Al-Awlaki Urges Muslims to Kill Americans in New Video

Radical Muslim cleric al-Awlaki raises stakes in hunt for Yemen's al-Qaeda.

November 8, 2010, 3:44 PM

Nov. 8, 2010— -- A new video featuring American-born radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki surfaced online today, in which he calls America "Satan" and urges Muslims to murder Americans.

Justification for killing Americans is no longer derived from religious edicts, al-Awlaki said in the 23-minute-long video message released Monday.

Wanted dead or alive by U.S. officials for his role in inciting terrorist plots against the U.S., he is believed to be hiding in Yemen. Investigators are now examining the well-produced propaganda tape to see what clues it offers as to his location.

Compared to the last time Osama bin Laden was seen on video in September 2007, al-Awlaki's video is high-quality, with almost a corporate look.

The clear video images show al-Awlaki sitting at a glass-topped desk, in an executive's leather chair, with two microphones attached to him. Investigators will try to figure where those items could have been purchased, to narrow his location down any way they can.

The 38-year-old American-born Yemeni has made his name with online recruiting videos. He is a key leader of the al-Qaeda's Yemen branch, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Although he often records videos in English, this newest video is recorded in Arabic.

New York Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner's office said it found more than 700 al-Awlaki videos on YouTube, with an alarming 3.5 million hits. After Weiner's urging, YouTube took down some of the most inflammatory ones.

But it is still easy to find his videos online. Search "Anwar al-Awlaki" and hundreds, if not thousands, of results appear.

One sermon about immoral behavior has more than 57,000 hits, and another one, arguing that America is waging war against Yemen, already has more than 27,000 hits.

While some online viewers are no doubt curiousity seekers, al-Awlaki has inspired terrorists before -- including the 2009 Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hassan and Christmas Day "underwear bomber" Farouq Umar Abdulmutallab -- and investigators fear he will do so again.

Radical Cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in New Terror Video

"Al-Awlaki has always been something of a mystery. He 's been involved in Al Qaeda's operations for longer than we've realized in the last few months. I think this is the kind of man who is going to move from being a propagandist to being an operator," Yemen expert and former CIA official Bruce Riedel told ABC News in an interview.

Indeed, al-Awlaki's role now goes beyond just inspiring. AQAP claimed responsibility for the bomb plot last week in which two printer toner cartridges packed with the explosive material PETN were loaded onto cargo planes before being discovered by British and Dubai officials. The plot was exposed after a tip to Saudi intelligence.

"This is a dramatic wake-up call that we don't have Al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula under control. They may be under pressure, but not enough," Riedel said.

U.S. officials tell ABC News that the U.S. military has been flying predator drones over Yemen since early this year. The drones are only intended to carry out surveillance and reconnaissance of AQAP targets, for targeted airstrikes by the Yemeni government.

But Riedel said that without Yemini cooperation, finding al-Qaeda targets will be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

"You have to get some level of cooperation from the Yemenis and assistance in finding the targets. The drones only work if you have good human sources on the ground so you can find the target," Riedel said.

Al-Awlaki's newest video will provide important clues, but wherever that tape was made, he has likely moved on to yet another safe haven in a country where it is clearly easy to hide.

ABC News' Richard Coolidge, Luis Martinez and Tom Giusto contributed to this report.

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