(CNN) – The director of the National Counterterrorism Center says the U.S. government believes that U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki had “a direct operational role” in the attempt to bring down an airliner bound for Detroit, Michigan, on Christmas Day.
Al-Awlaki is thought to be in Yemen. U.S. officials have said he had contact with Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, who tried to ignite a bomb concealed in his underwear aboard the Northwest Airlines flight.
Speaking to the Aspen Security Forum on Wednesday, Michael Leiter did not confirm that al-Awlaki is on a CIA hit list, but told the seminar, “If someone like Anwar al-Awlaki is responsible for part of an operation to try to kill more than 300 people over the city of Detroit, I think it would be wholly irresponsible for individuals like me, or (CIA Director) Leon Panetta, for Secretary (of Defense Robert) Gates and ultimately the president, not to at least think about and potentially direct all elements of national power to try to defend the American people. I think that is what the American people expect.” Read entire article