By Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister
He was born and raised in the United States, and killed by the United States. And now from beyond the grave he inspires a new generation of would-be terrorists to attack the United States.
Militant cleric Anwar al-Awlaki continues to speak through sermons posted online, and U.S. officials are investigating whether his words may have influenced Boston bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
A U.S. government official told CNN's Jake Tapper on Tuesday that "the preachings of Anwar al-Awlaki were likely to have been among the videos they watched." A U.S. government source had previously told CNN that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had claimed the brothers had no connection to overseas Islamist terrorist groups and were radicalized through the Internet.
Al-Awlaki lived in Colorado, California and Virginia before leaving the United States in 2002. At one point he met two of the men who would be among the 9/11 hijackers, an encounter later investigated by the FBI. There is no evidence that al-Awlaki knew of their plans.
By Pam Benson
Should federal judges weigh in on a president's decision to pursue and kill terrorists overseas?
The suggestion, raised at this week's nomination hearing of John Brennan to be CIA director, goes to the heart of the debate on whether President Barack Obama or any U.S. leader should have unfettered power to order the targeted killing of Americans overseas who are al Qaeda terrorists.
Some Democratic senators argued there should be a check on the president's authority to use lethal force, particularly against Americans, as occurred in September 2011 when a CIA-operated armed drone killed American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.
By Pam Benson
A Justice Department memo determined the U.S. government can use lethal force against an American citizen overseas if the person is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or one of its affiliates.
The paper provides insights into the Obama administration's policy of targeted killings carried out by the use of drone strikes against suspected terrorists. Several of those strikes have killed Americans, notably Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni American who had been connected to plots against the United States but never charged with a crime. Awlaki died in a drone attack in September 2011 in Yemen.
The 16-page white paper - titled "Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen who is a Senior Operational Leader of Al Qaida or an Associated Force" - is a policy paper rather than an official legal document.
NBC News first reported on the contents of the memo, which was given to members of the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees last June. A congressional source verified the document's legitimacy to CNN.
By Paul Cruickshank, Tim Lister and Nic Robertson
The story would not be out of place on the TV thriller "Homeland": the Danish petty criminal turned double agent who receives $250,000 in cash for helping the CIA try to ensnare one of al Qaeda's most wanted - by finding him a wife.
The wanted man was American-born al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who had become one of the most effective propagandists for the group. The bride-to-be was a pretty blonde from Croatia. The agent was Morten Storm, who had long moved in radical Islamist circles and had apparently won the trust of al-Awlaki during a stay in Yemen in 2006.FULL STORY
By Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister
A 36-year-old Dane called Morten Storm says he was the man who led the CIA to Anwar al Awlaki, the al Qaeda cleric killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen last year. And he says he did it with a computer thumb-drive that secretly contained a tracking device.
Among the evidence he's produced: recorded telephone conversations, passport stamps showing multiple trips to Yemen, correspondence with Awlaki, and a recording of a conversation with an unidentified American – who acknowledges his role in the pursuit of Awlaki.FULL STORY
By Carol Cratty
An FBI counterterrorism official said Wednesday that the FBI should have interviewed accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan when it learned Hasan was communicating via e-mail with Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.
"I believe an interview would have been prudent in this case," said Mark Giuliano, executive assistant director for the FBI's national security branch. But he added he didn't think "political correctness" was the reason Hasan was not interviewed and he said an interview may not have headed off the tragedy in which Hasan allegedly killed 13 and wounded 32 others in November 2009.
Giuliano is the first FBI official to testify before Congress since an independent commission's report was made public on July 19 that examined how the FBI handled information that came up while the agency was investigating al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric who U.S. officials say became a key figure in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. FULL POST
By Larry Shaughnessy
One part of the prosecution's case against Maj. Nidal Hasan, the accused Fort Hood, Texas, shooter, is a series of e-mails between the Army psychiatrist and the now dead radical Muslim cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki.
An unclassified FBI report released Thursday includes those e-mails.
Former CIA officer Bruce Riedel told the Dallas Morning News shortly after the shooting, "E-mailing a known al-Qaeda sympathizer should have set off alarm bells."
A newly released photo shows Maj. Nidal Hasan now with a beard. The photo was provided by the Bell County Sheriff's Office in Texas.
Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, is accused of killing 13 people and wounding 32 others during a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas in November 2009.
In the aftermath of the shootings, radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki told Aljazeera.net that he had communicated with Hasan for about a year before the soldier allegedly went on the rampage. Al-Awaki, a leading figure in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was killed in a U.S. drone strike that targeted him in Yemen in 2011.
A military judge last week postponed a hearing on whether the government should pay for an expert neurologist for Maj. Nidal Hasan, after Hasan appeared in court with a beard, violating military grooming standards, according to a Fort Hood news release.
By Pam Benson
The United States government is seeking to reject lawsuits demanding information about drone strikes that target suspected terrorists overseas, saying releasing details on the program would have a major effect on counterterrorism efforts.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in New York after a Freedom of Information Act request they submitted to the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, and the CIA, was denied. The rights group is seeking the release of a copy of the memo outlining the Obama administration's program that targets suspected terrorists overseas. The New York Times filed a related lawsuit.
In its response, the government asked for a summary judgment dismissing the complaints and defended its decision not to release the requested information.
“Even to describe the number and details of most of these documents would reveal information that could damage the government’s counterterrorism efforts,” the government said, further maintaining that refusal to disclose the information is consistent with exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act that permit the withholding of records when doing so is in the public interest. FULL POST
Scores of pages of al Qaeda documents seized in last year's U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden were released Thursday.
They comprise 175 pages in the original Arabic of letters and drafts from bin Laden and other key al Qaeda figures, including the American Adam Gadahn and Abu Yahya al-Libi.
The Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, published the papers on its website. Here are the center's brief description of the documents. You can click the links for the English translations: FULL POST