American-born al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki has been killed today in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen.
According to news reports, the strike was carried out by the CIA and led by U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, a counterterrorism unit that also led the killing of Osama bin Laden in May.
Muslim cleric Awlaki was the first American on CIA’s kill or capture list.
President Obama said, “This is a major blow to al-Qaida's most active operational affiliate. Al-Awlaki took the lead in the planning of efforts to murder Americans. He repeatedly called on people around the world to kill innocent men, women and children.”
He continued: “He directed the failed attempt to blow up an airplane on Christmas Day in 2009. He directed the failed attempt to blow up U.S. cargo planes in 2010. And he repeatedly called on individuals in the United States and around the globe to kill innocent men, women and children to advance a murderous agenda.”
The President said, “It marks another significant milestone in the broader effort to defeat al-Qaida.”
Awlaki, who was riding in a convoy in eastern Yemen when he was killed, was wanted by the U.S. and Yemen for his suspected role in terrorist attacks.
Authorities believe he was involved in assisting terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab with the attempted bombing of a U.S. airliner in December 2009. He is also suspected of being involved in advising U.S. Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who carried out a deadly attack that killed 13 people at a U.S. military base.