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Campaigns : Imam Anwar Al Awlaki: Urgent Appeal: Imam Anwar Al Awlaki - A Leader in Need
Urgent Appeal: Imam Anwar Al Awlaki - A Leader in Need


Reports indicate that Imam Anwar Al Awlaki, a prominent Muslim scholar highly regarded in English speaking Islamic circles, has been detained incommunicado for the past two months in Yemen and may face torture or ill treatment in custody.

Anwar Awlaki, whilst in the US worked for inter-faith dialogue– working hard to establish a reasoned, nuanced and just form of intellectual dissent in Western Muslims Enabling Muslim communities in western societies to contribute and interact in wider society and contribute to it whilst remaining confident of their Islamic heritage and identity.

Regarding the 9/11 attacks, Imam Anwar was quick to state,

“What has occurred is a heinous crime. A Muslim can have nothing to do with this.” [1]

Imam Anwar was renowned for his justice amongst people, even when Muslim sentiment would seem to be totally against the West; this is typified by one of his statements:

“President Bush has showed the Muslim American community some good gestures. He specifically warned the people from committing any hate crimes against their fellow Muslim citizens, and he visited a Mosque.”


Anwar al-Awlaki is a Muslim scholar who was born in New Mexico, and is a US national. His parents are from Yemen, where he lived for eleven years and received the early part of his Islamic education.
He served as an Imam in Colorado, California, and later in the Washington, D.C. area where he headed the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center and was also the Muslim Chaplain at George Washington University. Prior to his detention, he was resident in Yemen, where he was studying Islamic Jurisprudence with prominent scholars, He holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University, a M.A. in Education Leadership from San Diego State University and was working on a Doctorate degree in Human Resource Development at George Washington University. He authored many popular audio series including the "Lives of the Prophets", "The Hereafter" and "The Life of Muhammad".

In the early hours of October 17, a Yemeni secret police raid swept up eight foreigners living in Sana'a, under surveillance by the CIA and British intelligence, and at least 12 other men across Yemen. Yemeni authorities insist they dismantled an al-Qa'ida cell and disrupted a gun-running ring to neighboring Somalia.

It was subsequently reported that the key to the raids was Anwar Al Awlaki (identified in the media as 'Abu Atiq') who was arrested six weeks before the October 17 swoop. Media reports allege that 'Abu Atiq' was an associate of two of the September 11 hijackers and a protege of Abdul al-Majid al-Zindani, who the US wants arrested on terror charges. They also make allegations of supposed involvement in a foiled al-Qa'ida plot to bomb oil and gas facilities in Yemen.

He is believed to be held in Central Security Prison in Sana'a. Locals in Sanaa insist, perhaps apocryphally, that the two stories of the complex above ground sit atop eight stories underground, where torture rooms and darkened cells are often used.

Human rights organisations such as Amnesty International have repeatedly raised concerns regarding arrests and detentions by the Political Security Organ in Yemen, which are carried out with total disregard for the rule of law and for Yemen’s international human rights obligations. Amnesty states that, “arrests are carried out without the judicial supervision required by law and those detained were invariably subjected to lengthy incommunicado detention and interrogations, during which some detainees claim that they were tortured or ill-treated. Detainees have also been denied access to lawyers, as well as being denied the opportunity to challenge the legality of their detention before a court.”

For more information about Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, please visit:


Take Action for Imam Anwar Al Awlaki

Write to the US authorities:

  • Demand that the state department fulfils their statutory duties and provide consular assistance and clarify where Anwar Al Awlaki is held;
  • Demand an end to incommunicado and secret detention; detainees should be held only in officially recognized places of detention with access to family, lawyers and courts;
  • Call for human rights laws and standards to be strictly adhered to in cooperation between US security forces and those of other countries, ensuring that torture and ill-treatment, incommunicado detentions and "disappearance" play no part in such cooperation;
  • Ensure his rights as a US national are being protected and that his detention is free from torture or ill-treatment

The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20520
Tel: + 1 202 647 4000
Fax: + 1 202 261 8577
E-mail: http://contact-us.state.gov/ask_form_cat/ask_form_secretary.html

Write to the Yemeni authorities:

  • Appeal for the immediate release of Anwar Al Awlaki unless he is to be promptly charged with a recognizable criminal offence and given a fair trial without further delay in accordance with international fair trial standards
  • Call on the authorities to respect the rule of law
  • Remind the authorities of their obligations under both national and international human rights law and allow Anwar Al Awlaki access to legal counsel, his family and the opportunity to challenge the legality of his detention

His Excellency General ‘Ali ‘Abdullah Saleh
Office of The President
Republic of Yemen
Faxes: 009671274147

His Excellency Rashid Muhammad al-‘Alimi
Office of the Republic of Yemen Ministry of the Interior
Republic of Yemen
Telephone: 009671332701
Fax: 009671274147

Write to Islamic organisations:

  • Encourage all Islamic organisations in the US to campaign for the release of Imam Anwar al-Awlaki.
  • Further encourage the these societies in the US to promote the right to a fair trial and the rule of law.

Islamic Society of North America
PO Box 38
IN 46168
Telephone: 0013178398157
Fax: 0013178391840

Council on American-Islamic Relations
453 New Jersey Avenue ,
S.E. Washington
DC 20003
Telephone: 0012024888787
Fax: 0012024880833

[1] The Muslim News 27/09/2001