Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- American-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki -- whose fluency in English and technology made him one of the top terrorist recruiters in the world -- was killed Friday in an airstrike in Yemen, officials said.
Al-Awlaki's death, confirmed by U.S. and Yemeni officials, dealt yet another blow to the al Qaeda network, reeling from the killing and capture this year of several top leaders, most notably Osama bin Laden.
A "successful joint intelligence-sharing operation" between Yemen and the United States led to the attack that killed al-Awlaki, a Yemeni government official said Friday. The official asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the news media.
The United States regarded al-Awlaki, the public face of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), as a terrorist who posed a major threat to American homeland security. Western intelligence officials believe al-Awlaki was a senior leader of AQAP, one of the most active al Qaeda affiliates in the world. It has been linked to the attempt to blow up an airliner over Detroit in December 2009 and a cargo plane plot last year.
"Anwar al-Awlaki didn't need subtitles to indoctrinate," said Sajjan Gohel of the Asia Pacific Foundation, who called al-Awlaki's death significant. "He spoke English, he understood how to impact the Muslim diaspora in the West."
Al-Awlaki was killed about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the Yemeni town of Khashef, east of the capital, Sanaa, said Mohammed Basha, a spokesman for the Yemeni Embassy in Washington. He said the operation was launched at 9:55 a.m.
The Yemeni government official said Yemeni intelligence recently located al-Awlaki's hideout in a house in Khashef, in Jawf province, which borders Saudi Arabia.
A senior U.S. administration official confirmed al-Awlaki's death. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to CNN because he is not authorized to release the information. The official did not provide any other information.
Three others, including Samir Khan, an American of Pakistani origin, were killed with al-Awlaki, reported Yemen's state-run Saba news agency, citing an official security source. Saba said Khan specialized in computer programming for al Qaeda.
Al-Awlaki was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and lived in the United States until the age of 7, when his family returned to Yemen. He returned to the United States in 1991 for college and remained until 2002.
It was during that time that as an imam in California and Virginia, al-Awlaki preached to and interacted with three of the September 11, 2001, hijackers, according to the 9/11 Commission Report. He publicly condemned the attack afterward. (Read more.)
Wait! Al-Awlaki supported the attacks behind closed doors, but condemned the attacks in public? How come Muslims like Kim and Mahdi keep telling us that there is no taqiyya in Islam? I feel like someone might be trying to trick me.