Video: Anwar al-Awlaki killed in Yemen

NBC News and news services
updated 9/30/2011 8:16:46 PM ET 2011-10-01T00:16:46

With a deadly drone strike Friday, the United States killed a radical cleric in Yemen that it considered the inspiration for a series of attacks on or plots against Americans.

President Barack Obama declared the killing of American-born Anwar al-Awlaki a "major blow" to al-Qaida's most dangerous affiliate, and vowed a vigorous U.S. campaign to prevent the terror network from finding a haven anywhere in the world.

Al-Awlaki, and a second American, Samir Khan, were killed by a joint CIA-U.S. military missile strike on their convoy in Yemen early Friday, U.S. and Yemeni officials said.

Story: Radical American cleric killed in Yemen, officials say

Here's are some of plots in which al-Awlaki was thought by the U.S. to have played a role, either directly or through his propaganda:

Image: Naser Jason Abdo
Mclennan County Sheriff's Office  /  EPA
Naser Jason Abdo

Naser Jason Abdo
Abdo, an Army private gone AWOL from Fort Campbell, Ky., was charged on July 28, 2011, with plotting to set off bombs outside Fort Hood, Texas. Agents said they found he had a copy of an article entitled "Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom," which appeared in Inspire, al-Qaida's English-language magazine.

Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame
Warsame, a Somali national, was indicted on June 30, 2011, in New York on charges of providing material support to al-Shabaab, an al-Qaida affiliate in Somalia, and al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, known as AQAP. He is also alleged to have fought on behalf of al-Shabaab in Somalia in 2009 and to have met with al-Awlaki while in Yemen.

Image: Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif
Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif

Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif
Abdul-Latif, aka Joseph Anthony Davis, a U.S. citizen and resident of Seattle, was charged on June 22, 2011, in a plot to attack a Seattle military processing center with machine guns and grenades. Federal agents said he was a follower of al-Awlaki.

Antonio Martinez
The U.S. citizen and resident of Baltimore was arrested Dec. 8, 2010. He was charged in a sting operation with plotting to set off what he thought was a vanload full of explosives at a military recruiting center in Maryland. Agents said he referred to al-Awlaki as his "beloved sheikh" in recordings with an undercover FBI source and posted comments on his Facebook page praising al-Awlaki.

Farooque Ahmed
A naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan and resident of Ashburn, Va., he was arrested on Oct. 27, 2010, in a plot to attack the Washington, D.C., subway system. The FBI said he had al-Awlaki propaganda in his home and office.

Story: Man charged with D.C.-area subway bomb plot

Abdel Hameed Shehadeh
The U.S. citizen and resident of Hawaii was arrested Oct. 22, 2010. He was charged with lying about a 2008 trip he took to Pakistan, hoping to join the Taliban. Prosecutors said he tried to recruit another person to join him after the two discussed a sermon by al-Awlaki.

Shaker Masri
A Chicago resident and U.S. citizen, he was arrested on Aug. 3, 2010, hours before he was scheduled to leave Chicago for Somalia. Prosecutors say he wanted to fight on behalf of al-Shabaab and al-Qaida. Prosecutors said he viewed al-Awlaki speeches and said he hoped al-Awlaki became an al-Qaida leader.

Image: Zachary Adam Chesser
AFP - Getty Images
Zachary Adam Chesser

Zachary Adam Chesser
Chesser, a U.S. citizen from Virginia, was arrested on July 21, 2010. He was charged with providing support to the Somali terror organization, al-Shabaab, by attempting to travel twice to Somalia to serve as a foreign fighter. According to court documents, one of his sources of inspiration was al-Awlaki. He told agents he e-mailed Awlaki several times and received two responses.

Story: Born in US, Al-Awlaki was his birth nation's sworn enemy

Paul Rockwood Jr.
He is a U.S. citizen and resident of Alaska. He pleaded guilty on July 21, 2010, to making false statements in a terrorism investigation. Rockwood, described by prosecutors as "a strict adherent of the ideology of radical al-Awlaki," created a list of 15 people he said should be executed for desecrating Islam and began researching methods to carry them out.

Mohamed Hamoud Alessa and Carlos Edwardo Almonte
Alessa, a U.S. citizen and resident of North Bergen, N.J., and Almonte, a naturalized citizen from the Dominican Republic, were arrested on June 5, 2010, and charged with conspiring to go to Egypt as a means of traveling to Somalia, where they intended to join al-Shabaab. They played for undercover officers lectures by al-Awlaki.

Barry Walter Bujol Jr.
A U.S.-born citizen and resident of Hempstead, Texas, Bujol was indicted in Texas on June 3, 2010, and accused of trying to provide material support to AQAP. The FBI says it began investigating him in 2008 and determined he had been communicating via e-mail with al-Awlaki.

Image: Faisal Shahzad
US Marshals Service  /  AP file
Faizal Shahzad

Faizal Shahzad
A naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan and resident of Connecticut, he was charged on May 4, 2010, with trying to set off a car bomb in Times Square. Shahzad told agents who questioned him that Anwar al-Awlaki was one inspiration for his actions.

Story: Documents offer clues to bomb suspect’s life

Jamie Paulin Ramirez and Colleen LaRose
Ramirez, a U.S.-born citizen and resident of Colorado, and LaRose, a U.S. citizen and resident of Pennsylvania, were charged in early 2010 with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, in connection with their travels to Europe to participate and support violent jihad. The FBI said they viewed al-Awlaki materials online.

Image: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
AFP - Getty Images, file
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian national, was charged on Dec. 26, 2009, with trying to destroy Northwest Airlines flight 253 on its final approach to Detroit Christmas Day with a bomb sewn into his underwear. The FBI said Abdulmutallab swore allegiance to the emir of AQAP in November 2009 while in Yemen and received instructions directly from Al-Awlaki.

Image: Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan
Bell Couty Sheriffs Department via AP file
Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan
An Army psychiatrist, Hasan was arrested Nov. 5, 2009, and accused in the Army court martial system of killing 13 people and wounding dozens of others at Fort Hood, Texas. Investigators say he corresponded by e-mail with al-Awlaki, who helped inspire the shootings.

Michael Finton
Finton, a U.S. citizen and resident of Decatur, Ill., was arrested Sept. 23, 2009, after he tried to detonate what he thought was a truck bomb outside the federal courthouse in Springfield, Ill. Finton posted quotes from al-Awlaki on his MySpace page.

Betim Kaziu
Kaziu, a U.S.-born citizen and resident of Brooklyn, N.Y., was indicted on Sept. 18, 2009, charged with trying to join violent jihadist groups in several nations in the Middle East and the Balkans. Testimony at his trial established that Kaziu had been radicalized, in part, by al-Awlaki speeches on the Internet.

The Fort Dix Terror Plot Defendants
They were arrested in New Jersey on May 7, 2007, on charges of planning to attack Fort Dix. They were recorded discussing the importance of al-Awlaki's call for immediate jihad. Some of the defendants were also found to be in possession of one of al-Awlaki's sermons, titled "Constants on the Path of Jihad."

Story: 6 held on terror conspiracy charges in N.J.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

© 2013

Photos: Yemen in the spotlight

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  1. Yemen’s profile rose dramatically following a cargo bomb plot on two planes bound for the United States on October 29, 2010. The parcels were intercepted by Dubai and Britain, and several days later the Yemen-based group al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility. The Muslim nation has increasingly gained a reputation as a safe haven for Islamic extremists. Here, a Muezzin, who calls Muslims to prayer five times a day, looks out from the Jalalya mosque in Ibb. (Karim Ben Khelifa) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A weapons seller sits in his improvised shop at a truck stop in Al Adwass, offering both second-hand and new Kalashnikov assault rifles. Yemen has approximately 60 million weapons in circulation. There were no regulations in place for arms in the country until 2002 for the capital, San’a, and 2008 for the rest of the country. Yemen is struggling to implement any new arms regulations as it tries to end a civil war in the north that has raged on and off since 2004, as well as a separatist rebellion in the south. (Karim Ben Khelifa) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. A military checkpoint at an entry to San’a. Yemen has beefed up security and increased the number of checkpoints and random searches in an effort to crack down on Islamic militants. In December 2009, Yemen’s AQAP claimed responsibility for the failed Christmas Day airliner attack, raising alarms in the international community. Yemen declared open war on al-Qaida in January 2010. (Karim Ben Khelifa) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. An intelligence officer checks passengers in a passing car against the pictures of two wanted al-Qaida operatives, Abdallah Salem Dahim Al Elyani Al Kahtani (l) and Abdallah Abul Karim Ibrahim Al Saloum (r). AQAP also claimed responsibility for the September 2010 crash of a UPS plane in Dubai in which two crew members died, but the U.A.E. said there was no evidence of an explosive device aboard the jet. (Karim Ben Khelifa) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. The Qat market in the Old City in the capital, San’a. The leafy narcotic plant is a mild stimulant and is grown throughout the country. It is a widely practiced tradition to chew the leaves in the afternoon, though the convention hampers productivity in an already suffering economy.

    Photojournalist's view: Yemen is a complicated puzzle (Karim Ben Khelifa) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Yemen began a trial in absentia of U.S.-born Yemeni preacher Anwar al-Awlaki on November 4, 2010. Awlaki has ties to AQAP and is reportedly in hiding in Yemen. He released a video on November 8, 2010, calling on Muslims to kill Americans and members of any collaborating Arab governments. Here, a woman wearing a veil with the traditional pattern of San’a walks down a street in the Old City. (Karim Ben Khelifa) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Followers of Sheikh Abdulmajeed al-Zindani wait for him to speak in the Mashaad mosque in San’a. Yemen's council of clerics has called for jihad, or holy war, in the event of a foreign military intervention amid speculation the United States might pursue al-Qaida extremists there. The clerics, including the radical Sheikh Abdulmajeed al-Zindani, who is labeled by the U.S. as a "global terrorist", also voiced "rejection to any security or military agreement or cooperation [between Yemen and] any foreign party if it violates Islamic Sharia [law]." (Karim Ben Khelifa) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Extremists destroyed the house of Abdulmalik al-Mansour in the al-Hasaba neighborhood in the capital on April 16, 2009. Al-Mansour was accused of tearing up and stepping on a Quran in a mosque a few months after the establishment of the “Vice and Virtue Committee.” The attackers justified their actions by saying they were protecting the holy book of Islam. (Karim Ben Khelifa) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Central Security Service members train in the outskirts of San’a. CSS forces are at the helm of the fight against al-Qaida in Yemen, and their commander, Yahya Saleh, is the nephew of Yemen’s President Ali Abdallah Saleh. This particular unit was involved in the last two operations against al-Qaida in Al Ahrb, north of San’a. (Karim Ben Khelifa) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. President Ali Abdallah Saleh won the country’s first-ever presidential election in 1999 by a landslide, with 96 percent of the vote. The main opposition party, however, was not allowed to put forward a candidate. Here, portraits of leaders in the Middle East hang on the walls of a barber shop in San’a’s Old City. From left to right: Sheikh Yassin, founder of the Palestinian group Hamas; Khaled Mechaal, Hamas’ leader in exile in Syria; Saddam Hussein, former president of Iraq; Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Shiite group Hezbollah in Lebanon; and Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. (Karim Ben Khelifa) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A man walks to one of San’a’s 30 wells to look for drinking water. In the background, construction continues on a mosque that President Saleh is building as a legacy to his presidency. The country’s water resources are drying up rapidly – the water crisis is deemed among the worst in the world and is aggravated by excessive irrigation by farmers growing Qat. A few years ago, water could be found at a depth of 70-100 meters; now it is necessary to dig 450 meters into the ground to find the precious resource. (Karim Ben Khelifa) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Men sit idle in the Old City of San’a near Bab Al Yemen, waiting for work. Unemployment is on the rise and there are fears it could drive more people into religious extremism. The cash-strapped government is almost powerless to meet the needs of an expanding population and if it cannot pay public sector wages, Yemen is at risk of descending into chaos. (Karim Ben Khelifa) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. An armed tribesman in the restive province of Marib, east of San’a. The city of Marib has been a hotbed for extremists and insurgents returning from jihad missions overseas. In 2002, a U.S. predator drone killed several al-Qaida operatives here. (Karim Ben Khelifa) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Women in the back of a pick-up truck return from working in fields along the coastal plain of Tihama on the Red Sea. Almost a third of Yemen’s workforce is out of a job and more than 40 percent of the country’s 23 million people live on less than $2 a day. For women, a lack of education lessens the already low chances of working for a living. The female literacy rate is 35 percent compared to 73 percent for men, according to World Bank figures from 2005. Also, there is no law in Yemen that states how old a woman must be to get married, which has led to child marriages and complications in childbirth for young women who have barely reached puberty when they become pregnant. (Karim Ben Khelifa) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Lack of electricity is widespread and regular power outages slow down businesses and development in Yemen, which is one of the poorest countries in the Middle East. Here, a man holds a block of ice in the desert area of the coastal Tihama plain. Without electricity, local populations have maintained age-old methods of preserving food. (Karim Ben Khelifa) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Yemeni men listen to music while chewing Qat and looking out at the view of the Tihama coastal plain from a mountain ledge near Al Mahweet. Yemen is near the bottom of Transparency International’s corruption index, ranking 154 out of 180 countries last year. (Karim Ben Khelifa) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Most of what used to be North Yemen is located in the only mountain range in the Arabian Peninsula, the Hijaz Mountains. North and South Yemen formally united in 1990 but some in the south, home to most of the country’s oil facilities, complain that the historically more wealthy northerners used unification as an excuse to seize resources in the south. Southerners say the government deprives them of jobs and many believe they were better off before unification, when South Yemen was part of the socialist bloc and welfare state established with Soviet aid. (Karim Ben Khelifa) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Men wearing traditional dress stand on a path through cactus trees. Most of the villages in the countryside are made of local stone and surrounded by natural vegetation, making it difficult to distinguish them from the surrounding wilderness. (Karim Ben Khelifa) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. The House of the Rock, or Dar al-Hajar, in Wadi Dhar was the winter residence of Imam Yahya, who ruled Yemen from 1918 until 1948. The palace was built atop a massive rock in the 1930s and has become a cultural symbol of Yemen. (Karim Ben Khelifa) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Fishermen walk along a beach in Bir Ali, a village on the Arabian Sea coast in the Shbwa province. Most of the fish is exported to Japan, but it is a vital resource for people living along the Arabian Sea coast. (Karim Ben Khelifa) Back to slideshow navigation
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