Anwar al-Awlaki’s death hailed as major blow to al-Qaeda
By Dialogo October 05, 2011
BAGHDAD, Iraq – The Yemeni Ministry of Defense announced on
Friday (September 30th) the killing of prominent al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki
along with three other al-Qaeda members.
Yemeni officials told Al-Shorfa that al-Awlaki was killed on Friday in an air
strike in a region between al-Jawf and Marib provinces.
Samir Khan, a U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent who specialized in computer
programming, was also killed, according to the ministry. The identities of the two
other members have not been confirmed.
An extensive surveillance operation led to the successful targeting of
al-Awlaki and his companions, the Defense Ministry statement said. An al-Qaeda
member previously arrested told Yemeni security officials that al-Awlaki was living
in the village of al-Khasf in al-Jawf province, in the home of a man called Khamis
Arfaj, according to the ministry.
“The killing of Anwar al-Awlaki was the result of a major intelligence effort
and cooperation between friends and brothers [colleagues] in this effort, the final
outcome of which was the death of al-Awlaki and three organization members in an air
strike that targeted them in an area between the provinces of al-Jawf and Marib,”
Abdo al-Janadi, deputy minister of information and spokesman for the Yemeni
government, told Al-Shorfa.
Al-Janadi said al-Awlaki’s “demise is the inevitable fate of every terrorist
and every outlaw.” Yemen is at war with terrorism and the killing of al-Awlaki was
within this context, especially since he had rejected all peaceful calls to him to
surrender voluntarily and face trial, he added.
“Al-Awlaki left the government no peaceful option, particularly after he was
charged with incitement and murder of foreigners,” al-Janadi said.
Anwar al-Awlaki was a U.S.-born Muslim cleric of Yemeni descent. His name was
linked to some of the hijackers who carried out the September 11th, 2001 attacks in
the United States. He was also linked to the shooting at a U.S. army base in 2009.
He reportedly corresponded with U.S. army officer Nidal Hassan, who opened fire at
Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009, killing 13 people.
Al-Awlaki was also suspected of having been in contact with Nigerian Umar
Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a U.S. flight from Amsterdam to Detroit
on Christmas Day 2009.
He was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison in early 2011 for inciting
the murder of a French engineer.
Al-Awlaki played a strategic role in the organization
The killing of al-Awlaki would have numerous negative effects on al-Qaeda in
the short term and on the future of the organization, Dr. Saeed Obaid al-Jamhi,
president of the al-Jamhi Centre for Studies, told Al-Shorfa.
Al-Awlaki was the “architect of long-distance recruiting for al-Qaeda, and it
was he who planned the operations on U.S. soil, most notably his relationship with
the officer Nidal Hassan and his relationship with the Nigerian [national],”
al-Jamhi said. “Therefore, al-Qaeda’s loss with the demise of al-Awlaki could be on
par with its loss with the death of its leader bin Laden.”
Al-Jamhi added that it was al-Awlaki who orchestrated al-Qaeda’s media
campaign around the world in the past few years. He also supervised al-Qaeda’s
English-language publication, Inspire magazine.
“Al-Awlaki elevated the organization from a local and regional player to a
global one, thanks to the media hype he created and long-distance recruiting, at a
time when the organization’s star had begun to dim and its strategic operations
became scarce,” al-Jamhi said. “This further indicates the magnitude of the loss of
al-Awlaki, who had achieved so much in such a short period.”
Al-Jamhi said al-Awlaki played a strategic role in the organization, where he
relied on planning one-man operations designed to cause heavy losses in the ranks of
the enemy with few casualties for the organization, such as the operations carried
out by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and Nidal Hassan.
Al-Awlaki's death is another blow to al-Qaeda
“The killing of al-Awlaki follows a series of blows
received by al-Qaeda, from the killing of its leader Osama bin Laden to the killing
of Atiya Abdel Rahman al-Libi, and lastly al-Awlaki, who was the spiritual
leader of the organization, possessing a charismatic personality,” said Dr. Said
Abdel-Mumin al-Ariki, a strategic issues and Islamist groups researcher.
Al-Ariki said al-Awlaki was a candidate to succeed bin Laden on account of
what he had done for the organization, both through the media and his long-distance
He said the killing of al-Awlaki and other leaders will weaken the
“There is also another factor that will weaken the organization: successful
Arab revolutions and the spread of democracy through peaceful change.
Al-Qaeda may not find a place in the near future in Arab countries especially as it
believes in change through violence, which is the opposite of what Arab revolutions
Iraqi officials: killing of al-Awlaki positive development
The killing of any of al-Qaeda’s leaders worldwide is a loss to al-Qaeda in
Iraq specifically and a win for the security forces in all Iraqi cities since we
know that al-Qaeda relies on its Iraqi chapter [branch] in order to derail the
country’s democratic process,” Deputy Defense Minister Saadoun al-Dulaimi told
General Tariq al-Assal, an adviser at the Iraqi Ministry of Interior,
described al-Awlaki’s death as “good news.” He said it was “very positive that
global powers of the free world are converging for the purpose of disposing of
extremism and terrorism.”
Al-Assal said al-Awlaki was one of the key supporters of al-Qaeda in Iraq and
“his death is a victory in itself which also serves to demoralise terrorists in
their efforts to fight democracy, peace and security.”