al-Awlaki killed in Yemen

The American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in Yemen Friday, became a top target for U.S. counterterrorism operations through his reported role in a range of attacks and attempted attacks. Learn more about those attacks and his life:


Yemen drone strike

Sept. 30

Successful strike

Awlaki perished in an attack on his convoy by a U.S. drone and jet, 75 miles east of Sanaa between Al Jawf and Marib.


Unsuccessful strike

As Yemen is gripped by an uprising against President Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime, a U.S. drone targets Awlaki but the mission fails.



Linked to mail bombs

Awlaki is believed to have had a hand in mail bombs addressed to Chicago-area synagogues, packages intercepted in Dubai and Europe.


British cabinet member stabbed

British cabinet minister Stephen Timms is stabbed by a woman who said she was influenced by al-Awlaki's sermons.

Times Square bomber

Attempted bombing of Times Square

Faisal Shahzad, who attempted to detonate a bomb in Times Square bomber on May 1, 2010, was inspired by Awlaki's sermons and videos. He does not appear to have been in touch with him directly.


President Obama makes Awlaki the first American placed on the CIA target list.


An Awlaki tape is released in which he urges American Muslims to mount attacks in the U.S.


Underwear bomber

Dec. 25

Christmas underwear bomber

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian "underwear bomber" who tried to blow up a plane headed for Detroit, Mich., on Dec. 25, 2009, was inspired by Awlaki. In addition, Awlaki put Abdulmutallab "in touch with plotters and trainers of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula."

Dec. 24

Unsuccessful drone strike

Awlaki was believed to be at a gathering of al-Qaeda figures in Yemen's Shabwa mountains, a day before Abdulmutallab tried to blow up the airliner near Detroit. Yemeni warplanes, using U.S. intelligence help, struck the tents but Awlaki and others were believed to have driven off hours earlier.

Fort Hood attack

Nov. 5

Fort Hood attack

Nidal Hasan's attack on Fort Hood was also inspired by the Yemeni cleric. Hasan exchanged emails with Awlaki before the attack, but it is unclear if Awlaki was giving him instructions or was just his religious mentor.


After release from prison, Awlaki moves to the Awalik tribal heartland in eastern province of Shabwa, an al-Qaeda stronghold, living in his family home in the mountain hamlet of Saeed and occasionally preaching in a local mosque.


Awlaki arrested

Yemeni authorities arrest Awlaki with a group of five Yemenis suspected of kidnapping a Shiite Muslim teenager for ransom. He is released without trial after a year in prison following the intercession of his tribe.

Falls Church mosque


9/11 investigation

After Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Awlaki was interviewed at least four times in two weeks about his dealings with three of the hijackers aboard the flight that slammed into the Pentagon. The Sept. 11 Commission report said Awlaki was also investigated by the FBI in 1999 and 2000. None of the investigations led to criminal charges against him.

Awlaki becomes preacher at Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia, outside Washington.


Awlaki starts preaching in San Diego mosque where he met two of the Sept. 11 hijackers, Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi.


Studies in the U.S.

Awlaki returns to the United States to study civil engineering at Colorado State University, then education at San Diego State University. He later does doctoral work at George Washington University.


His family returns to Yemen, where his father serves as agriculture minister and is a professor at Sanaa University.


April 22

Awlaki was born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents.

SOURCE: AP, staff reports. GRAPHIC: The Washington Post. Published Sept. 30, 2011.