The United States has approved operations to capture or kill Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born Muslim cleric, who is believed to be hiding in Yemen. Awlaki’s U.S citizenship makes his capture complicated. He was born in New Mexico and returned to Yemen in 2004 to teach at a university before he was arrested in 2006 for suspected links to al Qaeda. Awlaki has been involved in terrorist attacks, has possible ties to some of the September 11 hijackers and to the suspected Ft. Hood attacker who shot 13 people at a military base in Texas on November 5, 2009.
U.S. officials say that Awlaki has helped transform the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) into what U.S spy agencies see as al Qaeda’s most active affiliate outside Pakistan and Afghanistan. Representative Jane Harman, chairwoman of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, described Awlaki as “probably the person, the terrorist, who would be terrorist No. 1 in terms of threat against us.”