The death Anwar al-Awlaki, leader of Al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula, is not only a major blow to the terrorist outfit, but also marks another significant milestone in the effort to defeat the organization and its affiliates, United States President Barack Obama said on Friday.
"The death of Awlaki is a major blow to Al Qaeda's most active operational affiliate. Awlaki was the leader of external operations for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
In that role, he took the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans," Obama said in his remarks at an event held for the farewell of Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Al Qaeda's top spiritual leader Awlaki, a Yemeni-origin American engineer was on Friday killed in a US drone attack in Yemen, dealing another body-blow to the terror network after the death of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
40-year-old Awlaki, described by American officials as the "chief of external operations" of AQAP and the spiritual head of the terror outfit, was killed in a "successful joint intelligence-sharing operation" between Yemen and the US. The militant cleric, known as the public face of AQAP, was believed to be hiding in Yemen.
"The death of Awlaki marks another significant milestone in the broader effort to defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates. Furthermore, the success is a tribute to our intelligence community and to the efforts of Yemen and its security forces, who have worked closely with the United States over the course of several years," the president underlined.