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This article is a subsection of Anwar al-Awlaki

In the United States; 1991–2002[]

pt 1[]

At Colorado State University, friends recalled that al-Awlaki lived in a modest one-bedroom apartment and drove an old Buick, not calling attention to himself. He did not stand out as being particularly devout, nor active in the Muslim student's organization.

In 1993, the same year as the first World Trade Center bombing, Awalaki took a vacation trip to Afghanistan like "many other thousands of young Muslim men with jihadist zeal".[1][2] At the time, Afghanistan was the base for Osama bin Laden, and much of the nation was under control of various mujahideen factions after the withdrawal of the Soviet occupation. Mullah Mohammed Omar would not form the Taliban Wikipedia.png until 1994. Al-Awlaki may have experienced a spiritual awakening after witnessing the poverty and hunger there. But a fellow student noted "He wouldn't have gone with Al-Queda. He didn't like the way they lived". When he returned to campus, he showed an increased interest in politics and religion, as he would wear Afghan hats, Eritrean T-shirts, and quoted Abdullah Azzam who had theologically justified the Afghan Jihad and was later known as a mentor to Osama bin Laden.[3]

In 1994, al-Awlaki married a cousin from Yemen.[3] Al-Awlaki served as Imam of the Denver Islamic Society from 1994–96. While he preached eloquently against vice and sin, he left two weeks after being chastised by an elder for encouraging jihad.[3] He then served as Imam of the Masjid Ar-Ribat al-Islami mosque at the edge of San Diego, California, from 1996–2000.[3][4][1][5][6]

Although he hesitated to shake hands with women, he patronized prostitutes.[3] Al-Awlaki was arrested in San Diego in August 1996 and in April 1997 for soliciting prostitutes.[7][8][9][10] 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.[10] 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.[10]

In 1998 and 1999, he served as Vice President for the Charitable Society for Social Welfare (CSSW) in San Diego. That charity was founded by Abdul Majeed al-Zindani of Yemen, who has been designated by the US government as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" who has worked with Osama bin Laden.[4] During a terrorism trial, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent Brian Murphy testified that CSSW was a “front organization to funnel money to terrorists,” and U.S. federal prosecutors have described it as being used to support Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda.[4][11] The FBI investigated al-Awlaki beginning in June 1999 through March 2000 for possible fundraising for Hamas, links to al-Qaeda, and a visit in early 2000 by a close associate of "the Blind Sheik" Omar Abdel Rahman (who was serving a life sentence for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center attack, and plotting to blow up NYC landmarks). The FBI's interest was also triggered because he had been contacted by an al-Qaeda operative who had bought a battery for bin Laden's satellite phone, Ziyad Khaleel.[3] But it was unable to unearth sufficient evidence for a criminal prosecution.[5][7][6][4][12][13][14]

pt 2[]

9/11 hijacker
Nawaf al-Hazmi, for whom al-Awlaki was reportedly spiritual advisor

9/11 hijacker
Khalid al-Mihdhar, for whom al-Awlaki was reportedly spiritual advisor

Planning for the 9/11 attack and USS Cole bombing was discussed at the Kuala Lumpur al-Qaeda Summit. Among the planners were two of the 9/11 hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77, which hit the Pentagon, (Nawaf Al-Hazmi and Khalid Almihdhar). They then flew to Los Angeles and traveled to San Diego where witnesses told the FBI they had a close relationship with al-Awlaki in 2000. Awlaki served as their spiritual adviser, and the two were also frequently visited there by 9/11 pilot Hani Hanjour.[7][4][15] The 9/11 Commission Report indicated that the hijackers also "reportedly respected [al-Awlaki] as a religious figure."[16] Authorities say the two hijackers regularly attended the mosque al-Awlaki led in San Diego, and he had many long closed-door meetings with them, which led investigators to believe al-Awlaki knew about the 9/11 attacks in advance.[7][6][3]

Awlaki told reporters that he resigned from the leadership of the San Diego mosque "after an uneventful four years", despite his contacts with 9/11 participants. He took a brief sabbatical and a trip overseas to various countries which have since still not have been identified or explained.[17]

When Al-Awlaki returned to the US, he settled in January 2001 on the east coast. Al-Awlaki sought a larger mosque near where he could finish work his doctorate degree in human resource development. There, he served as Imam at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in the Falls Church metropolitan Washington, DC, area, and was also the Muslim Chaplain at George Washington University.[5][16][4][18] Esam Omeish hired al-Awlaki to be the mosque's imam.[19][20] 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."[21] Fluent in English, known for giving eloquent talks on Islam, and with a mandate to attract young non-Arabic speakers, al-Awlaki "was the magic bullet," according to mosque spokesman Johari Abdul-Malik; "he had everything all in a box."[21] "He had an allure. He was charming."[22]

Soon afterward, his sermons were attended by two of the 9/11 hijackers (Al-Hazmi again, and Hani Hanjour, which the 9/11 Commission Report concluded "may not have been coincidental"), and by Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan.[7][6][23][24] When police investigating the 9/11 attacks raided the Hamburg, Germany, apartment of Ramzi Binalshibh (the "20th hijacker"), his telephone number was found among Binalshibh's personal contact information.[5][4][25]

The FBI interviewed al-Awlaki four times in the days following the 9/11 attacks. [3] One detective told the 9/11 Commission he believed al-Awlaki “was at the center of the 9/11 story,” and an F.B.I. 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.” [3] 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." [3] 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.[3] "In my view, he is more than a coincidental figure," said House Intelligence Committee member Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA).[10]

Writing on the website six days after the 9/11 attacks, 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."[4]

The FBI conducted extensive investigations of al-Awlaki, and he was observed crossing state lines with prostitutes in the D.C. area.[7][4] To arrest him, the FBI considered invoking the little-used Mann Act, a federal law prohibiting interstate transport of women for "immoral purposes."[7] But before investigators could detain him, al-Awlaki left for Yemen in March 2002.[7][4]

Weeks later he posted an essay in Arabic titled "Why Muslims Love Death" on the Islam Today website, praising the Palestinian suicide bombers' fervor, and months later at a videotaped lecture in a London mosque, he lauded them in English.[7][4] By July 2002, he was under investigation for having been sent money by the subject of an U.S. Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation. His name was placed on an early version of what is now the federal terror watch list.[5][7][26]

In June 2002, a Denver federal judge signed off on an arrest warrant for al-Awlaki for passport fraud.[27] On October 9, the Denver U.S. Attorney's Office rescinded it.[5][7] The prosecutors withdrew the warrant because they felt they ultimately lacked evidence of a crime, according to U.S. Attorney Dave Gaouette, who authorized its withdrawal.[28] While al-Awlaki had listed Yemen as his place of birth (which the prosecutors believed was false) on his original application for a U.S. social security number in 1990, which he then used to obtain a passport in 1993, he later changed his place of birth information to Las Cruces, New Mexico.[28][29] Prosecutors could not charge him, because a 10-year statute of limitations on lying to the Social Security Administration had expired.[30] As a result, agents were unable to arrest him when he returned to John F. Kennedy International Airport in the U.S. on October 10, 2002—the following day after the warrant had been rescinded.[5][7]

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 was no 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.[28] Gaouette opined that if al-Awlaki had been convicted, he would have faced about 6 months in custody.[30] "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.[28] The New York Times noted, however, that al-Awlaki apparently did it so he could qualify for scholarship money given to foreign citizens.[3]

Al-Awlaki then returned briefly 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 what would be called the Virginia Jihad Network, inciting Muslim followers to fight with the Taliban against the U.S.[7][3][4]

In the United Kingdom; 2002–04[]

This article has been assessed as havingUnknown importance.

Good scope?NoN Timeline?NoN wikified?NoN red links < 10?NoN all red links fixed?NoN referenced?NoN Illustrated?NoN Googled and added info? NoN Checked 9/11 records archives? NoN Checked Wikinews? NoN Checked Wikisource? NoN 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.[31] He urged young Muslim followers never to believe a non-Muslim (kuffar Wikipedia.png, in Arabic), saying: "The important lesson to learn here is never, ever trust a kuffar. Do not trust them! [They] are plotting to kill this religion. They’re plotting night and day."[3] "He was the main man who translated the jihad into English," said a student who attended his lectures in 2003.[3]

He gave a series of lectures in December 2002 and January 2003 at the London Masjid at-Tawhid mosque, describing the rewards martyrs receive in paradise, and developing a following among ultraconservative young Muslims.[5][7][32][4][33] He was also a "distinguished guest" speaker at the U.K.’s Federation of Student Islamic Societies’ annual dinner in 2003.[34] In Britain's Parliament in 2003, Louise Ellman, MP for Liverpool Riverside Wikipedia.png, discussed a relationship between al-Awlaki and the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), a Muslim Brotherhood Wikipedia.png front organization founded by Kemal el-Helbawy, a senior member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.[35]

In Yemen; 2004–present[]

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.[7][4] 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.[32][36] 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.[32][37][38] Al-Zindani denied having any influence over al-Awlaki, or that he had been his "direct teacher."[39]

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.[40][22] Al-Awlaki blames 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 Wikipedia.png, told Yemeni officials he did not object to al-Awlaki's detention.[3] His name was on a list of 100 prisoners whose release was sought by al-Qaeda-linked militants in Yemen.[23] 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.[3][8][23][22][41] He reportedly moved to his family home in Saeed, a tiny hamlet in the rugged Shabwa mountains.[22]

Former Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg's Cageprisoners organization campaigned for al-Awlaki when he was in prison in Yemen.[42] Shortly after his release, Begg obtained an exclusive telephone interview with him.[42] According to Begg, prior to his incarceration in Yemen al-Awlaki had condemned the 9/11 attacks.[42]

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".[43]

"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."[44]

— Yemeni official familiar with counterterrorism operations

He provides al-Qaeda members in Yemen with the protection of his powerful tribe, the Awlakis, against the government. The tribal code requires it to protect those who seek refuge and assistance, and 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."[45] Al-Awlaki has also reportedly helped negotiate deals with other tribal leaders".[22][46]

Sought now by Yemeni authorities with regard to a new investigation into his al-Qaeda ties, the authorities have been unable to locate al-Awlaki, who according to his father disappeared approximately March 2009. By December 2009, al-Awlaki was on the Yemen government's most-wanted list.[47] 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).[25]

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 it is now known that he survived.[48] 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".[49] On December 28 The Washington Post reported that U.S. and Yemeni officials said that al-Awlaki was at the al-Qaeda meeting, but his fate was still unknown.[50] 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 is 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.[51]

In March 2010, a tape featuring al-Awlaki was released in which he urged Muslims residing in the U.S. to turn against and 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.[52][53]

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.[54] Eight other cartoonists, journalists, and writers from Britain, Sweden, and Holland were also threatened with death. "The prophet is the pinnacle of Jihad", 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."

Reaching out to the United Kingdom[]

Despite being banned from entering England in 2006, al-Awlaki spoke on at least seven occasions at five different venues around Britain via video-link in 2007–09.[55] 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.[56][57]

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), worshippers 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").[55][58][59] 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.[58][60] His videos, which discuss his Islamist theories, have also circulated in England, and until February 2010 hundreds of audio tapes of his sermons were available at the Tower Hamlets public libraries.[61][62][63][64]

Other connections[]

Main article: People linked to Anwar al-Awlaki
File:Allen 2005.jpg

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 have identified al-Awlaki as a known, important "senior recruiter for al Qaeda", and a spiritual motivator.[23][65]

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, and Faisal Shahzad, charged in the 2010 Times Square attempted bombing. In each case the suspects were devoted to al-Awlaki's message, which they listened to on laptops, audio clips, and CDs.[7][3][8][66]

Al-Awlaki’s recorded lectures were also an inspiration to Islamist fundamentalists who comprised at least six terror cells in the UK through 2009.[31] 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.[67] In addition to his website, al-Awlaki had a Facebook fan page[68] with a substantial percentage of "fans" from the U.S., many of whom were high school students.[12]

Al-Awlaki has 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 Awlaki warned of future attacks against Americans in the U.S. and abroad.[69] Zachary Chesser, (nicknamed Abu Talha al-Amrikee) another American citizen who was arrested for attempting to provide material support to Al Shabaab, also federal authorities that he watched online videos featuring al-Awlaki and that he exchanged several e-mails with al-Awlaki.[70]

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."[56][71] 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'".[72]

Nidal Malik Hasan[]

File:Major Nidal Hassan.jpg

Fort Hood suspect
Nidal Malik Hasan

Fort Hood shootings suspect Nidal Malik Hasan was investigated by the FBI after intelligence agencies intercepted at least 18 emails between him and al-Awlaki between December 2008 and June 2009.[73] Even before the contents of the emails 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.[74] 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."[45]

In one of the emails, 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.[75] 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.[73]

A DC-based Joint Terrorism Task Force operating under the FBI was notified of the emails, and reviewed the information. Army employees were informed of the emails, 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.[76] The assessment was that there was not sufficient information for a larger investigation.[77]

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."[78] 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."[78]

Al-Awlaki had set up a website, with a blog on which he shared his views.[78] 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."[78]

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."[79] Also that month, he wrote: "I pray that Allah destroys America and all its allies."[78] 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."[78] 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."[78] 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."[79][80]

A fellow Muslim officer at Fort Hood said Hasan's eyes "lit up" when gushing about al-Awlaki's teachings.[81] Some investigators believe that Hasan's contacts with al-Awlaki are what pushed him toward violence.[82]

After the Fort Hood shooting, on his now temporarily inoperable website (apparently because some web hosting companies took it down),[8] 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.[83][84]

Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Hider Shaea interviewed al-Awlaki in November 2009.[85] 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."[85]

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.[86] 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".[85][87]

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.[88]

In addition to the point made by al-Awlaki himself about the failure to release his emails, 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.

Northwest Airlines Flight 253 bomber[]

File:Umar Mutallab crop and contrast.png

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.[89] 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.[90][91][92]

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]."[93][94][95]

The Sunday Times established that Abdulmutallab first met al-Awlaki in 2005 in Yemen, while he was studying Arabic.[96] During that time the suspect attended lectures by al-Awlaki.[31]

The two are also "thought to have met" in London, according to The Daily Mail.[97]

NPR reported that according to unnamed intelligence officials he attended a sermon by al-Awlaki at the Finsbury Park Mosque "in the fall of 2006 or 2007",[98] at a time when al-Awlaki was in fact in prison in Yemen. The Finsbury Park Mosque has stated: "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".[99]

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 and The Sunday Telegraph.[55][100] However, The Sunday Telegraph has since removed the report from its website following a complaint by the East London Mosque, who 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".[101]

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.[102] There is however no clear evidence that the two men had any direct contact during Abdulmutallab's period of residence in London.

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.[103]

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.[104] According to federal sources, over the year prior to the attack, Abdulmutallab intensified electronic communications with al-Awlaki.[105] "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."[106] NPR reported that intelligence officials it did not name suspect al-Awlaki may have directed Abdulmutallab to Yemen for al-Qaeda training.[98]

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.[107][108] The L.A. 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.[109]

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.[110] A top Yemen government official said the two met with each other.[111]

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.[112] Fox News reported in early February 2010 that Abdulmutallab told federal investigators that al-Awlaki directed him to carry out the bombing.[113]

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.[88]

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 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.[114] He was in contact with al-Awlaki, according to officials from the U.S. and Yemen, The New York Times reported.[115] 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."[116]

Faisal Shahzad[]

Faisal Shahzad, suspected of the attempted car bombing of Times Square in May 2010, told interrogators that he was "inspired by" al-Awlaki. Shahzad reportedly said he was 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.[117][118] Shahzad made contact with al-Awlaki over the internet, ABC News reported.[119][120]


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