Anwar al Awlaki, an American-born Muslim preacher who became among the world's most wanted terrorist figures, was killed in Yemen, the Yemeni Defense Ministry announced Friday.
In a statement, the government said Awlaki was "targeted and killed" about 90 miles east of Sanaa, the Yemeni capital. The "operation" was launched at around 9:55 a.m. local time, the statement said. It provided no other details, and it was uncertain whether Yemeni or American forces carried out the attack, which the Defense Ministry said also killed several of Awlaki's body guards.
A senior official in Washington confirmed the death.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., the chairman of the House Homeland Security committee, called Awlaki's death "a great success in our fight against al Qaida and its affiliates."
"The killing of al Awlaki is a tremendous tribute to President Obama and the men and women of our intelligence community," he said.
There was no immediate reaction from the White House. President Barack Obama last year authorized the killing of Awlaki in an executive order. Awlaki is the only American citizen known to have been subject to such authorization.
Born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents, Awlaki was considered the public face of Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninusla, the Yemeni affiliate of the terrorist network, though his role as a terrorist leader is sharply disputed, with many analysts suggesting that his greatest contribution was inspirational, not operational.
Though he lacked substantial grounding in Islamic theology, Awlaki’s fluent English and technological savvy provided him with an audience few preachers could dream of.
Awlaki’s name is attached to at least four terror plots against American soil, most notably the November, 2009, shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas, that left 13 people dead. Major Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused in the shooting, had ...