Anwar al-Awlaki, who inspired a generation of terrorists in the U.S and abroad through his online propaganda, continues to reach audiences well after his death.
A Facebook page called “Generation Awlaki,” which is made up of images of Awlaki and many of his most militant sayings, has attracted 2,676 “likes” from around the world and is attracting more followers every day.
Among the quotes by Awlaki featured on the page are, “Running away from Jihad will not save you from death. You can die as a coward or you can die as a Martyr” and, “If you have the right to slander the Messenger of Allah, we have the right to defend him. If it is part of your freedom of speech to defame Muhammad it is part of our religion to fight you.”
The highlighted quotes also touch on relevant political flashpoints, such as fighting against Israel. “The Palestinian issue should be something we think about day and night," reads one recently posted quote.
Numerous comments have been left on the page, primarily in English. In fact, many of the followers of the page seem to be from English-speaking countries, including Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. This attests to Awlaki’s continued appeal to Western audiences, which he worked hard to influence and radicalize during his lifetime.
One comment in response to a quote praising martyrdom reads, “I will die as a martyr” and the page moderator responded “InshaaAllah (God willing).” Another says, “May Allah increase our chances to be mujahideen (martyrs) in sha Allah (God willing).”
“Generation Awlaki" is followed most heavily by 18 to 24 year olds, ages associated with increased receptivity to extremism.
Through his YouTube sermons, articles in Inspire magazine, and other easily available books, Anwar al-Awlaki continues to be an inspiration for terrorists and would be terrorists. Of the 14 American citizens and permanent residents arrested on terror charges in the United States in 2013, at least six reportedly listened to or read Awlaki materials, including Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev of the Boston Marathon bombing and, most recently, Terry Lee Loewen, who attempted to bomb the Wichita Intercontinental Airport in December, 2013
Awlaki, an American-born Muslim cleric, encouraged attacks against America and the West by distributing online lectures to English-speaking audiences for many years. He was killed in a drone strike in Yemen in 2011.
This sort of page is not unique. Other pages, including those dedicated specifically to Awlaki, abound. The Facebook group Martyr of Da’awa, for example, features quotes, videos and images of Awlaki and has attracted 1,372 ‘likes’ since it was founded in January, 2014.