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American-born cleric appears in Al Qaeda video

By the CNN Wire Staff
A still from the video showing Anwar al-Awlaki.
A still from the video showing Anwar al-Awlaki.
  • Anwar al-Awlaki is an al Qaeda recruiter and supporter based in Yemen
  • Footage is first appearance by al-Awlaki in AQAP video
  • Al-Awlaki accuses U.S. military of fostering Muslim infighting in Afghanistan and Iraq

(CNN) -- An American-born Muslim cleric has appeared in a video released by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula for the first time.

Anwar al-Awlaki, an al Qaeda recruiter and supporter based in Yemen, is on the United States' list of al Qaeda leaders targeted for capture or assassination. He has appeared in other videos but has never before been featured in an official video by AQAP.

It is not clear from the video when it was recorded.

In the video released to media outlets, al-Awlaki said the goal of the U.S. military in Afghanistan and Iraq is to get Muslims to fight each other by blaming market bombings on Islamic militants. According to al-Awlaki, Gen. David Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, came up with the strategy.

Al-Awlaki also blamed the U.S. military for an airstrike in December that killed about 30 suspected al Qaeda militants in a district in the Shabwa governorate. The state news agency SABA credited Yemeni forces with the strike at the time of the attack.

In January, a top Yemen government official said al-Awlaki met with Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, who has been charged in a botched attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet en route from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit, Michigan, on Christmas Day. The attempt to ignite explosives hidden in AbdulMutallab's underwear failed to bring down the plane.

Some video obtained by news outlets appears to show AbdulMutallab taking part in militia training in Yemen with AQAP.

Al-Awlaki also has claimed a connection to the U.S. Army psychiatrist accused of fatally shooting 13 at the Fort Hood, Texas, military base last year. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan communicated with the radical Islamic cleric via e-mail for about a year before he went on a shooting rampage that wounded 40 on November 5, the cleric told in late December.

Hasan, a U.S.-born citizen of Palestinian descent, has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder, making him eligible for the death penalty.