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Leading Al Qaeda Figure, al-Awlaki Is Dead

Photo courtesy of NPR.
In this image taken from video and released by SITE Intelligence Group, Anwar al-Awlaki speaks in a video message posted on radical websites in November, 2010.

Authorities in the U.S. and Yemen are confirming the death of leading al-Qaeda figure, 40-year old Anwar al-Awlaki.

It’s believed he was killed in a U.S. operation involving a drone and jets. The American born Muslim cleric has been outspoken in leading the al-Qaeda arm in Yemen. The Treasury Department put al-Awlaki on a list of designated terrorists in July of 2010.

He is believed to have inspired the 2009 Fort Hood shootings, and had email contact with the man suspected of carrying out that attack, Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan. Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.

NPR is live blogging the news as information from U.S. officials become available.

Al-Awlaki's death is a "major blow to al-Qaida's most active operational affiliate," President Obama just said. The cleric, the president added, "took the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans" and spread a "hateful ideology."