WASHINGTON, May 4 (UPI) -- U.S.-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki needs watching for any reprisal attack over the death of Osama bin Laden, a security sector source said.
"Mr. Awlaki is certainly the figure you now have to watch," the source told the Financial Times. "His main target is the U.S. But if he can cause mayhem in Britain or other western states that would be fine by him, too."
The 40-year-old Jihadi cleric, the mastermind of some big terror plots -- including the failed bombing attempt of a Detroit-bound jet on 2009 Christmas Day -- is a top leader of the al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsula. He is also responsible for the October 2010 shipment of parcel bombs hidden in a cargo plane from Yemen to Chicago.
His other activities include being a popular Internet preacher, seeking recruits in the West to launch attacks, the Times said. One such recruit, a woman, tried to stab former British Cabinet Minister Stephen Timms in May 2010.
Awlaki also sought to blow up a plane full of passengers through a former British Airways employee.
Intelligence experts told the Times Awlaki's ability to plot against the West includes access to sophisticated bomb-making equipment difficult to detect by security at airports.
The report said people like Awlaki would also be helped by the ongoing crisis in Yemen. Western diplomats said such a situation would give al-Qaida and other Islamist groups in Yemen more freedom to plot attacks.
Although there is little contact between the Yemen and Pakistani al-Qaida groups, experts said the elimination of bin Laden as the overall leader could boost the importance of the Yemeni group.
The London Evening Standard quoted security experts as saying Awlaki is the most notable person to draw other Jihadis around him.
As for formal successors to bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian-born doctor and currently the No. 2 al-Qaida, is the most likely one, with Awlaki becoming the group's most charismatic new figurehead, the Standard said.
Awlaki, born in New Mexico to a Yemeni father and now on the run, is reported to have given religious advice by e-mail to U.S. Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, accused in the killings of 13 people at the Fort Hood, Texas, Army base in 2009.
Others named by the Standard as likely new leaders include:
Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud, 40, leader of North African al-Qaida in Maghreb; Abu-Yahya al-Libi, Libyan-born theologian known for his Internet broadcasts, who escaped from captivity in 2005 from Afghanistan's Bagram air base; Adnan el Shukrijumah, who lived for 15 years in the United States where he was accused of plotting a suicide bomb attack on New York subway in 2009, and who is considered by the FBI as al-Qaida's "external operations council."
|Additional U.S. News Stories|
OKLAHOMA CITY, May 20 (UPI) --A huge tornado cut a devastating path in suburban Oklahoma City Monday, slamming schools, a hospital, businesses and homes, and killing at least 51 people.
BEIJING, May 21 (UPI) --China's growing surplus in trade with India, an issue of concern to New Delhi, is difficult to resolve and is likely to widen, Chinese experts said.