Anwar al-Aulaqi, the U.S.-born Islamic cleric who became a top al-Qaeda operative in Yemen, was killed Friday in a drone strike in northern Yemen. Here’s a roundup of worldwide reaction to his death.
Many Americans hailed his death, calling it a victory for the U.S. over the threat of homegrown terrorism. Others questioned Yemen’s role in the killing. Some Pakistani and Yemeni English-language Web sites led their pages with the news, while others ignored it. Still others doubted that he had been killed at all.
Aulaqi was a prominent and charismatic al-Qaeda recruiter — thought to have inspired the Fort Hood shooter, the Christmas Day underwear bomber and a Times Square bomb plot. Many asked what his death meant for the future of al-Qaeda’s recruiting efforts.
The Daily Beast’s John Solomon writes that while his death “doesn't eliminate the threat to U.S. shores... it snuffed out one of the inspirations for Islamist extremists seeking to convert homegrown Americans to the cause.”
Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said in a statement: “For the past several years, [Aulaqi] has been more dangerous even than Osama bin Laden had been. . . we must remain as vigilant as ever, knowing that there are more Islamic terrorists who will gladly step forward to backfill this dangerous killer.”
As the White House confirmed that Aulaqi had been killed, the Yemeni government announced that Aulaqi had been “targeted and killed” in Yemen’s northern Jawf province, 87 miles east of the capital Sanaa. A senior U.S. official told the Post that Aulaqi was killed in a drone strikes.
With details still sketchy on the strike that killed Aulaqi, many people have wondered about what role Yemen had in the attack, if any.
On the Big Think blog, writer on Yemen Gregory Johnsen writes that if there was a Yemeni role in the death, the U.S. is left with a quandary:
Does the U.S. publicly thank President Saleh and/or the Yemeni government for assistance with the strike? ... This of course puts the US in the rather awkward position of publicly thanking a ruler it has called on to step down.
Pakistani Web site Dawn wrote: “Radical US-born cleric Aulaqi killed in Yemen.” The Yemen Times aggregated U.S. and U.K.-based news sites’ coverage of the death, including the Daily Telegraph headline: “Anwar al-Aulaqi death robs al-Qaeda of powerful propaganda tool.”
But as with the death of Osama bin Laden in May, many others reacted to the news with doubt.
One South African blogger tweeted: “Anwar al-Aulaqi assassinated again- so many times this has been reported?”
A man in Texas shared his own theory on Twitter — that the U.S. government was collaborating with Aulaqi, and that Aulaqi was not dead.
But as the news sunk in, some people began to look back on Aulaqi’s writings and speeches, many of which were published in English and shared widely by e-mail or on YouTube.
Some pointed to an upcoming piece Aulaqi had written for Inspire Magazine, an English-language glossy magazine designed to recruit terrorists from the U.S. whose creation he spearheaded.
The piece was called “Targeting the Populations of Countries that are at War with the Muslims.”
Others looked back on his many appearances on YouTube, including the following speech on what he saw as the qualities of a “true Muslim”:
And many looked back on the earlier, less radical Aulaqi who had been seen as an articulate spokesman for American Islam after the Sept. 11 attacks.
At that time, Aulaqi even did a chat about Ramadan on washingtonpost.comand allowed a Post videographer to chronicle a day in the life of an American imam.
Watch that video below:
More from the Washington Post:
Checkpoint Washington: Anwar al-Aulaqi had ties to Va. mosque
Checkpoint Washington: Aulaqi long escaped efforts to kill him
Foreign: A timeline of Aulaqi’s life
Photos: Most wanted al-Qaeda terrorist
BlogPost: What he preached