Before he was killed in a CIA drone strike Friday, American-born radical Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki had been linked to more than a dozen terror plots around the globe, both as an inspiration for jihadis and as an operational leader of al Qaeda. A sampling of the plots shows that while some jihadis acted after listening to Awlaki's huge catalog of on-line sermons, exhortations to jihad recorded in English and Arabic, others were in direct contact with him.
|Ft. Hood Massacre|
In November 2009, 13 people died and more than 30 were wounded in a shooting rampage at Ft. Hood, a sprawling Army base in Texas. The man charged in the attack, Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, had exchanged emails with Awlaki. After the spree, Awlaki applauded the violence: "Nidal Hasan is a hero. How can there be any dispute about the virtue of what he has done?"
|The Christmas "Underwear" Bomber|
Less than two months later, on Christmas Day 2009, "underwear bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was arrested for allegedly attempting to blow up Northwest flight 253 from Amsterdam as it approached the Detroit airport. Abdulmutallab traveled from Nigeria to Yemen to study Arabic but apparently overstayed his visa to train in an al Qaeda training camp. Intelligence officials say he met with Awlaki while in Yemen. According to Britain's Sunday Times, Abdulmutallab had attended lectures by Awlaki in Yemen in 2005.
|London Subway Bombing|
Though few Americans knew who Awlaki was prior to the Ft. Hood attack and the failed Northwest flight 253 bombing, Awlaki was already well-known to jihadis around the world, particularly in the U.K., and had already been identified as an inspiration in other terror plots. The London subway bombers who killed more than 50 people in July 2005 were apparently devotees of Awlaki. They had transcribed his taped lectures, and their accused accomplices were also found in possession of Awlaki material. Canadian Muslims arrested in 2006 after allegedly plotting attacks in Toronto listened to his on-line sermons, according to prosecutors. In 2007, an Awlaki sermon was found among the effects of a man convicted in a plot to attack Ft. Dix in New Jersey.
|'Can You Get a Package on a Plane?'|
Awlaki allegedly helped a Bangladeshi-born British Airways employee named Rajib Karim plot an attack on British airliners. Karim was convicted in February 2011 of planning a "spectacular" bombing. Karim's brother had allegedly met with Awlaki in Yemen, and Karim and Awlaki had exchanged emails in early 2010 that show Awlaki's operational role in planning terror attacks. The emails were found on Karim's computer. Awlaki asked Karim, "Can you please specify your role in the airline industry, how much access do you have to airports, what information do you have on the limitations and cracks in present airport security systems." In a separate email, Awlaki told Karim that "our highest priority is the U.S.," and asked if it was possible to get a package or person on board a flight heading to the U.S." Karim was arrested on Feb. 25, 2010.
|Times Square Car Bomb|
In May 2010, Faisal Shahzad tried and failed to detonate a massive car bomb in New York's Times Square on a busy weekend night. Shahzad had trained with the Taliban in Pakistan for the attack. After his arrest, Shahzad told U.S. interrogators he had been inspired by Awlaki's teachings.
|A Knife Attack on a Member of Parliament|
Roshanara Choudhry, a 21-year-old student, attempted to stab a Labour member of the U.K. Parliament to death after watching 100 hours of Awlaki videos. The MP, Stephen Timms, survived. Choudry, who had targeted Timms because he supported the Iraq war, was sentenced to life in prison. She told police she wanted to die as a martyr after watching Awlaki's lectures, saying she had downloaded a full set and watched them beginning in November 2009. She attacked Timms on May 14, just after she'd finished watching all the videos.
|The Murder of Jacques Spagnolo|
This January, Yemen sentenced Awlaki to 10 years in prison -- in absentia -- for inciting the October 2010 killing of a French citizen who worked for a construction company in the Yemeni capital of Sana'a. The judge said that Awlaki and his cousin, also convicted in absentia, had encouraged Hisham Mohammed Assem to shoot Jacques Spagnolo. Assem was a security guard at the construction company where Spagnolo worked. The court said that Awlaki had encouraged Assem via email.
|The Parcel Bomb Plot|
Five months later, on October 29, 2010, two packages containing bombs were intercepted in separate cargo planes bound for the U.S. Discovered en route in England and Dubai, they were packed into computer printers and had originated in Yemen. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemeni-based al Qaeda affiliate of which Awlaki was a leader, claimed credit for the conspiracy. In November, Awlaki released a video calling America "Satan" and urging Muslims to kill Americans. U.S. officials believe Awlaki helped plan the printer bomb attack.
|'My Beloved Sheikh'|
Antonio Martinez, a U.S. citizen, was arrested in Maryland in December 2010, charged with attempting to murder federal officers and employees. Martinez, a Muslim convert who used the name Muhammad Hussain, was arrested in a sting operation for plotting to deliver an explosive-laden van to an Armed Forces recruiting center in Catonsville, Maryland. He told an undercover FBI source in a recorded conversation that Awlaki was his "beloved sheikh," and posted comments on Facebook praising the cleric.
|Jason Abdo and Ft. Hood|
In July 2011, Army Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo allegedly attempted to reprise the shooting attack on Ft. Hood in Texas. After his arrest, officials found firearms, ammunition, and bomb-making materials in his hotel room -- as well as a copy of Inspire, the magazine produced by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Awlaki's organization. According to one senior official, Abdo mentioned Awlaki as he was being interrogated. As he was led from a Texas courtroom after being charged in the alleged plot, Abdo yelled out, "Nidal Hasan!", "Fort Hood!" and "2009!"