September 30th, 2011
09:47 PM ET

Panetta: It was legal to kill al-Awlaki

Watch the full interview Monday, October 1st, when Erin Burnett OutFront debuts at 7pm EST on CNN.

September 30th, 2011
07:11 PM ET

Samir Khan: Proud to be an American traitor

By Sr. National Security Producer Suzanne Kelly

Samir Khan was proud to be a traitor. In a way, he was among the most dangerous of al Qaeda terrorists. By turning his back on the country he grew up in, he gained credibility and coupled that with his intimate knowledge of Western culture to become a driving force behind a powerful al Qaeda propaganda machine.

The one-time North Carolina resident, who U.S. and Yemeni officials say was killed with Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in a drone strike Friday morning, used his knowledge of computers to help produce a glossy, Western-style magazine called Inspire that touted the edicts of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP.

Just what motivates a man who has spent much of his life growing up in the United States to wage jihad against it? Many of the answers are provided by Khan himself in an article he penned for Inspire titled, "I Am Proud to Be a Traitor to America."

In the article, Khan details his journey from North Carolina to Yemen, writing that "Washington's imperialism" was something he could no longer tolerate. "What they have done and continue to do in the Muslim lands is what I felt, totally unacceptable to my religion."
FULL POST

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Filed under: Anwar al-Awlaki • AQAP • CIA • FBI • Intelligence • Terrorism • Yemen
Targeting the seeds of terror: the case file on Ali Soufan
September 30th, 2011
03:26 PM ET

Targeting the seeds of terror: the case file on Ali Soufan

By Suzanne Kelly, Sr. National Security Producer

Editor's note: In the Security Clearance "Case File" series, CNN national security producers profile the key members of the intelligence community.

As an FBI interrogator, Ali Soufan had to be patient. It was his job to use what he had at his disposal, including his native Arabic skills and dark complexion, to not only identify with terrorism suspects around the world but to earn their trust. His ability to glean information, however seemingly trivial, was the strongest tool he had when it came to identifying and disrupting terrorist organizations. FULL POST

Al Qaeda loses its English-language inspiration
Al Qaeda still has one highly visible English-language propagandist: Oregon-born convert Adam Gadahn
September 30th, 2011
02:41 PM ET

Al Qaeda loses its English-language inspiration

By CNN Terrorism Analyst Paul Cruickshank

Earlier this week, al Qaeda issued the seventh issue of Inspire, a glossy English-language online magazine that emerged as a mouthpiece for the preaching of now-dead American-Yemeni terrorist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

The message the magazine emphasized most was that supporters of al Qaeda in the West should take matters into their own hands and launch attacks themselves. A dedicated section provided them practical advice with how to carry out such attacks in the West.

It was a publication that caused great concern to counterterrorism officials on both sides of the Atlantic. Distributed widely on jihadist websites, forums, and blogs, not only did the magazine attract a following in the United States and the United Kingdom, but also in several European countries like Germany.

But it is possible that the seventh issue will be its last, with news that Samir Khan, its American Saudi-born editor, was also killed in the airstrike targeting al-Awlaki.

Khan left North Carolina for Yemen in October 2009, according to U.S. officials, and had become radicalized while previously living in the Queens area of New York City.

Even while living in the United States, Khan had attracted significant attention for publishing a blog sympathetic to al Qaeda.

The loss of al-Awlaki and Khan is likely to significantly curtail al Qaeda's English-language propaganda output, one of the factors, according to U.S. counterterrorism officials, behind increased radicalization in the United States in recent years. FULL POST

September 30th, 2011
02:17 PM ET

Zakaria: Calling out Pakistan’s dangerous game

Editor's Note: Tune in Sunday at 10a.m. ET/PT to watch Fareed Zakaria's full interview with Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen and Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

In his last official statement as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen chose to publicly highlight the connections between the Pakistani military and the Haqqani network, one of the most deadly terror groups operating in Afghanistan. What Adm. Mullen said in public this week is something many U.S. government officials have felt privately for years.  The question is: Why did Mullen feel it was necessary to speak publicly now?

Read Fareed Zakaria's full post on his Global Public Square blog


Filed under: Afghanistan • Al Qaeda • Haqqani • Intelligence • Military • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan • Pentagon • Taliban • Terrorism
Anwar al-Awlaki: al Qaeda's rock star no more
September 30th, 2011
10:53 AM ET

Anwar al-Awlaki: al Qaeda's rock star no more

The death of Anwar al-Awlaki deprives al Qaeda of a leading propagandist and an inspirational figure to jihadists the world over.

His calm eloquence and fluent English turned al-Awlaki into a YouTube phenomenon, and his emergence as the ideological guide of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, put him at the heart of one of the most dangerous terror groups on earth. He became the spiritual mentor to would-be jihadists living in anonymous suburbs half a world away. FULL POST

Key al Qaeda leader silenced
September 30th, 2011
09:17 AM ET

Key al Qaeda leader silenced

By Suzanne Kelly, Sr. National Security Producer

As U.S. and Yemeni officials confirm the death of Anwar al-Awlaki, the details of just how he died continue to trickle out. The fact that he is dead is considered a huge blow to the recruiting capabilities of al Qaeda in the Arabian Pensinsula (AQAP), which has become one of the most dangerous offshoots of the core al Qaeda group headed by Ayman al Zawahiri.

"It can't be understated, the inspirational figure he was," said CNN National Security Contributor Fran Townsend, "AQAP has sophisticated bomb making capability. But now their ability to recruit new people and to raise money will be severely diminished." FULL POST

September 30th, 2011
07:56 AM ET

Al-Awlaki: Who was he?

In an important hit against al Qaeda, U.S.-born Anwar al-Awlaki - the face of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula - has been killed, officials say. Just who was he?

* Al-Awlaki has been described as the "bin Laden" of the internet.

* American-born Muslim scholar and cleric who acts as a spokesperson for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. He is believed to be hiding in the mountains of Yemen.

* Suspected of playing a key part in the failed plot to bring down a jetliner over Detroit on December 25, 2009. Al-Awlaki is also suspected of encouraging Army Maj. Nidal Hasan to kill 13 fellow soldiers at Ft. Hood in 2009. FULL POST


Filed under: Al Qaeda • Anwar al-Awlaki
September 30th, 2011
07:25 AM ET

Officials: U.S.-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki killed

American-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who preached terror as the public face of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has been killed in Yemen, the nation's Defense Ministry said Friday.

The United States regards al-Awlaki, who was believed to be hiding in Yemen, as a terrorist and the biggest threat to its homeland security. Western intelligence officials believe al-Awlaki is a senior leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the most active al Qaeda affiliates.

Get the latest details


Filed under: Al Qaeda • Anwar al-Awlaki
A Top Navy officer warns piracy may spill over into terrorism
Australian military interdicts boat held by Somali pirates Photo From: AFP/Getty Images
September 30th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

A Top Navy officer warns piracy may spill over into terrorism

By Sr. National Security Producer Charley Keyes

A senior U.S. Navy officer is warning that piracy may become an increasingly dangerous and expensive problem, especially if it intersects with terrorism.

"There are people that are interested in chaos in the maritime domain, not so they can make some money (but) so they can do other things which are much more ominous and serious," Vice Admiral James Houck said at a symposium at Penn State University this week. As the judge advocate general, Houck serves at the Navy's top lawyer.

He said the fight against pirates faces multiple problems. "They are hard to find. They are hard to get. When we do get them they are hard to keep," Houck said.

FULL POST


Filed under: Pentagon • Terrorism