CAIRO - In an audio-taped message, an American-born imam called U.S. Muslims to jihad ("holy" war) against America.
In heavily accented English, Anwar al-Awlaki, born in New Mexico to Yemini parents, said every Muslim must eventually decide, as he did, to obey Islam's call for jihad against America.
"I eventually came to the conclusion that jihad against America is binding upon myself just as it is binding on every other Muslim," al-Awaki said.
CNN aired excerpts of his latest message on Wednesday.
"To the Muslims in America I have this to say: how can your conscience call you to live in peaceful coexistence with a nation responsible for the tyranny and crimes against your own brothers and sisters? How can you have loyalty to a government leading the war against Islam and Muslims?" he asked.
Al-Awlaki, who is believed to be in hiding in Yemin, was in close e-mail contact with Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, indicted for shooting down 13 soldiers at the Ft. Hood Army base in Texas this past November. He may also have contacted Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the "Christmas Day bomber," sent to blow up a passenger Northwest airliner on its approach to the Detroit airport.
"Our brother, Umar Farouk, has succeeded in breaking through the security systems that have cost the U.S. government alone over $40 billion since 9/11," al-Awlaki said in an excerpt provided by the SITE Intelligence, a group that monitors Islamic Web sites.
Key Al Qaeda Leader Killed
Meanwhile, U.S. officials say the man suspected of masterminding an attack on a CIA base in Afghanistan is dead.
Hussein al Yemeni, a top al Qaeda planner and explosives expert, was reportedly killed in a U.S. missile strike in the Miran Shah area of Pakistan on Wednesday.
He is believed to have plotted the bombing that killed seven CIA employees last December.
"Al-Yemeni would be the latest victory in a systematic campaign that has pounded al Qaeda and its allies, depriving them of leaders, plotters, and fighters," a U.S. counterterrorism official told CNN. "For them, there can be neither safety nor rest."
In the past two years, U.S. government intelligence agencies have identified more than a dozen American Muslims actively pursuing jihad.