The New York Times reports: For more than five years now, as Western terrorism investigators have searched for critical influences behind the latest jihadist plot, one name has surfaced again and again.
In the failed attack on an airliner over Detroit in 2009, the stabbing of a British member of Parliament in London in 2010, the lethal bombing of the Boston Marathon in 2013 and now the machine-gunning of cartoonists and police officers in Paris, Anwar al-Awlaki has proved to be a sinister and durable inspiration.
Two of those four attacks took place after Mr. Awlaki, the silver-tongued, American-born imam who joined Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, was killed by a C.I.A. drone strike in September 2011.
In the age of YouTube, Mr. Awlaki’s death — or martyrdom, in the view of his followers — has hardly reduced his impact. The Internet magazine Inspire, which he oversaw along with another American, Samir Khan, has continued to spread not just militant rhetoric but also practical instructions on shooting and bomb-making.
Times reporters and editors are providing live updates from the march in Paris that comes in the wake of the attacks on a satirical newspaper and a kosher grocery last week.
In effect, Mr. Awlaki has become a leading brand name in the world of armed jihad. [Continue reading…]