The New York Times has a profile of Anwar al-Awlaki, the extremist cleric whose influence was cited in the Times Square, Fort Hood and Christmas day attacks, has many revelations to recommend it. Among them — the fact he got probation for soliciting prostitutes. From the New York Times:
“America as a whole has turned into a nation of evil,” he said in a statement posted on extremist Web sites in March. Though he had spent 21 of his 39 years in the United States, he added, “I eventually came to the conclusion that jihad against America is binding upon myself, just as it is binding on every other able Muslim.”
His mix of scripture and vitriol has helped lure young Muslims into a dozen plots. He cheered on the Fort Hood gunman and had a role in prompting the attempted airliner bombing on Dec. 25, intelligence officials say. And last week, Faisal Shahzad, who is charged in the attempted bombing in Times Square, told investigators that Mr. Awlaki’s prolific online lectures urging jihad as a religious duty helped inspire him to act.
The tale that emerges from visits to his mosques, and interviews with two dozen people who knew him, is more complex and elusive. A product both of Yemen’s deeply conservative religious culture and freewheeling American ways, he hesitated to shake hands with women but patronized prostitutes.
Like many an evangelical Christian pastor, Mr. Awlaki preached against vice and sin, lauded family values and parsed the scripture, winning fans and rising to successively larger mosques.
In his private life, he was not always puritanical. Even as he preached about the sanctity of marriage amid the temptations of American life (“especially in Western societies, every haram is available,” he said, using the Arabic word for the forbidden), he was picked up twice by the San Diego police for soliciting prostitutes; he was given probation.