By then al-Awlaki had begun orchestrating a potentially much more deadly plot against the United States. In the late summer and fall of 2009 he recruited a young Nigerian for the mission, according to sources who were close to al-Awlaki at the time. Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab had come to Yemen in the hope of meeting the cleric.
According to U.S. court documents, when the two met they discussed martyrdom and jihad for three days. By the end of that time, the young Nigerian told the cleric he was ready for any mission, martyrdom included.
Weeks later, on Christmas Day 2009, AbdulMutallab came close to destroying Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on its final descent into Detroit with an explosive device hidden in his underwear. According to the U.S. government, al-Awlaki was intimately involved in planning the operation.
In the following months a new wave of plots emerged linked to the preaching of al-Awlaki. On May 1, 2010, Faisal Shahzad, an American-Pakistani recruited by the Pakistani Taliban, attempted to blow up a car bomb in New York's Times Square. Investigators later discovered that he had been inspired by al-Awlaki's preaching about violent jihad.
In October 2010, al-Awlaki was involved with a new attempt by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to blow up U.S.-bound aircraft by inserting explosive devices in printer cartridges destined for the United States. Investigators later described the hidden devices as very sophisticated and well camouflaged, and the plot was thwarted only thanks to a tip-off from Saudi intelligence. The bombs were intercepted while en route.
By 2011, Inspire magazine had a simple message for followers in the United States: Stay where you are and launch attacks at home. Its reach continued to grow around the world. CNN has established that the Dagestan wing of the Caucasus Emirate, a jihadist group fighting to create an Islamic state in the region, posted a Russian language translation of a 2012 issue on their website, along with videos of al-Awlaki.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev posted a link to a video by a local commander of the group -- Abu Dujana -- on his YouTube site after traveling to Dagestan in 2012.
Even in death al-Awlaki's influence has persisted. In May 2012 a posthumous article in his name was published in which he sought to justify biological and chemical attacks against the United States.
The magazine proclaimed: "We are still publishing America's worst nightmare. ... All of his students will follow his steps and this is how we win."