An airstrike in Yemen reportedly killed and “targeted” former San Diego imam Anwar al-Awlaki, the man who served as a “spiritual advisor” to 9/11 hijackers and praised Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan as a “hero.” Background: Al-Awlaki timeline.
UPDATE: Al Jazeera reports that Awlaki is alive.
SANAA (Reuters) – “Anwar al-Awlaki is suspected to be dead,” the official said of the cleric who was on the run in Yemen, where he was on the government’s most-wanted list of terrorist suspects.
Yemen Observer: “The house of the US Fort Hood shooter’s mentor, Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki, was raided and demolished….
Fox News.com: U.S. officials believe radical cleric Anwar Awlaki was “probably” one of dozens of militants killed in the strike, a source confirmed to FOX News.
Embassy of Yemen: Today, Yemeni fighter jets launched an aerial assault at 4:30 AM, on a remote location in the province of Shabwa. The assault targeted a meeting of senior Al-Qaeda operatives, 403 miles south east of Sana’a, the capital of Yemen. Preliminary reports suggest that the strike targeted scores of Yemeni and foreign Al-Qaeda operatives. Nasser Al-Wuhayshi, the regional Al-Qaeda leader and his deputy, Saeed Al-Shihri, alongside Anwar Al-Awlaki were presumed to be at the site. Among those targeted was Mohammed Saleh Oumair who publicly spoke couple of days ago at a rally in the province of Abyan. Reports added that the purpose of the above mentioned meeting was to plan a retaliation operation after government forces raided their hideouts last week. Less than a week ago, Yemeni forces carried out simultaneous raids killing and detaining militants in an Al-Qaeda hideouts in the provinces of Abyan and Sana’a.
SANA’A, Dec. 24 (Saba) – Yemeni Air forces carried out early on Thursday an air strike in Rafdh area of al-Said districts in Shabwa governorate killing about 30 al-Qaeda suspects from Yemeni and foreign nationalities.
An official source in the Supreme Security Committee said that the strike targeted a hideout of al-Qaeda, in which the al-Qaeda members have been holding a meeting attended by the terrorists Nasir al-Whaishi and Said al-Shihri, Saudi national.
According to the source, al-Qaeda meeting was to plan implementing a number of terrorist operations against Yemeni and foreign interests, including important economic facilities.
AFP: “Saudis and Iranians at the Wadi Rafadh meeting were also among the dead,” said the source, without going into detail.
A second security source told AFP the raid had been launched after residents had tipped the authorities off about the meeting.
The New York Times says the early morning raids were carried out with “intelligence provided in part by the United States,” while AP reports that U.S. and Saudi intelligence provided help.
The reports follow an interview with Awlaki broadcast by Al-Jazeera. Awlaki said that Maj. Nidal Hasan contacted him in December 2007 asking whether killing American soldiers and officers was a “religiously legitimate act.”
Q: “So he asked you that question about a year before the operation was carried out?”
A: “Yes. And I wondered how the American security agencies, who claim to be able to read car license plate numbers from space, everywhere in the world, I wondered how [they did not reveal this].”
Awlaki provided copies of the e-mails to Al-Jazeera.