- Radical Islamic cleric
- Affiliated with terrorism supporters
Born in 1950 and currently residing in Mecca, the Islamic cleric Safar al-Hawali is widely known as an “awakening sheik” because of his extraordinary ideological influence on young Arabs (i.e., he “awakens” the spirit of jihad within them). He maintains close ties to another radical cleric, Salman al-Ouda. Preaching “Death to America,” al-Hawali and al-Ouda are recognized as the intellectual godfathers of Osama bin Laden‘s al Qaeda terrorist network. Like bin Laden, several of the 9/11 hijackers were reportedly immersed in the teachings of these two men. For instance, when hijacker Saeed Al-Ghamdi videotaped his will in December 2000, he made sure to give on-camera praise to both al-Hawali and al-Ouda.
Al-Hawali had extensive contact with Sami Omar al-Hussayen, a Saudi graduate student at the University of Idaho whom FBI agents arrested on terrorism-related charges in February 2003. The indictment alleged that al-Hussayen had raised at least $300,000 for the Islamic Assembly of North America, which has aided in the dissemination of al-Hawali’s and al-Ouda’s teachings in the U.S. by publishing their Arabic-language books and showcasing their fatwas — which glorify suicide bombings and call for the downfall of the West.
On October 15, 2001, al-Hawali wrote an open letter to President George W. Bush, which read, in part:
I write to you as a member of an oppressed and persecuted community … It is regrettable that the United States, a nation founded by immigrants fleeing persecution, has taken for itself the position of the Roman Empire which persecuted the followers of Christ …
Iraq violated the same or fewer international agreements then [sic] those that Israel has and continues to violate. Iraq’s excuse in doing so was similar to those used by America to incorporate Texas into its territory. As for Israel’s excuse for occupying Palestine, it is worse than the British justification for keeping America as a British colony, and more repulsive than your ancestor’s [sic] excuse for the genocide of the American Indian! …
[W]hen America decides that someone is a terrorist or an extremist it places them in the position of legendary heroes in the eyes of the oppressed and the wretched who need some airing after their long defeat and subservience …
Does the American administration have a conscience? Does this biased stance which has dismayed the entire world have any justification and will it ever end? Is America Greater Israel or is Israel Lesser America? …
We are used to America to inflict [sic] deep wounds and then putting a small bandage on them, but your present attack on Afghanistan has violently removed those bandages and opened a wound in the heart of every Muslim….
You have granted an everlasting pardon to yourselves and to the Zionist State, and to every hostile tyrant, and you have issued an excommunication for anyone who hesitates to join your endless hostility by describing them as terrorists or supporters of terrorism….
Al-Hawali has served as Secretary General of the Global Anti-Aggression Campaign, a militant, anti-American entity established in April 2003 by more than 225 radical figures from across the Islamic world as a response to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.