U.S. targets senior al-Qaeda figure al-Awlaki in Yemeni airstrike
WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — A U.S. drone strike in Yemen on Thursday targeted senior al-Qaeda figure Anwar al-Awlaki but narrowly missed its target, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
The drone strike happened at around 3.30 a.m. local time in the Nisab District of Shabwah Governorate, located in southern Yemen. Two al-Qaeda mid-level leaders were killed in the strike, the state-run Saba news agency reported earlier.
According to the Wall Street Journal on Friday, the strike was aimed at U.S.-born radical Islamic preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, who has become a senior figure in the al-Qaeda militant organization in recent years and is among the most wanted terrorists in the world.
Besides being a major figure, al-Awlaki has been linked to a number of major terrorist attacks and plots such as the November 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood in Texas, killing 13 people and injuring 30 others. The shooter, U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, was found to have exchanged e-mails with al-Awlaki.
Al-Awlaki was also linked to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the would-be suicide bomber who attempted to detonate a bomb aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on December 25, 2009 as it approached Denver.
The attempted strike on al-Awlaki comes less than a week after a secret U.S. operation led to the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, delivering a crippling blow to the organization and its leadership. Bin Laden was shot dead by U.S. special forces in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad on Sunday.
Last week, Yemeni security forces killed “one of the most dangerous elements of al-Qaeda” in Aden province during clashes with police. Meanwhile, at least three soldiers were killed and four others were wounded on Sunday after an attack by suspected al-Qaeda members in Yemen’s southern province of Abyan.
Al-Qaeda attacks against the army and the security forces have increased in Yemen’s south and east provinces since the rise of protests demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down. The three-month-long anti-government protests have undermined the security and stability of the country.
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