The Nigerian accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner had his suicide mission personally blessed in Yemen by Anwar al-Awlaki, the Muslim imam suspected of radicalizing the Fort Hood shooting suspect, a U.S. intelligence source has told The Washington Times.
The intelligence official, who is familiar with the FBI's interrogation of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, said the bombing suspect has boasted of his jihad training to the FBI and has said it included final exhortations by al-Awlaki.
"It was Awlaki who indoctrinated him," the official said. "He was told, 'You are going to be the tip of the spear of the Muslim nation.'"
Al-Awlaki, an American-born imam who once led a large Northern Virginia mosque but now lives in Yemen, has gained notoriety in recent months because of his influence on Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S.-born Muslim accused of killing 13 people at the Texas military base.
Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the top Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said he has learned of personal ties between Abdulmutallab and al-Awlaki, though he said he could neither confirm nor deny that the two men had been in the same Yemeni prayer room.
"From what I've heard, the relationship would have been closer than what Awlaki had with Hasan," Hoekstra told The Times. "He trusted [Abdulmutallab] more."