1 Oct 2011

US attack kills al-Qaeda figure in Yemen

12:04 pm on 1 October 2011

Officials in the United States and Yemen say one of al Qaeda's most influential figures, American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki has been killed when his convoy was attacked by an American drone in Yemen.

Yemen's defence ministry said the cleric was killed in Jawf province along with several of his associates, the BBC reports.

Anwar al-Awlaki, who was of Yemeni descent, was a key figure in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and is believed to have been behind a number of attempts to attack the US.

US President Barack Obama has said the death was a major blow to the organisation.

Mr Obama said the cleric had taken the lead in "planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans" and was also responsible for the death of many Yemeni citizens.

The president also paid tribute to the work of both the US intelligence agencies and Yemeni security officials who had co-operated on the killing.

Mr Obama is said to have personally ordered Awlaki's killing in 2010, but the al-Qaeda leader has survived several attempts on his life.

Some in the US have criticised the administration's targeted killing of a US citizen abroad, arguing he should have been arrested and put on trial.

Republican congressman Ron Paul - an opponent of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - said the killing amounted to an assassination.