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After the failed Christmas Day plot, U.S. and Yemeni officials said they learned that al-Awlaki had met with Mr. Abdulmutallab in Yemen.

In an interview with a Yemeni freelance journalist, posted on Al Jazeera television’s Web site earlier this month, al-Awlaki described Mr. Abdulmutallab as “one of my students” but said he did not encourage the attack.