Update: First thought it was Yemeni forces but later admitted that CIA-led U.S. drone strike killed Awlaki with a Hellfire missile.
Yemen’s defense ministry has reported that al-Qaeda-linked cleric Anwar al-Awlaki has been killed along with several other fighters.
“The terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki has been killed along with some of his companions,” said a statement sent by text message to journalists.
Tribal sources told the AFP news agency that Awlaki was killed early on Friday in an air strike that hit two vehicles in Marib province, an al-Qaeda stronghold in eastern Yemen.
The airplane that carried out the strike was likely to be American, according to tribal sources, who added that US aircraft had been patrolling the skies over Marib for the past several days.
A US drone aircraft targeted but missed Alwaki in May, and the Yemeni defence ministry had previously announced Awlaki’s death late last year.
On December 24, the Yemeni government said he had been killed in an air strike only to admit later that he was still alive.
In February, the director of the US National Counterterrorism Centre, Michael Leiter, told US lawmakers that Awlaqi probably posed “the most significant risk” to the United States.
US authorities have branded him a “global terrorist” but Sanaa previously appeared reluctant to act against him.
Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra said that Awlaki was instrumental in the growth of “the most aggressive al-Qaeda offshoot outside of Afghanistan and Pakistan”.
American-born al-Qaeda cleric Awlaki killed: Yemeni defense ministry
Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born Muslim cleric linked to al-Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing, was reported killed, along with several of his companions, the Yemeni Defense Ministry said on Friday.
“The terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki has been killed along with some of his companions,” it said in a statement sent by text message to journalists.
The ministry did not elaborate on the circumstances of Awlaki’s death in a statement released to the media.
However, tribal sources told an Al Arabiya correspondent that two cars suspected of carrying Awlaki and his companions between the province of al-Jawaf Ma’rib were targeted.
Awlaki had been implicated in a botched attempt to bomb a U.S.-bound plane in 2009.
U.S. authorities have branded him a “global terrorist” but Sana’a had previously appeared reluctant to act against him.
Eloquent in English and Arabic, Awlaki encouraged attacks on the United States and was seen as a man who could draw in more al-Qaeda recruits from western countries.
Two U.S.-Born Terrorists Killed In CIA-Led Drone Strike
Two American militants, including senior Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, were killed in Yemen early Friday morning by a CIA-led U.S. drone strike, marking the highest-profile takedown of terror leaders since the raid on Usama bin Laden’s compound.
Fox News has learned that two Predator drones hovering above al-Awlaki’s convoy fired the Hellfire missiles which killed the terror leader. According to a senior U.S. official, the operation was carried out by Joint Special Operations Command, under the direction of the CIA.
Shocker! ACLU Decries Targeted Killing Of al-Awlaki
(ACLU Statement) U.S. airstrikes in Yemen today killed Anwar Al-Aulaqi, an American citizen who has never been charged with any crime.
ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer said, “The targeted killing program violates both U.S. and international law. As we’ve seen today, this is a program under which American citizens far from any battlefield can be executed by their own government without judicial process, and on the basis of standards and evidence that are kept secret not just from the public but from the courts. The government’s authority to use lethal force against its own citizens should be limited to circumstances in which the threat to life is concrete, specific and imminent. It is a mistake to invest the President – any President – with the unreviewable power to kill any American whom he deems to present a threat to the country.”