A radical Muslim cleric tied to the Fort Hood shooting suspect can be heard taunting President Obama, applauding the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas and clearly acknowledging a relationship with Maj. Nidal Hasan, in a newly released audiotape obtained by Fox News.
The cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, used the tape to go on a tirade against U.S. foreign policy but aimed several of his comments directly at Obama.
Hasan, the alleged Fort Hood shooter, is known to have exchanged e-mails with al-Awlaki. In the tape, the cleric appeared to call on the Obama administration to release those messages and suggested the president was shielding the public from information about Hasan’s background.
“Obama has promised that his administration will be one of transparency, but he has not fulfilled his promise. His administration tried to portray the operation of brother Nidal Hasan as an individual act of violence from an estranged individual,” he said. “The administration practiced to control on the leak of information concerning the operation in order to cushion the reaction of the American public. Until this moment the administration is refusing to release the e-mails exchanged between myself and Nidal.”
Senior U.S. officials told Fox News they believe the tape was made a month ago and that al-Awlaki is desperate to get his message out — apparently by way of American media.
Forensic audio analyst Frank Piazza said “reverb or echo” was added to the soundtrack to create the “effect of being in a large theater.”
In the tape, al-Awlaki repeatedly suggested the Obama administration is trying to portray such attacks as isolated incidents. On Maj. Hasan, who is charged with killing 13 people last November, al-Awlaki said the suspected shooter was inspired to kill by U.S. “foreign policy,” though not as part of an organized terror plot.
“Nidal Hasan was not recruited by Al Qaeda. Nidal Hasan was recruited by American crimes, and this is what America refuses to admit,” he said.
The cleric went on to applaud Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the alleged “underwear bomber” charged with trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day.
“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,” he said, suggesting the Obama administration tried once again with Abdulmutallab to cover up his background. “And after the operation of our brother Umar Farouk, the initial comments coming from the administration were looking the same — another attempt at covering up the truth. But Al Qaeda cut off Obama from deceiving the world again by issuing their statement claiming responsibility for the operation.”
He also suggested economic problems would tie Obama’s hands in going after jihadists.
“How can (the United States) win with Obama, who’s on a short leash? If America failed to win when it was at its pinnacle of economic strength, how can it win today with a recession at hand?” he said.
Considered a high-value target, the cleric — an American — is believed to be hiding somewhere in Yemen, protected by his complex tribal roots.
Former CIA official Charlie Allen called the cleric an “extraordinarily dangerous individual” with the power to win dangerous followers.
“He can do it virtually. He doesn’t do it face to face,” he said.
Fox News’ Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.