Anwar al-Awlaki is till plaguing this country, even though he was killed by a drone Sept. 30, 2011.
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For those only vaguely familiar with this name, let us recap some pertinent facts of his life. He was born in New Mexico of Yemini parents. His father received his master’s degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of New Mexico, which is why Anwar al-Awlaki is an American citizen. His father then got his doctorate from the University of Nebraska and taught at the University of Minnesota. He then moved back to Yemen, where he served as agricultural minister.
Al-Awlaki was 7 when he moved back to Yemen, living there 11 years. Though he was an American citizen, he came back to the U.S. claiming to have been born in Yemen. He received a degree in Civil Engineering in 1994 from Colorado State University. He spent his summers training with the Afghan mujahideen.
Though he did further studies at San Diego State University and George Washington University, his real interest came to be Islamic radicalism. He became an imam, preaching in San Diego and later Falls Church, Va. In both those places he was closely associated with three of the 9-11 hijackers. It has always been suspected he arranged quarters for them. A fourth person involved in the 9-11 conspiracy was found to have al-Alwaki’s phone number when German police raided his home.
He left the U.S. for London in 2002 and returned to Yemen in 2004. Yemen imprisoned him in 2006-07 for kidnapping a Shiite teenager for ransom and participating in an al-Qaeda plot to kidnap a U.S. military attaché.
Fluent and at ease in English, his jihad Website inspired Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hassan. He is also associated with the Christmas 2009 underwear bomber.
Though al-Alwaki is dead, his Website and the magazine he helped start, Inspire, still inspired and helped radicalize the Boston Marathon bombers, though they likely downloaded his lectures before al-Alwaki was droned out of existence.
His English language lectures still live on in cyberspace. What’s needed is the U.S. military to put its best cyber warfare specialists to work destroying al-Awlaki’s cyber presence. Cut off the multi-headed monster with a samurai sword of cyber slicing and dicing. Put a destructive cyber bug in Inspire. Don’t let this dead man keep inspiring more self-radicalizing killers in this country.