(Wall St. Journal) — The U.S. launched a drone strike in Yemen on Thursday aimed at killing Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical cleric suspected of orchestrating terrorist attacks in the U.S, but he evaded the missile, Yemeni and U.S. officials said.
The attack came days after a U.S. Navy SEALs team killed Osama bin Laden at a compound in Pakistan. Had Thursday’s strike succeeded, the U.S. would have killed two of the most-wanted terrorists in a week.
Mr. Awlaki has emerged as a leading charismatic front-man of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a group the U.S. considers the world’s most active terror organization. With bin Laden’s death, some officials believe Mr. Awlaki and the Yemen-based group now represent the gravest threat to the U.S.
He has been linked to at least three major incidents: the Ft. Hood shootings, the Christmas 2009 plot to blow up a U.S.-bound passenger plane and a plan to blow up cargo planes.
The attack appears to be unrelated to intelligence information taken in the raid that killed bin Laden, whose death was confirmed by al Qaeda Friday in a statement that vowed to continue attacks on Americans.