chooses Shuhada (martyrs) from amongst the believers. This is a victory.”
It is thus perhaps little surprise that Anwar al-Awlaki's name and his sermon on "Constants on the Path of Jihad" seem to surface in every single homegrown terrorism investigation, whether in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, or beyond. For a sense of what role Awlaki and his message play in these cases, take for instance the New Jersey-based conspirators behind the attempted terror plot at Ft. Dix. The following is an excerpt from my expert report submitted on behalf of prosecutors in that case (available on the NEFA Foundation website):
"I have been provided with the preserved digital contents of a computer marked as “Dell Desktop from Duka” by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey which contain records of a user (or users) downloading and listening to Shaykh Anwar al-Awlaki’s English-language audio sermon teaching the lessons of Yousef al-Ayyiri’s “Constants on the Path of Jihad.” Stored under a “My Documents\My Received Files” folder by a registered user named “Elvis”, the “Dell Desktop from Duka” also contains a physical copy of the same audio sermon by al-Awlaki explaining “Constants on the Path of Jihad.” On March 9, 2007, Dritan Duka and Shain Duka were recorded discussing the importance of “Constants on the Path of Jihad” with other alleged conspirators and a cooperating witness. Shain Duka commented, “...as I was saying Serd… about Anwar al Awlaki… You gotta hear this lecture… you gotta hear it… The title? The title is Constance of [UI].” Dritan Duka echoed, “You gotta hear this lecture, this brother [UI] him locked up in Yemen, Anwar al Awlaki the Imam in Washington DC, they kicked him out of the US and now they locked him up in Yemen. He was talking about Jihad [holy struggle] the truth, no holes barred, straight how it is!” Later, during the same conversation, the group of men listen to an actual copy of Anwar al-Awlaki’s sermon on “Constants on the Path of Jihad.” While the audio recording plays in the background, Shain Duka insists to them, “You gotta listen to this [UI]… He has a whole volume of this lecture.” Dritan Duka added, “You can’t buy it nowhere… He’s in jail, they arrest him, he’s on house arrest… For stuff like this, in Yemen.” Shain Duka concurred with Dritan’s assessment: “You can’t find it… In his own country they locked him up for speaking like this… That’s a good lecture, huh brother? … There’s no lies with this guy.” One of the other men listening—Gregori Ilichenko—praised al-Awlaki and his interpretation of “Constants on the Path of Jihad”, responding, “Mad good son.” Separately, in early 2007, the subject of “Constants on the Path of Jihad” came again several times during recorded conversations involving Eljvir Duka. In February 2007, Duka repeatedly instructed an unidentified male to download a copy of Anwar al-Awlaki’s English language lecture: “I would like you to go on the JusOne news to this website and I can give you my password, it’s a it’s a lecture by Imam Anwar [ph] [UI]… It’s called the Constants of Jihad, the Constants of Jihad and this, ever since I heard this lecture brother I want everyone to hear about it. You know why, because he gives it to you raw and uncut… this is the truth I don’t give a damn what everybody says this is Islam, this is the truth right here. So he doesn’t sugar coat, he doesn’t have any boundaries to the truth in this, and it’s very why- why am I stressing this point, because we’re living in a time people were confused Muslims themselves they’re confused… About our own brothers, you understand? So this lecture is very necessary for people today, if you’re concerned… [It is] verbal, audio, you have to download it... let me know what you think of it when you hear it… One of the best lectures I ever heard ever.” On April 12, 2007, Eljvir Duka was recorded during a telephone conversation he initiated with an unknown male. Duka asked, “Look, what time you open till? …I wanted to know... do, do you have, ah, ‘The Constants-,’ ‘The Constants of Jihad’ by Anwar al Awlaki? … It’s six, yeah, six CD’s I believe… Is there anyway you can order it for me? …in Arabic I think it’s ‘Sowhabist [PH] al la dar [PH] al Jihad.’ …So, um, ‘Constants of Jihad’ in English… by Anwar al Awlaki.”
November 9, 2009 08:35 AM Link