Sunni Muslim preacher urges Muslim scholars to promote jihad against U.S., Israel; trial against al-Awlaki began last week in Yemen in absentia.
Published 19:01 08.11.10
A radical U.S.-born Sunni Muslim preacher wanted dead or alive by the United States and Yemen urged Muslim scholars on Monday to promote jihad, or holy war, against U.S. and Israeli interests in the region.
"Do not consult with anybody in killing the Americans," said the U.S.-born al-Awlaki, who is wanted by Washington over links to terrorist attacks.
"Fighting the devil does not need a fatwa (religious edict) or consultation - they are the devil's party," he said in the 23-minute Arabic-language video posted on radical Islamist websites.
The video appears to have been made before a foiled plot involving explosive packages sent from Yemen on planes bound for the United States.
Awlaki said Muslim clerics should do more to encourage attacks on foreign forces in Muslim countries.
"Just speaking on the podium is not enough... Words that are not linked with action or provide society with practical steps that lead to change do not benefit us in this time," he said.
"Either we support the mujahideen and win everything, or we let them down and lose everything," he said. Mujahideen is a term that means militants who wage jihad, or "holy struggle".
Last week Yemen began a trial of Awlaki in absentia for instigating violence against foreigners and then on Saturday issued an order for his capture dead or alive.
Washington has heaped pressure on Sanaa to crack down on militants in impoverished, violence-ridden Yemen after the discovery of the plot involving explosive parcels dispatched by air from the country.
Yemen hesitant to pursue Awlaki
Awlaki is highly respected in Islamist circles in Yemen, where he is believed to be hiding. U.S. authorities have branded Awlaki a "global terrorist" but Sanaa has appeared reluctant to take action against him.
Washington has linked him to al Qaeda over his apparent involvement in a thwarted bombing of a U.S.-bound airliner last December, claimed by the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemen-based branch of Osama bin Laden's group.
But Awlaki made no mention of AQAP in his latest address, which was carried on Islamist websites but not released by any of the group's media branches.
Shi'ites in north Yemen have been involved in a sporadic rebellion against the central government for years but have rejected government assertions that they are supported by Iran.
Awlaki accused Iran of trying to impose its sway in the region.
"The first victims of Iran will be the Sunni Gulf people. Oh clerics of the Sunni people, what is your plan to resist this Shi'ite spread?" Awlaki said, shown seated at a table in traditional Yemeni garb.
"America and Israel are already controlling Yemen. And it won't be long before Iran takes the opportunity to get its piece of the pie," he added.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh is also trying to contain a separatist movement in south Yemen and grapple with deep socio-economic problems such as poverty, unemployment and dwindling water resources.
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