WASHINGTON – The U.S. State Department issued a “worldwide” alert Saturday, urging overseas travelers to be mindful of “the potential for retaliation against U.S. citizens and interests” following the killing of American-born militant cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, CNN reported.
Al-Awlaki – the face of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula whose fluency with English and technology made him a top terrorist recruiter- was killed Friday in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen, officials said. The State Department alert, which is in effect until November 30, urges U.S. citizens abroad to register with the government to make it easier to contact them in case of an emergency.
The alert follows a joint bulletin issued late Friday by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security that similarly warns that al-Awlaki’s killing may provoke attacks, if his supporters seek to portray him as a martyr in a supposed U.S. war against Islam. It said the deaths “could provide motivation for homeland attacks” by “homegrown violent extremists,” the type the two men allegedly tried to recruit or inspire. A similar bulletin was issued following the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Three others were killed in the attack including Samir Khan, an American, who produced the terrorist network’s English-language online magazine, Inspire. A U.S. official told CNN on Saturday that there are indications that Ibrahim Hasan al-Asiri, a top bomb maker for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was at the scene of the attack but couldn’t confirm whether he had been killed.
U.S. officials believe al-Asiri was behind the thwarted 2009 Christmas day “underwear” bomb as well as a failed October 2010 plot to put explosive devices on cargo planes headed to the United States.