Reporting Vic Carter
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– A U.S. airstrike kills an American-born cleric and dangerous al-Qaeda leader.
The government says his death is the biggest victory in the war on terror since Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden.
Vic Carter has more.
U.S. drone strikes killed wanted al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki Friday morning in southern Yemen.
“The death of al-Awlaki is a major blow to al-Qaeda’s most active operational affiliate,” President Barack Obama said.
Al-Awlaki was a top figure in the terror group’s most dangerous branch– al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Born in New Mexico, he spoke fluent English and served as an imam in a Virginia mosque. In Yemen, Awlaki used his influence and the Internet to help plan attacks on the U.S.
He had direct involvement in the so-called underwear bomber’s failed plot to blow up a Detroit-bound airplane on Christmas Day in 2009 and inspired the deadly shooting rampage at Fort Hood that same year.
Baltimore County Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger is the ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee.
“I think the message clearly needs to go out to the terrorists in this world who would want to attack us, if you attack Americans or you attempt to kill or kill Americans, we will find you and we will bring you to justice,” he said.
The CIA and U.S. military tracked al-Awlaki for three weeks before the strike on his convoy. It also killed another American– Samir Khan. Khan produced an online English language magazine for al-Qaeda.
Al-Awlaki’s death is considered the most significant since bin Laden’s, but the intelligence officials recognize a weakened al-Qaeda still remains a threat to national security.
In New York City, police are boosting security, worried that al-Awlaki has followers in the city who might want to avenge his death.