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Bill strips al-Qaida cleric's citizenship

Anwar al-Awlaki

A House resolution to strip fugitive al-Qaida cleric Anwar Awlaki of his U.S. citizenship has attracted 17 co-sponsors and has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for approval.

American-born Awlaki advised the 9/11 hijackers, the Fort Hood gunman, the Christmas Day “underwear bomber” and the Times Square terrorist, among other terrorists. The 39-year-old al-Qaida recruiter speaks fluent English and is considered by the CIA to be as dangerous as Osama bin Laden.

Now hiding in Yemen, Awlaki was born in Las Cruces, N.M., April 22, 1971.

The proposed resolution, sponsored by Rep. Charles Dent, R-Pa., urges the State Department and Department of Homeland Security to issue a “certificate of loss of nationality” for Awlaki.

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“Awlaki, voluntarily and in his own voice, incited all Muslims, including his fellow U.S. citizens, to commit treason by taking up arms against the United States, stating emphatically: ‘Jihad against America is binding upon myself, just as it is binding on every other Muslim,'” the bill says.

“Whereas as he did when inciting and commanding (underwear bomber) Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, Awlaki remains acting as an operative for al-Qaida’s conspiracy to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the government of the United States.”

The proposal also states that “Awlaki, through his indoctrination, incitement, and radicalization of persons recruited into the service of al-Qaida and related organizations, has functioned as a member of al-Qaida since before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and thereby sought to carry out terrorist acts and otherwise engage in hostilities against the United States.”

The lawmakers demand that federal authorities compel Awlaki to relinquish “his status as a United States citizen” as a first step for collaborating with the enemy and soliciting treason against America.

“Why should someone like Awlaki be allowed to hold a U.S. passport, a driver’s license, a voter registration card in America?” asked Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Myrick is also co-sponsoring a bill that would add to federal law the revocation of the citizenship of nationals who engage in terrorism against the U.S., as a response to increasing homegrown terrorist activity.

Currently, federal law provides that a U.S. national “shall lose his nationality by voluntarily entering, or serving in, the armed forces of a foreign state if such armed forces are engaged in hostilities against the United States.”

The Terrorist Expatriation Act (HR 5237) – the House version of a Senate bill authored by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn. – would revoke the U.S.citizenship of any national who has provided material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization. Additionally, the Revoking Citizenship for Terrorists Act (HR 5166) would revoke citizenship of those individuals who are identified as terrorists.

“Not only should we punish these individuals,” Myrick said, “we should make sure they don’t use our laws against us in defense of their activities.”

The bipartisan bills update existing federal law to determine how and when an American may be stripped of citizenship for working with a terrorist group. An existing World War II-era federal statute identifies acts for which U.S. citizens may be stripped of their citizenship, specifically focusing on acts of treason and on citizens who join the armed forces of a foreign state engaged in hostilities against the U.S.

However, the Terrorist Expatriation Act would update these laws in recognition that threats to American national security are increasingly coming from transnational terrorist networks and organizations, not from armies or foreign governments.

The bill authorizes the State Department to revoke the citizenship of any American who provides material support or resources to a foreign terrorist group, as designated by agency, or who engages in or supports hostilities against the U.S. or its allies.

Myrick, who co-founded the bipartisan Congressional Anti-Terrorism/Jihad Caucus, notes that being a U.S. citizen is an honor and a responsibility and that, clearly, American-born terrorists have destroyed that honor and abdicated that responsibility.

“So let’s take their citizenship back,” she said. “It’s only common sense.”

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