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Anwar Al Awlaki’s Direct Connection to Terror

The emails.

6:40 PM, Mar 1, 2011 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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In August 2010, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the U.S. government on behalf of al Qaeda cleric Anwar al Awlaki. The two organizations questioned the government’s right to put Awlaki on a “kill list” and argued that the “government’s refusal to disclose the standard by which it determines to target U.S. citizens for death independently violates the Constitution.” The complaint continued:

U.S. citizens have a right to know what conduct may subject them to execution at the hands of their own government. Due process requires, at a minimum, that citizens be put on notice of what may cause them to be put to death by the state.

Notwithstanding the fact that it is obvious why American officials would have Awlaki killed (he has been connected to numerous terrorist attacks either directly or as an inspiration), some played along with the CCR and ACLU in questioning Awlaki’s importance as a terrorist target.

The New York Times, for example, published an op-ed by Gregory Johnsen (“A False Target in Yemen”), who claimed that Awlaki “is hardly significant in terms of American security” and a “minor figure in Al Qaeda.” The Obama administration’s decision to make “a big deal of him now is backfiring” by giving him more attention than he deserved, Johnsen argued. And “no one should remain under the mistaken assumption that killing Mr. Awlaki will somehow make us safer. “  

In December 2010, a D.C. district judge dismissed the lawsuit. The CCR and ACLU decided not to fight the judge’s ruling, letting this year’s deadline for an appeal go by with little fanfare.

Now, thanks to a terror conviction in the U.K, we know what Awlaki was doing in the months leading up to the lawsuit. Naturally, the al Qaeda cleric was plotting terrorist attacks against the U.S. and U.K.

Rajib Karim, a British Airways computer expert who was born in Bangladesh, was convicted of terrorism-related charges on Monday. Karim was convicted, in part, for giving Awlaki information that could be used to plan terrorist attacks. According to the Daily Mail (U.K.), Karim had also “previously admitted five charges relating to terrorist fundraising and offering himself as a jihadi fighter to take on U.K. and U.S. troops in Afghanistan.”

The most remarkable details about Karim’s terror plotting have emerged from computer files that were recovered from his laptop, but not without great effort. The U.K. press is reporting that Karim used some of the “most sophisticated” encryption tools authorities there have ever seen to mask his communications with various nefarious personalities, including Awlaki. The Daily Mail reports that investigators found that Karim used a “Russian doll system,” which “hid his terrorist plotting behind at least eight layers of disguise and encryption.”

Rajib Karim’s brother, Tehzeeb, met with Awlaki in Yemen in December 2009 – the same month that Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab, who Awlaki prepared for his day of terror, tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner. Tehzeeb told Awlaki about his brother and the two started emailing each other almost immediately. Once authorities picked through the various layers of security Karim had set up on his computer, they found his damning emails with Awlaki.

According to press accounts, and a web page provided by London’s Metropolitan Police, here are some highlights from the emails.

On January 25, 2010, Awlaki emailed Karim, telling him that “depending on what your role is and the amount of information you can get your hands on, you might be able to provide us with critical and urgent information and may be able to play a crucial role for the ummah...” Awlaki continued (emphasis added):

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