Al-Awlaki's Possibly Tell-Tale Copyright Dates
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 late 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
The proximity of his work's copyright dates 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
interruption of some sort.
At the very least, the timing is suspicious (much as, analogously, increased business activity preceding a company downturn or upturn would trigger an insider trading investigation by the SEC).
According to my own original research of online records at the U.S. Copyright Office, Awlaki had 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 responded to a question about whether it paid royalties to Awlaki.)
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 continued to 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 available at the few western libraries that hadn't yet removed them from the shelves.)
According to my research, 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 I've just reported, Awlaki spent the months and weeks before the attacks getting his life's work together, assembling 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 (as I've reported here).
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 became an extremist is evidently just that: a myth.
Al-Awlaki was killed four years ago this month by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen.
Awlaki's collected lectures, prominently promoted
by its publisher, Al-Basheer, in '01.
* * *
Awlaki's publisher went 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 just prior to 9/11.
THE DAILY DIGRESSION
for May 1, 2015
The Huffington Post just published my story on "The Purge," the movie of the moment in the wake of the Baltimore riots. Read it here:
Paul on "The Purge" -- in The Huffington Post.