Obama orders killing of U.S. cleric Anwar al-Awlaki
Barack Obama's administration has authorised the assassination of the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
It is a rare move given al-Awlaki is an American citizen. Based in Yemen, al-Awlaki has been linked to the Fort Hood massacre and the attempt on December 26 to blow up a Detroit-bound jet by a man wearing explosives in his underwear.
The decision to add him to the U.S. hit list required a National Security Council review because of his citizenship. Officials said U.S. intelligence had argued that the cleric now posed a direct threat to America.
Al-Awlaki, 38, became famous last year after it emerged he had communicated extensively by email with Major Nidal Hasan, the army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas. The cleric, who allegedly had ties with the 9/11 hijackers, later praised the Fort Hood killings and said Muslims should only serve in the U.S. military if they intended to carry out similar attacks.
He has also been linked to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian student accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound jet last Christmas with explosives in his underwear.
Al-Awlaki was born in New Mexico and spent years as an imam in the U.S. before moving to the Yemen, where he is believed to remain in hiding.
On Tuesday, Jane Harman, the Democrat chairman of the House homeland security subcommittee, said Al-Awlaki was "probably the person, the terrorist, who would be terrorist number one in terms of threat against us."