WASHINGTON – In a devastating double-blow to al Qaeda’s most dangerous franchise, U.S. counterterrorism forces killed two American citizens who played key roles in inspiring attacks against the U.S., U.S. and Yemeni officials said Friday.
U.S-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, who edited the slick Jihadi Internet magazine, were killed in an air strike on their convoy in Yemen by a joint CIA-U.S. military operation, according to counterterrorism officials. Al-Awlaki was targeted in the killing, but Khan apparently was not targeted directly.
In remarks at Fort Myer, Va., President Obama called the death of the jihadist cleric a “major blow” to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and praised the United States’ successful alliance with Yemen’s security forces.
“This is further proof that al Qaeda and its affiliates will find no safe haven anywhere in the world,” Mr. Obama said. “Working with Yemen and our other allies and partners, we will be determined, we will be deliberate, we will be relentless, we will be resolute in our commitment to destroy terrorist networks that aim to kill Americans, and to build a world in which people everywhere can live in greater peace, prosperity and security.”
Seeking to justify the targeted killing of a U.S. citizen, Mr. Obama outlined al-Awlaki’s involvement in planning and directing attempts to murder Americans.
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