Anwar al-Awlaki: Obama hails al-Qaeda death in Yemen
Barack Obama said the death was a “significant milestone” in the fight against al-Qaeda
30 September 2011 Last updated at 18:25
US President Barack Obama has said the death of US-born al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki is a “major blow” to the organisation.
Awlaki was killed by a US drone strike in the Jawf province of Yemen, along with several of his associates.
He is believed to have taken a leading role in a number of attempts to attack the US, including plots to blow up US airliners.
Awlaki, who is of Yemeni descent, has been on the run in Yemen since 2007.
Mr Obama said that as a leading figure in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Awlaki had taken the lead in “planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans” and was also “directly responsible for the death of many Yemeni citizens”.
The death “marks another significant milestone in the broader effort to defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates”, he said.
He also paid tribute to the work of both the US intelligence agencies and Yemeni security officials who had co-operated on the killing.
“This is further proof that al-Qaeda and its affiliates will find no safe haven anywhere in the world,” he said, but warned that AQAP “remains a dangerous though weakened terrorist organisation”.
In a brief statement on Friday, Yemen’s defence ministry statement said Awlaki had been killed in Khashef in Jawf about 140km (87 miles) east of the capital, Sanaa, “along with some of his companions”.
US and Yemeni officials later named one of those as Samir Khan, also a US citizen but of Pakistani origin, who produced an online magazine promoting al-Qaeda’s ideology.
US officials said Awlaki’s convoy was hit by a US drone and jet strike.
BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera says the killing is significant because Awlaki’s use of modern media meant he was able to reach out and inspire people susceptible to radicalisation.
He is accused of
recruiting and preparing Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man who tried but failed to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009
overseeing a failed plot to blow up two US-bound cargo planes in 2010 with explosives hidden in printer cartridges
encouraging US Maj Nidal Malik Hasan to carry out the 2009 US army base killings in Fort Hood, Texas which killed 13 people
inspiring the man who carried out a failed bombing in New York’s Times Square in 2010
inspired a British women to stab her MP Stephen Timms over his support for the war in Iraq
plotting to use poisons including cyanide and ricin in attacks
repeatedly called for the killing of Americans, saying in a 2010 video online that they were from the “party of devils”
Mr Obama is said to have personally ordered Awlaki’s killing in 2010, but the al-Qaeda leader has survived several attempts on his life.
Late last year, he survived an air strike in Shabwa province in which at least 30 militants were killed. He was also the target of a US drone attack on 5 May which killed two al-Qaeda operatives in southern Yemen.
The death comes amid concerns in Washington about the impact of Yemen’s political crisis on its ability to tackle al-Qaeda militants.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh is facing a widespread protest movement, along with an armed insurrection by renegade army units and tribal fighters.
Mr Saleh, who was injured three months ago when his residence was shelled, returned last week after treatment in Saudi Arabia.
In an interview published on Thursday, he said he would not stand down, as promised in a deal brokered by Gulf States, if his opponents are allowed to stand in elections to succeed him.