Inside the head of a Yemenite al-Qaida mastermind

Analysis: Internet is where jihadi ideologues and operational masterminds plan overthrow of Arab-Muslim and Asian- Muslim regimes.

al qaida camel 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
al qaida camel 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The latest reports provide an emerging picture of a Yemen-based terror plot seeking to use cargo flights to penetrate aviation security and to strike high-profile targets in the West.
While an international counterterrorism investigation is in its early stages, the signs appear to suggest that the Yemenite-American jihadi cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, could well be the mastermind behind the foiled attacks.
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Awlaki is today the center of gravity for al- Qaida in Yemen, and has been linked to the failed Christmas bombing plot to blow up an airliner over Detroit and the Fort Hood mass shooting last year.
But years before he set up a base in the ungoverned badlands of Yemen to brainwash and train recruits, Awlaki had already set up a base on the Internet. Online, he acted as a charismatic English-speaking recruiter for the global jihad movement, before becoming an operational planner as well.
Between 2002 and 2004, Awlaki lived in Britain and gave talks to radical pro-jihad groups. One of his lectures was turned by his followers into an ebook.
Today, it continues to circulate among adherents.
It is this type of Internet presence that allowed al-Qaida and its affiliates to survive the loss of Afghanistan as a sovereign base of operations, and to hover in cyberspace until a new location became available – in this case, Yemen.
The Internet is where jihadi ideologues and operational masterminds continue to plan the overthrow of Arab-Muslim and Asian- Muslim regimes, and it is where they plan to found a caliphate state in their place.
High-profile strikes at the West, seen by al-Qaida as the puppet master keeping “phony” Muslim regimes in power and occupying Muslim lands, are considered to be obligatory missions by the clerics of the virtual caliphate.
Here is an excerpt from the Awliki e-book that has circulated in jihadi forums: “If Allah ‘Azza wa Jall [mighty and majestic] wants victory for this Ummah [Islamic nation] then Allah ‘Azza wa Jall creates the circumstances for that. So you can sense victory is coming by looking at what is happening today... they [the unbelievers] are trying to stop the flow of Islam and Allah ‘Azza wa Jall says they will fail. When we look at the amount of money they are spending on fighting Islam it is amazing...”
Jihadi fighters should take great comfort, Awlaki told his followers, in the massive advantage in resources enjoyed by the “unbelievers,” as this is what has been prophesied in the Koran, and serves as further proof of al- Qaida’s coming victory.
“It’s not the Muslims who are waging war against them [the unbelievers], it’s Allah ‘Azza wa Jall! America is in a state of war with Allah ‘Azza wa Jall! Allah has promised, to those among you who believe and work righteous deeds, that He will, of a surety, grant them in the land, inheritance of power, as He granted it to those before them,” Awliki said.
“The mission of the people today could be very great. We are not saying it is equal to the mission of Muhammad and his companions, but it is going to be very great,” Awliki added.
Yaakov Lappin is the author of the forthcoming book, The Virtual Caliphate (Potomac Books)