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Sunday, May 16, 2010
 

AQAP Promises A New 9/11 If Anwar Awlaki Is Killed

UPDATED: 4:57 p.m.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula threatened a new 9/11 attack on the United States if American forces kill Yemeni-American cleric Anwar Awlaki.

The audio recording in support of Awalki was issued today by AQAP chief Abu Basir Nasir al-Wuhayshi.

"We are enamored with the attacks of September 11," Basir said, pledging to protect Awlaki from U.S. attacks, according to a translation by Reuters. President Barak Obama recently authorized U.S. forces to target and kill Awalki, an American citizen.

The recording, which is in Arabic, provides an interesting window into Awalki's current status among Arabic speaking jihadis.

Until recently, Awlaki might as well have been the invisible man on the Arabic jihadist forums. The reasons for this aren't totally clear to me, but it may have to do with him being perceived as an American first, and a Yemeni second. His releases were almost always in English, and while there is a cottage industry translating jihadist material from Arabic to English, that train doesn't often reverse direction.

When he released a video in Arabic through AQAP's Al Malahim production company, it looked to be a breakthrough for him. But the video appeared on Al Jazeera and the full-length version never surfaced on the forums. And the AJ video wasn't linked from the Arabic forums either, at least not prominently. When the people in charge of the forums like someone, it's hard to miss it -- the moderators post multiple banner ads and giant headlines.

Enter this new audio, a celebrity endorsement of Awalki -- landing before the actual Awlaki video has been posted. This suggests to me that AQAP feels that it needs to prepare the ground for our Anwar.

A banner ad promoting the audio release was posted second from the top by the mods on the Al Fallujah forum as of 5 p.m. ET. Typically about a dozen communiques from various terrorist groups are highlighted with banner ads and headlines at the top of each forum page. Upwards of 20 Al Fallujah posters had replied with positive comments about the video, endorsing the forum's endorsement of Awalki.

The Majahden forum posted the banner at the very top of the page, indicating a strong endorsement. Al-Qimmah, a Somali and Arabic forum, did use the banner but interestingly the English-language Al Ansar had not posted it, as of noon Sunday. By 1 p.m., Shaimkh was playing Awlaki fourth from the top, basically over the fold, but it looks to be a "slow news day."

All of this is probably a pre-show to the actual Awlaki video being released.

This post has been corrected.

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INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.

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