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Anyone with eyes and ears could have ascertained, long before Awlaki ever set foot on GWU’s campus, that he was not in any way a “moderate.” Evidence of Awlaki’s commitment to violent jihad dated back to at least 1991, and his vile, inflammatory sermons were by no means carefully guarded secrets. The Investigative Project on Terrorism obtained and studied nearly five-dozen CDs of lectures that Awlaki had recorded in the late 1990s, during his tenure as leader of a Sunni mosque in San Diego. These sermons focused heavily on the dangers that the corrupting evils of Western culture allegedly posed to Muslims in the West—and thus emphasized the importance of resisting assimilation at all cost. Further, Awlaki condemned the undue influence of “the strong Jewish lobbyists”; he characterized Jews as “the enemy from Day 1 to the Day of Judgment”; he denounced “the Jewish terrorists” who were making life miserable for Muslims in many places; he called for the universal implementation of Sharia Law, the “true Islamic system” of “justice”; and he demanded that Muslims commit to the “long-term sacrifice” that “jihad” required—sacrifice that could entail giving “your time,” “your money,” “your family,” and even “your life.”
The rest of Awlaki’s story, post-MSA, is well-known. He fled to the United Kingdom and thereafter to Yemen, from where he was able to influence, among others, the terrorists behind the Fort Hood massacre of 2009, the failed Christmas Day underwear-bomber plot of 2009, the attempted Times Square bombing of 2010, and the plot to bomb the Washington Metro system. Ultimately, Awlaki was killed by a U.S. drone attack in Yemen last September.
Notwithstanding his long, well-documented history of jihadism, Awlaki was somehow deemed fit to serve as the spiritual guide of George Washington University’s MSA chapter. Or was it perhaps because of that history, that he was placed in such a position of influence? Indeed, about a decade earlier Awlaki had served as the leader of yet another MSA chapter—at Colorado State University. This suggests quite strongly that jihadism, far from being a detriment, is actually a resumé-enhancement for those who aspire to high-ranking positions with the MSA.
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