Anwar al-Awlaki, the US-born radical Islamic cleric and al Qaeda leader in the Arabian Peninsula leader who was killed on Friday, sought to use weapons of mass destruction to attack westerners, a senior US official has said.
According to the official, al-Awlaki specifically sought to use poisons including cyanide and ricin, as he planned and directed attacks against the US from his foreign base.
The senior US official pointed out that al-Awlaki played a “significant operational role” in Umar Faruk Abdulmutallab''s attempted attack on a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.
According to the official, al-Awlaki “specifically instructed Abdulmutallab to detonate the device while over US airspace to maximize casualties.”
The senior US official also noted that al-Awlaki also helped “oversee the October 2010 plot to detonate explosive devices” aboard a US cargo aircraft, Fox News reports.
The official also said that al-Awlaki had ability to inspire violent attacks on the American homeland, including accused Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan, who attended al-Awlaki''s sermons in Virginia and allegedly corresponded with him through email.
“After the attack, al-Awlaki posted commentary on his blog praising Hasan''s actions and calling him his student and brother,” the official added.
The US official also pointed out a May 2010 video interview conducted by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula''s media wing in which al-Awlaki called for attacks against US military personnel worldwide.
The terror leader “claimed all Americans were valid targets, and directed followers to engage in armed conflict with the United States.”