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Yemeni-American Cleric Calls for Violence in US

This SITE Intelligence Group handout photo obtained November 10, 2009 shows Anwar al-Awlaki, a former US resident living in Yemen and accused al-Qaeda supporter

A U.S.-born radical cleric linked to shootings at a U.S. army base and the failed bombing of a U.S. plane, is calling for a violent uprising against the United States in an audiotape Wednesday.

On his Web site, Anwar al-Awlaki, a soft-spoken American-born Yemeni cleric calls Nidal Hassan, the man accused of killing 13 people in Fort Hood, Texas last fall a "hero." But after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was arrested attempting to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas day, al-Awlaki denied any connection to the plot, and said he does not support violence against civilians.

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This week, it appears al-Awlaki has changed his mind. In a tape released to CNN, al-Awlaki once again reached out to young American Muslims, and called for violence against the U.S.

"To the Muslims in America, I have this to say: How can your conscience allow you to live in peaceful coexistence with the nation that is responsible for the tyranny and crimes committed against your own brothers and sisters?" he asked.

The U.S. and Yemeni governments say al-Awlaki is an al-Qaida member, recruiter and spiritual adviser. He is currently hiding out in Yemeni tribal lands, far from the reach of the government. Al-Awlaki's followers include two of the September 11th hijackers, and more recently, Sharif Mobley, an American suspected of plotting terror attacks with al-Qaida from Yemen.

Yemenis say he is little known in his home country, because he grew up in America, and preaches in English. But on the Internet, he is the jihadist equivalent of a pop-star. His audio lectures have gone viral, as he tries to radicalize young Westerners by tugging at their heartstrings.

"Palestinian children, charging at the soldiers full speed, armed with nothing but rocks and wearing nothing but trousers and T-shirts are cowards? I fail to understand that," he added.

This comes at a time when authorities are worried by an increasing number of Westerners arrested in connection with al-Qaida, including a Pennsylvania woman arrested last week known as "Jihad Jane." In the past two years, more than a dozen Americans have been arrested for or identified as supporters of violent anti-Western jihad.

And after months of near-silence, Anwar al-Awlaki is once again is trying to inspire this trend, or at least re-claim his reputation as "the Osama bin Laden of the Internet."