DETROIT, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- A New Mexico-born Muslim imam who has lived in Yemen for several years has been linked to the man charged with trying to blow up a Detroit-bound jetliner.
Anwar al-Awlaki gained notoriety last year through his connection to Maj. Nidal Hasan Malik, the U.S. Army psychologist charged with killing 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas. U.S. intelligence agencies say al-Awlaki has ties to al-Qaida in Yemen, ABC News reported.
Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University in Washington, told ABC in an e-mail that al-Awlaki "is seen as effective in communicating with and radicalizing Western jihadis and wannabe jihadis."
In addition to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the young Nigerian who allegedly tried to blow up Northwest Flight 253, and Malik, al-Awlaki has links to a group of young Muslims convicted of planning a terrorist attack at Fort Dix in New Jersey and to another group convicted in Toronto.
Kenneth Katzman of the Congressional Research Council said al-Awlaki was "not being heavily pursued" for a long time.That changed with the Fort Hood shootings, and he was reportedly a target of a Dec. 24 airstrike in Yemen, although he is also believed to have survived.
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