WASHINGTON -- Some U.S. intelligence officials believe al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki is now the world's most influential Islamic terrorist, surpassing even Osama bin Laden.
In recent months, al-Alwaki's jihadi "street cred" has risen to new levels.
He exchanged e-mails with Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hassan and mentored Christmas Day "underwear bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. He also reportedly served as the inspiration for Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad.
For more on this investigation, Pat Robertson spoke with CBN News Terrorism Analyst Erick Stakelbeck on the Wednesday, June 2 edition of The 700 Club. Click play to watch the interview.
U.S. officials want al-Awlaki taken out.
They missed that chance just a few years back, when al-Awlaki was imam of the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C.
Al-Awlaki has since fled to Yemen. But a CBN News investigation has revealed that the al Qaeda cleric's presence is still being felt in the leafy suburb of Falls Church, just minutes from the nation's capital.
The Last Place You'd Look
It seems like the last place you'd find CDs and DVDs by al Awlaki. But that's exactly what CBN News found during a recent visit to Halalco, a Muslim supermarket in Falls Church.
Halalco is the largest store of its kind in the Washington, D.C. area.
In addition to halal meat, the store carries a large selection of Islamic books, recordings and clothing.
In an exclusive investigation, CBN News discovered that Halalco was also selling CDs and DVDs by none other than al-Awlaki.
In the store, was a display devoted entirely to al-Awlaki's works just one day after he released a video calling for the killing of U.S. civilians.
When Halaco's management was asked for comment, CBN News was told to come back the following day to speak with store owner Abdul Mateen Chida.
The next day, the al-Awlaki display was gone. CBN News asked Chida about the sudden change.
"We have removed them now," he replied.
When asked whether the display would still be up had CBN News never inquired about it, Chida answered, "…it is possible."
Anti-Semitic Materials for Sale
Chida told CBN News the Awlaki display contained no violent materials. He says he was just trying to sell them off and make some money.
"I don't agree with him at all," Chida said. "But his lectures that he had earlier were excellent--they were very good sellers. And there is nothing in this one which would you can say is terrorist material."
Former federal terrorism prosecutor Andrew McCarthy told CBN News that doesn't always matter.
"I prosecuted a guy a number of years ago named the Blind Sheikh whose commands to violence were usually couched in sometimes lengthy sermons," explained McCarthy, whose new book is called The Grand Jihad. "So when somebody says to you, 'not to worry, he's just talking about the prophet (Mohammed),' that's when you should start to worry."
CBN News purchased additional materials at Halalco, including notorious anti-Semitic works like The Protocols of Zion and The International Jew and a book by Muslim Brotherhood leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has voiced support for Iraqi insurgents and suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.
CBN News also found copies of a book written by convicted terrorist Abu Hamza al-Masri. Chida said he did not know that al-Masri was a convicted terrorist. He said he is unaware of the contents of his books and orders them based on their titles.
Chida was asked if young Muslims could be inspired to commit violence by some of the materials sold at Halalco.
"Those things, no one can control," he answered.
Protected by the First Amendent
As for al-Awlaki, CBN News also found his materials for sale at Amazon.com.
The online bookselling giant did not respond to a request for comment.
However, a spokesperson from the FBI's Washington, D.C. field office told CBN News that al-Awlaki's recordings are protected under the First Amendment.