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Anwar al-Awlaki

In 2011, President Barack Obama ordered a drone strike that killed Anwar Nasser al-Awlaki, a Yemeni-American imam. This was the first time a United States citizen was targeted and killed by a US government drone. US government officials argued that al-Awlaki was an organizer for the Islamist terrorist group al-Qaeda, and the US Department of Justice released a memorandum in 2014 which legally justified the attack as being part of an act of war. However, civil liberties advocates have said that this was an extrajudicial execution, and that al-Awlaki's right to due process was violated, as he was not given a fair trial.

Anwar al-Awlaki

Anwar al-Awlaki Facts

  1. 1.

    Life in the United States 1990–2002

    Al-Awlaki decided to pursue his PhD and was accepted at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and was soon recruited to be the imam of the nearby suburban Dar al-Hijrah mosque in 2000.

  2. 2.


    Al-Awlaki's sermon encourages others to conduct weapons training, and raise children "on the love of Jihad".

  3. 3.

    Early life

    Al-Awlaki was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico, US in 1971 to parents from Yemen, while his father, Nasser al-Awlaki, was doing graduate work at U.S. universities.

  4. 4.

    Life in the United States 1990–2002

    Al-Awlaki was considered a moderate during his time at Dar Al-Hijrah, publicly condemned the September 11 attacks and Al-Qaeda, was even invited to speak at the United States Department of Defense and became the first imam to conduct a prayer service for the Congressional Muslim Staffer Association at the U.S. Capitol.

  5. 5.

    Return to Yemen 2004–11

    Al-Awlaki told Begg in an interview shortly after his release that prior to his incarceration in Yemen, he had condemned the 9/11 attacks.

  6. 6.

    Return to Yemen 2004–11

    Al-Awlaki influenced several other extremists to join terrorist organizations overseas and to carry out terrorist attacks in their home countries.

  7. 7.

    Return to Yemen 2004–11

    In February 2010, al-Awlaki admitted in an interview published in al-Jazeera that he taught and corresponded with Abdulmutallab, but denied having ordered the attack.

  8. 8.


    On January 29, 2017, Anwar al-Awlaki's 8-year-old daughter, Nawar al-Awlaki, who was an American citizen, was killed in a DEVGRU operation authorized by President Donald Trump.

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