Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen has confirmed the death of U.S.-born Muslim cleric Anwar Awlaki in a U.S. drone strike last month, according to a statement posted Monday on militant Internet forums.
"We confirm to the jihadi ummah [nation] that is uprising against oppression the martyrdom of the ... heroic sheik Abu Abdul Rahman Anwar bin Nasser al-Awlaki,” Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula said, according to a translation provided by the SITE Intelligence Group.
The militant group warned, however, that Awlaki had trained followers to continue his campaign against the West.
“The sheik -- may Allah have mercy on him -- has students who he taught and disciples who benefited from him all over the Earth, who will follow his steps and his path,” the militant group was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico and spoke fluent English, was a charismatic recruiter for extremist ideologies who reached disaffected Muslims in the United States and elsewhere via the Internet.
He was implicated in attempts to blow up U.S. airliners, including the failed Christmas Day bombing of a Detroit-bound flight in 2009. That same year, Awlaki was blamed for inspiring U.S. Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan to allegedly kill 13 people at Ft. Hood, Texas.
U.S. officials said Awlaki was killed Sept. 30 when his vehicle was hit in northern Yemen by a Hellfire missile fired by a Predator drone aircraft. The strike also killed three other militants, including Samir Khan, who grew up in New York and ran a pro-Al Qaeda website in Charlotte, N.C., before he moved to Yemen several years ago.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula identified the two other militants as Abu Muhsin al-Marbi and Salim al-Marwani, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant networks on the Internet.
-- Alexandra Zavis
Photo: Anwar Awlaki in a televised interview. Credit: SITE Intelligence Group