Why is Anwar Al-Awlaki terrorist 'No. 1?'
Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki is thought to be connected to at least three alleged terrorist attacks, including the Fort Hood shootings, the Christmas Day bombing attempt on an airliner, and the May 2 Times Square bomb.
United States officials have known about a young Muslim cleric named Anwar al- Awlaki at least since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The 9/11 commission, in its report about the Al Qaeda strike, said Mr. Awlaki and two hijackers aboard American Airlines Flight 77 (which crashed into the Pentagon) were part of a small group of "ideologically like-minded" individuals who kept company for a time in the US prior to 9/11.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Lately, Awlaki's profile has come front and center, with reports that he is linked to three terrorism cases in the US in the past year. Here is an overview of what's known about Awlaki and what the Obama administration intends to do about him.
What is Awlaki's alleged role in recent terrorist plots against the US?
US officials say Awlaki's fingerprints are on three attacks or attempted attacks against the American homeland: the Fort Hood shooting in Texas in November, the Christmas Day bombing attempt of a Detroit-bound airliner, and the botched Times Square car bomb in New York on May 2.
•Investigators of the Fort Hood shooting, in which 13 were killed and 30 wounded at the Army base, say suspect Nidal Hasan and Awlaki exchanged at least 18 e-mails in the year leading up to the shooting. Awlaki's role, they say, appears to have been to inspire Hasan to act.
•The alleged Christmas Day bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, received training in Yemen from Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula, and he is believed to have met Awlaki there. Awlaki himself reportedly acknowledged to a Yemeni journalist that he met Mr. Abdulmutallab last fall but denied any role in the plan to bring down the plane.
What's Awlaki's background?