On some accounts, Anwar al-Awlaki used to be a strong supporter of Islamic moderation, a champion of integration with mainstream American institutions. Following 9/11 he presented Islam to the media as a moderate religion which had been distorted by terrorists. But al-Awlaki now supports jihadi violence against the United States. The Obama administration has authorized his “targeted killing.” That’s quite extraordinary since he is a US citizen who was born in New Mexico.
A serious question is whether al-Awlaki’s turn to jihad is a new development, or whether he was always so inclined. Was the moderation merely an act? Did he misrepresent his understanding of Islam in order to further the cause of terror? Or did he undergo a conversion to extremism, as he himself claims, after realizing the lengths to which America would go in prosecuting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? This is a question that will be asked of and turned against our moderate Muslim neighbors.
The Bush administration prevented Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss citizen and eminent Muslim scholar of Islam, from entering the United States, but the Obama administration permitted his entry. Ramadan supporters say he is a true moderate and that his work represents the possibility of a rapprochement of Islam and the West. Ramadan detractors say that he is two-faced. They argue that this grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna provides intellectual cover for radicals.
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