US drone 'wipes out al-Qa'ida in Arabian Peninsula'
Published 01/10/2011 | 05:00
An American drone strike in Yemen killed al-Qa'ida's propagandist and other leaders of its Arabian operations yesterday, dealing a blow to the terror organisation.
The deaths of Anwar al-Awlaki, Samir Khan and three senior associates were hailed by US President Barack Obama as a "major blow" to al-Qa'ida's most active affiliate since the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Reports last night said the bombmaker Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri was also killed. If confirmed, it would mean the foreign operations of al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) had been wiped out.
"This is another significant milestone in the broader effort to defeat al-Qa'ida," he said.
Awlaki "repeatedly called on individuals in the United States and around the globe to kill innocent men, women and children to advance a murderous agenda", he added.
Mr Obama said America had worked with Yemen for a long time tracking Awlaki, but declined to comment on his role in the killing of the American-born militant.
Five bodies were recovered from the site and Western officials believe al-Qa'ida's master bombmaker in the Arabian Peninsula may also have been killed. Awlaki (40) was the first American citizen targeted by his own government in the absence of criminal charges.
As a charismatic spokesman for the terrorists, who spoke fluent English, he inspired attacks against the West by inspiring "lone wolf" operators.
He was killed by a Hellfire missile fired from an unmanned drone near Khasaf, a desert town in Jawf province, 87 miles east of the capital Sana'a.
The same officials that planned and carried out the attack on Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, were involved in tracking and closing in on the AQAP leadership. (© Daily Telegraph, London)