The Department of Justice Attorney General Eric Holder described the Yemeni-American-born radical cleric Ayman al-Awlaki as “He would be on the same list with bin Laden.” Al-Awlaki officially and legally is not affiliated with al-Qaeda yet his radical and violent Jihad views are falling in the same line as those of al-Qaeda. Though the Awlak tribe in southern Yemen is providing the protection for al-Awlaki, the leader of the al-Qaeda Organization in the Arabian Peninsula Nasir al-Wuhaishi known with the pseudonym Abu Baseer, offered in a statement posted online in May 2010 that it is their “legitimate duty,” to protect al-Awlaki.
Al-Awlaki’s name rose in a very short time in comparison to that of Osama bin Laden and al-Libi. First time we heard of Awlaki’s name was after the horrific Ft. Hood shooting in November 2009, and then a month later with the failed Christmas Day underwear-bombing plot. He is behind the radicalization of the 21-year old London-University student Roshonara Choudhary who attacked British MP Stephen Timms “in revenge for the people of Iraq.” Today his online statements and lectures in English and Arabic are the powerful recruiting method that is reaching out to the moderate young Muslim youth living mainly in the United Kingdom and the United States.
Al-Awlaki is different from other radical leaders in that he was born and raised in the United States, i.e. he is able to think, understand, and communicate smoothly with followers living in the West. His danger lies in that he knows both Arab/Muslim and Western cultures very well which lifts all barriers in communicating with his victims born and raised in Western/Muslim communities. In other words, he is one of us who turned against us so he knows our weakness and our strength. His statements and calls for Jihad are clear, based on a western-style rationalization unlike the vague and poetic Bin Laden speeches and the loud sectarian al-Qaeda in Iraq statements.
Al-Awlaki sent out a video message in November 2010 that there is no need for a Muslim to seek a special fatwa or consultation from a Muslim authority to kill Americans, “because fighting Satan does not require a fatwa or advice. They are Satan’s party and fighting them is the duty of this era.” He is dissolving all nationalities and uniting all of his “students” under one identity as Muslims who need to be enlightened about the Western oppression to Islam and attempts to change Islam as it did to Christianity and Judaism.
The factors that help Awlaki spread his views are the intelligent young Muslims living in western communities and suffer a form of an identity crisis due to the lack of open and free communication with their parents. These young self-radicalized Muslims though brought up in the west still cling to habits from their original cultures such as the mixed respect and fear emotions of parents, seeking success to make parents proud, not debating seniors, being a proud Muslim yet not educated about Islam. When children fear to ask a question lest they would be ridiculed or reprimanded for thinking of such ideas, they tend to turn to the internet or a friend, where the high risk of learning immoral ideas and wrong patterns of thinking about one’s religious duties and one’s rights and duties as a human being. Self-radicalized individuals are difficult to track down, because these individuals tend to work not as a group, motivated by views of well-educated and charismatic rational radical speakers whom they do not necessarily meet in person. The power of the word and the means used to spread that word is what makes al-Awlaki dangerous both to the national security in general, and to the Muslim families living in the West in particular.
 “Attorney General’s Blunt Warning on Terror Attacks,” ABC News December 21, 2010.
 Anwar al-Awlaki is suspected to be hiding among his tribe the Awlak in the south of Yemen in the Shabwa Province mountains, “Yemen orders troops to ‘forcibly arrest’ al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki,” CSMonitor, November 7, 2010.
 CNN World, “American-born cleric praised in al-Qaeda audio message,” May 16, 2010
 “Fort Hood gunman Nidal Hasan ‘is a hero’: Imam who preached to 9/11 hijackers in VA praises attack,” NY Daily News, November 9, 2009.
 “Curse the judge, shout fanatics as the Muslim girl who knifed MP smiles as she gets life,” Daily Mail, November 5, 2010.
 Steven Stalinsky, “Part V: YouTube-The Internet’s primary and Rapidly Expanding Jihadi Base: One Year Later on YouTube-Anwar al-Awlaki’s presence Expands, … ”MEMRI December 11, 2010.