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Where Is the Hate?

LA MESA’S CHARMING TREE-LINED DOWNTOWN: Anwar Al-Awlaki is considered by some to be the most dangerous threat to the United States alive today. But in the late ’90s, he was the intellectual, soft-spoken leader of La Mesa’s Arribat Al-Islami mosque, considered by many who knew him to be a moderate, easygoing Muslim. Since then, he has been linked to the 9/11 hijackers, the Ft. Hood shooter, the underpants bomber, and others. He prays “that Allah destroys America.” What happened to effect this awful change? Journal entries, recently released by the FBI, seem to implicate this sweet suburban enclave and its brutal, unrelenting pleasantness.

“June 17, 1996 — Cloudless sky today. But then, I could write that nearly every day here. Same, same, same. Some days, I can barely tell I’m alive, except maybe it’s a little hot. But even then, I know that by evening, the air will be deliciously cool, perfect for sleeping. Why does this disturb me? I don’t know. But it does. Maybe I should just go live in a cave in the desert somewhere. Maybe then I could hear the voice of Allah more clearly.

October 14, 1997 — Picked up a prostitute on El Cajon Boulevard, standing on the corner in front of the Hitching Post Motel. Brazen harlot. I was prepared to punish her for her wantonness, but after she allowed me to insult her in the most degrading terms imaginable during our session for no extra charge, it somehow didn’t seem worth it. This place is taking a terrible toll on me.

July 5, 1999 — They will not win. They cannot defeat me. All the smiles, all the greetings, all the little gestures of acceptance — it’s all a lie. Even if the friendliness is real, it is built on a rotten foundation of so-called tolerance and Western decadence. But I will show them. I will show them I am strong, strong enough to smash their false idols of good cheer and neighborly concern. Mrs. Wilson cannot fool me with the homemade baklava she brought to the block party just for me. She is just another infidel, sucking at the swollen, poisoned teat of Western democracy. But she does make good baklava. So flaky!

December 7, 1999 — They took my trash to the curb for me again, this time while I was at the studio recording my talk on Jewish manipulation of the media. Now I have to go and say thanks and maybe make small talk. This is the last straw. I will destroy them all. They will not make a fool of Anwar Al-Awlaki.

September 13, 2001 — Back in La Mesa for a quick meeting. Stopped by Jamba Juice at Grossmont Center, partly for a smoothie, partly to taste the sweet sorrow and helpless outrage of these weakling Westerners following our glorious attack on the World Trade Center. But I was foiled by a horrible father of three who walked up to me, put his hand on my shoulder, and said, ‘I want you to know that while I am horrified and even angered by what has happened in New York, I also feel a deep sympathy for yourself and the many Muslim-Americans like you who now have to worry about the way they are viewed by their fellow citizens every time they leave home. I only hope that in time, non-Muslim Americans can learn to live side by side with your people the way they have learned to live side by side with so many others: Catholics, blacks, Jews, and on and on. Peace be with you, brother.’ Jews! I could have killed him on the spot, but my Berry Lime Sublime was ready for pickup. I really do think I’m going to have to leave town for good — I need a few thousand miles’ worth of perspective to see just how horrible this place really is.”

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