As you've likely heard by now, American-born al-Qaeda terror leader Anwar al-Awlaki was killed early this morning in a CIA-led drone air strike in Yemen.
GBTV contributor and CBN terrorism analyst Erick Stackelbeck weighs in with his opinion of what this "significant" news might mean for the Islamic extremist terror group and America's ongoing efforts in the War on Terror:
I believe this is a significant blow to Al Qaeda. A few key points:
--Awlaki, often called "the Bin Laden of the Internet," was the driving force behind Al Qaeda's message in the Western, English-speaking world. An American citizen who lived half of his 40 years in the United States and attended Colorado State University, he was able to break down the language barrier and speak directly to aspiring young jihadists here and in Great Britain. That is something Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, Arabic speakers, could not do. In his online sermons, Awlaki could say to young Muslims in Chicago and New York City: "I've lived in America. I know what you are going through in that infidel land. I feel your pain."
--That familiarity with the ways of the West made Awlaki, not Osama Bin Laden, the most influential Islamic jihadist in the Western world as far back as 2008. Young Muslims here could relate to the young, hip and charismatic Awlaki in a way they could not connect to Bin Laden. One major way Awlaki was able to do that was through Al Qaeda's glossy, English-language online magazine, Inspire, which is published out of Yemen and targets American Muslims.