04 February 2010
Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical US-born Islamic cleric of Yemeni origin, who is believed to have close ties to the terror network al-Qaeda of Osama bin-Laden, has reportedly admitted that the Nigerian man accused of trying to explode a bomb on a Detroit-bound airliner in December was his student. However, al-Awlaki, who US officials believe works with al-Qaeda cells in Yemen, denied that he ordered Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to carry out the bomb attack, ‘al-Jazeera’ reports.
The cleric is also known to have had contacts with the US Army major blamed for a deadly shooting rampage at the Fort Hood military base. Yemeni officials said they believe al-Awlaki met in Yemen with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian accused of trying to blow up a plane on 25 December 2009.
Al-Awlaki is believed to be hiding in the mountains of Yemen. He gave an interview to a Yemeni journalist, who reported it to the ‘al-Jazeera’ website. The journalist, one of the few said to have direct contacts with al-Awlaki, previously interviewed the cleric after the Fort Hood shooting.
Al-Awlaki said he supported the Christmas attack, but it would have been better if the target was a US military target. "I support what Umar Farouk did after seeing my brothers in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan being killed. If it was a military plane or a US military target it would have been better… The American people have participated in all the crimes of their government. Some 300 Americans are nothing compared to thousands Muslims they have killed," he was quoted as saying.
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