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50 People Who Matter 2011 | 37. Anwar al-Awlaki

New terrorist-in-chief.

With Osama Bin Laden dead, the US is turning its attention to the world's most dangerous remaining terrorists and foremost among them is Anwar al-Awlaki. The "spiritual leader" of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has been linked to the 2009 Fort Hood shootings, the "Underwear Bomber", the Times Square plot, several of the 11 September 2001 attackers and Roshonara Choudhry, who stabbed the Labour MP Stephen Timms. All were inspired by Awlaki's jihadist sermons, many of which remain on YouTube, despite the protests of the UK government. The global threat posed by Awlaki made him the first US citizen the CIA placed on its targeted assassination list. He is believed to be hiding in south-eastern Yemen, where he grew up. As long as he continues to elude death or capture, his relative youth (Awlaki is 40), eloquence and reach mean that he will fill at least part of the void left by Bin Laden.

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This article first appeared in the 26 September 2011 issue of the New Statesman, The fifty people who matter