awlaki al qaeda 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
US President Barack Obama said on Friday the killing
in Yemen of Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born cleric, was "another significant
milestone" in efforts to defeat al-Qaida and its allies.
Analysis: The US goes after epicenter of al-Qaida’s online network
Al-Awlaki advocates killing in new video
is further proof that al-Qaida and its affiliates will have no safe
haven anywhere in the world," Obama said, adding that Awlaki's death was
a result of the government of Yemen joining international efforts
against the militants.
identified by US intelligence as "chief of external operations" for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, was killed in a CIA drone attack in a
remote Yemeni town, US officials said.
"The terrorist Anwar
al-Awlaki has been killed along with some of his companions," Yemen's
Defense Ministry said in a statement sent by text message to journalists
earlier Friday, but gave no details.
A Yemeni security official said Awlaki, who is of Yemeni descent,
was hit in a Friday morning air raid in the northern al-Jawf province
that borders oil giant Saudi Arabia. He said four others killed with him
were suspected al-Qaida members.
Awlaki had been implicated in a botched attempt by AQAP to bomb a
US-bound plane in 2009 and had contacts with a US Army psychiatrist who
killed 13 people at a US military base the same year.
US authorities have branded him a "global terrorist" and last year
authorized his capture or killing, but Sanaa had previously appeared
reluctant to act against him.
Eloquent in English and Arabic, Awlaki encouraged attacks on the United
States and was seen as a man who could draw in more al-Qaida recruits
from Western countries.
Yemen has been mired in turmoil after eight months of mass protests
demanding an end to Saleh's 33-year rule. International powers have
feared the unrest has emboldened AQAP. Militants with suspected links to
the group have seized towns in a southern coastal province near a
strategic shipping lane.
One analyst said Awlaki's killing would be more of a boon to Yemeni
President Ali Abdullah Saleh than a loss for AQAP, seen as one of
al-Qaida's most aggressive and dynamic wings.
"For AQAP, these franchises are usually resilient. There are other
capable leaders in AQAP who can fill his shoes," said Theodore Karasik,
security analyst for the Dubai based INEGMA group. "It's a short step
backwards which will likely result in more assertion in the future, for
the revenge of his martydom."
However, Awlaki, if his death is confirmed, may not be so easy for AQAP
to replace. He may not be a very senior Islamic cleric, nor is he AQAP's
leader - that is Nasser al-Wuhayshi - but he ranks as its most gifted
English-language propagandist. Britain's intelligence chief John
Sawers singled him out as a major threat with a global appeal in a
speech last October.
"From his remote base in Yemen, al-Qaida leader and US national Anwar
al-Awlaki broadcasts propaganda and terrorist instruction in fluent
English, over the Internet," he said.