Since my last post on the Anwar Al-Awlaki issue, there were a couple of attempts to keep the story going.
Tom Harris, MP for Glasgow South, posted up a number of comments that Awlaki made in the last year or so, and tried to make something of the fact I’ve only spoken up now against him.
Simple answer to this – unlike Harris, I’m not an Anwar Awlaki anorak. I blogged briefly back in 2006 that his detention in Yemen seemed wrong. It was in the context of a time when there was regular news of Muslims being incarcerated in 'black sites' without trial. Al-Awlaki was actually then subsequently released after around a year I believe. The US has not sought his extradition on this 9/11 link either.
Just because I posted something years ago doesn’t make me part of his fan club, and I admit to not keeping an index of my old blog posts with anyone I’ve ever mentioned crossreferenced with their future utterings across all media, blogs and YouTube to keep track of who I should be making a point of condemning.
It’s all pretty cheap stuff, but what we’ve come to expect from Labour in terms of attempted smears (see attacks on David Kerr for being in Opus Dei for example). My record on terrorism is that I’ve always condemned it. No one can say otherwise. I’ve organised demonstrations against it. Harris doesn’t really make any point countering this except hoping mud sticks through innuendo.
Maybe Harris feels the need to do this given his constituency party has received funds from the Muslim Friends of Labour, run by my opponent Mohammad Sarwar in Glasgow Central. Rather than blogging about me though and worrying about the position in the next constituency, I’d suggest Harris concentrate on my fellow SNP candidate Malcolm Fleming who is similarly in a good position to beat him in Glasgow South. The SNP gave Labour a good pasting in his constituency at the Euros in June.
Meanwhile, Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens has now uncovered material from Al-Awlaki pre-2006 - before my comments. He says therefore at the very least my research is lousy. He gets paid to sit there all day every day digging up this kind of thing, yet he and his colleagues needed not one, not two, but three bites of the cherry in a week to uncover or be passed this information. It’s therefore not surprising I didn’t know about it three years ago. Maybe Hitchens should examine his own research methods, what with being a researcher and all.
He objects to being called a right-winger. Maybe he could clarify did he back the Iraq war which led to the deaths of over a million people, and the maiming and displacement of many more? Did he support the slaughter in Gaza this year? This is an important test for people who like to be pious about terrorism. Like his CSC director Baroness Cox, does he think that East Jerusalem is rightfully part of Israel, in contravention of international borders? And these guys want to lecture others about extremism.