Obama Hails Death of Radical US-born Cleric in Yemen

Posted October 1st, 2011 at 6:15 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama has hailed the killing of radical U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki as a significant milestone in the fight against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

Awlaki was killed early Friday, along with several other militants, in a suspected CIA drone strike in eastern Yemen.

Mr. Obama said the U.S.-born cleric was responsible for planning and directing efforts to kill innocent Americans. He said the death of Awlaki is a major blow to al-Qaida's most active operational affiliate. The president also acknowledged Yemen for their cooperation in the killing.

Western news organizations quote U.S. officials as saying the raid was coordinated by the CIA and led by U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, the counterterrorism unit that led the May operation that killed Osama bin Laden.

Several other militants were also killed in the operation, including Samir Khan, the American editor of an al-Qaida magazine.

Awlaki was wanted by both the U.S. and Yemen for his suspected role in terrorist attacks. A senior U.S. defense official said that over the years, Awlaki had become an operational figure who was increasingly focused on launching attacks against the U.S. and its allies.

Those attacks included the December 2009 attempted bombing of a U.S. airliner en route to the U.S. city of Detroit. Authorities believe Awlaki advised the suspected bomber, Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

A month earlier, Awlaki played a role in a deadly attack at a U.S. military base in the U.S. state of Texas. Investigators say Awlaki was a spiritual advisor to U.S. Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who is accused of killing 13 people in the attack.