The Next Osama?

Ryan Mauro is a fellow with the Clarionproject.org, the founder of WorldThreats.com and a frequent national security analyst for Fox News Channel. He can be contacted at ryanmauro1986@gmail.com.


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Anwar al-Awlaki is a name unfamiliar to most Americans, but it is one well-known in the jihadist world. This American member of Al-Qaeda used to serve as a prominent imam in the U.S., and is doing wonders for the terrorist group’s efforts to recruit Westerners and inspire homegrown terrorists. At this rate, he is well on his way to becoming the next Osama Bin Laden.

Unlike Osama Bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki speaks English fluently and has lived in the U.S. for much of his life. He has religious credentials as an imam (despite his history with prostitutes), references pop culture icons like Michael Jackson in his sermons, and has proven adept at using the Internet to build a following. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the affiliate based in Yemen that he holds a senior position in, is playing an increasingly prominent role in the overall terror network. He is the rising star in the jihadist world.

During his time in the U.S., al-Awlaki mastered the art of deception. He condemned the 9/11 attacks and was so slick that he was described by The New York Times as a “new generation of Muslim leader capable of merging East and West” in October 2001. He complained about U.S. foreign policy but said killing in retaliation was not justifiable and that the U.S. had a right “to bring the perpetrators to justice.” Yet, Ray Suarez of PBS caught on to al-Awlaki’s act after the attacks.

“One could walk away from the Friday sermon, or from the interview, struck by how in his rhetoric he could dance right up to the edge of condoning violence, taking the side of anti-American forces in the Muslim world, and then, just as carefully, reel it back in, pulling the punch, softening the context, covering the sharp-edged scalpel of his words in a reassuring sheath,” Suarez eloquently wrote.

Al-Awlaki is inspiring and perhaps playing an operational role in the latest wave of terrorist incidents against the United States. Whereas Bin Laden’s location is unknown and commanders and individual militants have little or no contact with him, al-Awlaki is often in direct contact with operatives. Major Nidal Malik Hussein, the perpetrator of the Fort Hood shooting in November that killed 13, exchanged at least 18 emails with al-Awlaki as he looked for religious approval for his plans. Hussein also attended al-Awlaki’s sermons at Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Virginia at the same time as two of the 9/11 hijackers. Al-Awlaki described him as a “hero” after the shooting.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the “crotch bomber” who tried to detonate an explosive in his underwear onboard an airliner landing in Detroit on Christmas, is believed to have attended at least one of al-Awlaki’s broadcasted sermons in London. They met in Yemen, when al-Awlaki  blessed the plot. Most recently, the authorities arrested Barry Walter Bujool of Hempstead, T.X., who was emailing back-and-forth with al-Awlaki to brainstorm ways for him to help the terrorist cause. Al-Awlaki also had direct contact with Ali al-Timimi, who is now in prison for his role in the “Virginia Jihad Network” that was training recruits with paintball guns and stockpiled weapons.

Al-Awlaki also may have had some role in the 9/11 plot. When he was an imam in San Diego, two of the 9/11 hijackers, Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, were in his audience. When al-Awlaki became an imam at Dar al-Hijrah in 2001, he preached to al-Hazmi and Hani Hanjour, a third hijacker. The mosque has extensive ties to radical Islam as well as to Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, and receives taxpayer money by renting property to the Census Bureau.

His status as an imam, large Internet presence, and ability to speak English and appeal to Westerners is allowing him to inspire many homegrown extremists. Faisal Shahzad, who tried to detonate a car bomb in Times Square on May 1, was inspired by al-Awlaki’s sermons. His material has been found in the possession of many terrorists including those involved in the London bombings of 2005 and planned follow-ups, the group who planned to attack Fort Dix in 2007, members of the “Toronto 18” who planned a range of attacks in Canada, countless online radical Islamic sympathizers, and an American convert in Illinois who tried to carry out attacks in Springfield in 2009. Al-Awlaki may also have a role in al-Shabaab’s recruitment of Americans, mostly Somalis, as his Yemen-based militants are actively working with the Somali Al-Qaeda affiliate. The two men arrested in early June as they were about to fly out of the U.S. to join al-Shabaab were fans of al-Awlaki.

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  • Robert Bernier

    How did Islam penetrate our societies ? (Part 1)
    Before 9/11 Muslim terrorists were building global networks again under the American and European radar. We had other things to consider like pacifying Mideast potentates for the oil under their sands. It didn’t matter that countries like Saudi Arabia were spreading Wahhabiism (strict Shariah Islam) which taught Muslim children that Islam is not only superior to all other religions but, one day Islam would eliminate these “false” religions under “Shariah” law and Islam would dominate the world. These children grew up and became brainwashed like “Manchurian candidates”. They filtered into other countries with the help of foreign services of the West – like the U.S. State Department.

    (More at part 2)

  • Osa

    I can't believe America is just now waking up to the danger in their midst. In Europe, we've had trouble with muslim fanatics(are there any other kind?) for decades. It's the "political correctness" of our socialist leaders that have opened the floodgates for every type of radicals. I put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the socialists for terror and killings done by muslims.

  • USMCSniper

    Louis Rebe Beres proposes a policy of "Preemptive Assassination" as a covert program to contain terrorist regimes and terrorism. Normally we think of preemptive strikes in terms of military operations against enemy forces and/or infrastructures. Moreover, there are substantial prohibitions of assassination in domestic and international law that would seem prima facie to rule out this use of force as an expression of anticipatory self-defense. Yet, when we examine the issues purposefully and dispassionately, it could well turn out that assassination would be the most humane and useful form of preemption. If this is indeed the case, we must now get beyond any deep-seated visceral objections to a reasoned and careful comparison with all other preemption options. To be sure, assassination is not "nice," but neither is full-scale war and the loss of innocent lives due to acts of terrorism. There really is nothing morally wrong with a "Wanted: Dead or Alive" policy for leaders of terrorist regimes and terrorist groups.

  • Fred

    Islams theological necessity is to overthrow any government/arrangement not based on Sharia law….period. Our kiss-ass president is falling right into their hands.

    • guestspeaker

      Fred dear, our Potus is 'their hands'.
      He is in our face a member of Islam. He sat in a 'feigned' Christian church as part of the lie that it would take to get elected in a 'Christian' nation, and then he announced that the USA 'was no longer a Christian Nation' . He was telling the rest of the world that the USA's Christianity has been overcome by events.
      He is a very dangerous man.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/WilliamJWard WilliamJamesWard

      He may be their hands…………..William

  • RJ Sparta

    Gee. for a minute there I thought this article was about Obama-Mao…

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/aspacia aspacia

    Every mosque in the West should be wired. We have a fifth column here and too many do not realize this fact.

  • cochavi1

    He is bad news, at the same time building him up into Osama is a little suspicious. The evidence that he had a connection to 911 is what? I believe at the time he was busy with prostitutes and so on. Ryan Mauro seems to be trying too hard.

    Why can't the Islamic threat be seen as the crazy octopus as it is? Why must one guy – who most Muslims have probably not heard of – be positioned as the New Aspiring Caliph.

    Fact – the Pentagon admitted that it played up the Jordanian killer's role in Iraq, Zarqawi. It served a useful purpose. If you want credibility, just stick to what is known, like murderous attacks in Uganda. Mauro sounds a propagandist.

    • Jim C.

      Well said.

  • http://ziomania.com/ Ziomania

    IT IS ALL PART OF THE ZIONIST PLAN FOR THE MIDDLE EAST!

    Anwar al-Awlaki is what is needed for destroying Yemen as Bin Laden was for Iraq.

    Of course the sheepish American public knows so little about its own country and knows close to nothing about the rest of the world. That is where the Jewish media comes in. GIGO! That is garbage in and garbage out. What is fed to the American public is pure garbage and like a beating sheep that is what the American is heard parroting. I watched a video of this guy where he expressed his initial motivation at activism after what was done to Iraq but then I watched other videos of his where he talks about the 'Kufar' (non-Muslims) which I find offensive and it it also not in his best interest to alienate the majority of mankind instead of the colonizers and occupiers of Palestine. The place known as 'Israel' has its eyes set on Yemen for a lot of reasons and an article that appeared at Al-Ahram does a wonderful job connecting the dots.

    Read about Yemen here => http://ziomania.com/yemen/yemen.htm

    The Zionist Plan for the Middle East => http://ziomania.com/whose%20war/The%20zionist%20p

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/WilliamJWard WilliamJamesWard

      The only one that would believe that crap is probably the donkey you rode in on……..
      A bad end is on the horizon for all of you, think twice about what you spread
      and become the first genius in your clan………………William

  • Ghostwriter

    Ziomania,have you gone mad? This guy Al-Awlaki is another homicidal lunatic who wants to kill Americans and Jews. Why are you shilling for people like bin Laden and those like him? They want to destroy everything good about this country and force their religion on us because they think that's what their god wants them to do. Both America and Israel have a right to defend themselves against terrorists who want to force Islam on us at the point of a gun. I hope you wake up before you end up in big trouble.

  • Ghostwriter

    Ziomania,you sound to me like an anti-semetic nut that nobody in their right mind should listen to,much less take seriously.

  • Wdwrkr

    This guy looks like the "Jewel of the Nile" from the movie of the same title.