Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Transfer Of Power | Racial Justice

Ex-San Diego Cleric And Al-Qaida Leader Tied to Paris Terrorists

Photo caption:

Photo credit: AP Photo / SITE Intelligence Group

In this image taken from video and released by SITE Intelligence Group on Monday, Nov. 8, 2010, Anwar al-Awlaki speaks in a video message posted on radical websites. Al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born radical Yemeni cleric who attended San Diego State University, was killed in a U.S. drone attack in September 2011.

One of the suspects in this week’s massacre in Paris claimed ties to former San Diego imam and al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki , who was killed by U.S. forces in September 2011.

Before suspected Paris shooter Chérif Kouachi and his brother were killed by police, he told a French TV station they had been financed by al-Awlaki in Yemen. Reuters has quoted a Yemeni source confirming Chérif Kouachi's brother, Said, met with al-Awlaki before the latter was killed in a U.S. drone strike.

Al-Awlaki was an imam for four years at a La Mesa mosque where authorities say he met regularly with two of the 9/11 hijackers who lived for a time in San Diego. In 1999, he also enrolled in a master’s degree program in educational leadership at San Diego State University.

Another former San Diegan, Jehad Mostafa, is on the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list. He is believed to have met with al-Awlaki in Yemen several years ago before leaving to fight for the terrorist group al-Shabab in Somalia.

FEATURED PODCAST

San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Photo of Amita Sharma

Amita Sharma
Investigative Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs an investigative reporter for KPBS, I've helped expose political scandals and dug into intractable issues like sex trafficking. I've raised tough questions about how government treats foster kids. I've spotlighted the problem of pollution in poor neighborhoods. And I've chronicled corporate mistakes and how the public sometimes ends up paying for them.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.