Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American-born cleric, has drawn attention for providing spiritual guidance to many of the recent homegrown jihadists targeting the United States. The additional scrutiny, and prestige, resulting from a number of his followers being arrested while attempting terrorist attacks against the United States, appears to have exacted changes to Awlaki’s status within the jihadist community. Messages and interviews in recent months indicate that Awlaki’s views have been increasingly moving towards those held by some of the most extreme ideologues of al-Qaeda. Best illustrated in his May 22, 2010 video interview with a representative of the al-Malahem Foundation, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) media wing, Awlaki expressed views closely approximating the official al-Qaeda justification for September 11, 2001. Through the interview, Awlaki repeatedly called on followers to either carry out attacks or leave the West for jihad. In support of his calls to jihad, Awlaki provided his followers with a ruling justifying the deaths of millions of civilians as well as a near-boundless permission for followers to attack the United States.

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