Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric linked to al Qaeda, was killed in a CIA drone strike in Yemen on Friday, U.S. officials said, removing a "global terrorist" high on a U.S. wanted list.
Awlaki's killing deprives the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) of an eloquent propagandist in English and Arabic who was implicated in attacks on the United States.
"He planned and directed attacks against the United States," one U.S. official said. "In addition, Awlaki publicly urged attacks against U.S. persons and interests worldwide and called for violence against Arab governments he judged to be working against al Qaeda."
Earlier in his career, Awlaki preached at mosques in the United States attended by some of the hijackers in the September 11, 2001 attacks by al Qaeda, whose leader, Osama bin Laden, was killed in a U.S. raid on his hideout in Pakistan in May.
Awlaki's death could be a boon for U.S. President Barack Obama and for his Yemeni counterpart, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is clinging to power despite months of popular protests, factional violence and international pressure.