May 09, 2010

Ongoing media cover-up in previously promoting Al-Qaeda imam Anwar Al-Awlaki as a moderate: New York Times edition

An article in yesterday's New York Times, "Imam’s Path From Condemning Terror to Preaching Jihad", is yet another example of how the establishment media is attempting to white-wash their past complicity in promoting Al-Qaeda cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki as a moderate. Here is the setup by the Times:

A contrasting version of Mr. Awlaki’s story, explored though never confirmed by the national Sept. 11 commission, maintains that he was a secret agent of Al Qaeda starting well before the attacks, when three of the hijackers turned up at his mosques. By this account, all that has changed since then is that Mr. Awlaki has stopped hiding his true views.

The tale that emerges from visits to his mosques, and interviews with two dozen people who knew him, is more complex and elusive. A product both of Yemen’s deeply conservative religious culture and freewheeling American ways, he hesitated to shake hands with women but patronized prostitutes. He was first enthralled with jihad as a teenager — but the cause he embraced, the defeat of Soviet troops in Afghanistan, was then America’s cause too. After a summer visit to the land of the victorious mujahedeen, he brought back an Afghan hat and wore it proudly around the Colorado State campus in Fort Collins where he studied engineering.

Later, Mr. Awlaki seems to have tried out multiple personas: the representative of a tolerant Islam in a multicultural United States (starring in a video explaining Ramadan); the fiery American activist talking about Muslims’ constitutional rights (and citing both Malcolm X and H. Rap Brown); the conspiracy theorist who publicly doubted the Muslim role in the Sept. 11 attacks. (The F.B.I., he wrote a few days afterward, simply blamed passengers with Muslim names.)

Ah, you see, when you look at the matter objectively, the NYT authors claim, understanding his shift in public rhetoric is "complex and elusive". Why must they exclude the possibility (one accepted by the 9/11 Commission) that al-Awlaki was an al-Qaeda sleeper agent? Because after 9/11, Awlaki was one of the "moderates" that the establishment media turned to for understanding the "Muslim" perspective on the terror attacks. To admit that they were duped strikes at their continued credibility on terrorism. The New York Times and Washington Post are the biggest culprits in this.

In the NYT article, for instance, they attempt to give cover to the Washington Post, noting his appearance in a video on their website in November 2001 on Ramadan, characterizing his appearance as "the representative of a tolerant Islam in a multicultural United States". But when you actually look at the live chat from that Nov. 19, 2001 Washington Post interview, you find him defending the Taliban:

Alexandria, Va.: I saw your video on the Washington Post website this morning. Perhaps I am too biased as an American, but just what other avenues should or could the US have tried as opposed to as you put it - 'rushing into this war'?

Also, like we say 'Merry Christmas', is there any special greeting Muslims use during Ramadan?

Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki: The Taliban repeatedly said: show us the evidence and we will turn over whoever is guilty with the crime. The US should have given them the benefit of the doubt. Also our government could have dealt with the terrorist attacks as a crime against America rather than a war against America. So the guilty would be tried and only them would be punished rather than bombing an already destroyed country. I do not restrict myself to US media. I check out Aljazeerah and European media such as the BBC. I am seeing something that you are not seeing because of the one-sidedness of the US media. I see the carnage of Afghanistan. I see the innocent civilian deaths. That is why my opinion is different.
Keep in mind that I have no sympathy for whoever committed the crimes of Sep 11th. But that doesn't mean that I would approve the killing of my Muslim brothers and sisters in Afghanistan. Even though this is a dissenting view nowadays but as an American I do have the right to have a contrary opinion.
You can congratulate your Muslim friends with "Ramadan Mubarak"

Hmmm, defending the Taliban for their protection of Osama bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda leadership, and the Taliban's refusal to turn him over to the US after the 9/11 attacks doesn't appear to be very tolerant. Then again, I'm not a NYT reporter trying to cover-up for my colleagues.

What's interesting is that in all of the reporting by the Washington Post on Awlaki that I examined, not once did the Post acknowledge they had previously promoted the Al-Qaeda cleric in that Ramadan chat. Take for instance this Washington Post article in February 2008, "Imam From VA Mosque Now Thought to Have Aided Al-Qaeda". Not once in the article does reporter Susan Schmidt reveal that Awlaki had been their go-to "moderate" back in 2001. No mention of their post-9/11 promotion of Awlaki.

This goes for the NYT as well. In yesterday's article there is conveniently no mention that they too promoted Awlaki as "a new generation of Muslim leader capable of merging East and West" back in an October 19, 2001 article entitled, "Influential American Muslims Temper Their Tone":

Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki, spiritual leader at the Dar al-Hijra mosque in Virginia, one of the nation's largest, which draws about 3,000 worshipers for communal prayers each Friday, said: ''In the past we were oblivious. We didn't really care much because we never expected things to happen. Now I think things are different. What we might have tolerated in the past, we won't tolerate any more.''

''There were some statements that were inflammatory, and were considered just talk, but now we realize that talk can be taken seriously and acted upon in a violent radical way,'' said Mr. Al-Awlaki, who at 30 is held up as a new generation of Muslim leader capable of merging East and West: born in New Mexico to parents from Yemen, who studied Islam in Yemen and civil engineering at Colorado State University.

So it's no wonder that the establishment media is engaged in a widespread campaign to ignore their past dealings with Anwar Al-Awlaki, and now eager to offer a bogus narrative to cover-up their complicity in previously promoting Awlaki as a moderate. They refuse to acknowledge that they've been duped. This is understandable: If they admit their past failures it would lead the public to question who the establishment media is promoting as Islamic "moderates" today.

By Barbarossa at 11:57 AM | Comments |