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Anwar Nasser al-Awlaki (also spelled al-Aulaqi, al-Awlaqi; Arabic: أنور العولقيAnwar al-‘Awlaqī; April 21 or 22, 1971 – September 30, 2011) was a Yemeni-American imam and alleged militant. According to U.S. government officials, as well as being a senior recruiter and motivator, he was centrally involved in planning terrorist operations for the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda,[7][8][9][10][11] but have not released evidence that could support this statement.[11] Al-Awlaki became the first U.S. citizen to be targeted and killed by a U.S. drone strike without the rights of due process being afforded.[12][13] President Barack Obama ordered the strike which was effectively ordering the execution of a U.S. citizen without a trial.[14] His son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki (a 16-year-old U.S. citizen), was killed in a U.S. drone strike two weeks later.[15] On January 29, 2017, al-Awlaki's 8-year-old daughter, Nawar al-Awlaki (who was also a U.S. citizen), was killed in a U.S. commando attack in Yemen that was ordered by President Donald Trump.[16][17][18][19] With a blog, a Facebook page, the al-Qaeda magazine Inspire, and many YouTube videos, al-Awlaki was described by Saudi news station Al Arabiya as the "bin Laden of the Internet".[20][21] After a request from the U.S. Congress in November 2010, Google removed many of al-Awlaki's videos from YouTube.[22] According to The New York Times, al-Awlaki's public statements and videos have been more influential in inspiring acts of terrorism in the wake of his killing than before his death.[23]

Al-Awlaki attended various universities across the United States in the 1990s and early 2000s[24] while also working as an imam, despite having no religious qualifications and almost no religious education.[25] He appeared on law enforcement's radars when federal investigators discovered three of the 9/11 hijackers had attended the same mosque in Virginia during the same time Al-Awlaki served as imam, despite the fact that no solid evidence emerged linking Al-Awlaki to the 9/11 plot.[25] In 2001, he presided at the funeral of the mother of Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, who later e-mailed him extensively, in 2008–09 before carrying out the Fort Hood shootings.[26]Anwar Nasser al-Awlaki (also spelled al-Aulaqi, al-Awlaqi; Arabic: أنور العولقيAnwar al-‘Awlaqī; April 21 or 22, 1971 – September 30, 2011) was a Yemeni-American imam and alleged militant. According to U.S. government officials, as well as being a senior recruiter and motivator, he was centrally involved in planning terrorist operations for the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda,[7][8][9][10][11] but have not released evidence that could support this statement.[11] Al-Awlaki became the first U.S. citizen to be targeted and killed by a U.S. drone strike without the rights of due process being afforded.[12][13] President Barack Obama ordered the strike which was effectively ordering the execution of a U.S. citizen without a trial.[14] His son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki (a 16-year-old U.S. citizen), was killed in a U.S. drone strike two weeks later.[15] On January 29, 2017, al-Awlaki's 8-year-old daughter, Nawar al-Awlaki (who was also a U.S. citizen), was killed in a U.S. commando attack in Yemen that was ordered by President Donald Trump.[16][17][18][19] With a blog, a Facebook page, the al-Qaeda magazine Inspire, and many YouTube videos, al-Awlaki was described by Saudi news station Al Arabiya as the "bin Laden of the Internet".[20][21] After a request from the U.S. Congress in November 2010, Google removed many of al-Awlaki's videos from YouTube.[22] According to The New York Times, al-Awlaki's public statements and videos have been more influential in inspiring acts of terrorism in the wake of his killing than before his death.[23]

Al-Awlaki attended various universities across the United States in the 1990s and early 2000s[24] while also working as an imam, despite having no religious qualifications and almost no religious education.[25] He appeared on law enforcement's radars when federal investigators discovered three of the 9/11 hijackers had attended the same mosque in Virginia during the same time Al-Awlaki served as imam, despite the fact that no solid evidence emerged linking Al-Awlaki to the 9/11 plot.[25] In 2001, he presided at the funeral of the mother of Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, who later e-mailed him extensively, in 2008–09 before carrying out the Fort Hood shootings.[26][27] Al-Awlaki, however, did not reply to Hasan's many emails.[28] During al-Awlaki's later radical period after 2006–07, when he went into hiding, he may have associated with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who attempted the 2009 Christmas Day bombing of an American airliner.[29][30] Al-Awlaki was allegedly involved in planning Abdulmutallab's attack.

The Yemeni government tried him in absentia in November 2010, for plotting to kill foreigners and being a member of al-Qaeda. A Yemeni judge ordered that he be captured "dead or alive".[31][32] Some U.S. officials said that in 2009, al-Awlaki was promoted to the rank of "regional commander" within al-Qaeda.[33][34] Others felt that Nasir al-Wuhayshi still held this rank and that al-Awlaki was an influential member in the group.[33] He repeatedly called for jihad against the United States.[35][36]

In April 2010, al-Awlaki was placed on a CIA Al-Awlaki attended various universities across the United States in the 1990s and early 2000s[24] while also working as an imam, despite having no religious qualifications and almost no religious education.[25] He appeared on law enforcement's radars when federal investigators discovered three of the 9/11 hijackers had attended the same mosque in Virginia during the same time Al-Awlaki served as imam, despite the fact that no solid evidence emerged linking Al-Awlaki to the 9/11 plot.[25] In 2001, he presided at the funeral of the mother of Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, who later e-mailed him extensively, in 2008–09 before carrying out the Fort Hood shootings.[26][27] Al-Awlaki, however, did not reply to Hasan's many emails.[28] During al-Awlaki's later radical period after 2006–07, when he went into hiding, he may have associated with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who attempted the 2009 Christmas Day bombing of an American airliner.[29][30] Al-Awlaki was allegedly involved in planning Abdulmutallab's attack.

The Yemeni government tried him in absentia in November 2010, for plotting to kill foreigners and being a member of al-Qaeda. A Yemeni judge ordered that he be captured "dead or alive".[31][32] Some U.S. officials said that in 2009, al-Awlaki was promoted to the rank of "regional commander" within al-Qaeda.[33][34] Others felt that Nasir al-Wuhayshi still held this rank and that al-Awlaki was an influential member in the group.[33] He repeatedly called for jihad against the United States.[35][36]

In April 2010, al-Awlaki was placed on a CIA kill list by President Barack Obama due to his alleged terrorist activities.[37][38][39] Al-Awlaki's father and civil rights groups challenged the order in court.[37][39][40][41] Al-Awlaki was believed to be in hiding in southeast Yemen in the last years of his life.[31] The U.S. deployed unmanned aircraft (drones) in Yemen to search for and kill him,[42] firing at and failing to kill him at least once;[43] he was successfully killed on September 30, 2011.[13] Two weeks later, al-Awlaki's 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen who was born in Denver, Colorado, was also killed by a CIA-led drone strike in Yemen.[15][44][45] Nasser al-Awlaki, Anwar's father, released an audio recording condemning the killings of his son and grandson as senseless murders.[46] In June 2014, a previously classified memorandum issued by the U.S. Department of Justice was released, justifying al-Awlaki's death as a lawful act of war.[47] Some civil liberties advocates have described the incident as "an extrajudicial execution" that breached al-Awlaki's right to due process, including a trial.[48]

Al-Awlaki was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico, in 1971 to parents from Yemen, while his father, Nasser al-Awlaki, was doing graduate work at U.S. universities. His father was a Fulbright Scholar[49] 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.[50][51] Nasser al-Awlaki served as Agriculture Minister in Ali Abdullah Saleh's government. He was also President of Sana'a University.[50][51][52][53] Yemen's Prime Minister from 2007 to 2011, Ali Mohammed Mujur, was a relative.[54]

The family returned to Yemen in 1978, when al-Awlaki was seven years old.[21][55] He lived there for 11 years, and studied at Azal Modern School.[56]

Later life and alleged al-Qaeda ties

In the United States; 1990–2002

In 1991, al-Awlaki returned to the U.S. 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.[56] He attended the university on a foreign student visa and a government scholarship from Yemen, claiming to be born in that country, according to a former U.S. security agent.[57]

In 1993, while still a college student in Colorado State's civil engineering program, al-Awlaki visited Afghanistan in the aftermath of the Soviet occupation. He spent some time training with the mujahideen who were fighting the Soviets. He was 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 profoundly affected by the trip.[21][58][59] Mullah Mohammed Omar did not form the Taliban until 1994. When Al-Awlaki returned to campus, he showed increased interest in religion and politics.[56]

Al-Awlaki studied Education Leadership at San Diego State University, but did not complete his degree. He worked on a doctorate in Human Resource Development at The George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development from January to December 2001.[7][51][60][61][62][63][64][65]

In 1994, al-Awlaki married a cousin from Yemen,[56] and began service as a part-time imam of the Denver Islamic Society. In 1996, he was chastised by an elder for encouraging a Saudi student to fight in Chechnya against the Russians.[56][66] He left Denver soon after, moving to San Diego.[67]

From 1996 to 2000, al-Awlaki was imam of the Masjid Ar-Ribat al-Islami mosque in The family returned to Yemen in 1978, when al-Awlaki was seven years old.[21][55] He lived there for 11 years, and studied at Azal Modern School.[56]

In 1991, al-Awlaki returned to the U.S. 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.[56] He attended the university on a foreign student visa and a government scholarship from Yemen, claiming to be born in that country, according to a former U.S. security agent.[57]

In 1993, while still a college student in Colorado State's civil engineering program, al-Awlaki visited Afghanistan in the aftermath of the Soviet occupation. He spent some time training with the mujahideen who were fighting the Soviets. He was 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 profoundly affected by the trip.[21][58]Afghanistan in the aftermath of the Soviet occupation. He spent some time training with the mujahideen who were fighting the Soviets. He was 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 profoundly affected by the trip.[21][58][59] Mullah Mohammed Omar did not form the Taliban until 1994. When Al-Awlaki returned to campus, he showed increased interest in religion and politics.[56]

Al-Awlaki studied Education Leadership at San Diego State University, but did not complete his degree. He worked on a doctorate in Human Resource Development at The George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development from January to December 2001.[7][51][60][61][62][63][64][65]

In 1994, al-Awlaki married a cousin from Yemen,[56] and began service as a part-time imam of the Denver Islamic Society. In 1996, he was chastised by an elder for encouraging a Saudi student to fight in Chechnya against the Russians.[56][66] He left Denver soon after, moving to San Diego.[67]

From 1996 to 2000, al-Awlaki was imam of the Masjid Ar-Ribat al-Islami mosque in San Diego, California, where he had a following of 200–300 people.[1][7][56][58][62][68] U.S. officials later alleged that Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77, attended his sermons and personally met him during this period. Hazmi later lived in Northern Virginia and attended al-Awlaki's mosque there. The 9/11 Commission Report said that the hijackers "reportedly respected [al-Awlaki] as a religious figure".[69][56][60][68] While in San Diego, al-Awlaki volunteered with youth organizations, fished, discussed his travels with friends, and created a popular and lucrative series of recorded lectures.[56]

In 1998 and 1999, he served as vice-president for the Charitable Society for Social Welfare. In 2004, the FBI described this group as a "front organization to funnel money to terrorists".[62][70] Although the FBI investigated al-Awlaki from June 1999 through March 2000 for possible links to Hamas, the Bin Laden contact Ziyad Khaleel, and a visit by an associate of Omar Abdel Rahman,[56] it did not find sufficient evidence for a criminal prosecution.[7][69][62][68][71][why?] Al-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.[72]

In January 2001 al-Awlaki returned to the U.S., settling in the Washington metropolitan area. There, he was imam at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque near Falls Church, Virginia and his services were attended by Nawaf al-Hazmi and a third hijacker Hani Hanjour [73] He led academic discussions frequented by FBI Director of Counter-Intelligence for the Middle East Gordon M. Snow. Al-Awlaki also served as the Muslim chaplain at George Washington University,[7][60][62][74] where he was hired by Esam Omeish.[citation needed] Omeish said in 2004 that he was convinced that al-Awlaki was not involved in terrorism.[75]

His proficiency as a public speaker and command of the English language helped him attract followers who did not speak Arabic. "He was the magic bullet", according to the mosque spokesman Johari Abdul-Malik. "He had everything all in a box."[75] "He had an allure. He was charming."[76]

When police investigating the 9/11 attacks raided the Hamburg apartment of Ramzi bin al-Shibh, they found the telephone number of al-Awlaki among bin al-Shibh's personal contacts.[7][62] The FBI interviewed al-Awlaki four times in the eight days following the 9/11 attacks.[1][56] One detective later told the 9/11 Commission he believed al-Awlaki "was at the center of the 9/11 story". And an FBI agent said, "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".[56] 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."[56] A separate Congressional Joint Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks suggested that al-Awlaki may have been connected to the hijackers, according to its director, Eleanor Hill.[56] In 2003, Representative Anna Eshoo, a member of the House Intelligence Committee said, "In my view, he is more than a coincidental figure."[77]

Six days after the 9/11 attacks, al-Awlaki suggested in writing on the IslamOnline.net website 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".[62]

Soon after the 9/11 attacks, al-Awlaki was sought in Washington, D.C., by the media to answer questions about Islam, its rituals, and its relation to the attacks. He was interviewed by National Geographic,[78] The New York Times, and other media. Al-Awlaki condemned the attacks.[79] According to an NPR report in 2010, in 2001 al-Awlaki appeared to be a moderate who could "bridge the gap between the United States and the worldwide community of Muslims."[80] The New York Times said at the time that he was "held up as a new generation of Muslim leader capable of merging East and West."[81] In 2010, Fox News and the New York Daily News reported that some months after the 9/11 attacks, a Pentagon employee invited al-Awlaki to a luncheon in the Secretary's Office of General Counsel. The U.S. Secretary of the Army had suggested that a moderate Muslim be invited to give a talk.[82][83]

In 2002, al-Awlaki was the first imam to conduct a prayer service for the Congressional Muslim Staffer Association at the U.S. Capitol.[84][85] The prayers were for Muslim congressional staffers and officials for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.[86] That year, Nidal Malik Hasan visited al-Awlaki's mosque for his mother's funeral, at which al-Awlaki presided. In November 2009 Hasan killed 13 and wounded 32 in the Fort Hood shooting.[69][68][87][88][89] Hasan usually attended a mosque in Maryland closer to where he lived while working at the Walter Reed Medical Center (2003–09).

Later in 2002, al-Awlaki posted an essay in Arabic on the Islam Today website titled "Why Muslims Love Death", lauding the fervor of Palestinian suicide bombers. He expressed a similar opinion in a speech at a London mosque later that year.[69][62] By July 2002, al-Awlaki was under investigation in the United States for having received money from the subject of a U.S. Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation. His name was added to the list of terrorism suspects.[7][69][90]

In June 2002, a Denver federal judge signed an arrest warrant for al-Awlaki for passport fraud.[91] On October 9, the Denver U.S. Attorney's Office filed a motion to dismiss the complaint and vacate the arrest warrant. Prosecutors believed that they lacked sufficient evidence of a crime, according to U.S. Attorney Dave Gaouette, who authorized its withdrawal.[2] Al-Awlaki had listed Yemen rather than the United States as his place of birth on his 1990 application for a U.S. Social Security number, soon after arriving in the US.[2] Al-Awlaki used this documentation to obtain a passport in 1993. He later corrected his place of birth to Las Cruces, New Mexico.[2][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]

Prosecutors could not charge him in October 2002, when he returned from a trip abroad, because a 10-year statute of limitations on lying to the Social Security Administration had expired.[7][69][93] According to a 2012 investigative report by Fox News, the arrest warrant for passport fraud was still in effect on the morning of October 10, 2002, when FBI Agent Wade Ammerman ordered al-Awlaki's release. U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) and several congressional committees urged FBI Director Robert Mueller to provide an explanation about the bureau's interactions with al-Awlaki, including why he was released from federal custody when there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest.[94] The motion for rescinding the arrest warrant was approved by a magistrate judge on October 10 and filed on October 11.[7]

ABC News reported in 2009 that the Joint Terrorism Task Force in San Diego disagreed with the decision to cancel the warrant. They were monitoring al-Awlaki and wanted to "look at him under a microscope".[95] But U.S. Attorney Gaouette said that no objection had been raised to the rescinding of the warrant during a meeting that included Ray Fournier, the San Diego federal diplomatic security agent whose allegation had set in motion the effort to obtain a warrant.[2] Gaouette said that if al-Awlaki had been convicted at the time, he would have faced about six months in custody.[95]

The New York Times suggested later that al-Awlaki had claimed birth in Yemen (his family's place of origin) to qualify for scholarship money granted to foreign citizens.[56] U.S. Congressman Frank R. Wolf (R-VA) wrote in May 2010 that by claiming to be foreign-born, al-Awlaki fraudulently obtained more than $20,000 in scholarship funds reserved for foreign students.[96]

While living in Northern Virginia, al-Awlaki visited Ali al-Timimi, later known as a radical Islamic cleric. Al-Timimi was convicted in 2005 and is now serving a life sentence for leading the Virginia Jihad Network, inciting Muslim followers to fight with the Taliban against the US.[69][56][62]

Al-Awlaki left the United States 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.[97]

He lived in the UK for several months, where he gave talks attended by up to 200 people.[98] He urged young Muslim followers: "The important lesson to learn here is never, ever trust a kuffar [disbeliever]. Do not trust them! [Their leaders] are plotting to kill this religio

He lived in the UK for several months, where he gave talks attended by up to 200 people.[98] He urged young Muslim followers: "The important lesson to learn here is never, ever trust a kuffar [disbeliever]. Do not trust them! [Their leaders] are plotting to kill this religion. They're plotting night and day."[56] "He was the main man who translated the jihad into English," said a student who attended his lectures in 2003.[56]

He gave a series of lectures in December 2002 and January 2003 at the London Masjid al-Tawhid mosque, describing the rewards martyrs (Shahid) receive in paradise (Jannah).[7][69][51][97] He began to gain supporters, particularly among young Muslims,[62] and undertook a lecture tour of England and Scotland in 2002 in conjunction with the Muslim Association of Britain. He also lectured at "ExpoIslamia", an event held by Islamic Forum Europe.[99] At the East London Mosque 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, an alleged Muslim Brotherhood front organization founded by Kemal el-Helbawy, a senior member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.[100]

Al-Awlaki returned to Yemen in early 2004, where he lived in Shabwah Governorate with his wife and five children.[69][62] He lectured at Iman University, headed by Abdul Majeed al-Zindani. The latter has been included on the UN 1267 Committee's list of individuals belonging to or associated with al-Qaeda.[51][101] Al-Zindani denied having any influence over al-Awlaki, or that he had been his "direct teacher".[102] Some believe[who?] that the school's curriculum deals mostly, if not exclusively, with radical Islamic studies, and promotes radicalism. American convert John Walker Lindh and other alumni have been associated with terrorist groups.[51][103][104]

On August 31, 2006, al-Awlaki was arrested with four others on charges of kidnapping a Shiite teenager for ransom, and participating in an al-Qaeda plot to kidnap a U.S. military attaché.[50][76]

On August 31, 2006, al-Awlaki was arrested with four others on charges of kidnapping a Shiite teenager for ransom, and participating in an al-Qaeda plot to kidnap a U.S. military attaché.[50][76] He was imprisoned in 2006 and 2007.[56] He was interviewed around September 2007 by two FBI agents with regard to the 9/11 attacks and other subjects. John Negroponte, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, told Yemeni officials he did not object to al-Awlaki's detention.[56]

His name was on a list of 100 prisoners whose release was sought by al-Qaeda-linked militants in Yemen.[87] After 18 months in a Yemeni prison, al-Awlaki was released on December 12, 2007, following the intercession of his tribe. According to a Yemeni security official, he was released because he had repented.[52][56][87] He moved to his family home in Saeed, a hamlet in the Shabwa mountains.[76]

Moazzam Begg's Cageprisoners, an organization representing former Guantanamo detainees, campaigned for al-Awlaki's release when he was in prison in Yemen.[79] Al-Awlaki told Begg in an interview shortly after his release that prior to his incarceration in Yemen, he had condemned the 9/11 attacks.[79][105]

In December 2008, al-Awlaki sent a communique to the Somali terrorist group, al-Shabaab, congratulating them.[106]

— Yemeni official familiar with counterterrorism operations

Al-Awlaki provided al-Qaeda members in Yemen with the protection of his powerful tribe, the Awlakis, against the government. The tribal code required it to protect those who seek refuge and assistance. This imperative has greater force when the person is a member of the tribe or a tribesman's friend. The tribe's motto is "We are the sparks of Hell; whoever interferes with us will be burned."[108] Al-Awlaki also reportedly helped negotiate deals with leaders of other tribes.[76][109]

Sought by Yemeni authorities who were investigating his al-Qaeda ties, al-Awlaki went into hiding in approximately March 2009, according to his father. By December 2009, al-Awlaki was on the Yemen government's most-wanted list.[110] He was believed to be hiding in Yemen's Shabwa or Mareb regions, which are part of the so-called "triangle of evil". The area has attracted al-Qaeda militants, who seek refuge among local tribes unhappy with Yemen's central government.[111]

Yemeni sources originally said al-Awlaki might have been killed in a pre-dawn air strike by [108] Al-Awlaki also reportedly helped negotiate deals with leaders of other tribes.[76][109]

Sough

Sought by Yemeni authorities who were investigating his al-Qaeda ties, al-Awlaki went into hiding in approximately March 2009, according to his father. By December 2009, al-Awlaki was on the Yemen government's most-wanted list.[110] He was believed to be hiding in Yemen's Shabwa or Mareb regions, which are part of the so-called "triangle of evil". The area has attracted al-Qaeda militants, who seek refuge among local tribes unhappy with Yemen's central government.[111]

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 in eastern Shabwa, on December 24, 2009. But he survived.[112] Pravda reported that the planes, using Saudi and U.S. intelligence, killed at least 30 al-Qaeda members from Yemen and abroad, and that an al-Awlaki house was "raided and demolished".[113] On December 28 The Washington Post reported that U.S. and Yemeni officials said that al-Awlaki had been present at the meeting.[114] Abdul Elah al-Shaya, a Yemeni journalist, said al-Awlaki called him on December 28 to report that he was well and had not attended the al-Qaeda meeting. Al-Shaya said that al-Awlaki was not tied to al-Qaeda.[115]

In March 2010, a tape featuring al-Awlaki was released in which he urged Muslims residing in the United States to attack their country of residence.[35][116]

After 2006, al-Awlaki was banned from entering the United Kingdom.[citation needed] He broadcast lectures to mosques and other venues there via video-link from 2007 to 2009, on at least seven occasions at five locations in Britain.[117] Noor Pro Media Events held a conference at the East London Mosque on January 1, 2009, showing a videotaped lecture by al-Awlaki; former Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve expressed concern over his being featured.[118][119]

He 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 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.[117][120] 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.[120][121] His videos, which discuss his Islamist theories, have circulated across the United Kingdom.[122][123][124] Until February 2010, hundreds of audio tapes of his sermons were available at the Tower Hamlets public libraries.[125] In 2009, the London-based Islam Channel carried advertisements for his DVDs and at least two of his video conference lectures.[126]

FBI agents identified al-Awlaki as a known, important "senior recruiter for al Qaeda", and a spiritual motivator.[87][127] His name came up in a dozen terrorism plots in the US, 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 online and on CDs.[69][52][128]

Al-Awlaki's recorded lectures were heard by Islamist fundamentalists in at least six terror cells in the UK through 2009.[98] 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.[129] In addition to his website, al-Awlaki had a Facebook fan page[130] with "fans" in the US, many of whom were high school students.[71] Al-Awlaki also set up a website and blog on which he shared his views.[131]

Al-Awlaki influenced several other extremists to join terrorist organizations overseas and to carry out terrorist attacks in their home countries. Mohamed Alessa and Al-Awlaki's recorded lectures were heard by Islamist fundamentalists in at least six terror cells in the UK through 2009.[98] 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.[129] In addition to his website, al-Awlaki had a Facebook fan page[130] with "fans" in the US, many of whom were high school students.[71] Al-Awlaki also set up a website and blog on which he shared his views.[131]

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 the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group Al Shabaab, allegedly watched several al-Awlaki videos and sermons in which he warned of future attacks against Americans in the United States and abroad.[132] Zachary Chesser, an American citizen who was arrested for attempting to provide material support to Al Shabaab, told federal authorities that he watched online videos featuring al-Awlaki and that he exchanged several e-mails with al-Awlaki.[133][134] In July 2010, Paul Rockwood was sentenced to eight years in prison for creating a list of 15 potential targets in the US, people he felt had desecrated Islam.[134] Rockwood was a devoted follower of al-Awlaki, and had studied his works Constants on the Path to Jihad and 44 Ways to Jihad.[134]

In October 2008, Charles Allen, U.S. Under-Secretary 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."[118][135] 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'".[136]

Fort Hood shooter 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.[137] 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", because of his influence on radical English-speaking jihadis.[138] Charles Allen, no longer in government, noted that there was no work-related reason for Hasan to be in touch with al-Awlaki.[131] 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."[131] 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.[139] The assessment was that there was not sufficient information for a larger investigation.[140] 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."[26]

Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Hider Shaea interviewed al-Awlaki in November 2009.[27] 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."[27] 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."[27]

Asked whether Hasan mentioned Fort Hood as a target in his e-mails, Shaea declined to comment. Al-Awlaki said the shooting was acceptable in Islam, however, because it was a form of jihad, as the West began the hostilities with the Muslims.[141] 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".[27][142]

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 had not "played a direct role" in any of the attacks, and noted he had never been charged with a crime in the US.[108]

One of his fellow officers at Fort Hood said Hasan was enthusiastic about al-Awlaki.[143] Some investigators believe al-Awlaki's teachings may have been instrumental in Hasan's decision to stage the attack.[144] On his now-disabled website, al-Awlaki praised Hasan's actions, describing him as a hero.[52]

According to a number of sources, Al-Awlaki and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the convicted al-Qaeda attempted bomber of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on December 25, 2009, had contacts. 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.[145] 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.[146][147][148]

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 "may have had contact [with al-Awlaki]".[149][150]

The Sunday Times established that Abdulmutallab first met al-Awlaki in 2005 in Yemen, while he was studying Arabic.[151] During that time the suspect attended lectures by al-Awlaki.[98]

NPR reported that according to unnamed U.S. intelli

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 "may have had contact [with al-Awlaki]".[149][150]

The Sunday Times established that Abdulmutallab first met al-Awlaki in 2005 in Yemen, while he was studying Arabic.[151] During that time the suspect attended lectures by al-Awlaki.[98]

NPR reported that according to unnamed U.S. intelligence officials he attended a sermon by al-Awlaki at the Finsbury Park Mosque.[152][153] Khalid Mahmood, the Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, a former trustee of the mosque, expressed "grave misgivings" with regard to its stewardship.[153][154] A spokesperson of the mosque stated that al-Awlaki had never spoken there or had even to his knowledge entered the building.[155]

Abdulmutallab was also reported by CBS News, The Daily Telegraph, and The Sunday Telegraph to have attended a talk by al-Awlaki at the East London Mosque, which al-Awlaki may have attended by video teleconference.[117][156][157][158] 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".[159]

Investigators who searched flats connected to Abdulmutallab in London said that he was a "big fan" of al-Awlaki, as al-Awlaki's blog and website had repeatedly been visited from those locations.[160]

According to federal sources, Abdulmutallab and al-Awlaki repeatedly communicated with one another in the year prior to the attack.[161] "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."[162] NPR reported that intelligence officials suspected al-Awlaki may have told Abdulmutallab to go to Yemen for al-Qaeda training.[152]

Abdulmutallab told the FBI that al-Awlaki was one of his al-Qaeda trainers in Yemen. Others reported that Abdulmutallab met with al-Awlaki in the weeks leading up to the attack.[163][164] 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.[30]

Yemen's Deputy Prime Minister for Defense and Security Affairs, Rashad Mohammed al-Alimi, said Yemeni investigators believe that Abdulmutallab traveled to Shabwa in October 2009. Investigators believe he obtained his explosives and received training there. He met there with al-Qaeda members in a house built by al-Awlaki.[165] A top Yemen government official said the two met with each other.[166]

In January

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".[167] Fox News reported in early February 2010 that Abdulmutallab told federal investigators that al-Awlaki directed him to carry out the bombing.[168]

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.[169]

Sharif Mobley had acknowledged contact with Anwar al-Awlaki. The Mobley family claims the contact was for spiritual guidance in further studies of Islam.

The Mobley family went to Yemen and resided there for several years. They decided to return to the United States and went to the U.S. Embassy to update the family travel documents. While waiting for their travel documents, Sharif Mobley was kidnapped by Yemen Security Services and shot on January 26, 2010. He was then held in Yemen's Central Prison. Mobley disappeared from the Central Prison on February 27, 2014.[170] His current location is known to the U.S. Embassy in Yemen (currently closed 2015) but is withheld from his family and legal advisers based on U.S. State Department Regulations on "U.S. Citizens Missing Abroad".[171]

All charges related to "terrorism/terrorist activity" were dropped by the Yemen government. There are no charges relating to allegations of "killing a guard during an escape attempt from the hospital" and there are no other legal proceedings against him in Yemen.[171]

Faisal Shahzad, convicted of the 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt, told interrogators that he was a "fan and follower" of al-Awlaki, and his writings were one of the inspirations for the attack.[172][173] 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.[174][175]

Stabbing of British former minister Stephen Timms

In 2010, after In 2010, after Everybody Draw Mohammed Day, cartoonist Molly Norris at Seattle Weekly had to stop publishing, and at the suggestion of the FBI changed her name, moved, and went into hiding due to a fatwā issued by al-Awlaki calling for her death.[179][180][181] In the June 2010 issue of Inspire, an English-language al-Qaeda magazine, al-Awlaki cursed her and eight others for "blasphemous caricatures" of Muhammad. "The medicine prescribed by the Messenger of Allah is the execution of those involved", he wrote.[182] 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."[183]

Cargo planes bomb plot

The Guardian, The New York Times, and The Daily Telegraph reported that U.S. and British counter-terrorism officials believed that al-Awlaki was behind the cargo plane PETN bombs that were sent from Yemen to Chicago in October 2010.[184][185][186] 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."[185] U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein said "al-Awlaki was behind the two ... bombs."[citation needed]

Final years

Al-Awlaki's father, tribe, and

Al-Awlaki's father, tribe, and supporters denied his alleged associations with Al-Qaeda and Islamist terrorism.[7][33][187] 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 assertions that his son had taken refuge 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."[188]

The Yemeni government attempted to get the tribal leaders to release al-Awlaki to their custody.[76] They promised they would not turn him over to U.S. authorities for questioning.[76] They promised they would not turn him over to U.S. authorities for questioning.[76] The governor of Shabwa said in January 2010 that al-Awlaki was on the move with members of al-Qaeda, including Fahd al-Quso, who was wanted in connection with the bombing of the USS Cole.[76]

In January 2010, White House lawyers debated whether or not it was legal to kill al-Awlaki, given his U.S. citizenship.[189] U.S. officials stated that international law allows targeted killing in the event that the subject is an "imminent threat".[38] Because he was a U.S. citizen, his killing had to be approved by the National Security Council.[38] Such action against a U.S. citizen is extremely rare.[38] As a military enemy of the US, al-Awlaki was not subject to Executive Order 11905, which bans assassination for political reasons.[190] The authorization was nevertheless controversial.[191]

By February 4, 2010, the New York Daily News reported that al-Awlaki was "now on a targeting list signed off on by the Obama administration".[192] On April 6, The New York Times reported that President Obama had authorized the killing of al-Awlaki.[38]

— Representative Jane Harman, (D-CA), Chairwoman of House Subcommittee on Homeland Security

The al-Awalik tribe responded: "We warn against cooperating with America to kill Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki. We will not stand by idly and watch."[190] Al-Awlaki's tribe wrote that it would "not remain with arms crossed if a hair of Anwar al-A

The al-Awalik tribe responded: "We warn against cooperating with America to kill Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki. We will not stand by idly and watch."[190] 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.[193] Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, the Yemeni foreign minister, announced that the Yemeni government had not received any evidence from the US, 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".[193]

Nasser al-Awlaki is the father of Anwar and grandfather of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. Al-Awlaki stated he believed his son had been wrongly accused and was not a member of Al Qaeda.[247] After the deaths of his son and grandson, Nasser in an inter