[QODLink]
Middle East
Yemeni cleric blacklisted in US
Government freezes assets of American-born alleged al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki.
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2010 11:30 GMT
Awlaki has been linked to 'underwear bomber' Abdulmutallab, shown here [AFP/ABC]

The United States has added an American-born, al-Qaeda-linked cleric to a terrorism blacklist, targeting him with sanctions aimed at cutting off his financial support.

"Anwar al-Awlaki has proven that he is extraordinarily dangerous, committed to carrying out deadly attacks on Americans and others worldwide," Stuart Levey, the under secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said on Friday.

Levey added that al-Awlaki had "involved himself in every aspect of the supply chain of terrorism - fundraising for terrorist groups, recruiting and training operatives, and planning and ordering attacks on innocents".

Al-Awlaki, now based in Yemen, rose to prominence last year after it emerged that he had communicated by email with Major Nidal Hasan, a US army psychiatrist accused of opening fire on colleagues at Fort Hood, Texas, killing 13 people.

Assets frozen

The imam has also been linked to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian student accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound flight with explosives in his underwear on December 25.

By "designating" al-Awlaki under Executive Order 13224, the US treasury department has frozen his US assets and outlawed any dealings with him.

"Anwar al-Awlaki has proven that he is extraordinarily dangerous"

Stuart Levey, under secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence

Weeks after the September 11 attacks, President George Bush signed the "Executive Order on Terrorist Financing,"granting the treasury, state and justice departments the authority to freeze the assets of foreign individuals or groups and their international affiliates who are deemed to pose a threat to the United States.

According to a treasury department statement, al-Awlaki is a key leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), has pledged an oath of allegience to its emir, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, and "plays a major role in setting the strategic direction for AQAP".

Al-Awlaki was imprisoned in Yemen in 2006 on charges of kidnapping for ransom and being involved in an al-Qaeda plot to kidnap a US official but was released from jail in December 2007 and subsequently went into hiding in Yemen, according to the treasury department.

'Justified' bombing

A US official said in April that the administration of Barack Obama, the US president, had authorised the killing of al-Awlaki, after US intelligence agencies concluded the cleric was directly involved in anti-US plots.

Al-Awlaki told Al Jazeerain February that "it would have been better" if Abdulmutallab had targeted a US military plane or base but that his attempted bombing of a civilian airliner was justified because "the American people live [in] a democratic system" and "take part in all [their] government's crimes".

In December, Yemeni forces backed by US "intelligence and support" launched an airstrike on a meeting of senior al-Qaeda members thought to include al-Awlaki, according to the Washington Post.

Gregory Johnsen, a Yemen specialist and PhD candidate at Princeton University, wrote in an April op-ed in Newsweekthat al-Awlaki is "at best, a midlevel functionary in a local branch [of al-Qaeda]," and that killing him would do more harm than good.

"There are dozens of men who could do more harm to the United States, and killing al-Awlaki would only embolden them and aid in recruitment," Johnsen wrote.

Source:
Al Jazeera and Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Study says tipping point reached as poachers kill 7 percent of African elephants annually; birth rate is 5 percent.
Zimbabwe's leader given rotating chairmanship of 15-member nation bloc a year after he won disputed presidential polls.
Government regulations and security fears are choking the once thriving industry in India-administered Kashmir.
Is fast-track deportation for 60,000 migrant children from Latin America obstructing due process?
Feminist Initiative is fiercely campaigning to enter Sweden's parliament after the September elections.
join our mailing list