This morning, Yemen officials reported that terrorist mastermind Anwar al-Awlaki has been killed in Yemen. Senior U.S. officials have confirmed this news.
Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in a strike on his convoy in the mountains of Yemen. The mission was directed by the CIA and carried out with the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command's firepower, according to a counterterrorist official in a CBS News article.
His death is the second most prominent one since the killing of Usama bin Laden in May. Al-Awlaki was a prime target as he was believed to be bin Laden's successor as the terror network al-Qaeda's leader.
But just who exactly was this U.S.-born jihadist cleric? Here are 10 things to know about this elusive man.
He was born in America.
Anwar al-Awlaki was born on April 22, 1971 in Las Cruces, New Mexico. His parents were from Yemen, a country in the Middle East bordering Saudi Arabia. The family moved back to Yemen when Anwar was seven-years-old. His father then worked at the Sanaa University and as the agriculture minister. He was a dual citizen of the US and Yemen. He spent 21 of his 40 years in the U.S.
He received multiple degrees at American Universities.
Al-Awlaki earned his B.S. in Civil Engineering at Colorado State University. He received $20,000 in scholarship money from a U.S. government program after lying on his application by stating that he was born in Yemen instead of New Mexico.
He then went on to get his M.A. in Education Leadership at San Diego State University. He also worked on a doctorate in Human Resource Development at George Washington University.
During one of his college summers, al-Alwaki vacationed in Afghanistan.
He spent a summer in Afghanistan, during his college years, training with the mujahedin. The mujahedin were Muslim fighters who fought the Soviet Union's occupation of Afghanistan.
He was a popular lecturer, having recorded numerous lectures available on CDs.
CD sets of his lectures discussing the Prophet Muhammad were in thousands of Muslim homes. Despite this, many Muslim scholars did not understand his popularity. They believed he did not have a handle on formal Islamic training and study. He even mentioned Joe Sixpack in his sermons.
He married a cousin from Yemen.
He was arrested in 1996 and 1997 for soliciting prostitutes.
Initially, he condemned the 9/11 mass murder.
In the weeks after the attacks on the World Trade Center, al-Awlaki spoke to many U.S. media outlets to condemn the mass murder. He invited television crews to follow him around and attempted to explain the intricacies of the Islamic religion, according to a New York Times article. In college, he never really spoke of politics nor did he have extremist views at that time.
He dined at the Pentagon after 9/11 attacks.
Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, al-Awlaki was invited to the Pentagon as part of an informal outreach program where D.C. officials sought to establish conversation with leading members of the Muslim community. It was later determined that al-Awlaki had direct ties to al-Qaeda, had met with two of the 9/11 terrorists before the attacks, and had encouraged later jihadist acts such as the Fort Hood Massacre and the botched Christmas 2009 attempt.
He was dubbed the bin Laden of the internet.
Because al-Awlaki was fluent in English, his influence was far-reaching. In one YouTube video, which had been viewed 40,000, he rationalized dying for one's faith by using an anecdote about Michael Jackson and the inevitability of death. Since he spent so many years in U.S., he had a keen understanding of the Western way of life and how to twist American societal concepts and views to his jihadist advantage. Governmental agencies are trying to determine just how great of an influence he had on Islamic American citizens.
He was the first U.S. citizen to be placed on the CIA's Kill or Capture list.
President Obama approved the killing of al-Awlaki and placed his name on the CIA's Kill or Capture list in April 2010.