A powerful U.S. born al-Qaida cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, has been killed in Yemen, in what was most likely a drone strike. Yemen’s Defense Ministry confirmed his death in a statement Friday.
According to Yemeni officials and local tribal leaders, he was killed in an airstrike that they believed was carried out by Americans.
A U.S. official, who confirmed Awlaki’s death, has not specified exactly how the al-Qaida leader was killed The Wall Street Journal wrote.
However, Fox News reported that two U.S. predator drones fired Hellfire missiles, which killed the extremist.
Awlaki was a member of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and is the most prominent al-Qaida leader that has been slain since Osama bin Laden was killed last March.
AQAP has lost its ideological leader, which is a huge blow," a former intelligence official who has tracked al-Awlaki for years told Fox.
Awlaki was near the top of the U.S. terror hit list and his death represents a large setback for al Qaida. He has been directly linked to two terror attacks plotted in the U.S.
Awlaki was in direct correspondence with Nidal Hasan, the crazed Fort Hood attacker that killed 13 people at a Texas army base. He was also instrumental in plotting a foiled attack on a U.S. airliner the same year.
Anwar al-Awlaki was born in New Mexico to parents from Yemen. He moved back to Yemen as a child but returned to the U.S. to study civil engineering at Colorado State University.
He also studied education at San Diego State University and did doctoral work at George Washington University.
Awlaki utilized his fluent English and modern education to reach out to extremists in the West via the Internet.
The Internet has proved to be a powerful tool in recruiting extremists across the western world.
Only yesterday, a Massachusetts man, Rezwan Ferdaus, was arrested for plotting to attack the Pentagon. According to the federal affidavit, the Northeastern University educated Ferdaus was influenced by jihadist websites and videos.
Also, last March, a young Kosovo Albanian man raised in Germany killed two U.S. airmen at Germany’s Frankfort airport. Uka admitted he carried out the attacks after being inspired by radical Islamic propaganda online.