Shahzad linked to militant cleric

NY plot: Suspect inspired by online lectures

Shahzad linked to militant cleric

The would-be bomber, Faisal Shahzad, was inspired by the violent rhetoric of Awlaki, said the official. “He listened to him, and he did it,” the official said, referring to Saturday’s attempted bombing on a busy street in Times Square.

Friends of Shahzad have said he became more religious and sombre in the last year or so, and asked his father’s permission in 2009 to join the fight in Afghanistan against American and Nato forces. Investigators believe he was trained by the Pakistani Taliban, a militant group that previously focused mainly on Pakistani government targets.

A military official said that Shahzad has told interrogators that he met Pakistani Taliban operatives in North Waziristan in December and January. Later he received explosives training from the same operatives.

Counterterrorism officials want to know how Shahzad, a naturalised American citizen who had earned an MBA, married and had children and worked in several corporate jobs, came to embrace violence.

It is no surprise to find that an accused terrorist had been influenced by Awlaki, 39, now hiding in Yemen, who has emerged as perhaps the most prominent English-speaking advocate of violent jihad against the United States.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration took the extraordinary step of authorising the killing of Awlaki, making him the first American citizen on the Central Intelligence Agency’s hit list.

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