New York ,June 8,(ANI):Radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico and lives in Yemen, has gained a cult following for his anti-U.S. rants.
The New York Daily News quotes authorities as saying that the charismatic terror leader has acquired the knack of mesmerizing young Westerners to wage jihad.
"Awlaki's been moving up the terrorist food chain for several years now," said a U.S. official familiar with his classified dossier.
"He's gone from propagandist to operational figure within AQAP [Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula], which has become more interested in external plotting over time, including planning attacks against U.S. interests at home and abroad," he added
Counterterror officials compare the Yemeni-American's magnetism to those of cult leaders.
He's an expert at persuading ordinary men, like the accused New Jersey plotters arrested late Saturday, to kill for Allah - or die for Him.
Time and time again, from the Fort Hood, Tex., massacre to the underwear bomber to the Times Square plot, Awlaki's name ends up in the thick of it - giving him the dubious distinction of being the only U.S. citizen marked for death by his own government.
Awlaki's latest success with inspiring followers to wage anti-U.S. jihad was the two New Jersey men arrested Saturday at Kennedy Airport on their way to join Somalia's Al Qaeda-tied Al Shabaab after listening to his speeches.
Besides his rants, a major reason for Awlaki's influence is that, unlike core Al Qaeda leaders, he has been remarkably accessible: He has a Web site and answers his e-mail. (ANI)