Video released by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula showing radical cleric sending Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab off on his mission
Al-Qaeda has released a video apparently showing the so-called “underpants bomber”, a former student at University College, London, being briefed before his mission to blow up an airliner by the group’s spiritual leader in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki.
In the video, Awlaki tells Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab how to conduct himself, some time before his failed attempt to blow up an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 by exploding a device concealed in his underpants.
The video is important because it clears up any remaining doubt about Awlaki’s role as a key director of terror operations for Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which some of his supporters and family have denied.
Awlaki was killed by a US drone strike in September 2011. He had become in effect AQAP’s spiritual mentor, but his family claimed that he was not personally involved in terror operations.
The new video is an hour-long recitation of AQAP’s achievements, and also features Ibrahim al-Qosi, a senior Sudanese al-Qaeda figure who was released back to Khartoum in 2012 from Guantanamo Bay’s internment facility and supposedly put through a “rehabilitation programme”.
Much of the video focuses on the career of Awlaki, who was born in America to an academic Yemeni father who later returned home and became agriculture minister.
Awlaki went back to the US, where he had citizenship, becoming imam of a mosque, before returning a second time to Yemen and becoming one of the world’s best-known radical clerics. His English-language videos were widely circulated, including in British mosques.
He is thought to have met Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian, a number of times, eventually luring him to Yemen to join the group. Once there, he was groomed to become a suicide bomber.
The video also shows Abdulmutallab undergoing training, leaping out of the back of a pick-up truck with what appears to be a toy gun with two other would-be “attackers”.
The voice-over makes specific reference to Awlaki’s role in attracting young Muslim men from the West to the cause. “Sheikh Anwar Awlaki has succeeded in implementing the group’s goal on the ground by guiding young Muslim people in the West’s Crusader states to bear arms in support of the Muslim world’s causes. Allah has used him in raising a group of people, heroes of jihad.”
The two men are then shown seated side-by-side and grinning, with Awlaki clearly the mentor and Abdulmutallab the awed disciple, grinning nervously.
“Allah help you,” Awlaki says. “Don’t forget your prayers, especially the two prostrations of the Prayer of Need. Then call on Allah the Almighty to respond to your need.”
Abdulmutallab replies: “God willing, Amen.”
The video also interviews Khaled al-Batarfi, a prominent AQAP leader who escaped from prison earlier this year. He also praises Awlaki’s role in inspiring Nidal Hassan, the US army major who killed 13 people in a mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009, and the Kouachi brothers, who attacked the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices in Paris in January.