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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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U.S. intelligence officials have repeatedly said that Awlaki has played an increasingly “operational” role inside al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). In a declaration submitted to the court in connection with the CCR/ACLU lawsuit, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper explained that Awlaki was involved in “preparing” Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab for his attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day 2009. After Abdulmutallab swore allegiance to the emir of AQAP, Clapper reported, he “received instructions from [Awlaki]” shortly thereafter “to detonate an explosive device aboard a U.S. airplane over U.S. airspace.”

This is all too believable since Awlaki’s emails with Karim show that he was exploring the same type of operation with the British Airways worker just weeks after Abdulmutallab failed to kill hundreds of people. By Awlaki’s own admission, Abdulmutallab was one of his “students.”

And given that excerpts of Awlaki’s emails with Karim have now been made public in the U.K., it is time that excerpts of the al Qaeda cleric’s emails with his other “students” are made public in the U.S.

In the months leading up to the Fort Hood shooting, Awlaki repeatedly corresponded by email with Major Nidal Malik Hasan. Those emails were dismissed by the FBI as unimportant prior to November 5, 2009, when Hasan shot and killed 13 people and wounded 29 others.

If the CCR and ACLU are truly interested in promoting government transparency, then they should demand to see the contents of Awlaki’s emails with Major Hasan. Then again, like Awlaki’s emails with Karim, those emails likely cut against the myth that Awlaki is an unimportant and unworthy target in the fight against terrorism too.

Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.    

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