He argues from several angles. One is to denigrate the status of American civilians as "innocent," which is noteworthy in light of the common apologist tactic of insisting Islam forbids the killing of "innocents," and leaving the audience to apply their own definition of the term. Another argument he offers is that, hey, civilian casualties happen. He says even Muhammad did it!
Gee, this guy must be some kind of right-wing, Zionist Islamophobe-- no, wait... "Yemeni cleric advocates killing US civilians," by Maamoun Youssef for the Associated Press, May 23:
CAIRO - An American-Yemeni cleric whose Internet sermons are believed to have helped inspire attacks on the U.S. has advocated the killing of American civilians in an al-Qaida video released Sunday.
Anwar al-Awlaki has been singled out by U.S. officials as a key terrorist threat and has been added to the CIA's list of targets for assassination despite his American citizenship. He is of particular concern because he is one of the few English-speaking radical clerics able to explain to young Muslims in America and other Western countries the philosophy of violent jihad.
The U.S.-born al-Awlaki moved to Yemen in 2004 and is in hiding there after being linked to the suspects in the November shooting at an Army base in Fort Hood, Texas, and the December attempt to blow up a U.S. jetliner bound for Detroit.
"Those who might be killed in a plane are merely a drop of water in a sea," he said in the video in response to a question about Muslim groups that disapproved of the airliner plot because it targeted civilians.
Al-Awlaki used the 45-minute video to justify civilian deaths -- and encourage them -- by accusing the United States of intentionally killing a million Muslim civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
American civilians are to blame, he said, because "the American people, in general, are taking part in this and they elected this administration and they are financing the war."
He added that the Prophet Muhammad also sent forces into battles that claimed civilian lives.
Whose prophet? That said, this AP writer gets a "E" for "Effort" for actually using the term "jihad" above.
The video was produced by the media arm of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, though the exact nature of al-Awlaki's ties with the group and possible direct role in it are unclear. The U.S. says he is an active participant in the group, though members of his tribe have denied that.
For its part, al-Qaida appears to be trying to make use of his recruiting power by putting him in its videos. Its media arm said Sunday's video was its first interview with the cleric.
In the months before the Fort Hood shooting, which killed 13 people, al-Awlaki exchanged e-mails with the alleged attacker, U.S. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. Hasan initiated the contacts, drawn by al-Awlaki's Internet sermons, and approached him for religious advice.
Yemen's government says al-Awlaki is also suspected of contacts with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian accused in the failed attempt to blow up the Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day. Abdulmutallab traveled to Yemen late last year, and U.S. investigators say he told them that he received training and his bomb from Yemen's al-Qaida offshoot.
In Sunday's video, al-Awlaki praised both men and referred to them as his "students."
Speaking of Hasan, the cleric said, "What he did was heroic and great. ... I ask every Muslim serving in the U.S. Army to follow suit."...