U.S. President Barack Obama praised the assassination of Yemeni-American al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki Friday. A second American, Samir Khan, who edited an online magazine that was a propaganda vehicle for al-Qaida, was also killed in the strike, U.S. counterterrorism officials said.
A Yemeni security official said earlier Friday that al-Awlaki was hit in an air raid. A U.S. counterterrorism official later said that the military strike was a joint operation of the CIA and the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command. A U.S. drone aircraft targeted but missed Alwaki in May.
The killing of al-Awlaki, who was born in the United States, may mark the first time that a U.S. Commander in Chief has given a public order to the countrys security forces to premeditatedly kill one of its own citizens, without access to a trial or due process under American law.
Obama said that al-Awlaki was responsible for terrorist attacks against Americans. "He directed the failed attempt to blow up U.S. cargo planes in 2010, and he repeatedly called on individuals in the United States and around the globe to kill innocent men, women and children to advance a murderous agenda," said Obama.
The death of Awlaki is a major blow to Al Qaeda's most active operating affiliate. Awlaki was the leader of external operations of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Obama said. The death of Awlaki marks another significant milestone in the broader effort to defeat Al Qaeda and its affiliates.
This success is a tribute to our intelligence community, and Yemen, Obama added. Awlaki and his organization have been directly responsible for the deaths of many Yemeni citizens.