(ABC News) – The American-born radical cleric al-Qaeda Anwar al-Awlaki, a major jihadist figure who U.S. officials say inspired several terror plots against the U.S., was killed overnight in Yemen, U.S. and Yemeni officials told ABC News.
A senior U.S. official told ABC News the U.S. had been tracking al-Awlaki for some time and had just been waiting for the perfect moment to strike. A Yemeni official said al-Awlaki was killed along with an unknown number of al Qaeda confederates, possibly in an airstrike.
“They were waiting for the right opportunity to get him away from any civilians,” a senior administration official said.
Born in New Mexico and educated in Colorado, al-Awlaki rose to prominence among extremists as a member of the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and was a vocal preacher of jihad. His online teachings have been cited as part of the motivation behind several attacks on the U.S. homeland — from the Fort Hood Massacre to the attempted Christmas Day bombing and the Times Square bomb plot.