Just days after the US successful raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan resulting in his death, US drones attempted to kill the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.
Awlaki Born in USA: Turns to al Qaeda
US officials stated that the missile strike was unsuccessful, and Awlaki is still alive. Awlaki is a US citizen, born in the United States, who became a leader and prominent voice for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is the Yemeni branch of al Qaeda.
According to Yemeni officials two other al Qaeda members were killed in the action, which took place last Thursday in an obscure area of Yemen.
Drone Strike First in a Year
Thursday’s missile strike utilized a predator drone, a departure from the usual use of Tomahawk cruise missiles which are launched from Navy vessels more commonly used on strikes against targets in Yemen. This is the first admitted missile strike in Yemen in exactly one year, however. In May of 2010 US missiles accidentally killed one of president Saleh’s envoys by mistake. The drones which have flown over Yemen until now have all been unarmed.
Awlaki Inspiration for Global Terror
Despite the fact that Awlaki is a US citizen, the Obama administration authorized the CIA and the US military to kill Awlaki. Awlaki was born in New Mexico, but in 2004 he moved to Yemen. Faisal Shahzad admitted to having been inspired by Awlaki to bomb Times Square, and Major Nidal Hasan, the alleged Fort Hood killer, also exchanged emails with Awlaki. In January 2010 Awlaki said that he was in contact with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called “underwear bomber” who has been accused of attempting to explode a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day in 2009 flying from Amsterdam to Detroit.
This past September the government of Yemen said that they had converged on Awlaki in the town of Houta, but then later said that they had captured about 25 al Qaeda fighters in addition to a “vital terror headquarters.”