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Friday, April 5, 2013

Anwar al-Awlaki, 40, American-born Yemeni cleric and Al-Qaeda official, died from a airstrike he was 40.

Anwar al-Awlaki  was an American[8] and Yemeni imam who was an engineer and educator by training.[9][10] According to U.S. government officials, he was a senior talent recruiter and motivator who was involved with planning operations for the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda.[2][6][11][12][13][14][15] With a blog, a Facebook page, and many YouTube videos, the Saudi news station Al Arabiya described him as the "bin Laden of the Internet",[16][17] though Bin Laden himself reportedly held Awlaki in low esteem.[18] Many of his videos have subsequently been removed from YouTube after a request from the US Congress.[19]
U.S. officials say that Al-Awlaki spoke with and preached to a number of al-Qaeda members and affiliates, including three of the 9/11 hijackers,[20] alleged Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan,[21][22] and "Underwear Bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab;[23][24][25] he was also allegedly involved in planning the latter's attack. The Yemeni government began trying him in absentia in November 2010, for plotting to kill foreigners and being a member of al-Qaeda. A Yemenite judge ordered that he be captured "dead or alive".[26][27]

(April 21, 1971 – September 30, 2011)

According to U.S. officials, al-Awlaki was promoted to the rank of "regional commander" within al-Qaeda in 2009.[28][29] He repeatedly called for jihad against the United States.[30][31] In April 2010, American President Obama authorized al-Awlaki's targeted killing.[32][33][34] The targeted killing of an American citizen was an unprecedented Presidential order which al-Awlaki's father and civil rights groups unsuccessfully challenged in court.[32][34][35] Officials stated that the "imminent threat" international legal standard is used to add names to the C.I.A.'s list of targets.[33]
Al-Awlaki was believed to be in hiding in Southeast Yemen in the last years of his life.[26] The U.S. deployed unmanned aircraft in Yemen to search for and kill him,[36] firing at and failing to kill him at least once,[37] before he was killed in an American drone attack in Yemen on September 30, 2011.[38] Two weeks later Al-Awlaki's 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen who was born in Denver, was also killed by a CIA-led drone strike in Yemen.[39][40][41] Nasser al-Awlaki, the father of Anwar, made an audio recording condemning the killings of his son and grandson as senseless murders.[42]

Early life

Al-Awlaki's parents are from Yemen. His father, Nasser al-Aulaqi, was a Fulbright Scholar[43] who earned a master's degree in agricultural economics at New Mexico State University in 1971, received a doctorate at the University of Nebraska, and worked at the University of Minnesota from 1975 to 1977.[14][44] Nasser also served as Agriculture Minister and as President of Sana'a University, and is a prominent member of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh's ruling party.[14][44][45][46] Yemen's Prime Minister since March 2007, Ali Mohammed Mujur, is a relative of al-Awlaki.[47]
Al-Awlaki was born in 1971 in the United States. In 1978, when he was seven years old, he and his family returned to Yemen.[17][48] He then lived in Yemen for 11 years, and studied at Azal Modern School.[49]
Al-Awlaki returned to the U.S state of Colorado in 1991 to attend college. He earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University (1994), where he was President of the Muslim Student Association.[49] He attended the university on a foreign student visa and a government scholarship from Yemen, apparently by claiming to be born in that country, according to a former U.S. security agent.[50] He spent a summer of his college years training with the Afghan mujahideen.[17] Al-Awlaki also earned an M.A. in Education Leadership from San Diego State University. He worked on a Doctorate degree in Human Resource Development at George Washington University Graduate School of Education & Human Development from January to December 2001.[6][44][51][52][53][54][55][56]

Islamic education

Al-Awlaki's Islamic education was primarily informal, and consisted of intermittent months with various scholars, and reading and contemplating works by several prominent Islamic scholars.[9] Some Muslim scholars said they did not understand al‑Awlaki's popularity, because while he spoke fluent English and could therefore reach a large non-Arabic-speaking audience, he lacked formal Islamic training and study.[10]


Awlaki developed an animosity towards the U.S. and became a proponent of Takfiri and Jihadi thinking, while retaining Islamism, according to one research paper.[57] While imprisoned in Yemen, al-Awlaki became influenced by the works of Sayyid Qutb, an originator of the contemporary "anti-Western Jihadist movement".[58] He read 150–200 pages a day of Qutb's works, and described himself as "so immersed with the author I would feel Sayyid was with me in my cell speaking to me directly".[58]
He was noted for attracting young men with his lectures, especially U.S.-based and UK-based Muslims.[59][60] Terrorism consultant Evan Kohlmann referred to al-Awlaki "one of the principal jihadi luminaries for would-be homegrown terrorists. His fluency with English, his unabashed advocacy of jihad and mujahideen organizations, and his Web-savvy approach are a powerful combination." He called al-Awlaki's lecture "Constants on the Path of Jihad", which he says was based on a similar document written by al-Qaeda's founder, the "virtual bible for lone-wolf Muslim extremists".[61] Philip Mudd, formerly of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center and the FBI's top intelligence adviser, called him "a magnetic character ... a powerful orator."[49]
U.S. officials and some U.S. media sources called Al-Awlaki an Islamic fundamentalist and accused him of encouraging terrorism.[45][53][62][63] Bin Laden himself, according to documents recovered from the The New York Times, held Al-Awlaki and his magazine Inspire in low esteem.[18]

Later life, and alleged ties to terrorism

In the United States; 1991–2002

In 1993 as a college student in Colorado State's civil engineering program, al-Awlaki visited Afghanistan in the aftermath of the Soviet occupation. He found himself depressed by the country's poverty and hunger, and "wouldn't have gone with al-Qaeda," according to friends from Colorado State, who said he was nevertheless profoundly affected by the trip.[60][64] At the time of his visit, much of Afghanistan was under the control of various Mujahideen factions; Mullah Mohammed Omar would not form the Taliban until 1994. When Awlaki returned to campus, he showed increased interest in politics and religion, and would quote from the prominent Palestinian scholar Abdullah Azzam, who provided theological justification for the Afghan jihad, and later influenced Osama bin Laden.[49]
In 1994, Awlaki married a cousin from Yemen,[49] and began service as the imam of the Denver Islamic Society, where he preached "eloquently against vice and sin" until 1996, when he was chastised for encouraging a Saudi student to fight in Chechnya against the Russians.[49][65] He then served as imam of the Masjid Ar-Ribat al-Islami mosque at the edge of San Diego, California, from 1996–2000, where he had a following of 200–300 people[1][6][49][53][60][66] While in San Diego Awlaki was known for the time he spent with youth, for his interest in fishing, for his discussions of travels with friends, and for a popular and lucrative series of lectures that he recorded.[49]

9/11 hijacker
Nawaf al-Hazmi, for whom al-Awlaki was reportedly a spiritual adviser
In 1998 and 1999, he served as Vice President for the Charitable Society for Social Welfare (CSSW), later accused by the FBI of being "front organization to funnel money to terrorists".[53][67] Though the FBI investigated Awlaki from June 1999 through March 2000 for possible links to Hamas, Bin Laden contact Ziyad Khaleel, and a visit by an associate of Omar Abdel Rahman,[49] it never unearthed sufficient evidence for a criminal prosecution.[6][9][20][53][62][66][68] U.S. officials would later allege that later hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, ultimately hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77, attended his sermons and even met personally with Awlaki; the 9/11 Commission Report suggested that the hijackers "reportedly respected [al-Awlaki] as a religious figure".[20][49][51][66]
Awlaki told reporters that he resigned from leading the San Diego mosque "after an uneventful four years," and took a brief sabbatical, traveling overseas to various countries.[69] When al-Awlaki returned to the U.S., he settled in January 2001 on the East Coast in the Washington Metropolitan Area. There, he served as imam at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque near Falls Church, Virginia, and was also the Muslim Chaplain at George Washington University,[6][51][53][70] where he was hired by Esam Omeish.[71][72] Omeish said in 2004 that he was convinced that al-Awlaki: "has no inclination or active involvement in any events or circumstances that have to do with terrorism".[73] Fluent in English, known for giving eloquent talks on Islam, and with a mandate to attract young non-Arabic speakers, Awlaki "was the magic bullet", according to mosque spokesman Johari Abdul-Malik; "he had everything all in a box;"[73] "he had an allure. He was charming."[74] While in Washington, Awlaki's sermons were again allegedly attended by Al-Hazmi, and also by later 9/11 hijacker Hani Hanjour. Nidal Malik Hasan, now the primary suspect in the Fort Hood shooting, would visit when Awlaki presided over the funeral of Hassan's mother.[20][63][66][75][76]

al-Awlaki booked for soliciting prostitution, 1997 (photo: San Diego PD, via KPBS)
Although he hesitated to shake hands with women, he was accused of patronizing prostitutes.[49] Al-Awlaki was arrested in San Diego in August 1996 and in April 1997 for soliciting prostitutes.[20][45][77][78] In the first instance, he pled guilty to a lesser charge on condition of entering an AIDS education program, and paying $400 in fines and restitution.[78] The second time, he pled guilty to soliciting a prostitute, and was sentenced to three years' probation, fined $240, and ordered to perform 12 days of community service.[78][79]
When police investigating the 9/11 attacks raided the Hamburg, Germany, apartment of Ramzi bin al-Shibh (the "20th hijacker"), al-Awlaki's telephone number was found among bin al-Shibh's personal contact information.[6][53] The FBI interviewed al-Awlaki four times in the eight days following the 9/11 attacks.[1][49] One detective told the 9/11 Commission he believed al-Awlaki "was at the center of the 9/11 story". And an FBI agent said that "if anyone had knowledge of the plot, it would have been" him, since "someone had to be in the U.S. and keep the hijackers spiritually focused".[49] One 9/11 Commission staff member said: "Do I think he played a role in helping the hijackers here, knowing they were up to something? Yes. Do I think he was sent here for that purpose? I have no evidence for it."[49] A separate Congressional Joint Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks suspected that al-Awlaki might have been part of a support network for the hijackers, according to its director, Eleanor Hill.[49] "In my view, he is more than a coincidental figure", said House Intelligence Committee member Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA).[78]
Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Awlaki was sought as a media source for questions about Islam and the attacks who could speak English well. He was interviewed by National Geographic,[80] The New York Times and other media. He condemned the attacks, stating "There is no way that the people who did this could be Muslim, and if they claim to be Muslim, then they have perverted their religion." He also pointed to U.S. foreign policy and that others might "say that Muslim land is now invaded by the U.S., there are U.S. soldiers stationed in Saudi Arabia and in the Gulf. And then, the state of Israel is an occupying force which is supported by the U.S." According to NPR, he presented an image as a moderate who could "bridge the gap between the United States and the worldwide community of Muslims"[81] And the New York Times said he was "held up as a new generation of Muslim leader capable of merging East and West."[82]
Writing on the website six days after the 9/11 attacks, al-Awlaki suggested that Israeli intelligence agents might have been responsible for the attacks, and that the FBI "went into the roster of the airplanes, and whoever has a Muslim or Arab name became the hijacker by default".[53]
Months after the 9/11 attacks, as the U.S. Secretary of the Army was eager to have a presentation from a moderate Muslim as part of an outreach effort to ease tensions with Muslim-Americans, a Pentagon employee invited al-Awlaki to a luncheon in the Secretary's Office of General Counsel.[83][84]
Al-Awlaki was the Congressional Muslim Staffer Association's first imam to conduct a prayer service at the U.S. Capitol in 2002.[85][86] The prayers were for Muslim congressional staffers and officials for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).[87] He is shown briefly in this capacity in the 2002 PBS documentary Legacy of a Prophet.[88]
Weeks later, he posted an essay in Arabic titled "Why Muslims Love Death" on the Islam Today website, praising the Palestinian suicide bombers' fervor. Months later, at a videotaped lecture in a London mosque, he lauded them in English.[20][53] By July 2002, he was under investigation for having been sent money by the subject of a U.S. Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation. His name was placed on an early version of what is now the federal terror watch list.[6][20][89]
In June 2002, a Denver federal judge signed off on an arrest warrant for al-Awlaki for passport fraud.[90] On October 9, the Denver U.S. Attorney's Office filed a motion to dismiss its complaint, and vacate the arrest warrant. It did so because prosecutors felt ultimately that they lacked evidence of a crime, according to U.S. Attorney Dave Gaouette, who authorized its withdrawal.[2] While al-Awlaki had falsely listed Yemen as his place of birth on his 1990 application for a U.S. Social Security number, which he then used to obtain a passport in 1993, he later changed his place of birth information to Las Cruces, New Mexico.[2][91] Prosecutors could not charge him, because a 10-year statute of limitations on lying to the Social Security Administration had expired.[92] The motion was approved by a magistrate judge on October 10, and filed on October 11.[6][20][93] As a result, agents were unable to arrest him when he arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport in the U.S. on October 10, 2002, the day the judge signed the order rescinding his warrant.[6][20][93]
According to an investigative report by Fox News, the arrest warrant for passport fraud was still in effect on the morning of Oct. 10, 2002, when FBI Agent Wade Ammerman ordered al-Awlaki's release. U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) and several congressional committees are urging FBI Director Robert Mueller to provide an explanation about the bureau’s interactions with al-Awlaki, including why he was released from federal custody while there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest.[94]
ABC News reported that the decision to cancel the arrest warrant outraged members of a Joint Terrorism Task Force in San Diego who were monitoring al-Awlaki, and wanted to "look at him under a microscope". But Gaouette said there had not been any objection to the warrant being rescinded during a meeting attended by Ray Fournier, the San Diego federal diplomatic security agent whose allegation had set in motion the effort to obtain a warrant.[2] Gaouette opined that if al-Awlaki had been convicted, he would have faced about 6 months in custody.[92] "The bizarre thing is if you put Yemen down (on the application), it would be harder to get a Social Security number than to say you are a native-born citizen of Las Cruces," Gaouette said.[2] The New York Times noted, however, that al-Awlaki apparently did it so he could qualify for scholarship money given to foreign citizens.[49] U.S. Congressman Frank R. Wolf (R-VA) wrote in May 2010 that it was his understanding that by doing so al-Awlaki fraudulently obtained more than $20,000 in scholarship funds reserved for foreign students, for which he was not eligible.[95]
Al-Awlaki's return to the U.S. may have been connected to his return to Northern Virginia, where he visited radical Islamic cleric Ali al-Timimi, and asked about recruiting young Muslims for "violent jihad". Al-Timimi is now serving a life sentence for leading the Virginia Jihad Network, inciting Muslim followers to fight with the Taliban against the U.S.[20][49][53]

In the United Kingdom; 2002–04

Al-Awlaki left the U.S. before the end of 2002, because of a "climate of fear and intimidation" according to Imam Johari Abdul-Malik of the Dar al-Hijrah mosque.
Moving to the UK for several months, he gave talks to up to 200 youths at a time.[96] He urged young Muslim followers: "The important lesson to learn here is never, ever trust a kuffar [non-Muslim]. Do not trust them! [They] are plotting to kill this religion. They're plotting night and day."[49] "He was the main man who translated the jihad into English," said a student who attended his lectures in 2003.[49]
He gave a series of lectures in December 2002 and January 2003 at the London Masjid al-Tawhid mosque, describing the rewards martyrs receive in paradise, and developing a following among ultraconservative young Muslims.[6][20][44][53][97] He was a "distinguished guest" speaker at the U.K.'s Federation of Student Islamic Societies' (FOSIS) annual dinner in 2003.[98] He began a grand lecture tour of Britain, from London to Aberdeen, as part of a campaign by the Muslim Association of Britain. He also lectured for the Islamic Forum Europe (IFE), based at the East London Mosque, and appeared at an event at the East London Mosque in which he told his audience: "A Muslim is a brother of a Muslim... he does not betray him, and he does not hand him over... You don't hand over a Muslim to the enemies."[99]
In Britain's Parliament in 2003, Louise Ellman, MP for Liverpool Riverside, discussed the relationship between al-Awlaki and the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), a Muslim Brotherhood front organization founded by Kemal el-Helbawy, a senior member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.[100]

In Yemen; 2004–11

Al-Awlaki returned to Yemen in early 2004, and lived in his ancestral village in the southern province of Shabwa with his wife and five children.[20][53] He lectured at Iman University, headed by Abdul Majeed al-Zindani, who is on the UN 1267 Committee's list of individuals belonging to or associated with Al-Qaida.[44][101] Some believe that the school's curriculum deals mostly, if not exclusively, with radical Islamic studies, and that it is an incubator of radicalism, and point to the fact that John Walker Lindh and others accused of terrorism are alumni.[44][102][103] Al-Zindani denied having any influence over al-Awlaki, or that he had been his "direct teacher".[104]
On August 31, 2006, al-Awlaki was one of a group of five people arrested on charges of kidnapping a Shiite teenager for ransom, and involvement in an al-Qaeda plot to kidnap a U.S. military attaché.[14][74] Al-Awlaki blamed the U.S. for pressuring Yemeni authorities to arrest him. He was interviewed around September 2007 by two FBI agents with regard to the 9/11 attacks and other subjects, and John Negroponte, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, told Yemeni officials he did not object to al-Awlaki's detention.[49] His name was on a list of 100 prisoners whose release was sought by al-Qaeda-linked militants in Yemen.[63] After 18 months in a Yemeni prison, he was released on December 12, 2007, following the intercession of his tribe, an indication by the U.S. that it did not insist on his incarceration, and—according to a Yemeni security official—because he said he repented.[45][49][63][74][105] He moved to his family home in Saeed, a tiny hamlet in the rugged Shabwa mountains.[74]
Former Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg's Cageprisoners organization campaigned for al-Awlaki when he was in prison in Yemen.[106] Shortly after his release, Begg obtained an exclusive telephone interview with him.[106][107] According to Begg, prior to his incarceration in Yemen al-Awlaki had condemned the 9/11 attacks.[106]
In December 2008, al-Awlaki sent a communique to the Somalian terrorist group Al-Shabaab, congratulating them. He thanked them for "giving us a living example of how we as Muslims should proceed to change our situation. The ballot has failed us, but the bullet has not." In conclusion, he wrote: "if my circumstances would have allowed, I would not have hesitated in joining you and being a soldier in your ranks."[108]
"He's the most dangerous man in Yemen. He's intelligent, sophisticated, Internet-savvy, and very charismatic. He can sell anything to anyone, and right now he's selling jihad".[109]
— Yemeni official familiar with counterterrorism operations
He provided al-Qaeda members in Yemen with the protection against the government of his powerful tribe, the Awlakis. The tribal code required it to protect those who seek refuge and assistance. This is an even greater imperative where the person is a member of the tribe, or a tribesman's friend. The tribe's motto is "We are the sparks of Hell; whomever interferes with us will be burned."[110] Al-Awlaki also reportedly helped negotiate deals with leaders of other tribes.[74][111]
Sought by Yemeni authorities with regard to an investigation into his al-Qaeda ties, al-Awlaki avoided detection by the authorities. According to his father, al-Awlaki disappeared in approximately March 2009. By December 2009, al-Awlaki was on the Yemen government's most-wanted list.[112] He was believed to be hiding in Yemen's rugged Shabwa or Mareb regions, which are part of the so-called "triangle of evil" (known as such because it attracts al-Qaeda militants seeking refuge among local tribes that are unhappy with Yemen's central government).[113]
Yemeni sources originally said al-Awlaki might have been killed in a pre-dawn air strike by Yemeni Air Force fighter jets on a meeting of senior al-Qaeda leaders at a hideout in Rafd, a remote mountain valley in eastern Shabwa, on December 24, 2009. But he survived.[114] Pravda reported that the planes, using Saudi Arabian and U.S. intelligence aid, killed at least 30 al-Qaeda members from Yemen and abroad, and that an al-Awlaki house was "raided and demolished".[115] On December 28 The Washington Post reported that U.S. and Yemeni officials said that al-Awlaki had attended the al-Qaeda meeting.[116] Abdul Elah al-Shaya, a Yemeni journalist, said the former imam called him on December 28, and said that he was well, and had not attended the al-Qaeda meeting. Al-Shaya insisted that al-Awlaki was not tied to al-Qaeda, and declined to comment as to whether al-Awlaki had told him about any contacts he may have had with Abdulmutallab.[117]
In March 2010, a tape featuring al-Awlaki was released in which he urged Muslims residing in the U.S. to attack their country of residence. In the video, he stated:
To the Muslims in America, I have this to say: How can your conscience allow you to live in peaceful coexistence with a nation that is responsible for the tyranny and crimes committed against your own brothers and sisters? I eventually came to the conclusion that jihad (holy struggle) against America is binding upon myself just as it is binding upon every other able Muslim.[30][118]
In July 2010, a Seattle cartoonist was warned by the FBI of a death threat issued by al-Awlaki in the al-Qaeda magazine Inspire. Eight other cartoonists, journalists, and writers from Britain, Sweden and Denmark were also threatened with death. "The prophet is the pinnacle of Jihad", al-Awlaki wrote. "It is better to support the prophet by attacking those who slander him than it is to travel to land of Jihad like Iraq or Afghanistan."[119]

Reaching out to the United Kingdom

Despite being banned from entering the United Kingdom in 2006, al-Awlaki spoke on at least seven occasions at five different venues around Britain via video-link in 2007–09.[120] The East London Mosque provoked the outrage of The Daily Telegraph by allowing Noor Pro Media Events to hold a conference on New Year's Day 2009, showing a videotaped lecture by al-Awlaki; former Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve expressed concern over al-Awlaki's involvement.[121][122]
He also gave video-link talks in England to an Islamic student society at the University of Westminster in September 2008, an arts center in East London in April 2009 (after the Tower Hamlets council gave its approval), worshipers at the Al Huda Mosque in Bradford, and a dinner of the Cageprisoners organization in September 2008 at the Wandsworth Civic Centre in South London (at which he said: "We should make jihad for our brothers").[120][123][124] On August 23, 2009, al-Awlaki was banned by local authorities in Kensington and Chelsea, London, from speaking at Kensington Town Hall via videolink to a fundraiser dinner for Guantanamo detainees promoted by Cageprisoners.[123][125] His videos, which discuss his Islamist theories, have also been circulated across the United Kingdom, and until February 2010 hundreds of audio tapes of his sermons were available at the Tower Hamlets public libraries.[126][127][128][129] In 2010 it was reported that the London-based Islam Channel had in 2009 carried advertisements for DVDs of al-Awlaki's sermons and for at least two events at which he was due to be the star speaker via video link.[130]

Other connections

Charles E. Allen, former U.S. Undersecretary for Homeland Security, in 2008 publicly warned that al-Awlaki was targeting Muslims with online lectures encouraging terrorist attacks
FBI agents had identified al-Awlaki as a known, important "senior recruiter for al Qaeda", and a spiritual motivator.[63][131]
Al-Awlaki's name came up in a dozen terrorism plots in the U.S., UK, and Canada. The cases included suicide bombers in the 2005 London bombings, radical Islamic terrorists in the 2006 Toronto terrorism case, radical Islamic terrorists in the 2007 Fort Dix attack plot, the jihadist killer in the 2009 Little Rock military recruiting office shooting, and the 2010 Times Square bomber. In each case the suspects were devoted to al-Awlaki's message, which they listened to on laptops, audio clips, and CDs.[20][45][49][132]
Al-Awlaki's recorded lectures were also an inspiration to Islamist fundamentalists who comprised at least six terror cells in the UK through 2009.[96] Michael Finton (Talib Islam), who attempted in September 2009, to bomb the Federal Building and the adjacent offices of Congressman Aaron Schock in Springfield, Illinois, admired al-Awlaki and quoted him on his Myspace page.[133] In addition to his website, al-Awlaki had a Facebook fan page[134] with a substantial percentage of "fans" from the U.S., many of whom were high school students.[9]
Al-Awlaki influenced several other extremists to join terrorist organizations overseas and to carry out terrorist attacks in their home countries. Mohamed Alessa and Carlos Almonte­, two American citizens from New Jersey who attempted to travel to Somalia in June 2010 to join Al Shabaab, the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group based there­—allegedly watched several al-Awlaki videos and sermons in which al-Awlaki warned of future attacks against Americans in the U.S. and abroad.[135] Zachary Chesser (nicknamed Abu Talha al-Amrikee), another American citizen who was arrested for attempting to provide material support to Al Shabaab, also told federal authorities that he watched online videos featuring al-Awlaki and that he exchanged several e-mails with al-Awlaki.[136][137] In July 2010, Paul Rockwood pleaded guilty to, and received an eight-year prison sentence for, assembling a hit list of 15 targets for assassination or bomb attacks within the U.S. of people who he felt had desecrated Islam.[137] Rockwood admitted to having become a "strict adherent to the violent jihad-promoting ideology of cleric [Awlaki]", which "included a personal conviction that it was [Rockwood's] religious responsibility to exact revenge by death on anyone who desecrated Islam", and following al-Awlaki's ideology, "including devotion to [Awlaki's] violence-promoting works, Constants on the Path to Jihad and 44 Ways to Jihad".[137]
In October 2008, Charles Allen, U.S. Undersecretary of Homeland Security for Intelligence and Analysis, warned that al-Awlaki "targets U.S. Muslims with radical online lectures encouraging terrorist attacks from his new home in Yemen."[121][138] Responding to Allen, Al-Awlaki wrote on his website in December 2008: "I would challenge him to come up with just one such lecture where I encourage 'terrorist attacks'".[139]

Fort Hood shooter

Alleged Fort Hood shooter
Nidal Malik Hasan
Fort Hood shootings suspect Nidal Malik Hasan was investigated by the FBI after intelligence agencies intercepted at least 18 e-mails between him and al-Awlaki between December 2008 and June 2009.[140] Even before the contents of the e-mails were revealed, terrorism expert Jarret Brachman said that Hasan's contacts with al-Awlaki should have raised "huge red flags". According to Brachman, al-Awlaki is a major influence on radical English-speaking jihadis internationally.[141] The Wall Street Journal reported that "There is no indication Mr. Awlaki played a direct role in any of the attacks, and he has never been indicted in the U.S."[110]
In one of the e-mails, Hasan wrote al-Awlaki: "I can't wait to join you [in the afterlife]". "It sounds like code words," said Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, a military analyst at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies. "That he's actually either offering himself up, or that he's already crossed that line in his own mind." Hasan also asked al-Awlaki when jihad is appropriate, and whether it is permissible if innocents are killed in a suicide attack.[21] In the months before the attacks, Hasan increased his contacts with al-Awlaki to discuss how to transfer funds abroad without coming to the attention of law authorities.[140]
A DC-based Joint Terrorism Task Force operating under the FBI was notified of the e-mails, and reviewed the information. Army employees were informed of the e-mails, but they didn't perceive any terrorist threat in Hasan's questions. Instead, they viewed them as general questions about spiritual guidance with regard to conflicts between Islam and military service, and judged them to be consistent with legitimate mental health research about Muslims in the armed services.[142] The assessment was that there was not sufficient information for a larger investigation.[143]
Charles Allen, no longer in government, said: "I find it difficult to understand why an Army major would be in repeated contact with an Islamic extremist like Anwar al-Awlaki, who preaches a hateful ideology directed at inciting violence against the United States and the West... It is hard to see how repeated contact would in any legitimate way further his research as a psychiatrist."[144] And former CIA officer Bruce Riedel opined: "E-mailing a known al-Qaeda sympathizer should have set off alarm bells. Even if he was exchanging recipes, the bureau should have put out an alert."[144]
Al-Awlaki had set up a website, with a blog on which he shared his views.[144] On December 11, 2008, he condemned any Muslim who seeks a religious decree "that would allow him to serve in the armies of the disbelievers and fight against his brothers".[144]
In "44 Ways to Support Jihad", another sermon posted on his blog in February 2009, al-Awlaki encouraged others to "fight jihad", and explained how to give money to the mujahideen or their families after they've died. Al-Awlaki's sermon also encouraged others to conduct weapons training, and raise children "on the love of Jihad".[145] Also that month, he wrote: "I pray that Allah destroys America and all its allies."[144] He wrote as well: "We will implement the rule of Allah on Earth by the tip of the sword, whether the masses like it or not."[144] On July 14, he criticized armies of Muslim countries that assist the U.S. military, saying, "the blame should be placed on the soldier who is willing to follow orders ... who sells his religion for a few dollars."[144] In a sermon on his blog on July 15, 2009, entitled "Fighting Against Government Armies in the Muslim World", al-Awlaki wrote, "Blessed are those who fight against [American soldiers], and blessed are those shuhada [martyrs] who are killed by them."[145][146]
A fellow Muslim officer at Fort Hood said Hasan's eyes "lit up" when gushing about al-Awlaki's teachings.[147] Some investigators believe that Hasan's contacts with al-Awlaki are what pushed him toward violence.[148]
After the Fort Hood shooting, on his now temporarily inoperable website (apparently because some web hosting companies took it down),[45] al-Awlaki praised Hasan's actions:
Nidal Hassan is a hero.... The U.S. is leading the war against terrorism, which in reality is a war against Islam..... Nidal opened fire on soldiers who were on their way to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. How can there be any dispute about the virtue of what he has done? In fact the only way a Muslim could Islamically justify serving as a soldier in the U.S. army is if his intention is to follow the footsteps of men like Nidal.
The fact that fighting against the U.S. army is an Islamic duty today cannot be disputed. No scholar with a grain of Islamic knowledge can defy the clear cut proofs that Muslims today have the right—­rather the duty­—to fight against American tyranny. Nidal has killed soldiers who were about to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in order to kill Muslims. The American Muslims who condemned his actions have committed treason against the Muslim Ummah and have fallen into hypocrisy.... May Allah grant our brother Nidal patience, perseverance, and steadfastness, and we ask Allah to accept from him his great heroic act. Ameen.[149][150]
Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Hider Shaea interviewed al-Awlaki in November 2009.[22] Al-Awlaki acknowledged his correspondence with Hasan. He said he "neither ordered nor pressured ... Hasan to harm Americans." Al-Awlaki said Hasan first e-mailed him December 17, 2008, introducing himself by writing: "Do you remember me? I used to pray with you at the Virginia mosque." Hasan said he had become a devout Muslim around the time al-Awlaki was preaching at Dar al-Hijrah, in 2001 and 2002, and al-Awlaki said 'Maybe Nidal was affected by one of my lectures.'" He added: "It was clear from his e-mails that Nidal trusted me. Nidal told me: 'I speak with you about issues that I never speak with anyone else.'" Al-Awlaki said Hasan arrived at his own conclusions regarding the acceptability of violence in Islam, and said he was not the one to initiate this. Shaea said, "Nidal was providing evidence to Anwar, not vice versa."[22]
Asked whether Hasan mentioned Fort Hood as a target in his e-mails, Shaea declined to comment. However, al-Awlaki said the shooting was acceptable in Islam because it was a form of jihad, as the West began the hostilities with the Muslims.[151] Al-Awlaki said he "blessed the act because it was against a military target. And the soldiers who were killed were ... those who were trained and prepared to go to Iraq and Afghanistan".[22][152]
Al-Awlaki released a tape in March 2010, in which he said, in part:
To the American people ... Obama has promised that his administration will be one of transparency, but he has not fulfilled his promise. His administration tried to portray the operation of brother Nidal Hasan as an individual act of violence from an estranged individual. The administration practiced to control on the leak of information concerning the operation, in order to cushion the reaction of the American public.
Until this moment the administration is refusing to release the e-mails exchanged between myself and Nidal. And after the operation of our brother Umar Farouk, the initial comments coming from the administration were looking the same – another attempt at covering up the truth. But Al-Qaeda cut off Obama from deceiving the world again by issuing their statement claiming responsibility for the operation.[153]
In addition to the point made by al-Awlaki himself about the failure to release his e-mails, despite wide press coverage of al-Awlaki's role as a spiritual guide to Hasan, and many previous anti-terrorism investigations dating back pre-9/11, al-Awlaki has not been placed on an FBI Most Wanted or other terror list, indicted for treason, or publicly named as a co-conspirator with Hasan. The U.S. government has been reluctant to classify the Fort Hood shooting as a terrorist incident, or identify Hasan's motive.

Christmas Day "Underwear Bomber"

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Northwest Airlines Flight 253 suspected bomber
Al-Awlaki and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the suspected al-Qaeda attempted bomber of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on December 25, 2009, had contacts according to a number of sources. In January 2010, CNN reported that U.S. "security sources" said that there is concrete evidence that al-Awlaki was Abdulmutallab's recruiter and one of his trainers, and met with him prior to the attack.[154] In February 2010, al-Awlaki admitted in an interview published in al-Jazeera that he taught and corresponded with Abdulmutallab, but denied having ordered the attack.[155][156][157]
Representative Pete Hoekstra, the senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said officials in the Obama administration and officials with access to law enforcement information told him the suspect "had contact [with al-Awlaki]".[158][159][160]
The Sunday Times established that Abdulmutallab first met al-Awlaki in 2005 in Yemen, while he was studying Arabic.[161] During that time the suspect attended lectures by al-Awlaki.[96] The two are also "thought to have met" in London, according to The Daily Mail.[162]
NPR reported that according to unnamed U.S. intelligence officials he attended a sermon by al-Awlaki at the Finsbury Park Mosque.[10][163] Khalid Mahmood, the Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, who resigned as trustee of the mosque, pointed to the NPR report in expressing "grave misgivings" with regard to the stewardship of the mosque.[163][164] The Finsbury Park Mosque stated, however:
neither Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab nor Anwar al-Awlaki has ever been invited to attend NLCM since we took charge of the mosque in February 2005. We can be certain that neither man has been given a platform at the mosque in any form and in the case of Anwar al-Awlaki we can be confident that he would not have been able to enter the mosque without his presence being brought to our attention.[165]
Abdulmutallab was also reported to have attended a talk by al-Awlaki at the East London Mosque, which al-Awlaki may have attended by video teleconference, according to CBS News, The Daily Telegraph, and The Sunday Telegraph.[120][166][167][168] However, The Sunday Telegraph later removed the report from its website following a complaint by the East London Mosque, which stated that "Anwar Al Awlaki did not deliver any talks at the ELM between 2005 and 2008, which is when the newspaper had falsely alleged that Abdullmutallab had attended such talks".[169]
Evidence collected during searches of flats connected to Abdulmutallab in London indicated that he was a "big fan" of al-Awlaki, as web traffic showed he followed al-Awlaki's blog and website.[170]
The suspect was "on American security watch-lists because of his links with ... al-Awlaki", according to University of Oxford historian, and professor of international relations, Mark Almond.[171]
The two were communicating in the months before the bombing attempt, reported CBS News, and CBS reported that sources said that al-Awlaki at a minimum was providing spiritual support.[11] According to federal sources, over the year prior to the attack, Abdulmutallab intensified electronic communications with al-Awlaki.[172] "Voice-to-voice communication" between the two was intercepted during the fall of 2009, and one government source said al-Awlaki "was in some way involved in facilitating [Abdulmutallab]'s transportation or trip through Yemen. It could be training, a host of things."[173] NPR reported that intelligence officials it did not name suspect al-Awlaki may have directed Abdulmutallab to Yemen for al-Qaeda training.[10]
Abdulmutallab told the FBI that al-Awlaki was one of his al-Qaeda trainers in remote camps in Yemen. And there were confirming "informed reports" that Abdulmutallab met with al-Awlaki during his final weeks of training and indoctrination prior to the attack.[174][175] The Los Angeles Times reported that according to a U.S. intelligence official, intercepts and other information point to connections between the two:
Some of the information ... comes from Abdulmutallab, who ... said that he met with al-Awlaki and senior al-Qaeda members during an extended trip to Yemen this year, and that the cleric was involved in some elements of planning or preparing the attack and in providing religious justification for it. Other intelligence linking the two became apparent after the attempted bombing, including communications intercepted by the National Security Agency indicating that the cleric was meeting with "a Nigerian" in preparation for some kind of operation.[25]
Yemen's Deputy Prime Minister for Defense and Security Affairs, Rashad Mohammed al-Alimi, said Yemeni investigators believe that in October 2009 the suspect traveled to Shabwa. There, he met with al-Qaeda members in a house built by al-Awlaki and used by al-Awlaki to hold theological sessions, and Abdulmutallab was trained there and equipped there with his explosives.[176] A top Yemen government official said the two met with each other.[177]
In January 2010, al-Awlaki acknowledged that he met and spoke with Abdulmutallab in Yemen in the fall of 2009. In an interview, al-Awlaki said: "Umar Farouk is one of my students; I had communications with him. And I support what he did." He also said: "I did not tell him to do this operation, but I support it," adding that he was proud of Abdulmutallab. Separately, al-Awlaki asked Yemen's conservative religious scholars to call for the killing of United States military and intelligence officials who assist Yemen's counter-terrorism program.[178] Fox News reported in early February 2010 that Abdulmutallab told federal investigators that al-Awlaki directed him to carry out the bombing.[179]
In his March 2010 tape, al-Awlaki also said:
To the American people ... nine years after 9/11, nine years of spending, and nine years of beefing up security you are still unsafe even in the holiest and most sacred of days to you, Christmas Day.... Our brother Umar Farouk has succeeded in breaking through the security systems that have cost the U.S. government alone over 40 billion dollars since 9/11.[153]
In June 2010 Michael Leiter, the Director of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), said al-Awlaki had a "direct operational role" in the plot.[180]

Sharif Mobley

Alleged al-Qaeda member Sharif Mobley, who is charged with having killed a guard during a March 2010 escape attempt in Yemen, left his home in U.S state of New Jersey to seek out al-Awlaki, hoping that al-Awlaki would become his al-Qaeda mentor, according to senior U.S. security officials as reported by CNN.[181] He was in contact with al-Awlaki, according to officials from the U.S. and Yemen, The New York Times reported.[182] A Yemeni embassy spokesman in Washington, D.C., said he was not surprised by al-Awlaki's apparent links to Mobley, calling al-Awlaki: "a fixture in jihad 101".[183]

Times Square bomber

Faisal Shahzad, convicted of the attempted car bombing of Times Square in May 2010, told interrogators that he was "inspired by" al-Awlaki. Shahzad said he was moved to action, at least in part, by al-Awlaki's English-language writings calling for holy war against Western targets, and he was a "fan and follower" of al-Awlaki.[184][185] On May 6, 2010 ABC News reported that unknown sources told them Shahzad made contact with al-Awlaki over the internet, a claim that could not be independently verified.[186][187]

Stabbing of British former minister Stephen Timms

After becoming radicalized by online sermons of al-Awlaki, Roshonara Choudhry stabbed British former Cabinet Minister Stephen Timms in May 2010. On November 4, 2010, she was sentenced at the Old Bailey in London to life imprisonment for attempted murder.[188]

Seattle Weekly cartoonist death threat

In 2010, cartoonist Molly Norris at Seattle Weekly had to stop publishing, and at the suggestion of the FBI change her name, move, and go into hiding due to a Fatwā calling for her death issued by al-Awlaki, after Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.[189][190][191] Al-Awlaki cursed her and eight other cartoonists, authors, and journalists who are Swedish, Dutch, and British citizens for "blasphemous caricatures" of the Prophet Muhammad, in the June 2010 issue of an English-language al-Qaeda magazine that calls itself Inspire, writing "The medicine prescribed by the Messenger of Allah is the execution of those involved" .[192] Daniel Pipes observed in an article entitled "Dueling Fatwas", "Awlaki stands at an unprecedented crossroads of death declarations, with his targeting Norris even as the U.S. government targets him."[193]

British passenger plane plot

British Home Secretary, Theresa May, said on November 3, 2010, that an associate of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, who was in touch with al-Awlaki, had been arrested in 2010 for allegedly planning a terrorist attack on passenger planes in Britain.[194]

Cargo planes bomb plot

The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph reported that U.S. and British counter-terrorism officials believe that al-Awlaki was behind the cargo plane PETN bombs that were sent from Yemen to Chicago in October 2010.[195][196] The New York Times also reported that some analysts believe the attempted bombing may be linked to al-Awlaki.[197] In addition, when U.S. Homeland Security official John Brennan was asked about al-Awlaki's suspected involvement in the plot, he said: "Anybody associated with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is a subject of concern."[196] U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein said "al-Awlaki was behind the two ... bombs."[198]

Final years

Al-Awlaki's father proclaimed his son's innocence in an interview with CNN's Paula Newton, saying: "I am now afraid of what they will do with my son. He's not Osama bin Laden, they want to make something out of him that he's not." Responding to a Yemeni official's claims that his son was hiding in the southern mountains of Yemen with al-Qaeda, Nasser said: "He's dead wrong. What do you expect my son to do? There are missiles raining down on the village. He has to hide. But he is not hiding with al-Qaeda; our tribe is protecting him right now." The Awlaq tribe is large and powerful, with a number of connections to the Yemeni government. "He has been wrongly accused, it's unbelievable. He lived his life in America; he's an all-American boy", said his father.[199]
The Yemeni government negotiated with tribal leaders, trying to convince them to hand al-Awlaki over.[74] Yemeni authorities offered guarantees they would not turn al-Awlaki over to the U.S. or let him be questioned.[74] The governor of Shabwa said in January 2010 that al-Awlaki was on the move with a group of al-Qaeda elements from Shabwa, including Fahd al-Quso, who was wanted in connection with the bombing of the USS Cole.[74]
In January 2010, White House lawyers considered the legality of attempting to kill al-Awlaki, given his U.S. citizenship. Opportunities to do so "may have been missed" because of legal questions surrounding such an attack.[200] But on February 4, 2010, New York Daily News reported that al-Awlaki was "now on a targeting list signed off on by the Obama administration".[201]
"Terrorist No. 1, in terms of threat against us."[33]
— Representative Jane Harman, (D-CA), Chairwoman of House Subcommittee on Homeland Security
On April 6, The New York Times also reported that President Obama had authorized the targeted killing of al-Awlaki.[33] The CIA and the U.S. military both maintain lists of terrorists linked to al-Qaeda and its affiliates who are approved for capture or killing.[33] Because he is a U.S. citizen, his inclusion on those lists was approved by the National Security Council.[33] U.S. officials said it is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing.[33] The New York Times reported that international law allows the use of lethal force against people who pose an imminent threat to a country, and U.S. officials said that was the standard used in adding names to the target list.[33] In addition, Congress approved the use of military force against al-Qaeda after 9/11.[33] People on the target list are considered military enemies of the U.S., and therefore not subject to a ban on political assassinations approved by former President Gerald Ford.[202] Nevertheless, the authorization was controversial.[203]
The powerful Al-Awalik tribe responded "We warn against cooperating with America to kill Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki. We will not stand by idly and watch."[202] Al-Awlaki's tribe wrote that it would "not remain with arms crossed if a hair of Anwar al-Awlaki is touched, or if anyone plots or spies against him. Whoever risks denouncing our son (Awlaki) will be the target of Al-Awalik weapons," and gave warning "against co-operating with the Americans" in the capture or killing of al-Awlaki.[204] Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, the Yemeni foreign minister, followed by announcing that the Yemeni government had not received any evidence from the U.S., and that "Anwar al-Awlaki has always been looked at as a preacher rather than a terrorist and shouldn't be considered as a terrorist unless the Americans have evidence that he has been involved in terrorism".[204]
Al-Awlaki's e-mail conversations with Hasan were not released, and he was not placed on the FBI Most Wanted list, indicted for treason, or officially named as a co-conspirator with Hasan. The U.S. government was reluctant to classify the Fort Hood shooting as a terrorist incident, or identify any motive. The Wall Street Journal reported in January 2010 that al-Awlaki: "has never been indicted in the U.S."[110] Al-Awlaki's father, tribe, and supporters have denied his alleged associations with Al-Qaeda and Islamic terrorism.[6][28][205]
"al-Awlaki is the most dangerous ideologue in the world. Unlike bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, he doesn't need subtitles on his videos to indoctrinate and influence young people in the West."[206]
— Sajjan M. Gohel, Asia-Pacific Foundation
In a video clip bearing the imprint of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, issued on April 16 in al-Qaeda's monthly magazine Sada Al-Malahem, al-Awlaki said: "What am I accused of? Of calling for the truth? Of calling for jihad for the sake of Allah? Of calling to defend the causes of the Islamic nation?".[207] In the video he also praises both Abdulmutallab and Hasan, and describes both as his "students".[208]
In late April, Representative Charlie Dent (R-PA) introduced a resolution urging the U.S. State Department to issue a "certificate of loss of nationality" to al-Awlaki. He said al-Awlaki "preaches a culture of hate" and had been a functioning member of al-Qaeda "since before 9/11", and had effectively renounced his citizenship by engaging in treasonous acts.[209]
By May, U.S. officials believed he had become "operational", plotting, not just inspiring, terrorism against the West.[49] Former colleague Abdul-Malik said he "is a terrorist, in my book", and advised shops not to carry even the earlier, non-jihadist al-Awlaki sermons.[49] In an editorial, Investor's Business Daily called al-Awlaki the "world's most dangerous man", and recommended that he be added to the FBI's most-wanted terrorist list, a bounty put on his head, that he be designated a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" like Zindani, charged with treason, and extradition papers filed with the Yemeni government. IBD criticized the Justice Department for stonewalling Senator Joe Lieberman's security panel's investigation of al-Awlaki's role in the Fort Hood massacre.[210]
On July 16, the U.S. Treasury Department added him to its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists.[4] As a result, any U.S. bank accounts he may have would be frozen, Americans were forbidden from doing business with him, and he was banned from traveling to the U.S.[4] Stuart Levey, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said al-Awlaki:
has proven that he is extraordinarily dangerous, committed to carrying out deadly attacks on Americans and others worldwide ... [and] has involved himself in every aspect of the supply chain of terrorism—fundraising for terrorist groups, recruiting and training operatives, and planning and ordering attacks on innocents.[4][211]
A few days later, the United Nations Security Council placed al-Awlaki on its UN Security Council Resolution 1267 list of individuals associated with al-Qaeda, saying in its summary of reasons that he is a leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and was involved in recruiting and training camps.[212] That required U.N. member states to freeze his assets, impose a travel ban on him, and prevent weapons from landing in his hands.[213] The following week, the Canadian government ordered financial institutions to look for and seize any property linked to al-Awlaki, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's senior counter-terrorism officer Gilles Michaud singled out al-Awlaki as a "major, major factor in radicalization".[212] In September 2010, Jonathan Evans, the Director General of the United Kingdom's domestic security and counter-intelligence agency (MI5), said that al-Awlaki was the West's Public Enemy No 1.[214]
In October 2010, U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) urged YouTube to take down al-Awlaki's videos from its website, saying that by hosting al-Awlaki's messages, "We are facilitating the recruitment of homegrown terror."[215] Pauline Neville-Jones, British security minister, said "These Web sites ... incite cold-blooded murder."[216] In November 2010, YouTube removed from its site some of the hundreds of videos featuring al-Awlaki calls to jihad.[216]
Al-Awlaki was charged in absentia in Sana'a, Yemen, on November 2 with plotting to kill foreigners and being a member of al-Qaeda.[217] Ali al-Saneaa, the head of the prosecutor's office, announced the charges as part of a trial against another man, Hisham Assem, who had been accused of killing a Frenchman, also saying that al-Awlaki corresponded with Assem for months, encouraging him to kill foreigners.[217][218] The prosecutor said:
Yesterday a regular visitor of bars and discotheques in America ... Awlaki today has become the catalyst for shedding the blood of foreigners and security forces. He was chosen by Al-Qaeda to be the lead in many of their criminal operations in Yemen. Awlaki is a figure prone to evil devoid of any conscience, religion, or law.[219]
A lawyer for al-Awlaki denied he was linked to the Frenchman's murder.[218] On November 6, Yemeni Judge Mohsen Alwan ordered that al-Awlaki be caught "dead or alive".[27][220]
In a video posted to the internet on November 8, 2010, al-Awlaki called for Muslims around the world to kill Americans "without hesitation", and overthrow Arab leaders. He said that no fatwa (special clerical ruling) is required to kill Americans: "Don't consult with anyone in fighting the Americans, fighting the devil doesn't require consultation or prayers or seeking divine guidance. They are the party of the devils."[31][221] That month, Intelligence Research Specialist Kevin Yorke of the New York Police Department's Counterterrorism Division called him "the most dangerous man in the world".[222][223]

Targeted killing order and lawsuit against the U.S.

In July 2010, his father, Nasser al-Aulaqi, contracted the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to represent his son in a lawsuit that sought to remove Anwar from the targeted killing list.[224] ACLU's Jameel Jaffer said:
the United States is not at war in Yemen, and the government doesn't have a blank check to kill terrorism suspects wherever they are in the world. Among the arguments we'll be making is that, outside actual war zones, the authority to use lethal force is narrowly circumscribed, and preserving the rule of law depends on keeping this authority narrow.[225]
Lawyers for Specially Designated Global Terrorists must obtain a special license from the U.S. Treasury Department before they can represent their clients in court. The lawyers were granted the license on August 4, 2010.[226]
On August 30, 2010, the groups filed a "targeted killing" lawsuit, naming President Barack Obama, CIA Director Leon Panetta, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as defendants.[227][228] They sought an injunction preventing the targeted killing of al-Awlaki, and also sought to require the government to disclose the standards under which U.S. citizens may be "targeted for death". Judge John D. Bates dismissed the lawsuit in an 83-page ruling, holding that the father did not have legal standing to bring the lawsuit, and that his claims were judicially unreviewable under the political question doctrine inasmuch as he was questioning a decision that the U.S. Constitution committed to the political branches.[35][229][230][231]
On May 5, 2011, the U.S. tried to kill Anwar Awlaki by firing a missile from an unmanned drone onto a car in Yemen but Awlaki survived the attempted killing.[232] A Yemeni security official said that two al-Qaeda operatives in the car died.[233]


On September 30, 2011, in northern Yemen's al-Jawf province, two Predator drones fired Hellfire missiles at a vehicle containing al-Awlaki and three other suspected al-Qaeda members.[234][234][235][236] A witness said the group had stopped to eat breakfast while traveling to Ma'rib Governorate. A Predator drone was spotted by the group, which then tried to flee in the vehicle.[237] According to U.S. sources, the strike was carried out by Joint Special Operations Command, under the direction of the CIA. U.S. President Barack Obama said:
The death of Awlaki is a major blow to Al-Qaeda's most active operational affiliate. He took the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans ... and he repeatedly called on individuals in the United States and around the globe to kill innocent men, women and children to advance a murderous agenda. [The strike] is further proof that Al-Qaeda and its affiliates will find no safe haven anywhere in the world.[234]
Yemen's Defense Ministry announced that al-Awlaki had been killed in the country.[238][239] Also killed was Samir Khan, an American born in Saudi Arabia, who was editor of al-Qaeda's English-language web magazine, Inspire.[240]
One American critic of the War on Terror Paul Craig Roberts wrote Awlaki gave "sermons critical of Washington’s indiscriminate assaults on Muslim peoples" who "told Muslims that they did not have to passively accept American aggression." He called the operation "The Day America Died" as the U.S. lacked evidence either Awlaki or Khan were real threats or Al Qaeda operatives.[241]


Abdulrahman al-Awlaki

Anwar Al-Awlaki and Egyptian-born Gihan Mohsen Baker had an American son, born on September 13, 1995, in Denver, named Abdulrahman Anwar Al-Aulaqi".[242] Abdul-Rahman al-Awlaki was killed at the age of 16 in an American drone strike on Friday, October 14, 2011, in Yemen, along with alleged al-Qaeda members.[243] Nine other people were killed in the same CIA-led attack. Among the dead was a 17-year-old cousin of Abdulrahman.[244] Family members have said that he was on his way to a barbecue. Five Facebook pages have been set up to condemn the killing as a human rights violation.[245]

Nasser al-Awlaki

Nasser al-Awlaki is the father of Anwar and grandfather of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. After the deaths of his son and grandson, Nasser published a 6 minute audio message condemning the U.S. for the killings.[246] In the audio he described Obama:
"I urge the American people to bring the killers to justice. I urge them to expose the hypocrisy of the 2009 Nobel Prize laureate. To some, he may be that. To me and my family, he is nothing more than a child killer."[244]
He claimed his son was far from any battlefield.[246] After the audio, Nasser al-Awlaki began to deny he was endorsing violence after some media outlets interpreted his audio in that way.[42]
A brother-in-law of Awlaki is Tariq al-Dahab, who leads al-Qaeda insurgents in Yemen. On Thursday, February 16, 2012, the terrorist organization stated he had been killed by agents, although it is speculated by the media that he was killed by his brother in a bloody family-type feud.[247][248][249]


The Nine Eleven Finding Answers Foundation says Al-Awlaki's ability to write and speak in fluent English enabled him to be a key player in inciting English-speaking Muslims to commit terrorist acts.[9] As al-Awlaki himself wrote in 44 Ways to Support Jihad:
Most of the Jihad literature is available only in Arabic and publishers are not willing to take the risk of translating it. The only ones who are spending the time and money translating Jihad literature are the Western intelligence services ... and too bad, they would not be willing to share it with you.[9]

Written works

  • 44 Ways to Support Jihad—Essay (January 2009)—A practical step-by-step guide to pursuing or supporting jihad.[250] Writes: "The hatred of kuffar [those who reject Islam] is a central element of our military creed," and asserts that all Muslims must participate in Jihad in person, by funding it, or by writing. Says all Muslims must remain physically fit, and train with firearms "to be ready for the battlefield".[9][120] According to U.S. officials, considered a key text for al-Qaeda members.[251]
  • Al-Awlaki also wrote for Jihad Recollections, an English language online publication published by Al-Fursan Media.[145]
  • Allah is Preparing Us for Victory – short book (2009).[252]


  • Lectures on the book Constants on the Path of Jihad by Yousef Al-Ayyiri—concerns leaderless jihad.[9]
  • Numerous lectures have been posted to YouTube on various channels such as this and this A U.K. government analysis of YouTube in 2009 found 1,910 videos of his videos, one of which had been viewed 164,420 times.[253]
  • The Battle of Hearts and Minds
  • The Dust Will Never Settle Down
  • Dreams & Interpretations
  • The Hereafter—16 CDs—Al Basheer Productions[6]
  • Life of Muhammad: Makkan Period—16 CDs—Al Basheer Productions
  • Life of Muhammad: Medinan Period—Lecture in 2 Parts—18 CDs—Al Basheer Productions
  • Lives of the Prophets (AS)—16 CDs—Al Basheer Productions
  • Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (RA): His Life & Times—15 CDs—Al Basheer Productions
  • Umar ibn al-Khattāb (RA): His Life & Times—18 CDs—Al Basheer Productions
  • 25 Promises from Allah to the Believer—2 CDs—Noor Productions
  • Companions of the Ditch & Lessons from the Life of Musa (AS)—2 CDs—Noor Productions
  • Remembrance of Allah & the Greatest Ayah—2 CDs—Noor Productions
  • Stories from Hadith—4 CDs—Center for Islamic Information and Education ("CIIE")
  • Hellfire & The Day of Judgment—CD—CIIE
  • Quest for Truth: The Story of Salman Al-Farsi (RA)—CD—CIIE
  • Trials & Lessons for Muslim Minorities—CD—CIIE
  • Young Ayesha (RA) & Mothers of the Believers (RA)—CD—CIIE
  • Understanding the Quran—CD—CIIE
  • Lessons from the Companions (RA) Living as a Minority'—CD—CIIE
  • Virtues of the Sahabah—video lecture series promoted by the al-Wasatiyyah Foundation

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