Anwar al-Awlaki, the American Yemeni cleric who has been linked to previous attacks on Americans, including the Ft. Hood shootings and the failed Christmas Day "underwear" bombing, has issued an explicit call for the murder of American civilians.
In a 23-minute video released via radical Islamist web sites Monday, Awlaki says that any jihadi who wants to kill Americans doesn't need a "fatwa" or special religious permission, since Americans are the enemy and the "devil."
"Don't consult with anybody in killing the Americans," says Awlaki, sitting at a desk with an ornate dagger tucked into his belt. "Fighting the devil doesn't require consultation or prayers seeking divine guidance. They are the party of the devils."
Awlaki also calls Americans and Muslims "two opposites who will never come together" and that it is "either us or them."
Though Awlaki often records messages in English, the video, titled "You Must Make It Clear To The People," is in Arabic. It seems to be taken from a longer video, from which earlier clips were made public in late October. Two weeks later, mail bombs originating in Yemen were found in UPS and FedEx parcels in England and Dubai. On Friday, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al Qaeda's Yemeni affiliated, took credit for the bombing attempt.
In the newly released video, Awlaki also attacks Arab leaders, including those in Yemen, for being corrupt and for being traitors to Islam.
Awlaki is currently being tried in absentia in Yemen for his alleged role in the kidnapping and murder of a French national. On Saturday, Judge Moshen Allwan ordered Awalki to be "arrested by force, dead or alive" when he failed to appear at the trial.
Earlier this year, President Obama signed a directive that Awlaki -- a dual U.S.-Yemeni citizen -- be killed by the CIA or military Special Forces for his role in several terrorist plots in the U.S. Awlaki's father, a former Yemeni diplomat, has sued the U.S. government to prevent the order from being followed, claiming that the directive violates his son's due process rights under the Constitution. There is a hearing on the suit in Washington this afternoon.
Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico, had long been of interest to American law enforcement authorities because of his apparent ties to several of the 9/11 hijackers. When he returned to Yemen several years ago after living in the U.S. and the U.K., intelligence authorities say he became an operative for AQAP.
Efforts to locate Awlaki intensified last year after the Ft. Hood shooting, which left 13 dead. Army Major Nidal Hasan, charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder in the case, was in email contact with Awlaki before the shooting, and Awlaki later publicly praised Hasan for the rampage.
After the attempted "underwear" bombing of Northwest flight 253 over Detroit last Christmas, authorities said suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had trained in Yemen and had been in contact with Awlaki. Shortly after the attempted underwear bomb, the White House authorized the lethal order on Awlaki.
Awlaki's stature in AQAP, first as a radical preacher, then as an operational figure, has made the cleric as wanted by U.S. forces as Osama bin Laden. According to one former official, the Obama White House has told governments in the Middle East that they are desperate to kill Awlaki.