American-born cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi, who was killed in Yemen Friday, became a top target for U.S. counterterrorism operations through his reported role in a range of attacks and attempted attacks.
Once considered an articulate spokesman of American Islam, giving a host of interviews to Western media, Aulaqi later was believed to have inspired the Fort Hood shooter, the Christmas Day underwear bomber and a Times Square bomb plot.
Below, read stories from the Post archives on Aulaqi:
1. On the attack on Fort Hood:
— Nidal M. Hasan, accused of carrying out an attack on Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009, was inspired by the Yemeni cleric. Hasan also exchanged e-mails with Aulaqi before the attack. It is unclear if Aulaqi was giving Hasan instructions or if he mainly was a religious mentor.
2. On the Christmas “underwear bomber”:
— Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian “underwear bomber” who allegedly tried to blow up a plane headed for Detroit on Dec. 25, 2009, was inspired by Aulaqi. According to a U.S. official, Aulaqi put Abdulmutallab “in touch with plotters and trainers of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.”
3. On the attempted Times Square bombing:
— Faisal Shahzad, who attempted to detonate a bomb in Times Square on May 1, 2010, was inspired by Aulaqi’s sermons and videos. He does not appear to have been in touch with Aulaqi directly.
4. On the stabbing of a British cabinet member:
— Roshonara Choudhry stabbed a former British cabinet member, Stephen Timms, in May 2010. She claimed to have been influenced by Aulaqi’s sermons.
5. On Dar Al-Hijrah, the Falls Church, Va mosque where Aulaqi once was a leader:
— Sept. 18, 2011: After nine years of interviews, Imam Johari Abdul-Malik has learned to wait for the questions. If he waits long enough, the reporters inevitably ask about Anwar al-Aulaqi, the radical cleric who once led the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque. They want to know about Maj. Nidal Hasan, the alleged Fort Hood shooter, and the two Sept. 11 hijackers who also once worshiped there. And they often come with a list of other terrorism suspects who have been connected in some way with the Northern Virginia mosque.
6. On the attention Aulaqi drew of U.S. authorities, even before 9/11:
— Feb. 27, 2008: Even before the 2001 terrorist attacks, American-born imam Anwar al-Aulaqi drew the attention of federal authorities because of his possible connections to al-Qaeda. Their interest grew after 9/11, when it turned out that three of the hijackers had spent time at his mosques in California and Falls Church, but he was allowed to leave the country in 2002.
7. On the early Aulaqi as spokesperson for American Islam:
— On March 19, 2001: Aulaqi did a chat on washingtonpost.com. He also allowed a Post videographer to chronicle a day in the life of an American imam.
More from the Washington Post on Aulaqi:
Checkpoint Washington: Anwar al-Aulaqi had ties to Va. mosque
Checkpoint Washington: Aulaqi long escaped efforts to kill him
Foreign: A timeline of Aulaqi’s life
Checkpoint Washington: Reactions from around the world to his death
Photos: Most wanted al-Qaeda terrorist
BlogPost: What he preached