DUBAI (Reuters) - Al-Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing confirmed on Monday the death of U.S.-born militant cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who it warned had trained a new generation of followers to carry out his mission against the West.
The United States said it killed Awlaki in a CIA drone attack in Yemen at the end of September.
Awlaki, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) most high-profile member, was considered an influential international recruiter to al Qaeda and responsible for planning attacks against the United States.
“We confirm to the jihadi Ummah (nation)...the martyrdom of the mujahid heroic Sheikh Abu Abdul Rahman Anwar bin Nasser al-Awlaki,” AQAP said on an Islamist forum. The SITE online monitoring service had earlier reported the posting.
“The Sheikh (Awlaki) -- 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 to continue the correct methodology,” said the forum carrying the AQAP message.
Awlaki, 40, was held responsible by the United States for orchestrating plots to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner in 2009 and U.S. cargo planes in 2010. He also exchanged e-mails with a U.S. military psychiatrist later accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood army base in Texas in 2009, U.S. officials said.
He was buried in Yemen on October 4, according to a member of his family, after Awlaki’s father travelled from the Yemeni capital of Sanaa to the northern province of al-Jawf and identified his son’s dagger lying among scattered body parts.
The United States has increased the frequency of drone strikes in Yemen to try and keep al Qaeda off balance and prevent it from exploiting a political crisis in the country.
Reporting by Jason Benham; Writing by Reed Stevenson