The CIA exterminated its first American-born al-Qaida-linked target on Friday; 40-year-old Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in the mountains of Yemen by a U.S. airstrike.
The New Mexico native born to Yemen immigrants became a powerful mouthpiece for Islamic terror in the years following the 9/11 terrorists attacks using his crowd-drawing preaching skills and a powerful Internet presence to recruit followers, according to reports. According to The Washington Post, al-Awlaki was linked to a number of failed terror plots against the United States, including the 2008 underwear bomber and a plan to mail bombs to Chicago-area synagogues in 2010. He also exchanged up to 20 emails with U.S. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, alleged killer of 13 people in the Nov. 5, 2009, rampage at Fort Hood.
Last January, al-Awlaki wrote in an al-Qaida newsletter:
“In the case of the United States, both the government and private citizens should be targeted. America and Americans are the Imams of kufr (leaders of disbelief) in this day and age. The American people who vote for war mongering governments are intent on no good. Anyone who inflicts harm on them in any form is doing a favor to the ummah (Islamic nation.)”
Al-Awlaki traveled to Yemen in 2004 after attending college at Colorado State University. President Barack Obama authorized al-Awlaki’s killing in 2010. He was killed in the last of at least three U.S.-funded airstrikes that targeted him.