Initial Coverage on AQAP-Driven Attacks on U.S. Soil
After Nidal Hasan’s shooting rampage at the Fort Hood U.S. army base on November 6, 2009, Al Jazeera carried a report focusing on “US Islamic groups [that] were bracing themselves for a public backlash against the faith.” “Muslim Groups Fear Backlash,” Al Jazeera English, November 6, 2009, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2009/11/2009116102644523243.html. The article quoted Salam al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, who said, “We are concerned about backlash against Muslim Americans, because the culprit happens to be of Arab and apparently Muslim background. As a result, there is probably going to be some scapegoating because of his background against the Muslim American community.” “Muslim Groups Fear Backlash,” Al Jazeera English, November 6, 2009, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2009/11/2009116102644523243.html.
Several days later, the network finally reported that U.S. intelligence agencies “first started investigating [Nidal] Hasan in December” 2008 because of his email contact with Anwar al-Awlaki. The article noted that al-Awlaki was the imam at the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls church, Virginia, “where Hasan worshipped until 2002,” and where “two 9/11 hijackers worshipped” as well. “Military to Try Fort Hood Suspect,” Al Jazeera English, November 10, 2009, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2009/11/2009111034348196436.html.
Two days after the Christmas Day Bomber incident, Al Jazeera English offered little detail about Abdulmutallab’s background, noting only that he was “reported to have claimed he was trained by al-Qaeda in Yemen,” and that Abdulmutallab “says that he got the equipment that he allegedly used as the flight was approaching Detroit from contacts in Yemen.” “US charges Plane Bombing Suspect,” Al Jazeera English, December 27, 2009, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2009/12/20091226204548241893.html. The next day, the network noted that while investigators were “probing any suspected links” to al-Qaeda, there was “no evidence to suggest any links to a wider plot.” The report cited U.S. then–Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, who said, “Right now, we have no indication that [the plot] is part of anything larger.” “Jet Bomb ‘Not Part of Larger Plot,’” Al Jazeera English, December 28, 2009, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2009/12/200912283820592544.html.
In covering the cargo plane bomb plot, Al Jazeera reported that Yemen had arrested a female engineering student suspected of mailing explosives from Sanaa to synagogues in Chicago, but the article did not explicitly connect her to al-Qaeda. The article did note that Yemeni authorities were “engaged in a hunt for al-Qaeda fighters in Yemen, where Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born Muslim religious leader, is named as being linked to the plot.” “Yemen Makes Bomb-Plot Arrest,” Al Jazeera English, October 31, 2010, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2010/10/2010103017926499781.html.