The Yemen bomb plot has brought fresh scrutiny to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, of which Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki is thought to be a key leader. Mr. Awlaki has not been officially linked to this latest attack, although Yemen – under international pressure to rein in AQAP – put him on trial in absentia today for plotting to kill foreigners. Mr. Awlaki, a Yemeni-American fluent in English who has been on the radar of US intelligence and military for several years, has a track record of promoting attacks against US targets. Here are some of the incidents to which he has been linked:
Friday’s discovery of US-bound suspicious packages that originated in Yemen highlights the threat of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a 2009 merger of Yemeni and Saudi militants. On Oct. 29, President Obama vowed to strengthen cooperation with Yemen to ‘destroy’ AQAP, but the country faces numerous challenges in achieving that goal. Here are five worth noting:
The discovery of suspicious packages originating in Yemen is yet another incident that increases concern about Yemen becoming a launching pad for Al Qaeda.
US interest in the case of Sharif Mobley, who was set to be tried today, illustrates broader concern about American Muslims going abroad to train with militants.
Al Qaeda now hails Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, suspect in the Fort Hood shooting, as a 'trailblazer' for how to attack the US. Some analysts say that praise points up the group's organizational weakness.
The prosecution of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, accused of killing 13 in the Fort Hood shooting last November, may never reveal his motives – or touch the possibility of a larger terror conspiracy.
Strips of bacon spelling 'PIG' and 'CHUMP' were found in front of a South Carolina mosque Sunday. In post-9/11 America, pork – which is unclean in Islam – is a primary form of anti-Muslim protest.
The Obama administration has invoked the state secrets privilege to block a lawsuit on behalf of US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an alleged terrorist said to be targeted for assassination.
Yemen's government stepped up its battle against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula with an offensive this week in a southern city. US aid to Yemen has doubled in 2010, with most going to military assistance.
The US government has linked Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen in Yemen, to the Fort Hood shootings and the Christmas Day bombing. But the ACLU filed a lawsuit Monday to stop an alleged plan to assassinate him.