CAIRO — A US-born radical cleric who belongs to the al-Qaida offshoot behind the cargo bomb plot on the United States told Muslims on Monday that they are free to kill American "devils" at will in a video posted on extremist websites.
Anwar al-Awlaki's vitriolic sermons have inspired several attacks against the United States, and Yemeni officials have said that he may have given his blessing to the mail bomb plot even if he did not take an active part in it. The al-Qaida branch in Yemen, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, claimed responsibility for the foiled bomb plot.
In past messages, al-Awlaki has justified killing American civilians as retaliation for the killing of hundreds of thousands of Muslim civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. But this appeared to be an escalation, with the 39-year-old cleric arguing that no rationale was needed to seek out and kill Americans.
"Don't consult with anybody in killing the Americans," al-Awlaki said in the 23-minute video, in which he appeared dressed in a white robe and turban, with a sheathed dagger tucked into his waistband.
"Fighting the devil does not require a fatwa, nor consultation nor prayers seeking divine guidance. They are the party of Satan and fighting them is the obligation of the time," he said.