A radical Muslim preacher linked by U.S. intelligence to a gunman who killed 13 people at a U.S. Army base is an influential voice in English-language Internet forums increasingly used by militants unfamiliar with Arabic.
Anwar al-Awlaki, has spent years publishing anti-U.S. views sympathetic to al-Qaida to his English-language followers on the Internet, using blogs, video and audio lectures, a social networking site and lengthy articles.
While not a household name in the Arab world, Awlaki, in his 30s, has a following in the West, where governments suspect views like his may help to radicalize potential militants who do not understand Arabic, the main language of al-Qaida missives.
U.S. intelligence agencies learned that the alleged gunman, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, had contacts with Awlaki late last year and they relayed that information to authorities before he went on the shooting spree on Thursday, U.S. officials have said.
The spotlight on Awlaki, one of whose favorite themes is the minority status of Muslims in the West, intensified when he posted a blog praising the killings and calling Hasan “a hero.”
Awlaki’s Web site was closed down shortly afterwards.