Awlaki’s death is ‘major blow’ to al-Qaeda

Posted on October 17, 2011

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Photo credit to frontpagemag.com

On September 30th, around 9:55 p.m., Anwar al-Awlaki, who has been claimed by U.S. federal government officials as “the most dangerous figure in al-Qaeda,” was assassinated.

After the successful strike, President Obama emphasized the importance of the mission when he said, “The death of Awlaki is a major blow to al-Qaeda’s most active operational affiliate. He took the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans . . . 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.”
Awlaki was born in the U.S. in 1971. In 1978, he returned to his family’s home in Yemen, where his father was a prominent figure in the Yemeni Presidential Party. Thirteen years later, in 1991, Awlaki returned to the US to attend college at Colorado State University.After completing college, he returned to Yemen and became involved with planning operations for the Islamic militant group, al-Qaeda. According to U.S. federal government officials, his sermons are believed to have helped motivate three attacks in the U.S. He became the first American citizen to be added to the list of targets approved for killing by the CIA.Though his rank in the al-Qaeda hierarchy was not high, his infamous reputation was increasing and greatly influencing the Middle East; more importantly, the West. As a result of Awlaki’s growing influence, President Obama authorized al-Awlaki as a CIA target.
On the night of September 30th, two predator drones fired Hellfire missiles at the vehicle carrying al-Awlaki and three suspected al-Qaeda members. Awlaki was killed, along with the editor of al-Qaeda’s English-language web magazine, Samir Khan.
The drone strike is controversial. For example, Ron Paul, a potential Republican presidential candidate, claims the strike was an “unlawful assassination.” Others enthusiastically support the removal of yet another al-Qaeda leader.
Marine Major Dave Godwin, an active member of the Joint Special Operations Command (the unit that undertook the operation to kill Awlaki) summed up the feelings of his unit when he said, “This guy was a major threat to us because of his ability to motivate and recruit radical English-speaking Muslims all over the world. His death will be a major setback to the al-Qaeda organization.”
Regardless of the current controversy, al-Awlaki was on the list of military targets approved for capture or killing based on their threat to a country. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Congress approved the use of military force against al-Qaeda members identified as military threats.
Reported by Kelsey Hernandez
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