FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Members of the American mosque where Anwar al-Awlaki once preached responded cautiously today to news of his death by a drone strike, insistent that Islam is a faith of peace.
“It happens,” said Joe Navarez, 19, when asked about the killing, which a community leader here called an “assassination.”
“Martin Luther King was assassinated, so it happens,” he said. “I just feel sorry for the family.”
Mustapha Mays, 20, and Faris Paterson-Khan, 20, were also among a mixed crowd of taxi drivers, community college students, and mothers with young children trickling out of the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center following afternoon prayers.
“I think it’s unfortunate news to hear overall,” said Mays.
“It is disappointing whenever anybody dies like that,” added Paterson-Khan.
Both men said mosque leadership preached “strong messages” today on the killing but would not elaborate.
The messages were “saying more about how it’s not really what it seems over there,” said Paterson-Khan, referring to Yemen.
Al-Awlaki “preached about this community – this community as a whole as very cherishing, very warm people,” said Paterson-Khan. “Nothing to be scared of.”