President Barack Obama called the death of a U.S.-born jihadist cleric and al Qaeda leader a "major blow" to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and praised the United States' successful alliance with Yemen's security forces.
Speaking at Fort Myer, Va., Friday morning, Mr. Obama spoke of the CIA-directed drone strike in Yemen that killed Anwar al-Awlaki:
"Earlier this morning Anwar Awlaki, a leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was killed in Yemen.
"The death of Awlaki is a major blow to al Qaeda's most active operational affiliate. Awlaki was the leader of external operations for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. In that role, he took the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans. He directed the failed attempt to blow up an airplane on Christmas Day in 2009. He directed the failed attempt to blow up U.S. cargo planes in 2010. And he repeatedly called on individuals in the United States and around the globe to kill innocent men, women and children to advance a murderous agenda.
"The death of Awlaki marks another significant milestone in the broader effort to defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates. Furthermore, this success is a tribute to our intelligence community and to the efforts of Yemen and its security forces who have worked closely with the United States over the course of several years.
"Awlaki and his organization have been directly responsible for the deaths of many Yemeni citizens. His hateful ideology and targeting of innocent civilians has been rejected by the vast majority of Muslims and people of all faiths, and he has met his demise because the government and the people of Yemen have joined the international community in a common effort against al Qaeda.
"Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula remains a dangerous, but weakened, terrorist organization, and going forward we will remain vigilant against any threats to the United States or our allies and partners.
"But make no mistake: This is further proof that al Qaeda and its affiliates will find no safe haven anywhere in the world. Working with Yemen and our other allies and partners, we will be determined, we will be deliberate, we will be relentless, we will be resolute in our commitment to destroy terrorist networks that aim to kill Americans, and to build a world in which people everywhere can live in greater peace, prosperity and security."