Drone attack kills American Al Qaeda Leader

September 30, 2011 1:02:40 PM PDT
He was the first American ever put on a kill-or-capture list. And he's the first American intentionally targeted and assassinated by a U.S. drone. Actually a CIA drone - and there were two of them today, firing at least three missiles, according to intelligence sources.

The American-born radical Islamic cleric Anwar al Awlaki (pronounced Aw-locki) had been followed closely by U.S. intelligence. He had either planned or inspired attempted or actual terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

Today, after he left his home and got into a car, they killed him. The operational leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, had, from his base in Yemen, inspired a laundry list of would-be and actual terrorists through his Internet writings and organizing. There's some criticism of his killing because he was an American and targeted, but the White House is trying to deflect the controversy and is instead hoisting the flag of fighting terrorists. A very bad guy had a very bad day, is how one U.S. intelligence official put it.

There was at least one other al Qaeda leader killed with him - Samir Kahn, raised in Queens, who had become the organization's leading mass communications expert, and the editor of sorts of al Qaeda's magazine, "Inspire."

That brings to nearly 2 dozen the number of al Qaeda leaders killed on Barack Obama's watch - with Osama bin Laden and al Awlaki topping the list.

Which sparks the memory banks of when Rudy Giuliani warned back in 2008 that electing Mr. Obama would mean the U.S. played defense, not offense, against the terrorists. Today, even Republicans were praising Pres. Obama for aiming drones on al Awlaki.

But with every al Qaeda leader assassinated, the possibility increases for a retaliatory attack. Tonight at 11, we're looking at how the NYPD is responding to that possibility. And we'll have more reaction to today's drone killings.

Also at 11, Nina Pineda takes on an auto repair shop that took a vintage car and, rather than repair it, put it in a parking lot. The owner realized her loved vehicle wasn't getting fixed when she was notified that the car was about to be sold for the parking charges. That's when she called Nina and got 7 On Your Side to put the pedal to the metal.

And after we wrote in this space and had a story on the air about New York State's plan to do away with the vision test for renewing drivers' licenses, the State DMV has apparently had a change of heart. No more "self-certifying" of vision. So if you renewed your license in the past 48 hours under this new system, consider yourself lucky.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Amy Freeze (in for Lee Goldberg) with her weekend AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers with the night's sports.

I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11, right after 20/20.


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