The FBI’s interview notes with 2009 underwear bomber Umar Abdulmutallab reveal he was extensively counseled by deceased U.S. terrorist Anwar Al-Awlaki, The New York Times reports.
Abdulmutallab was the son of a rich Nigerian businessman who studied in London, and increasingly became religious. He stumbled across Awlaki’s lectures on the Quaran in a London bookshop in 2005, when they were not yet Jihadi in nature, and became enchanted by him. Abdulmutallab made his way to Dubai in 2009 and told the FBI, “God was guiding him to jihad.” He left for Yemen that year to join al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
Awlaki was the leader of t al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula at the time, after fleeing the U.S. out of fear he would be imprisoned. He increasingly recorded Jihadi lectures online, and corresponded with other would-be terrorists. Awlaki reportedly spotted Abdulmutallab’s willingness to die, and chose him for a special suicide mission.
Awlaki spiritually tutored Abdulmutallab until he“was resolved to killing innocent people and considered them to be ‘collateral damage.” He personally introduced him to bomb makers in the camp, organized his travel route, recorded his final video, and told him “wait until you are in the U.S., then bring the plane down.”
Abdulmutallab told FBI investigators he strapped the explosives to himself and carefully waited aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 until it was over U.S. territory. Once a map indicated he was over the U.S., he went to the bathroom to prepare his explosive and returned to his seat. His bomb failed to explode, setting his pants on fire before he was restrained by passengers and crew.
Before he even left the plane, Abdulmutallab admitted to investigators he was a member of al-Qaida and tried to blow up the aircraft.
The Obama administration largely justified targeting Awlaki in a 2011 drone strike, on the basis of Abdulmutallab’s testimony and his central role in trying to mount a U.S. attack. Awlaki’s videos preaching jihad continue to inspire Western terrorists including the Orlando shooter, the Boston Bombers, and the Chelsea bomber.
Awlaki’s al-Qaida organization continues to be an active target of the U.S. One of President Donald Trump’s first acts as commander in chief was to order a January NAVY Seal Team 6 raid on an al-Qaida camp in Yemen, where Awlaki’s young daughter was reportedly caught in the crossfire. The camp was heavily fortified, and terrorists killed a U.S. Navy Seal.
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