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May 3, 2013 0

Boston Marathon Bombers Inspired By Anwar al-Awlaki

Reports are emerg­ing that Tamer­lan and Dzkhokhar Tsar­naev, the broth­ers allegedly respon­si­ble for the April 15 Boston Marathon bomb­ings, were rad­i­cal­ized, at least in part, by rad­i­cal cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.awlaki-boston-marathon-bombing-adl

Dzokhar, the sur­viv­ing Tsar­naev brother, report­edly told law enforce­ment offi­cials that he and his brother were inspired by Awlaki ser­mons avail­able online. Awlaki, an American-born Mus­lim cleric who encour­aged attacks against Amer­ica and the West, deliv­ered his ide­ol­ogy of extreme intol­er­ance and vio­lence to English-speaking online audi­ences for sev­eral years.

Prior to his death in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen on Sep­tem­ber 30, 2011, Awlaki influ­enced a gen­er­a­tion of extrem­ists in the U.S and abroad. One indi­ca­tion of Awlaki’s wide­spread influ­ence is the num­ber of extrem­ists that have been found in pos­ses­sion of his mate­ri­als. In addi­tion to the Boston Bomb­ings, Awlaki’s influ­ence can be seen in at least nine other plots:

  • Quazi Nafis, who pleaded guilty to attempt­ing to bomb the New York Fed­eral Reserve Build­ing in Octo­ber 2012, report­edly watched Awlaki videos and admired him, accord­ing to friends and fed­eral officials.
  • Adel Daoud, who was arrested in Sep­tem­ber 2012 and charged with plot­ting to bomb a Chicago-area bar, shared Awlaki lec­tures with his friends.
  • Jose Pimentel, who was arrested and charged with state-level ter­ror­ism offense in New York for plan­ning to attack mil­i­tary per­son­nel and other tar­gets in Novem­ber 2011, posted at least fif­teen Awlaki videos to his YouTube chan­nel. On his web­site, Pimentel called Awlaki “The Destroyer Of The US” and posted tran­scripts of his mes­sages. Pimentel report­edly accel­er­ated his bomb-building efforts in response to Awlaki’s death in a US drone strike in Sep­tem­ber 2011.
  • Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, who was sen­tenced for his plot to attack a mil­i­tary facil­ity in Seat­tle in June 2011, sub­scribed to a YouTube chan­nel fea­tur­ing Awlaki videos.  In one of the videos Abdul-Latif made him­self, he laments that Pres­i­dent Obama “put a hit out on Anwar al-Awlaki, our brother sheikh.”
  • Anto­nio Mar­tinez, who was sen­tenced for attempt­ing to det­o­nate what he believed to be a car bomb at a Mary­land Army recruit­ing cen­ter in Decem­ber 2010, con­veyed to an under­cover infor­mant his admi­ra­tion for Awlaki.  On his Face­book pro­file, Mar­tinez sim­i­larly broad­cast his appre­ci­a­tion of Awlaki, writ­ing, “I love Sheikh Anwar al Awlaki for the sake of ALLAH.  A real inspi­ra­tion for the Ummah, I dont care if he is on the ter­ror­ist list! May ALLAH give him Kire amen [sic].”
  • Farooque Ahmed, who was sen­tenced for his role in a plot to attack DC-area pub­lic trans­porta­tion in 2010, was found to be in pos­ses­sion of CDs con­tain­ing Awlaki lec­tures and speeches.
  • Faisal Shahzad, who was sen­tenced to life in prison for his failed attempt to bomb Times Square in 2010, told inves­ti­ga­tors he was influ­enced by Awlaki.
  • Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 peo­ple at Fort Hood, Texas, sent 16 emails to Awlaki and received two responses.  In the after­math of the attack, Awlaki claimed he “blessed the act because it was against a mil­i­tary tar­get,” gave Hasan “per­mis­sion to carry out his attacks at Fort Hood,” and instructed him to “kill other Amer­i­can sol­diers,” although his email responses were rel­a­tively innocuous.
  • Five men who con­spired to attack the Fort Dix army base in New Jer­sey in 2007 were report­edly in pos­ses­sion of an Awlaki ser­mon and were also report­edly recorded dis­cussing the lec­ture enthusiastically.
awlaki-samir-kahn-inspire-aqap

Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan

Awlaki was also a con­trib­u­tor to Inspire mag­a­zine which influ­enced numer­ous inter­na­tional and domes­tic extrem­ists moti­vated by rad­i­cal inter­pre­ta­tions of Islam. Fed­eral law enforce­ment offi­cials report­edly con­firmed that the Tsar­naev broth­ers got bomb-making instruc­tions from Inspire mag­a­zine.

Addi­tion­ally, Awlaki is believed to have per­son­ally instructed Umar Farouk Abdul­mu­tal­lab to det­o­nate his bomb aboard a transat­lantic flight from Ams­ter­dam to Detroit on Christ­mas Day 2009 over Amer­i­can air­space in order to max­i­mize casualties.

Awlaki’s influ­ence is not lim­ited to plots. His pro­pa­ganda also influ­enced a num­ber of indi­vid­u­als accused of pro­vid­ing or attempt­ing to pro­vide mate­r­ial sup­port to ter­ror­ists. Recent exam­ples include Abdella Tounisi, four indi­vid­u­als from Cal­i­for­nia, Randy “Rasheed” Wil­son and Moham­mad Abukhdair. Notably, sev­eral Amer­i­can extrem­ists com­mu­ni­cated with Awlaki directly, includ­ing Nidal Has­san, Zachary Chesser and Barry Bujol, Jr.

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