Entries in Anwar Al Awlaki (8)


New Details About Unrepentant ‘Underwear’ Bomber Released

U.S. Marshals Service via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- ‘Underwear’ bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was obsessed with radical Yemeni-American cleric Anwar Awlaki, and embarked on a pilgrimage to Yemen to seek him out in 2009.  During that time he met with senior al Qaeda leaders and became a hardened terrorist who went on a mission to kill 289 people during his attempted Christmas Day attack in 2009.

Court papers filed before Abdulmutallab’s sentencing next Thursday reveal new details about his links to Awlaki, who had emerged as a key figure within Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.  The report lays out in fascinating detail how Abdulmutallab came to his mission and why the Yemeni-American cleric was deemed so dangerous the U.S. government would hunt him down and kill him in a U.S. attack involving drones and military jets in September 2011.

For years, Abdulmutallab had been following the fiery radical’s online teachings of Awlaki. A psychological evaluation by Dr. Simon Perry, also released on Friday noted that Abdulmutallab was familiar with all of Awlaki’s lectures, saying, “They were an important motivator which led [Abdulmutallab] to decide to participate in jihad.  He began listening to the lectures in 2005 and reading Aulaqi’s writings, which motivated him to accept martyrdom.”

In August 2009, Abdulmutallab left Dubai, where he had been taking graduate courses, and sought out Awlaki in Yemen. Abdulmutallab was not to be denied. “Defendant visited mosques and asked people he met if they knew how he could meet Awlaki. Eventually, defendant made contact with an individual who made contact for him.”

“Thereafter, defendant received a text message from Awlaki telling defendant to call him, which defendant did,” the government memo discloses.

During the phone call, Awlaki asked that Abdulmutallab provide in writing the reasons he wanted to participate in violent jihad. After working on his response over the next three days Abdulmutallab was finally granted a meeting with Awlaki.

“Defendant was picked up and driven through the Yemeni desert. He eventually arrived at Awlaki’s house, and stayed there for three days. During that time, defendant met with Awlaki and the two men discussed martyrdom and jihad,” the sentencing memo notes.

“Defendant left Awlaki’s house, and was taken to another house, where he met AQAP bomb-maker Ibrahim Al Asiri. Defendant and Al Asiri discussed defendant’s desire to commit an act of jihad. Thereafter, Al Asiri discussed a plan for a martyrdom mission with Awlaki, who gave it final approval, and instructed defendant Abdulmutallab on it,” prosecutors noted.

The government filing also discloses that at an AQAP training camp Abdulmutallab met with Samir Khan a U.S. citizen who fled to Yemen and wrote the online English-language magazine Inspire dedicated to violent jihad and how-to ideas on terrorist attacks. Khan was also killed in the U.S. strike along with Awlaki.

Leading up to the attempted attack, the government’s memo noted that the bomb-maker personally gave Abdulmutallab the underwear bomb, and that Awalki “arranged for a professional film crew to film the [martyrdom] video. Awlaki assisted defendant in writing his martyrdom statement, and it was filmed over a period of two to three days.”

Noting his operational control over Abdulmutallab, the memo notes, “Although Awlaki gave defendant operational flexibility, Awlaki instructed defendant that the only requirements were that the attack be on a U.S. airliner, and that the attack take place over U.S. soil. Beyond that, Awlaki gave defendant discretion to choose the flight and date. “The government is requesting five life sentences for Abdulmutallab and is also asking that the judge release an FBI videotape showing a model of the underwear bomb and of an explosion with the same amount of explosive Abdulmutallab had in the bomb.

“Since [Abdulmutallab's] motivation to commit martyrdom appears to be great, I believe there is high probability that given the opportunity, he would try once again to commit an act of martyrdom, endangering his and other innocent lives,” Dr. Perry’s assessment noted.

Abdulmutallab traveled from Yemen to Africa via Ethiopia to Ghana to Nigeria before he flew to Amsterdam, where he boarded the flight  bound for Detroit. FBI officials believe that Abdulmutallab was wearing the device for much of his travels, and that moisture or the explosives becoming loose prevented the device from fully exploding.

The sentencing hearing is set for 1 p.m. on Feb. 16.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Al Qaeda Fighters Grab More of Yemen

ABC News(RADA'A, Yemen) -- Al Qaeda's Yemeni affiliate has taken control of a city just 100 miles south of the capital, after militants led by the brother-in-law of the late U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki stormed the police station and the prison in Rada'a Saturday.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula now controls seven population centers in Southern Yemen, according to officials. It has so far rebuffed attempts by the Yemeni military to retake ithe provincial capital of Zinjibar, which militants overran in May.

According to officials, Tariq al-Zahab, who was married to a sister of Awlaki, led a force of 200 militants into Rada'a Saturday. They freed as many as 150 inmates from the local prison, including al Qaeda associates, and allegedly raised the al Qaeda flag over a government building.

Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni-American who was born in New Mexico, took up permanent residence in Yemen in 2004 and became an al Qaeda recruiter and commander, according to U.S. officials. Awlaki and Samir Khan, a U.S. citizen and al Qaeda propagandist, were killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in September 2011.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Awlaki Family Protests US Killing of Anwar al-Awlaki's Teen Son

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The family of radical Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki has issued a statement condemning the killings of Awlaki and Awlaki's teen son, and accusing the U.S. of lying about the younger Awlaki's age in order to "clear itself from the killing of the innocents."

Anwar al-Awlaki, an al Qaeda leader linked to multiple terror attacks in the U.S. and Britain, was killed along with al Qaeda propagandist Samir Khan in a Sept. 30 CIA drone strike in Yemen. Abdulrahman al-Awlaki died in a separate U.S. drone strike on Oct. 14 along with six others, including Ibrahim al-Bana, an Egyptian whom U.S. officials identified as an operational al Qaeda leader. Anwar al-Awlaki, his son and Samir Khan were all U.S. citizens.

"After Sheikh Anwar was martyred we were bereaved again by the martyrdom of his eldest son Abdulrahman," said the statement, which appeared on a militant web site, "but this time the lies have increased and this is why we have had to respond to clarify."

"Abdulrahman bin Anwar Al Awlaki was born in the American city of Denver, Colorado on August 26 1995. He thus isn't 21 or 27 years old but rather only 16 years old. He has been a resident of the city of Sana'a since he returned from America with his family in 2002." Initial media reports had stated that Abdulrahman was 21.

According to the statement, the younger Awlaki had traveled from Sana'a, Yemen's capital, to the Awlaki tribe's ancestral home of Shabwa to search for his father prior to the Sept. 30 CIA strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, Khan, and two other men. When he learned of his father's death, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki prepared to return to the capital, but was killed by the U.S. "On the night of October 14," said the statement, "he went out with his friends for dinner in the moonlight and they were struck by an American rocket that killed Abdulrahman and his friends."

"Just as the father was killed unjustly and belligerently, America didn't quench its thirst for revenge with the killing of the sheikh Anwar, whose person and personality she tried over and over again," said the statement. "Now she has killed his son gratuitously and belligerently."

According to the statement, a 17-year-old member of the Awlaki clan also died in the strike.

Photos of Awlaki and his teen son appeared on the militant website along with the family's statement. A second photo of Abdulrahman also appeared alongside a photo of the elder Awlaki as part of a memorial to father and son on the Facebook page of a teenage Awlaki relative. The Facebook tribute gave Abdulrahman's date of death as Oct. 14, the date of the second strike.

A U.S. official familiar with the strike said that the U.S. government had not yet confirmed that Awlaki's son had been killed in the strike.

The strike was conducted by the U.S. military in an effort to target al-Banna, whom U.S. officials describe as a "big deal," though they did not elaborate. One official asserted that Banna was "operational." A second official said the strike was carried out by a U.S. military drone. The elder Awlaki was killed by a CIA strike.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Slain al Qaeda Supporter's Kin Get Condolence Calls from State Dept.

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The State Department called the family of slain al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula propagandist Samir Khan last week twice to offer their condolences, a spokeswoman for the department said Tuesday.

Khan, a U.S. citizen, was killed in the same CIA airstrike in Yemen on Sept. 30 that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, another U.S. citizen and the alleged inspiration for recent terror attempts on the United States.

A U.S. consular official, in keeping with standard practice when an American is killed abroad, phoned Khan’s next of kin “to express our sympathy with the family,” spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

“This was an effort to reach out to the family of an American citizen and see if any further assistance was required of us,” she said, adding that no request was made.

Nuland said there have been no calls to Awlaki’s family because they are all Yemeni and live in Yemen.

The first call was made on Monday to Khan’s uncle after he was appointed by the family as his next of kin. A second call was made to Khan’s father last Thursday, also expressing condolences. The calls were first reported by the Charlotte Observer, quoting Khan’s family.

Nuland said the delay in calling the family was caused by efforts to identify next of kin. She said she was unaware if there was any discussion on the calls about how Khan was killed.

The 25-year-old Khan was born in Saudi Arabia to a Pakistani family and later lived in the United States with his parents. He grew up in New York and then moved to North Carolina, where he began writing a pro-al Qaeda blog. He later traveled to Yemen, where he began publishing the al Qaeda magazine Inspire, which encouraged terror attacks on the West.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Al Qaeda Threatens Vengeance for Anwar Al-Awlaki Death

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the al Qaeda affiliate that U.S. officials say is one of the greatest dangers to the American homeland, released a statement Monday claiming it has "heroes... who will avenge" the death of U.S.-born al Qaeda member Anwar al-Awlaki.

Awlaki, a high-profile member of AQAP who was credited with inspiring or being directly involved in at least a dozen terror attacks, was killed in a CIA drone strike Sept. 30 along with several other suspected al Qaeda operatives, including American-born Samir Khan.

"The blood of the sheikh and his brethren will not go in vain," AQAP said in the statement published online Monday. "Behind him stand heroes who do not sleep on any grievance and who will avenge him soon, God willing."

The statement also criticizes the American government for killing Awlaki and Khan, "without proving any accusation against them."

"Where is the freedom, justice, human rights and respect of freedoms that they rant about?" the statement said.

Facing similar questions from political opponents such as Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, White House spokesperson Jay Carney told ABC News' Jake Tapper Awlaki was operationally involved in terrorist attacks, was "obviously" a terrorist recruiter and was actively plotting against Americans.

Carney specifically referenced two instances of terror plots in which Awlaki is believed to have been directly linked: the failed Christmas Day bombing in 2009 and the parcel bomb plot in 2010.

Without Awlaki, U.S. officials said AQAP is still a significant threat to the U.S.

"Without question, his death has dealt a major blow to the external operations of Al Qaeda's most operational affiliate, yet we assess that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula remains a significant threat to the homeland," National Counter-Terrorism Director Matthew Olsen told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence last week.

FBI Director Robert Mueller, who spoke with Olsen, agreed.

"A strike against its leadership, even a signature one, does not eliminate the potential for retaliation and other acts by AQAP," Mueller said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Young American Editor Gives Blueprint for Destroying Buildings

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The latest edition of al Qaeda's English-language web magazine offers readers a new fatwa from American-born jihadi leader Anwar al-Awlaki, instructions on how to destroy buildings using gas lines, and a primer on the AK-47 rifle, in what is Inspire's slickest production to date.

The fourth issue of Inspire, a publication of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the terror organization's Yemeni branch, follows three previous installments in the past year that gave instructions on the killing American civilians, and boasted about the failed "printer bomb" cargo plane plot that originated in Yemen. A young American citizen from North Carolina named Samir Khan apparently began editing and publishing the on-line magazine after relocating to Yemen.

In this edition, Yemeni-American radical cleric Awlaki issues a religious justification for taking money and property from Americans and citizens of other Western nations. Awlaki is at the top of the U.S. government's "kill list" because of his operational involvement in AQAP.

Awlaki's message appears intended to assuage any concerns that American and European jihadis might have about resisting taxes and stealing from corporations.

"Some Muslims today might feel uncomfortable consuming money that was seized by force from the disbelievers and would feel that income they receive as a salary or from business is a better form of income," Awlaki writes. "That is not true. The best and purest form of income is booty."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Awlaki: ‘The Most Dangerous Man in The World’

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Anwar Awlaki, not Osama Bin Laden, was labeled the "most dangerous man in the world" by a New York Police Department counterterror official during a briefing Wednesday.

The description of the U.S. born, Yemen-based cleric and al Qaeda recruiter came as British officials announced that forensic evidence shows at least one of the two printer bombs shipped from Yemen by al Qaeda could have blown up over the eastern U.S. as they were brought by cargo plane to Chicago.

The bombs, which were placed inside toner cartridges, were shipped on FedEx and UPS cargo flights to Chicago addresses late last month. In a statement by London police, however, authorities now believe the bomb that was discovered in the United Kingdom was intended to explode mid air, while the plane carrying it was somewhere over the eastern seaboard of the US.

"Forensic examination has indicated that if the device had activated it would have been at 10:30 hours BST (0930 GMT) on Friday, 29 October 2010," London police said in their statement, meaning the bomb would have detonated at 5:30 a.m. "If the device had not been removed from the aircraft the activation could have occurred over the eastern seaboard of the U.S."

At a briefing on the parcel bombs and on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemeni al Qaeda affiliate that claimed credit for the bombing, Lt. Kevin Yorke of the NYPD's Intelligence Division, said of AQAP operative Awlaki, "If you look at his terrorist resume for the things he's been involved with you can really call him the most dangerous man in the world."

Awlaki, an AQAP operative, has been linked to many plots against U.S. citizens, including last year's Ft. Hood shooting and the attempted Christmas Day "underwear" bombing of Northwest flight 253. Earlier this week, Awlaki released a video statement saying that no one needs special religious permission to kill Americans because they are "devils" and the "enemy."

Earlier this year, President Obama signed a directive ordering that Awlaki -- a dual U.S.-Yemeni citizen -- be killed by the CIA or military Special. Awlaki's father, a former Yemeni diplomat, has sued the U.S. government to prevent the order from being followed, claiming that the directive violates his son's due process rights under the Constitution. There is a hearing on the suit in Washington this afternoon.

Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico, had long been of interest to American law enforcement authorities because of his apparent ties to several of the 9/11 hijackers. When he returned to Yemen several years ago after living in the U.S. and the U.K., intelligence authorities say he became an operative for AQAP.

Efforts to locate Awlaki intensified last year after the Ft. Hood shooting, which left 13 dead. Army Major Nidal Hasan, charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder in the case, was in email contact with Awlaki before the shooting, and Awlaki later publicly praised Hasan for the rampage.
After the attempted "underwear" bombing of Northwest flight 253 over Detroit last Christmas, authorities said suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had trained in Yemen and had been in contact with Awlaki. Shortly after the attempted underwear bomb, the White House authorized the lethal order on Awlaki.

Awlaki's stature in AQAP, first as a radical preacher, then as an operational figure, has made the cleric as wanted by U.S. forces as Osama bin Laden. According to one former official, the Obama White House has told governments in the Middle East that they are desperate to kill Awlaki.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Radical Cleric Calls for the Killing of Americans

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(LONDON) -- In a new video posted on the Internet, U.S.-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki calls for the killing of Americans everywhere.  Speaking in Arabic, he essentially says, “It’s either us or them.” 

Al-Awlaki says Americans are “the party of devils,” and he says that means no special religious permission is required to kill them.  In the 23-minute video, the Yemeni cleric also takes a shot at Arab leaders.  He says they are corrupt and he believes it’s time for religious scholars to take charge.

Investigators have linked Al-Awlaki to the recent failed cargo bombing attempts, the killings at Fort Hood, Texas, the so-called underwear bomber and the unsuccessful Times Square bombing in New York. The U.S. considers al-Awlaki a "specially designated global terrorist."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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