Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni-American dual citizen, spent time in both countries growing up. He earned a BS, MA, and PhD in the US before leaving in 2002. After a stint in London, he eventually settled in his ancestral village in Yemen – home to the Awlaki tribe.
Mr. Awlaki was briefly arrested in 2006 for his connection to an Al Qaeda-linked plot, but kept a relatively low profile upon his release 18 months later. Notably, The Long War Journal's profile of AQAP in January 2009 has no mention of Awlaki.
However, the Musim cleric's profile has risen considerably in the past year. He has been linked to at least three foiled terrorist attacks on the United States: the Fort Hood shootings, the Christmas Day bombing attempt on an airliner, and the May 2 Times Square bombing.
Rep. Jane Harman (D) of California, chair of a House intelligence subcommittee, has called Awlaki "terrorist No. 1" in terms of the threat he poses to the US. The Monitor recently profiled the enigmatic American who has risen as "spiritual mentor" to numerous alleged plot planners:
Educated, English-speaking, familiar with American culture, Awlaki has gained prominence as a global jihadist, using the Internet to try to spread his ideas – including inside America. "He is very fluent in his use of the Internet and e-mail" to communicate his "theological justifications for jihad," says Richard Fontaine of the Center for a New American Security in Washington.