NBC News
updated 12/23/2009 6:56:37 PM ET 2009-12-23T23:56:37

Al-Jazeera's interview with Anwar al-Awlaki, as translated by Evan Kohlmann, NBC News terrorism analyst.

Sheik Anwar, what is your relation with Nidal Hasan, and when did it begin?

Brother Nidal, I ask Allah to protect and solidify him, used to pray in my mosque while I was an Imam in Dar al-Hijrah [Mosque].

When did the first meeting between you and him happen?

About nine years ago when I was Imam of Dar al-Hijrah in the capital, Washington, D.C., and it is one of the biggest Islamic centers in America.

There are reports that mentioned a bigger connection than that.

Brother Nidal also corresponded with me via e-mail from last year until the middle of this year, 2009

When did Nidal’s correspondence begin?

The first letter from Nidal was on Dec. 17, 2008.

Who contacted the other first, you or him?

He contacted me first.

What did he say?

He asked whether killing American soldiers and officers is lawful or not.

He asked you this question more than a year before he executed the operation?

Yes, and I wonder where were the American security forces that one day claimed they can read the numbers of any license plate, anywhere in the world, from space.

What did Nidal want from you in most of his messages?

Of course, as I mentioned to you, his first message was about the ruling of a Muslim soldier serving the American Army, killing his colleagues. And, via a group of letters Nidal explained his point of view about killing Israeli civilians and he supported that, and through these letters he mentioned Sharia-based and realistic excuses for targeting the Jews with rockets. Also, there were some messages through which he asked about a method of transferring some money to us in contributions for charity works.

There is other proof about your relationship with Nidal; from those is that you commended Nidal’s actions three days after he carried out the operation?

Agreeing with the operation was because what brother Nidal did was a heroic act, and I was careful to express my opinion about what happened because many Islamic organizations and advocates in the West condemned the operation, so it was crucial that an independent voice connected with Muslims in America and the West is heard, to clarify the truth, especially in regards to what Nidal has done, despite that the media attempted to connect him with me from the beginning.

Why did you bless the acts of Nidal Hasan?

Because Nidal’s target was a military target inside America and there is no dispute over it. Also, these soldiers weren’t normal ones, but they were prepared and getting ready to take off to fight and kill weakened Muslim and commit crimes in Afghanistan. So, how could I, or other advocates, be silent, after some of those claiming Sharia knowledge criminalized Nidal’s operation. If the dispute was over who dies in them [operations] of non-fighters, then what is their excuse for objecting now when the target is solely military?

How can you agree with what Nidal did as he betrayed his American nation?

More important than that is that he did not betray his religion. Working in the American Army to kill Muslims is a betrayal to Islam. America today is yesterday’s pharaoh; it is an enemy to Islam. A Muslim is not allowed to work in the American Army unless he intends to walk the steps of our Brother Nidal. Loyalty in Islam is to Allah, His messenger and the believers, and not to a handful of soil they call “nation.” The American Muslim’s loyalty is to the Muslim Nation and not to America, and brother Nidal is a proof on that through [executing] his blessed operation, so may Allah reward him the best of the rewards for that.

Do you have any connection with the incident directly?

I did not recruit Nidal Hasan, but America did with its crimes and injustice, and this is what America does not want to admit. America does not want to admit that what Nidal carried out, and what thousands of Muslims besides Nidal are doing in fighting against America, is because of its oppressive policies against the Islamic world. Nidal Hasan, before he became an American, is a Muslim, and he is also from Palestine and he sees what the Jews are doing through oppressing his people under American cover and support. Yes, I may have a role in the intellectual direction of Nidal, but the matter does not exceed that, as I don’t try to disconnect myself with what Nidal has done because of disagreement with it, but it would be an honor to me if I had a bigger role in it.

You previously spoke with me about your correspondence with Nidal, and you gave me the original copies of it, and throughout looking them over I found that he trusts and respects you, and now you say that you don’t have a direct or strong relation with him?

I spoke with you about it [correspondence] and I explained it, and I gave it to you to publish it because the American administration has prohibited publishing it. Why do they not want it out? What is the reason? Do they want to cover their security failure? Or, do they not want to confess that Nidal Hasan was a man of principle and that he did what he did as a service to Islam? Do they pose to show it as a sudden, individual act with no relation to the actions of the criminal American Army?

Do you think that Nidal will face the death penalty?

This is possible, and in any way we pray for him that Allah solidifies him on the truth and graces him towards what is benevolent.

How do you feel toward that if he is executed?

I ask from Allah to accept him amongst the martyrs as he did what he did expecting martyrdom, so if he gets executed then congratulations to him.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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