Anwar al-Awlaki (also spelled Aulaqi; Arabic: أنور العولقي Anwar al-‘Awlaqī; born April 22, 1971) is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Yemen, of Yemeni descent. He is an Islamic lecturer, spiritual leader, and former imam . According to U.S. officials, he is a senior talent recruiter and motivator, who has also become “operational” as a planner and trainer, "for al-Qaeda and all of its franchises". The U.S. Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence warned that al-Awlaki "is extraordinarily dangerous, committed to carrying out deadly attacks on Americans and others worldwide". With a blog, a Facebook page, and many YouTube videos, he has been described as the "bin Laden of the Internet".
Al-Awlaki's sermons were attended by three of the 9/11 hijackers. He reportedly met privately with two of them in San Diego. Investigators suspect al-Awlaki may have known about the 9/11 attacks in advance. In 2009, he was promoted to the rank of "regional commander" within al-Qaeda, according to U.S. officials.
His sermons were also attended by accused Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan. U.S. intelligence intercepted at least 18 emails between Hasan and al-Awlaki in the months prior to the Fort Hood shooting, including one in which Hasan wrote: "I can't wait to join you ." After the shooting, al-Awlaki praised Hasan's actions. In addition, according to U.S. officials, "Christmas Day bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab said al-Awlaki was one of his al-Qaeda trainers, who met with him and was involved in planning or preparing his attack, and provided religious justification for it. In March 2010, al‑Awlaki said in a videotape that jihad against America was binding upon every able Muslim.