June 17th, 2011
11:15 AM ET

Most wanted: Anwar al-Awlaki

Each week, CNN examines one of the most wanted terrorists around the world. Check out more of the Most Wanted.

Who is he?
An American-born radical cleric who now lives in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki is the public face of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the most active al Qaeda affiliates.

Born in New Mexico, he preached at a mosque in Virginia before leaving the U.S. for the Middle East. The U.S. regards al-Awlaki as the biggest threat to its homeland security.

U.S. officials say al-Awlaki helped recruit Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, the Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a transatlantic flight as it landed in Detroit, Michigan, on December 25, 2009.

The militant cleric is also said to have exchanged e-mails with accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hassan who killed a dozen fellow soldiers and a civilian in a rampage at the Texas base.

AQAP claimed responsibility for the attempt to ship explosives into the United States via cargo planes late last year.

In 2011, al-Awlaki narrowly survived an American drone assault after he switched vehicles with fellow jihadis, a senior security official told CNN.

At a U.S. congressional hearing earlier this year, Michael Leiter, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said: "I actually consider al Qaeda in the Arab peninsula with al-Awlaki as a leader within that organization as probably the most significant threat to the U.S."

Date of Birth: April 22, 1971
Place of Birth: United States
Nationality: U.S. and Yemen


Filed under: Al Qaeda • Most Wanted
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