"Let's be clear when Anwar Al Awlaki was at Dar Al-Hijrah, he was articulating the same message that I articulate today in Dar Al-Hijrah, a very open, a very engaging, a very community wise and contemporary understanding of the faith within the framework of its traditionalism."
But a look at Awlaki's statements and connections during his time at the northern Virginia mosque shows that, at best, Malik's characterization was misinformed as to the facts.
While at Dar Al-Hijrah, a mosque with a history of leadership tied to terrorists, Awlaki made statements that endorsed terrorism and defended the 9/11 hijackers.
Awlaki participated as a scholar in a forum of the popular Islamist and Yusuf al-Qaradawi-linked website, Islamonline.net, the week after the 9/11 attacks. In it, he tacitly endorsed terror against Israeli civilians and denied that any Muslim extremists were a threat to Americans:
"There is no Muslim who advocates killing American civilians. We haven't heard that before. If you are talking about Palestinians fighting in Israel, these are freedom fighters fighting an illegal occupation. Muslims have never targeted American civilians."
That's an odd claim, since it had been more than three years since Osama bin Laden issued a fatwa saying that "to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it."
In the same Islamonline chat, Awlaki also expressed doubt that Muslims were behind the 9/11 attacks:
"The evidence coming out is perplexing. You have a right to be confused. It appears that these people were victims rather than hijackers. It seems that the FBI went into the roster of the airplanes and whoever has a Muslim or Arab name became the hijacker by default." [Emphasis added]
Furthermore, in a Washington Post forum in November 2001, Awlaki defended the Taliban movement and accused America of rushing into war in Afghanistan. At the time, the Taliban had been openly supporting Al Qaeda. Al-Awlaki argued:
"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."
Johari Abdul Malik, who has taken the lead in defending Dar Al-Hijrah and Awlaki, has his own record of radical statements. At a 2001 conference hosted by the Islamic Association of Palestine, a component of a U.S.-based network of Hamas-supporters, Malik called for attacks against Israeli infrastructure to show Muslim displeasure with Israel's treatment of Palestinians:
"I am gonna teach you now. You can blow up bridges, but you cannot kill people who are innocent on their way to work. You can blow up power supplies… the water supply, you can do all forms of sabotage and let the world know that we are doing it like this because they have a respect for the lives of innocent people."
Malik has called for Islamic supremacy in America, as he did in a November 2004 Friday Khutba, or sermon: