Daniel R. DePetris: The Political Docket

Radical and Influential Cleric May Be More Radical and Influential Than Originally Thought

Posted in United States by Dan on January 6, 2010

In yet another shocking development in the Christmas Day bombing incident, a number of national-security officials (who wish to remain unidentified when discussing sensitive information) have confirmed the rumors that everyone in Washington was wondering about; the man responsible for the attack’s inspiration- an Islamic preacher named Anwar al-Awlaki- may have been in contact with tens of thousands of foreigners over the past year.

Investigators and interviews from Newsweek have indicated that at least 10,000 email accounts from across the world are registered to the fiery Islamic Imam, now based in Yemen.  In what could easily be labeled as the most devastating oversight in the U.S. intelligence community since the WMD fiasco in Iraq, President Barack Obama is now forced with the difficult task of easing the concerns of the America people.

In normal circumstances, I would imagine that security holes in the system are plugged relatively quickly.  In fact, I still have faith in our intelligence service.  Officials within the CIA will undoubtedly throw every resource at its disposal to cool off the political heat wave that is scorching Washington as we speak.

But even so, the fact that so many bits and pieces of intelligence were not connected in a thorough way is discomforting to many Americans both at home and abroad.

Anwar al-Awlaki is not exactly a mysterious figure in the security database; the man has been known to advocate violent jihad against western targets in his sermons, prayers, and discussions.  Awlaki is believed to be behind the Fort Hood Massacre that killed thirteen people last December, and now U.S. authorities are investigating whether Awlaki had contact with the “underpants bomber” when he was in Yemen.

When living in the United States, Awlaki was even in touch with two or three of the 9/11.

I only have one question regarding this case; if the danger of Anwar al-Awlaki was so profound to U.S. intelligence officials in the past, why on earth did the CIA, NCTC, and the FBI hesitate to label this man as a direct threat to national security?  This question is even more prudent given the relationship that Al-Awlaki had with some of Al’Qaeda members before the September 11 attacks.  While I am certainly not an expert on the collection of intel, it is not unreasonable to assume that the U.S. Government would place an extra surveillance on this same individual.

Intelligence agents claim that the email exchanges between the Fort Hood shooter and al-Awlaki were too general to warrant additional investigation.  How can this be, given the fact that this same individual inspired three Al’Qaeda operatives to conduct an unprecedented attack on the American homeland?  I do not know about you, but if I discovered that a “suspect” was somehow associated with the most devastating terrorist attack in American history, I would be quick to monitor this individual with full force; regardless of how many contacts he has had over the past decade.

The notion that al-Awlaki could have been in contact with approximately 10,000 foreigners should only increase the CIA and FBI’s attention on this man.  Sure, it is difficult to monitor all of al-Awlaki’s contacts, but if a man holds a reputation for preaching and working with militant Islamic fundamentalists, it should be a natural inclination for American officers to deepen their investigation.

-Daniel R. DePetris

Twitter @mideastblogger


6 Responses

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  1. jlondono said, on January 6, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    9/11 was a sucker punch and the US has been trying to get up off the mat ever since.

    We continue to get sucker punched and we continue to try to get up off the mat (it is as though somebody nailed our shorts to the floor).

    Obama and his administration have proven as inept at connecting the dots as the amoebas that were in place during 9/11. I am afraid that now all that we will get is more professorial rhetoric about renewing our standing in the world, instead of actually naming true law enforcement officials to head our intelligence units.

  2. rrobeson said, on January 6, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    it’s taken almost ten years to figure out that the true leaders of these are the teachers. They should be the priority targets, not Osama, etc. Get the ones that are brainwashing the children and you approach a better long-term solution. Otherwise, they’ll just keep popping up like daisies.

  3. Jimmys Crackhorn said, on January 6, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    How about this man mysteriously die of something…I don’t know…maybe something small hot and amazingly fast?

    It’s too bad that many of these Madrasas and such were originally supported by the US Govt. to whip up resistance to the Soviets…this tangled web we weave. Read Blowback and you will understand why some punk from Nigeria just might be pissed off at the USA. Catch-22 is if we take this guy out then we most certainly feel some wrath of Islamo-whackoness…..

  4. MarkMontgomery said, on January 6, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    The large volume of voice intercepts is one issue, but as has been the case each time a tragedy occurs — or a near miss like this, multiple failures take place, which one reason why systemic fits.

    The reason why intelligent people everywhere are so upset is obvious — no escaping the fact that a credible, knowledgeable witness again pressed, provided warning, and the visa wasn’t even revoked. It should be automated. The only reason it isn’t is due to defense against accountability — the interview tonight on PBS had two of three correct — without accountability built into the system by design, and I am the inventor of an advanced semantic enterprise system — systemic failures are all but certain.

    We’ve been down this road for a dozen years and it is indeed getting very tiresome.

  5. zakmorgan said, on January 6, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    This is really an alarming news!! It may take some time before terrorism in the world is on the ropes.


  6. Racykate said, on January 6, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    This site has good information.Thanks



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