Following the November massacre that took place at Fort Hood, Texas and the failed terrorist plane attack by the so-called 'underpants' bomber, all eyes have been focused on Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born al-Qaeda leader who had been in contact with the perpetrators of both acts. Statements from those involved show al-Awlaki's influence played a key role in the violence. If indeed that is the case, how many other souls has al-Awlaki been able to fanaticize? And could one be a leader of a local branch of one of the largest Muslim groups in the U.S.?
Anwar Nasser al-Awlaki, a regional commander for al-Qaeda in Yemen, has been suspected of having direct participation in a number of past terrorist attacks against the United States and elsewhere. However, these attacks have not garnered nearly the amount of worldwide attention for al-Awlaki as that which occurred recently by the hands of two others.
On November 5, 2009, Nidal Hasan, a 39-year-old soldier in the U.S. Army, opened fire in a military processing center, murdering 13 of his fellow soldiers and wounding 30.
On December 25, 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian national, attempted to blow up a U.S. airliner using explosives found hidden in his underwear.