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Yemen - CIA drone Kills U.S.-Born Al-Qaeda Terrorist Who Inspired Times Sq Plot

Published on: October 1, 2011 08:14 PM
By: AP
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File - This October 2008 file photo by Muhammad ud-Deen shows Imam Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. Yemen's Defense Ministry said in a statement Friday Sept. 30, 2011 the U.S.-born al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki has been killed.  (AP Photo/Muhammad ud-Deen, File)   MANDATORY CREDIT  NO SALESFile - This October 2008 file photo by Muhammad ud-Deen shows Imam Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. Yemen's Defense Ministry said in a statement Friday Sept. 30, 2011 the U.S.-born al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki has been killed.  (AP Photo/Muhammad ud-Deen, File)  MANDATORY CREDIT NO SALES

Yemen - The same U.S. military unit that got Osama bin Laden used a drone and jet strike in Yemen on Friday to kill an American-born cleric suspected of inspiring or helping plan numerous attacks on the United States, including the Christmas 2009 attempt to blow up a jetliner, U.S. and Yemeni officials said.

Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in a strike on his convoy directed by the CIA and carried out with the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command’s firepower, according to a counterterrorism official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence.

The cleric known for fiery anti-American rhetoric spread on the Internet was suspected of inspiring the mass shooting at Fort Hood Army base in Texas in 2009 and of taking a more direct role in planning the attempted Christmas bombing of a Detroit-bound jetliner and other terror attempts against Americans.

He is the most prominent al-Qaida figure to be killed since bin Laden’s death in May.

U.S. word of al-Awlaki’s death came after the government of Yemen reported that he had been killed Friday about five miles from the town of Khashef, some 87 miles (140 kilometers) from the capital Sanaa.

The air strike was carried out more openly than the covert operation that sent Navy SEALs into bin Laden’s Pakastani compound, U.S. officials said.

Counterterrorism cooperation between the United States and Yemen has improved in recent weeks, allowing better intelligence-gathering on al-Awlaki’s movements, U.S. officials said. The ability to better track him was a key factor in the success of the strike, U.S. officials said. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

Al-Awlaki’s death is the latest in a run of high-profile kills for Washington under President Barack Obama. But the killing raises questions that the death of other al-Qaida leaders, including bin Laden, did not.

Al-Awlaki is a U.S. citizen, born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents, who had not been charged with any crime. Civil liberties groups have questioned the government’s authority to kill an American without trial.

U.S. officials have said they believe al-Awlaki inspired the actions of Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the attack at Fort Hood, Texas.

In New York, the Pakistani-American man who pleaded guilty to the May 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt said he was “inspired” by al-Awlaki after making contact over the Internet.

Al-Awlaki also is believed to have had a hand in mail bombs addressed to Chicago-area synagogues, packages intercepted in Dubai and Europe in October 2010.

Al-Awlaki’s death “will especially impact the group’s ability to recruit, inspire and raise funds as al-Awlaki’s influence and ability to connect to a broad demographic of potential supporters was unprecedented,” said terrorist analyst Ben Venzke of the private intelligence monitoring firm, the IntelCenter.

But Venzke said the terror group al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsula will remain the most dangerous regional arm “both in its region and for the direct threat it poses to the U.S. following three recent failed attacks,” with its leader Nasir al-Wahayshi still at large.

Al-Awlaki wrote an article in the latest issue of the terror group’s magazine justifying attacking civilians in the West. It’s titled “Targeting the Populations of Countries that Are at War with the Muslims.”

Al-Awlaki served as imam at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Va., a Washington suburb, for about a year in 2001.

The mosque’s outreach director, Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, has said that mosque members never saw al-Awlaki espousing radical ideology while he was there and that he believes Awlaki’s views changed after he left the U.S.


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Read Comments (4)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Oct 01, 2011 at 09:54 PM Anonymous Says:

We are taught not to gloat over the death of our enemies. However, I hope that the next successful target is Dr. Ayman Al Zawahiri (the protege of Bin Ladin), Y'mach Shimo Zivracha!

2

 Oct 02, 2011 at 10:00 AM Anon Ibid Opcit Says:

A sign of just how far America has sunk. The government has decided it has the power to kill anyone, anywhere, at any time without any sort of due process or trial. They just have to say "We've decided we want to kill him. If you object you're the next to die."

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 Oct 02, 2011 at 11:30 AM Anonymous Says:

Good ridance. Freedom sings. Liberty smiles today. Good for America. Good for righteousness and prosperity. Given a trial, we would need to capture him, extradite him and keep him safe for who knows how long. This is a provision that I believe our nation needs to employ in certain situations and clearly this was one of those situations.

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 Oct 02, 2011 at 08:26 PM SherryTheNoahide Says:

I'm proud of our President! He has kept this country the safest it's ever been in a while now, when it comes to terror . All agencies (FBI, CIA, Homeland Security, etc.), are highly connected in ways that the Bush Administration had started... but that the Obama Administration has perfected.

I've read countless articles about how efficient & on point our President has been when it's come to foreign affairs, despite the fact that his detractors are CONSTANTLY belching out nonsense about him "not being a leader" & blah, etc. blah. (lol)

Well I'm sick of it & I know other progressives are too! We're sick & tired of the mantra that Democratic Presidents don't keep this country safe, and\or that President Obama isn't strong on terror or a friend enough to Israel!

He certainly has no problems taking out some of Israel's worst of the worst enemies around the globe! That's for sure! (lol)

I feel safe with him as President & I hope he continues to toughen up on domestic issues here at home too, quite frankly!

I voted for a **Democrat** after all! And this country could certainly use another Roosevelt again!

Not another know-nothing cowboy... or a Macy's store mannequin!

Obama 2012

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