A radical American Imam, on Yemen's most wanted militants' list, has praised Fort Hood military base shooter Maj Nidal Hassan as a "hero" and a "man of conscience," terming American Muslims who condemned his actions as hypocrites.
"Nidal Hassan is a hero," Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, the preacher of two mosques attended by three Sept 11 hijackers, said on a posting on his website.
Al-Awlaki said Hassan is "a man of conscience" who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people.
"This is a contradiction that many Muslims brush aside and just pretend that it doesn't exist... Any decent Muslim cannot live, understanding properly his duties towards his Creator and his fellow Muslims, and yet serve as a US soldier," he said, emphasising the US is leading the war against terrorism which in reality is "a war against Islam".
"Its Army is directly invading two Muslim countries and indirectly occupying the rest through its stooges," he wrote.
Hassan, who went on a shooting spree at US' largest military base, is accused of killing 13 people and injuring over 30 others.
Noting that Nidal opened fire on soldiers who were on their way to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Imam said: "The American Muslims who condemned his actions have committed treason against the Muslim Ummah and have fallen into hypocrisy," he said.
"... the only way a Muslim could Islamically justify serving as a soldier in the US army is if his intention is to follow the footsteps of men like Nidal," Al-Awlaki wrote.
Al-Awlaki, who is on Yemen's most wanted militant list, left the US in 2002, and travelled to Yemen. He was released from a Yemeni prison in 2008 and is missing since then.
He said the "heroic act of brother Nidal" also shows the dilemma of America's Muslim community.
"Increasingly they are being cornered into taking stances that would either make them betray Islam or betray their nation. Many amongst them are choosing the former," he wrote.
Terming the Muslim organisations condemnation of Nidal "a pitiful chorus," he said the fact that fighting against the US army is an "Islamic duty" today cannot be disputed.
"No scholar with a grain of Islamic knowledge can defy the clear cut proofs that Muslims today have the right, rather the duty, to fight against American tyranny," he said.
He contended that it was becoming more and more difficult to hold on to Islam in an environment hostile to Muslims. PTI