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White House Official Says US Actively Seeking American-Born Terrorist

Still image from video, courtesy of the SITE, a for-profit private group tracking suspected terrorists, shows Anwar al-Awlaki from the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), 22 May 2010

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says the U.S. government is actively pursuing American-born terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says the Obama administration is making every effort to track down American-born Anwar al-Awlaki, who is reportedly hiding in a remote mountainous region of Yemen's Shabwa Province.

"We are actively trying to find him and many others throughout the world that seek to do our country, and to do our interests, great harm," Gibbs said.

Al-Awlaki, who is the son of a prominent Yemeni politician, is calling for the killing of American citizens in a new video posted Sunday on the internet. The Yemeni branch of a group that calls itself al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula released the video.

Speaking on the CBS television news' "Face the Nation" program, Gibbs says al-Awlaki advocates killing and violence.

"…despite telling the world that he is a cleric, you see on a video tape that he supports al-Qaida's agenda of murder and violence," Gibbs said. "In fact, in recent video tapes, he has said he is a member of al-Qaida in the Arabian peninsula, who has an agenda just like al-Qaida to strike targets in Yemen, throughout the world, including here in the United States."

Gibbs also lashed out at al-Qaida, repeating President Barack Obama's description of the group to graduating cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, Saturday.

"The president said ... that members of al Qaida are small men who will be on the wrong side of history," Gibbs said. "Those cadets, many of (whom) will go to Afghanistan to pursue our battles there to keep our country safe and the president will continue to take action directly at terrorists like Awlaki and keep our country safe from their murderous thugs."

Al-Awlaki is alleged to have been a mentor of Fort Hood shooter, Major Nidal Malak Hasan, who killed 13 people at the Texas base. He is also alleged to have been in contact with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried unsuccessfully to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day.