Officials Trying to Make Paris Attack About Anwar Awlaki

It’s hard to believe, but the story surrounding the Paris satirical magazine attack has gotten even more convoluted, with reports that one of the gunmen involved with the attack met with US cleric Anwar Awlaki in Yemen.

Awlaki was the first US citizen assassinated back in 2011 by the Obama Administration under its “kill list,” and his son was also assassinated shortly thereafter. An influential cleric on the Internet, officials blamed him for the rise of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) on the grounds that his rhetoric was being used as a recruitment tool.

Now the speculation is that Awlaki may have “inspired” the attack, or potentially even “ordered” the attacks before he died, almost four years ago.

There’s nothing really grounding this speculation in reality, and it seems to rest on the fact that intelligence officials can’t place the gunman with any actual AQAP people, but do believe he met Awlaki.

Yet as a hugely influential cleric from the West, it’s unsurprising that a Westerner traveling to Yemen for religious studies would have an opportunity to meet him while there, and well short of evidence of an attack on a French magazine being four years in the making, and planned essentially from beyond the grave.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of