THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Cleric calls Arab unrest a boon for Al Qaeda

By Maamoun Youssef
Associated Press / April 1, 2011

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CAIRO — A Yemeni cleric contends that violent Islamist groups will be able to take advantage of the Arab world’s wave of popular unrest, even if it leads to secular governments in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and other countries.

Anwar al-Awlaki, who was born in the United States and who has been accused of fomenting anti-American fervor among militants, writes in a new edition of Al Qaeda’s online magazine that any new governments will be weaker than the regimes they are replacing and that will create opportunities for Al Qaeda and its allies to operate with more freedom.

“Even if the upcoming governments wanted to continue with a policy of appeasing the West and Israel, they would not have the strength and depth of power that the previous governments had developed over the past three decades,’’ Awlaki writes in the English-language article.

Western analysts and government officials have described the overthrow of the Western-allied presidents of Tunisia and Egypt by ideologically moderate uprisings as blows to the violent ideology of militant groups.

Awlaki writes that such statements by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates “prove that either the intelligence reports these guys are reading are misleading or that they are trying to justify the stance that they are forced to take in support of the Arab masses.’’

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