Perhaps the American officials who were involved in planning an air strike which targeted Anwar al Awlaki, an American-born journeyman Islamic preacher, now in Yemen, read his blog before they destroyed his house. If they did, they would have discovered that Awlaki has nothing especially incendiary to say about Islam, and no extraordinary eloquence as a writer, but he does have a nice -- maybe intense is a better word -- rapport with his audience.
The comments section is by far the liveliest part of Awlaki's website: "I make dua [prayer] that i meet you in person, pray behind you and learn under you," writes one admirer. "Your brother on the other side of the earth, Mohammed Hassan." "Every person that I have come across who has already listened to the talk of Imam Anwar," writes another admirer from somewhere in cyberspace. "Would like to be close to him and ask more questions or learn more about Islam. Is this not a spirit of Muslim brotherhood?"
It might have been interesting for the planners of the attack in Awlaki's village to know something more about these admirers. A cursory perusal of the comments section would have shown that they are spread out across the English speaking Islamic world. They mention Nottingham, Virginia, Australia, Birmingham, and other small and not so small cities in the West. They are more or less everywhere, in other words, but many do not seem especially attached to home: "Assalamu alaykum. Dear shaykh," writes an Abdallah Maktum. "I have a very short question and that is; Do you accept students in Jemen? Please answer it dear shaykh, as it is very important for me." "May Allah have mercy on you," writes another admirer, who calls himself Hani. "I would love to study with you one day as well as join you on any front."
Impressed by one of Anwar's downloadable lectures, another fan, Moiez, writes: "Shaykh May Allah(swt) bless your efforts.... Let us know what we can do. I and I believe all the brothers and sisters that responded to this message are willing to go to any length for Islam and will do what you think is best. (...)(...more)