SANAA (Reuters) - Two relatives of an assassinated U.S.-born militant cleric who were killed in an air strike last week in southern Yemen were teenagers out for dinner with friends when they were hit, their family said in a statement on Tuesday.
Yemeni officials said on Saturday about 24 people, including a son and a brother of Anwar al-Awlaki, were killed in an air strike on an al Qaeda hideout near the town of Azzan in the southern Shabwa province.
“Abdel-Rahman Anwar al-Awlaki was born in the U.S. city of Denver, Colorado on 26, August 1995, and thus he is not 21 or 27-years-old, but just 16,” the statement said.
It added the second member of the Awlaki family killed was Ahmed Abdel-Rahman al-Awlaki, 17.
It said Abdel-Rahman, who had been living in the Yemeni capital Sanaa since he returned from the United States in 2002, had gone to look for his father nearly a week before the cleric was killed on September 30.
“He left his mother a letter saying he was traveling to Shabwa to look for his father in Shabwa, his ancestral home,” the statement said.
Abdel-Rahman stayed in Shabwa for two weeks after his father’s death, when the family asked him to return home.
“But God wanted otherwise. On the night of October 14, he left with some friends for dinner under the moon light when an American missile landed, killing Abdel-Rahman and his friends, including our relative Ahmed Abdel-Rahman al-Awlaki, 17,” it added.
Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric linked to al Qaeda, was killed by a CIA drone along with several of his comrades. Eloquent in English and Arabic, he encouraged attacks on the United States and was seen as a man who could draw in more al Qaeda recruits from Western countries.
Awlaki was implicated in a botched attempt by al Qaeda’s Arabian Peninsula wing (AQAP) to bomb a U.S.-bound plane in 2009 and had contacts with an American army psychiatrist who killed 13 people at a U.S. military base the same year.
Reporting by Mohammed Sudam; Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Sophie Hares