Factbox on Anwar al-Awlaki, U.S.-born al Qaeda cleric killed in air strike

September 30, 2011

(Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric linked to al Qaeda's Yemen-based wing, gives a religious lecture in an unknown location in this still image taken from video released by Intelwire.com on September 30, 2011/Intelwire.com)

Yemen’s Defence Ministry said on Friday that Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born Muslim preacher linked to al Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing, had been killed, in what a security official said was an air strike. Awlaki had been implicated in a botched attempt by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to bomb a U.S.-bound plane in 2009 and had contacts with a U.S. Army psychiatrist who killed 13 people at a U.S. military base the same year.

U.S. authorities have branded him a “global terrorist” but Sanaa had previously appeared reluctant to act against him. It was not immediately clear if Awlaki had been killed in a Yemeni air raid or a U.S. drone strike. A U.S. drone aircraft targeted but missed him in May. Yemeni officials had previously reported that Awlaki had been killed in late 2009.

Here is some background about Awlaki:

LIFE HISTORY

* Born in New Mexico in the United States in 1971, Awlaki is a U.S. citizen. He graduated in civil engineering from Colorado State University and holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from San Diego State University.

* Awlaki’s family is well-known in Yemen. His father is a former agriculture minister, Nasser al-Awlaki.

* Awlaki is a former imam of mosques in Denver, San Diego and Falls Church, Virginia. Two of those mosques were attended by some of the September 11, 2001, hijackers.

* He travelled to Yemen in 2004, where he taught at a university before he was arrested and imprisoned in 2006 for suspected links to al Qaeda and involvement in attacks.

* He was released in December 2007 because he said he had repented, a Yemeni security official said. But he was later charged again on similar counts and went into hiding.

* Last year the U.S. administration authorised operations to capture or kill Awlaki. “Awlaki is a proven threat,” said a U.S. official at the time. “He’s being targeted.”

LINKS TO AQAP

* Intelligence agencies had viewed Awlaki as chiefly an al Qaeda sympathizer and recruiter for Islamist causes with possible ties to some of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers.

* That assessment changed in late 2009 with revelations about his contacts with a Nigerian suspect in the attempted bombing of an airliner approaching Detroit on Dec. 25, claimed by AQAP, and with a U.S. Army psychiatrist accused of shooting dead 13 people at Fort Hood military base in Texas on Nov. 5.

* After the Christmas Day airliner plot, U.S. and Yemeni officials said they learned that Awlaki had met the would-be bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

* Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist, had sent emails to Awlaki, which were intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies and examined by U.S. joint terrorism task forces.

* Hassan was “a hero,” Awlaki wrote in a blog post after the attack. “He is a man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people,” he wrote. Awlaki’s website was closed down after the Fort Hood killings.

IMPORTANCE TO AQAP

* Internet-savvy and eloquent in English and Arabic, Awlaki encouraged attacks on the United States and was seen as a man who could draw in more al Qaeda recruits from Western countries.

* Britain’s intelligence chief John Sawers singled out Awlaki as a major threat in a speech last October, saying: “From his remote base in Yemen, al Qaeda leader and U.S. national Anwar al-Awlaki broadcasts propaganda and terrorist instruction in fluent English, over the Internet.”

* Awlaki is not a very senior Islamic cleric. Nor is he the leader of AQAP — that is Nasser al-Wuhayshi — but he ranks as the group’s most gifted English-language propagandist.

via FACTBOX – Anwar al-Awlaki, U.S.-born al Qaeda cleric.

See also CIA drone kills U.S.-born al Qaeda cleric in Yemen.

.

Follow FaithWorld on Twitter at RTRFaithWorld

rss buttonSubscribe to all posts via RSS

One comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Hate is not a religion, it’s a crime!

Posted by DrJJJJ | Report as abusive