In an Arabic-language interview published Tuesday and translated by The Investigative Project on Terrorism, Al Qaeda-linked Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki endorsed the Christmas Day attempt to bring down a Detroit-bound airplane and said American civilians are fair game for jihadist attack.
In the interview, an Al Jazeera.net reporter alluded to the fact that Awlaki endorsed the November 5 Fort Hood massacre perpetrated by Nidal Malik Hasan, in which 13 people were killed, because it occurred at a military base.
But Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab targeted a civilian plane on December 25. Al Jazeera asked Awlaki: "Does that mean that the target is the American people in general?"
"Al Qaeda has its choices," he replied. "Concerning the people, the American people live in a democratic regime. And they bear the responsibility for its policies. The American people are the ones who elected the criminal Bush for two terms, and they elected Obama who isn't different from Bush, who had it from one of his first statements that he would not abandon Israel."
"Although there were other choices in the American elections opposing America's foreign wars, these people obtained only a very insignificant share of the votes," Awlaki added. "The American people are a participant in all the crimes of their government. If they don't support this, let them change their government. They are the ones who pay the taxes which supports the army. They are the ones who send their children to be recruited, so they bear the responsibility."
Asked if he supported Abdulmutallab, Awlaki said "I support what Umar Farouk did after having seen my brothers in Palestine being killed for more than 60 years." He added: "Don't ask me if al Qaeda killed - or an American civilian plane was blown up - after all this. Three hundred Americans is nothing in the face of the thousands of Muslims who were killed."
Asked why the United States might want to kill him, Awlaki said Washington sought "to exterminate voices which call for defending the rights of the Ummah [Muslim nation]."
The United States wants to spread "the culture of servility; they want to market a democratic, peaceful Islam which summons to obedience to the ruler even if he is a traitor and a lackey. They want the Islam which consents to occupation and cooperates with it," Awlaki said. "Any voice which summons to this they either assassinate the person or they assassinate the personality. They assassinate the person by murder or prison; or they assassinate the personality by media slander or defamation."
Awlaki called on Yemeni religious leaders to "issue a fatwa on the basis of their legal reasoning and conditions to kill" U.S. intelligence officers who come to Yemen to help the government fight jihadists. These Americans "have come in to spy and kill, and to train the Yemeni military to kill."
How evil is America in Awlaki's eyes? "America is unjust, and all the unjust [powers] throughout history, their end was hideous. I think that the West does not want to understand this universal truth. Muslims in Europe and in America see what is happening to Muslims in Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan. They will take revenge for Muslims everywhere."