The same U.S. military counterterrorism unit that got Osama bin Laden used a drone and jet strike in Yemen on Friday to kill the U.S.-born cleric suspected of inspiring or helping plan numerous attacks on the United States, including the Christmas 2009 attempt to blow up a jetliner, U.S. and Yemeni officials said.

Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born radical Islamic preacher who rose to the highest level of al Qaeda’s franchise in Yemen, was killed in a CIA-directed strike upon his convoy, carried out with the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command’s firepower, according to a counterterrorist official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence.

Al-Awlaki had been under observation for three weeks while they waited for the right opportunity to strike, one U.S. official said.

Yemen’s Defense Ministry said another American militant was killed in the same strike alongside al-Awlaki. Samir Khan, a U.S. citizen of Pakistani heritage who produced the English-language al Qaeda Web magazine Inspire that proselytized attacks against the United States. U.S. officials said they believed Khan, from North Carolina, was in the convoy carrying al-Awlaki that was struck but that they were still trying to confirm his death.

Continue Reading on