FALLS CHURCH // Mohmed Kabbach, a street vendor, sat on his collapsible plastic chair outside a mosque near Washington on Friday, waiting for the faithful to finish prayers.
The 47-year-old had not yet heard that Anwar Al Awlaki, one of America's most wanted terrorists, was killed in a US drone strike in Yemen.
"Who is Awlaki?" said Mr Kabbach. Al Awlaki was also an imam at the Dar Al Hijrah mosque, in this small town just 10 miles from the capital, from 2001 to 2002.
He "was known for his interfaith outreach, civic engagement and tolerance in the Northern Virginia community", said a statement from the mosque on Friday.
The description differs significantly from the man US authorities called a leading figure in Al Qaeda.
He was alleged to have links to several planned and actual terrorist attacks, including the failed attempt to blow up a transatlantic flight by the "underwear bomber" and the shooting deaths of 13 US soldiers at Fort Hood, both in 2009.
As the faithful left the mosque, they refused to comment on the death.
"We were told not to talk. The media makes this look like a house of terror. We just come here to pray," said one man.
Mosque officials could not be reached for comment.
But in its statement, the mosque was adamant that it does not condone violence or extremism and said that the targeted killing of Al Awlaki raises questions about America's legal framework. "We have rejected the use of extra-judicial assassination of any human being and especially an American citizen, which includes Al Awlaki," the statement said.
Al Awlaki is not the only person associated with Dar Al Hijrah that has cast an unfavourable light on the mosque. Nidal Hassan Malik, the man behind the Fort Hood shooting, attended the mosque in 2001 when Al Awlaki preached there. It is alleged they kept in contact.