Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born cleric linked to al-Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing, was killed in an air strike on Friday, Yemeni and U.S. officials said, removing a “global terrorist” high on a U.S. wanted list.
Officials say that the same counter-terrorism unit that killed Osama bin Laden used a drone and jet strike in Yemen to kill al-Awlaki.
The strike, which hit al-Awlaki’s convoy and reportedly also killed Al-Qaeda propoganda chief Samir Khan, was coordinated across three weeks by the CIA and carried out with the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command’s military assets.
“They were waiting for the right opportunity to get him away from any civilians,” a senior administration official told ABC News.
Born in New Mexico and educated in Colorado, al-Awlaki rose to prominence with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the network’s most active branch, and was a vocal preacher of jihad.
His online teachings have been cited as part of the motivation behind several attacks on the U.S. homeland — the Fort Hood attacks, the attempted bombing in New York’s Times Square, and the failed attempt to bring down an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009 all bore al-Awlaki’s fingerprints.
Al-Awlaki was also suspected of a role in the unsuccessful attempt to send mail bombs on planes from Yemen to Chicago-area synagogues last October.
Following news of Anwar’s takedown, Peter King, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, offered rare praise for President Obama (who authorized al-Awlaki’s killing last year), calling it a “great success in our fight against Al Qaeda.”