Al-Qaida leader praises cleric Awlaki

SANAA, Yemen, May 17 (UPI) -- The apparent head of the Yemeni branch of al-Qaida issued an audio message praising al-Qaida ideologue and Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

Awlaki, a U.S. native, is credited with releasing video messages thought to play a role in radicalizing terrorists to carry out suicide operations. He has ties to the would-be bomber of a U.S. passenger jet Christmas Day and U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the alleged triggerman in the November shooting in Fort Hood, Texas.


An audio message reviewed by CNN features Abu Baseer Nasir al-Wahayshi, the leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, singing the praises of Awlaki.

"(His supporters) know very well that it is hypocrisy and a betrayal to hand him over to the infidels," he said. "The sheik is in good hands and we will protect him in every way."

U.S. President Barack Obama stoked controversy earlier this year when he signed off on assassination plans for Awlaki. Yemeni officials, for their part, said the radical cleric would face national courts if he were captured on their soil.

Awlaki in a video message from April accused the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan of launching plans to force Muslims to fight each other.


The cleric is believed to be hiding out in Yemen, where a secessionist movement is complicating national security issues.

Latest Headlines