Radical Imam Does Social Networking

By Alice McQuillan
|  Wednesday, Nov 11, 2009  |  Updated 5:42 PM EDT
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Radical Imam Does Social Networking

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The Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center is shown November 9, 2009 in Falls Church, Virginia. Fort Hood shooting suspect Maj. Nidal M. Hasan attended the Washington, DC area mosque in 2001 and federal investigators are reported to be examining any links between Hasan and Anwar al-Awlaki, a former imam at the mosque who U.S. authorities say has become a supporter and leading promoter of al-Qaeda since leaving the United States.

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The radical American-born imam linked to TexasFort Hood shooting and may have inspired the Fort Dix terror plotters had a large following on Facebook -- until his page abruptly shut down Wednesday.

Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, believed to be in Yemen, had 5,147 fans listed on his main Facebook page from around the world, scores of them allegedly affiliated with high schools and colleges.

At least 100 of these fans listed locations in the New York tri state area, including colleges in the New York City public university system as well as public and private high schools.

One fan, with a Muslim name, claimed the "U.S. Army" as his network while another listed the "Metropolitan Police Service" but did not specify whether that's the police force in Britain, Toronto or elsewhere. Two others claimed government affiliations -- "United States Congress" and the "Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight."

Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army major accused of gunning down 12 soldiers and a civilian at the Texas army base last Friday, had exchanged emails with Awlaki and had worshiped in his former mosque in Falls Church, Virginia.

Born in New Mexico, the 38-year-old al-Awalki also served as an imam in Denver and San Diego and earned degrees from Colorado State University and San Diego State University, according to his posted biography.

On his blog, al-Awlaki called Hasan "a hero" and a "man of conscience."

That prompted a passionate series of posts on the imam's Facebook page.  A New Yorker wrote,  "If you truly believe as a Muslim, that death is better than living, show us what you're made of and die."                        

However a man from London countered "and by the way for every person who hates anwar al -awlaki, I can promise you that there are at least a hundred or so people who love him, respect him and admire him :)."

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