Posts Tagged ‘ Anwar al Awlaki ’

U.S.: Al-Awlaki Believed Dead in Attack

As reported by the Detroit News

American forces targeted al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki’s convoy with a drone and jet attack and believe he’s been killed, a U.S. counterterrorism official said Friday.

The U.S.-born cleric known for fiery anti-American rhetoric has been suspected of ties to the Fort Hood attack and the attempted Christmas Day airliner bombing in 2009.

The counterterrorism official was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Word from the U.S. comes after the government of Yemen reported that al-Awlaki was targeted and killed Friday about five miles from the town of Khashef, some 87 miles from the capital Sanaa. He would be the most prominent al-Qaida figure to be killed since Osama bin Laden.

U.S. officials have said they believe al-Awlaki directed, led and planned attempted attacks on the U.S. He was believed to have inspired the Fort Hood shooter, Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan, and to have played a more direct role in the Christmas 2009 attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner. Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the November 2009 attack at Fort Hood, Texas.

On Sept. 13, an FBI Special Agent testified in Detroit that al-Awlaki played a key role in the radicalization of so-called “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Abdulmutallab spent hours listening to al-Awlaki’s video clips posted on the Internet, Special Agent Timothy Waters testified.

Abdulmutallab faces up to life in prison if convicted of a host of charges stemming from his alleged attempt to blow up the plane from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.

Al-Awlaki’s death “will especially impact the group’s ability to recruit, inspire and raise funds as al-Awlaki’s influence and ability to connect to a broad demographic of potential supporters was unprecedented,” said terrorist analyst Ben Venzke of the private intelligence monitoring firm, the IntelCenter.

But Venzke said the terror group al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsula will remain the most dangerous regional arm “both in its region and for the direct threat it poses to the U.S. following three recent failed attacks,” with AQAP leader Nasir al-Wahayshi still at large.

Venzke said al-Awlaki was due to release a new article in the next issue of AQAP’s Inspire magazine justifying attacking civilians in the West.

“The article, which may already have been completed, was announced by AQAP on Tuesday as being entitled, ‘Targeting Populations of Countries at War with Muslims,'” he said.

C.I.A. Drone Is Said to Kill Al Qaeda’s No. 2

By Mark Mazzetti for The New York Times


A drone operated by the CIA killed Al Qaeda’s second-ranking figure in the mountains of Pakistan on Monday, American and Pakistani officials said Saturday, further damaging a terrorism network that appears significantly weakened since the death of Osama bin Laden in May.

An American official said that the drone strike killed Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a Libyan who in the last year had taken over as Al Qaeda’s top operational planner. Mr. Rahman was in frequent contact with Bin Laden in the months before the terrorist leader was killed on May 2 by a Navy Seals team, intelligence officials have said.

American officials described Mr. Rahman’s death as particularly significant as compared with other high-ranking Qaeda operatives who have been killed, because he was one of a new generation of leaders that the network hoped would assume greater control after Bin Laden’s death.

Thousands of electronic files recovered at Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, revealed that Bin Laden communicated frequently with Mr. Rahman. They also showed that Bin Laden relied on Mr. Rahman to get messages to other Qaeda leaders and to ensure that Bin Laden’s recorded communications were broadcast widely.

After Bin Laden was killed, Mr. Rahman became Al Qaeda’s No. 2 leader under Ayman al-Zawahri, who succeeded Bin Laden.

There were few details on Saturday about the strike that killed Mr. Rahman. In the months since Bin Laden’s death, the C.I.A. has maintained a barrage of drone missile strikes on mountainous redoubts in Pakistan, a bombing campaign that continues to strain America’s already turbulent relationship with Pakistan.

The C.I.A almost never consults Pakistani officials in advance of a drone strike, and a Pakistani government official said Saturday that the United States had told Pakistan’s government that Mr. Rahman had been the target of the strike only after the spy agency confirmed that he had been killed.

The drone strikes have been the Obama administration’s preferred means of hunting and killing operatives from Al Qaeda and its affiliate groups. Over the past year the United States has expanded the drone war to Yemen and Somalia.

Some top American officials have said publicly that they believe Al Qaeda is in its death throes, though many intelligence analysts are less certain, saying that the network built by Bin Laden has repeatedly shown an ability to regenerate.

Yet even as Qaeda affiliates in places like Yemen and North Africa continue to plot attacks against the West, most intelligence analysts believe that the remnants of Al Qaeda’s leadership in Pakistan have been weakened considerably. Mr. Rahman’s death is another significant blow to the group.

“Atiyah was at the top of Al Qaeda’s trusted core,” the American official said. “His combination of background, experience and abilities are unique in Al Qaeda — without question, they will not be easily replaced.”

The files captured in Abbottabad revealed, among other things, that Bin Laden and Mr. Rahman discussed brokering a deal with Pakistan: Al Qaeda would refrain from mounting attacks in the country in exchange for protection for Qaeda leaders hiding in Pakistan.

American officials said that they found no evidence that either of the men ever raised the idea directly with Pakistani officials, or that Pakistan’s government had any knowledge that Bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad.

Mr. Rahman also served as Bin Laden’s liaison to Qaeda affiliates. Last year, American officials said, Mr. Rahman notified Bin Laden of a request by the leader of Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen to install Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American-born cleric, as the leader of the group in Yemen.

That group, known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, apparently thought Mr. Awlaki’s status as an Internet celebrity, for his popular video sermons, and his knowledge of the United States might help the group’s fund-raising efforts. But according to the electronic files in Abbottabad, Bin Laden told Mr. Rahman that the group’s leadership should remain unchanged.

After Bin Laden’s death, some intelligence officials saw a cadre of Libyan operatives as poised to assume greater control inside Al Qaeda, which at times has been fractured by cultural rivalries.

Libyan operatives like Mr. Rahman, they said, had long bristled at the leadership of an older generation, many of them Egyptian like Mr. Zawahri and Sheikh Saeed al-Masri.

Mr. Masri was killed last year by a C.I.A. missile, as were several Qaeda operations chiefs before him. The job has proved to be particularly deadly, American officials said, because the operations chief has had to transmit the guidance of Bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri to Qaeda operatives elsewhere, providing a way for the Americans to track him through electronic intercepts.

Mr. Rahman assumed the role after Mr. Masri’s death. Now that Mr. Rahman has died, American officials said it was unclear who would take over the job.

Alleged Would Be Terrorist Thwarted At Every Turn

By Richard Serrano for The Los Angeles Times

Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, according to the FBI, traveled the world in search of jihad. But Pakistan turned him away, and Jordan did too. He tried to get into Somalia, but U.S. authorities placed him on the no-fly list. An American citizen, he visited an army recruiting station in New York’s Times Square hoping to be sent to Iraq; they did not want him either.

So, the FBI said, the 21-year-old born and raised in New York created websites and posted threats of radical Islamic violence, including one from another American expatriate, Anwar al Awlaki. Then Shehadeh flew to Hawaii and allegedly started taking target practice.

FBI agents said he wanted to join a jihadist group to learn “guerilla warfare and bomb-making.” Had he been welcomed into the U.S. army, they said, his plan was to defect in Iraq and turn against his comrades.

Shehadeh’s journeys ended last Friday. He was arrested in Honolulu and accused in a federal criminal complaint, unsealed Monday, of making false statements in an international terrorism case.

For two and a half years federal officials followed his travels, tracked his websites and enlisted help from his grade school friends. On Tuesday they singled him out as someone much like Awlaki — eager to forfeit his U.S. citizenship for a life of jihad.

Florence T. Nakakuni, the U.S. attorney in Hawaii, said the investigation covered “a six-hour time difference and 5,000 miles.” In New York, FBI assistant director Janice K. Fedarcyk said “stopping one prospective terrorist can prevent untold numbers of casualties.”

Shehadeh faces up to eight years in prison. His Hawaiian attorney, Matthew Winter, said he “wants to return as soon as possible to New York and face the charges there.”

He is slightly built, thin and clean-shaven. He does not evoke the image of an angry Islamic radical. But his arrest comes during a heightened alert over threats from homegrown terrorists.

“My brothers of revolutionary Islam, I am with you as long as you keep struggling,” Shehadeh allegedly posted on his website. “Trust me there are many brothers and sisters in America that are ready to speak up. They just need a push.”

He first drew the eye of FBI agents in June 2008 for signing into the online Expedia travel agency and purchasing a one-way ticket to Pakistan. A New York detective interviewed him at the airport; Shehadeh said he was going to Pakistan to attend an Islamic school there.

Customs and Border Patrol searched his checked baggage. They found a sleeping bag, toiletries, three books and two changes of clothes. When the plane landed at Islamabad, he was not allowed in.

According to the FBI, he created his own websites. One highlighted the “Benefits of Jihad in Our Times.” Another ran speeches from al Awlaki. A third, titled “civiljihad,” included warnings dripping in blood.

He visited the recruiting station at Times Square in October 2008, according to the complaint. The army turned him away because he failed to disclose his trip to Pakistan. Two weeks later he flew to Jordan, but the authorities would not let him in.

The FBI developed two confidential informants who were boyhood classmates of Shehadeh. The agents said they learned Shehadeh wanted American Muslims to travel to Muslim countries and fight against the U.S. He allegedly told them he wanted to die a martyr, that there were “no more excuses” for avoiding jihad. He spoke of an afterlife with 72 virgins.

In June 2009 he purchased a ticket to Dubai. Again FBI agents said they interviewed him; he told them his destination was Somalia. But now he was on the no-fly list; he could not even leave the U.S.

He went to Hawaii. In October 2009, he visited the SWAT Gun Club, and practiced firing an M-16 assault rifle, .45 caliber and 9 mm semi automatic pistols, and a .44 caliber Magnum revolver. Last April, he again spoke to the FBI. The conversation turned to why U.S. muslims become radicalized. The agents said Shehadeh told them, “take my story for example.”

Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s NoteDeranged individuals such as Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, Faisal Shahzad, and Nidal Malik Hasan do not deserve American citizenship and all the freedoms and privileges it entails. The US government must remain vigilant and suspicious of anyone who espouses treasonous acts against the republic and its interests regardless of their race, ethnicity, citizenship, religion or any other identifying characteristic. It is our hope that the Obama administration will continue to remain proactive and alert in apprehending and stopping all individuals who pose danger to the country and patriotic Muslim Americans must continue to do more to assist the nation in keeping safe.

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