News / Middle East

    Radical Yemen Cleric: No Fatwa Needed to Kill Americans

    Anwar al-Awlaki (file)
    Anwar al-Awlaki (file)

    Multimedia

    Audio
    • Interview with Robert Powell, the Economist Intelligence Unit

    Even though he is an American, a radical U.S.-born cleric says Muslims should not hesitate to kill Americans, arguing that no religious rulings are needed "to fight the devil."  Anwar al-Awlaki, wanted by both the United States and Yemen, where he is based, made the appeal in an Internet video released Monday.  

    In a wide-ranging 23-minute talk, the al-Qaida-linked cleric condemned Iran, Israel and the leaders of Arab nations.  He went further in regard to the people of the United States.   

    The American-born Awlaki told his followers that they do not need to consult with anyone before killing Americans.  He said for Muslims it is a question of "us or them."

    Robert Powell, the Economist Intelligence Unit, speaks with VOA's Susan Yackee about Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula:

    Awlaki is wanted by both the U.S. and Yemen for his suspected role in terrorist attacks, including the attempted bombing of a U.S. airliner late last year.  He is also believed to have acted as an advisor to  the suspect in a deadly shooting spree at a U.S. military base in Texas and the killing of a Frenchman in Yemen earlier this year.  

    U.S. authorities believe he is an active member of the Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

    The video message, parts of which were released last month, come days after the terrorist organization claimed responsibility for attempting to send bombs in air cargo to the United States.  The packages were intercepted by authorities tipped off by Saudi intelligence.   The terrorist group has also claimed responsibility for attacks that killed Yemeni civilians.

    In the video, Awlaki also condemns Arab leaders as corrupt, including those in Yemen.

    Political analyst Stephen Steinbeiser says many Yemenis, and others in the region, side with Americans against terrorists.  But the resident director of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies says the cleric may be trying to attract followers beyond his regular jihadist sympathizers.

    "I think he is reaching for a broader audience and I think that when Yemenis begin to feel that someone like al-Awlaki is singling out corrupt leaders, then it becomes a much more appealing message and they many begin to listen to other types of things he is saying," said Steinbeiser.

    But such a move could strengthen the resolve of the Yemeni government in hunting him down.  The Sana'a-based Steinbeiser says many in Yemen believe the government knows where al-Awlaki is hiding or at least the general locale.  But he notes officials may be hindered by the fact the al-Awlaki family is very powerful in the clan- and tribe-dominated country.    

    "There are potential repercussions politically, and potential violent repercussions if they go after al-Awlaki [as] the U.S. would like.  So the Yemeni government has to walk a bit of a fine line," Steinbeiser said. "At the same time, I think they realize that he is an increasing threat and certainly with this latest message, it shows he is not afraid of the threats made against him, and he seems to want to escalate the situation."

    The Yemeni government has pledged to help the United States in tracking al-Awlaki down, and last week put him on trial in absentia for incitement and plotting to kill foreigners.

    The United States is believed to have already put al-Awlaki on a special list of Americans who security forces are authorized to capture dead or alive.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora