A little over a month after his arrest, the suspect in the failed Christmas Day airliner bombing is cooperating with American law enforcement officials. Although details surrounding Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's assistance remain largely unknown, according to a CBS News report on Friday, he has provided new insight into the leadership and plans of al Qaida.
Among the information being spilled to U.S. officials by Abdulmutallab is the role played by radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. An American citizen, Awlaki is now residing in Yemen and is suspected of playing a crucial role in recent acts of terrorism. According to the CBS report:
"Al-Awalki appears to be in a leadership role when it comes to directing terrorist operations and selecting targets for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula."
Awlaki has previously been tied to the September 11th attacks and the shooting by Major Nidal Hassan at Fort Hood. Now, according to Abdulmutallab, the cleric directed the failed Christmas day attack.
According to U.S. counter-terrorism officials, not only is Abdulmutallab cooperating, but he may be providing actionable intelligence to locate and capture Awlaki and other members of al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. Other news reports indicate President Obama has approved military action to target Awlaki if the opportunity arises. During a House Intelligence Committee hearing Wednesday, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said an American citizen can be targeted if it is determined he threatens the security of the United States.