Tuesday, June 29, 2010

CIA Director: American-Born Cleric Linked to Terror Plots Has 'Declared War' on U.S.

CIA Director Leon Panetta said Sunday that the American-born cleric tied to several recent terror plots on U.S. soil has "declared war" on the United States and will be treated as a terrorist despite his U.S. citizenship.

Panetta denied claims that Anwar al-Awlaki is on an "assassination list," but said al-Awlaki -- who is believed to be hiding in Yemen and taking on an operational terrorist role -- is engaged in a campaign to encourage attacks on the United States.

"We have a terrorist list and he's on it," Panetta said.

Speaking with ABC's "This Week," Panetta affirmed that several terror plots can be traced back to the radical cleric, who last month called for the killing of American civilians in a video released by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

"Awlaki is a terrorist who has declared war on the United States. Everything he's doing now is to try to encourage others to attack this country -- there's a whole stream of intelligence that goes back to Awlaki and his continuous urging of others to attack this country in some way," Panetta said. "Awlaki is a terrorist and, yes, he's a U.S. citizen, but he is first and foremost a terrorist and we're going to treat him like a terrorist."

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