Obama says strike is a ‘major blow to al-Qaida’s most active operational affiliate’
Anwar al-Awlaki was implicated in a botched attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound plane at Christmastime in 2009. (Photo credit: AFP / Getty Images)
NBC News, Reuters and The Associated Press via MSNBC.com
September 30, 2011
SANAA, Yemen — An American-born cleric killed in Yemen played a “significant operational role” in plotting and inspiring attacks on the United States, U.S. officials said, as they disclosed detailed intelligence to justify the killing of a U.S. citizen.
Anwar al-Awlaki was killed early Friday in a strike on his convoy carried out by a joint operation of the CIA and the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, according to counterterrorism officials. Al-Awlaki had been under observations for three weeks while they waited for the right opportunity to strike.
President Barack Obama said al-Awlaki’s death “is a major blow to al-Qaida’s most active operational affiliate” and that it “marks another significant milestone in the broader effort to defeat al-Qaida.” …
Following the strike, a U.S. official outlined new details of al-Awlaki’s involvement in anti-U.S. operations, including the attempted “underwear” bombing on Dec. 25, 2009 [Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab; link added], of a U.S.-bound aircraft. The official said al-Awlaki specifically directed the man accused of trying to bomb the Detroit-bound plane [link added] to detonate an explosive device over U.S. airspace to maximize casualties.
The official also said al-Awlaki had a direct role in supervising and directing a failed attempt to bring down two U.S. cargo aircraft by detonating explosives concealed inside two packages containing copier ink cartridges [link added] mailed to the U.S. The U.S. also believes Awlaki had sought to use poisons, including cyanide and ricin, to attack Westerners. …
Al-Awlaki is the most prominent al-Qaida figure to be killed since Osama bin Laden’s death [link added] in May. He was killed by the same U.S. military unit that got bin Laden.
Second American killed
Another U.S. official said a second American citizen died in the airstrike that killed al-Awlaki. Two other men also perished.
The second American, Samir Khan, edited the slick Western-style Internet publication Inspire Magazine that attracted many readers.
The online magazine published seven issues offering articles on making crude bombs and how to fire AK-47 assault rifles. U.S. intelligence officials have said that Khan — who was from North Carolina — was not directly responsible for targeting Americans. …
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 from the capital, Sanaa.
“We found his body in pieces,” said Abubakr al-Awlaki, a leader of the Awalik tribe, to which Awlaki belonged. …
Inspiration to jihadists?
Al-Awlaki was a U.S. citizen, born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents, who had not been charged with any crime. …
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 [link added], Texas. …
In New York, the Pakistani-American man who pleaded guilty [Faisal Shahzad; link added] to the May 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt [link added] 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 [link added], packages intercepted in Dubai and Europe in October 2010.
Intelligence officials also painted a picture of al-Awlaki contrary to his public persona, saying that he wasn’t the most pious of individuals and was said to be dating a Croatian stripper.
Awlaki was not a senior Islamic cleric, nor a commander of AQAP, which is led by a Yemeni named Nasir al-Wahayshi, but he played a key role [link added] in the group’s global outreach. …
Al-Awlaki wrote an article in the latest issue of the terror group’s magazine justifying attacking civilians in the West [link added]. It is titled “Targeting the Populations of Countries that Are at War with the Muslims.” …
Related reports on this site
Awlaki Escapes U.S. Drone Strike (May 7, 2011)
This Oct. 2008 file photo shows U.S.-born Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki, who has called on Muslims to kill American civilians. (Photo credit: Associated Press / Los Angeles Times)
Yemen Air-Freight Package Bombs (Nov. 6, 2010)
Al-Qaida’s Low-Intensity, High-Frequency Attack Strategy (Oct. 30, 2010)
A suspicious package contained a “manipulated” toner cartridge that had white powder on it, a law enforcement source said. (Photo credit: CNN)
New Post-9/11 Terrorist Strategy (Sept. 22, 2010)
Bomb Scare in Times Square (May 1, 2010)
Obama Opens Third War Front (Dec. 28, 2009)
Smoke billows from the U.S. Embassy complex in Sanaa, Yemen, after a deadly car bombing on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2008. (Photo credit: Yemen News Agency)
Yemen Link in Airline Terror Plot (Dec. 26, 2009)
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is seen in this undated handout, distributed by IntelCenter on December 28, 2009, and attributed to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. (Photo credit: IntelCenter — Handout / Reuters)
Obama Fires Missiles into Yemen (Dec. 19, 2009)
FROM THE ARCHIVES
One Year Ago — October 2, 2010
One year ago today, I reported that the U.S. State Department, responding to credible al-Qaida threats, issued a travel alert urging American citizens to be vigilant if they planned to travel in Europe. Officials did not identify specific targets, but thought terrorists might launch Mumbai-style “swarm attacks.”
Two Years Ago — October 2, 2009
Two years ago today, on October 2, 2009, I reported that U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, U.S. Fearmonger-in-Chief — as though vying for the title of “World’s Greatest Exaggerator” — made the histrionic claim that by fall 2010 “someone’s 13-year-old daughter could walk into a sex clinic, have a pregnancy test done, be taken away to the local Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, have their abortion, be back, and go home on the school bus that night … [with] Mom and Dad … never the wiser.”
Three Years Ago — October 2, 2008
Three years ago today, on October 2, 2008, I provided an update of key facts, figures, and statistics on Iraq since the war began in March 2003. I also reported on suicide bombings at two Shiite mosques in Baghdad that killed 24 people and wounded more than 50.
You must be logged in to post a comment.