Anwar al-Awlaki is the man behind the attempted Christmas day bombing and the failed Times Square bombing. He was also in contact with Maj. Nidal Hasan prior to the shooting at Ft. Hood. With Osama bin Laden dead, al-Awlaki is the leading contender to be his replacement.
Today the Sun, a UK based paper, reported on a “sting operation” it undertook involving contact with al-Awlaki by email:
FIRST, we obtained an email address for Awlaki’s Yemen-based “al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” network hidden in material on an extremist website.
THEN our investigator, posing as a UK-based fanatic named “Q. Khan,” sent an email addressed personally to Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki. FINALLY, we received a reply from the terror chief – convinced he was in contact with the leader of a British cell eager to obey his commands.
The Sun, which has now turned over everything it gathered to MI6, got the following response from al-Awlaki:
We ask Allah to give you the strength and steadfastness to serve His religion. If you are a group of brothers who trust each other then you may work together. Otherwise we advise you to work alone. In case you decide to work together then it is definitely better to go all at once.
The options that you have for operations could be pipe bombs, assassinations or using a firearm at a location crowded with enemies.
We would also suggest that if you have decided to go ahead do not contact us because this may bring surveillance on you.
I’m not sure how this investigation constitutes a sting, since al-Awlaki is unharmed by it. It’s more like kicking the hornet’s nest than a sting.
On the other hand, there is a timely quality to this investigation. It shows that al Qaeda rolls on despite bin Laden’s death. And while OBL lived in an compound with no internet access and was thus nearly impossible to contact, al-Awlaki’s advice is available to anyone interested in waging jihad right from their home computer.
We can only hope that al-Awlaki is right about anyone who contacts him bringing surveillance upon themselves.