He made a name for himself delivering sermons in English in mosques across the United States, where he also worked for a charity association founded by Yemeni cleric Abdul Majeed al-Zendani, whom the U.S. government has identified as a “global terrorist.” AL ARABIYA – AGENCIESAnwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born Muslim cleric linked to al-Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing, was reportedly killed, along with several of his companions, the Yemeni Defense Ministry said on Friday. “The terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki has been killed along with some of his companions,” it said in a statement sent by text message to journalists. The ministry did not elaborate on the circumstances of Awlaki’s death in a statement released to the media. A senior U.S. official confirmed Awlaki had been killed, according to Reuters. “I can confirm he’ s dead,” the Obama administration official said. But the official would not immediately provide any details of the operation that targeted Awlaki. Tribal sources told an Al Arabiya correspondent that two cars suspected of carrying Awlaki and his companions between the province of al-Jawaf Ma’rib were targeted. Awlaki had been implicated in a botched attempt to bomb a U.S.-bound plane in 2009. U.S. authorities have branded him a “global terrorist” but Sana’a had previously appeared reluctant to act against him. Eloquent in English and Arabic, Awlaki encouraged attacks on the United States and was seen as a man who could draw in more al-Qaeda recruits from western countries. Washington had linked Awlaki to a shooting rampage in November 2009 at a U.S. army base and to the botched Christmas Day attack that year on a U.S. airliner. A Yemeni court, under mounting U.S. pressure to fight al-Qaeda after a foiled air cargo bomb plot in late October last year, had ordered his arrest by any means for his alleged al-Qaeda links. “Awlaki is a problem,” U.S. President Barack Obama’s counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan said in January, 2010. “He’s clearly a part of al-Qaeda in (the) Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). He’s not just a cleric.” Brennan directly accused Awlaki of having links with Major Nidal Hasan who is suspected of shooting dead 13 people at Fort Hood military base in Texas, and who is set to face trial in a military court on March 5, 2012. Awlaki may also have had contact with Nigerian student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, accused of trying to blow up the Christmas Day plane, Brennan said. In July, 2010, Washington placed Awlaki on its list of terrorism supporters, freezing his financial assets and banning any transactions with him. In May last year, the United States said it was actively hunting Awlaki. “He has an agenda just like al-Qaeda to strike targets in Yemen, throughout the world including here in the United States,” the White House spokesman said. But an Awlaki relative has insisted the imam “is not a fighter of al-Qaeda.” “He is just a preacher,” he said. Awlaki comes from a well-off family. His father is a former minister of agriculture and was the president of the university of Sana’a. He was born in New Mexico in 1971, attended school in Yemen and graduated from Colorado State University in civil engineering. He also holds a master’s degree in education leadership from San Diego State University. He made a name for himself delivering sermons in English in mosques across the United States, where he also worked for a charity association founded by Yemeni cleric Abdul Majeed al-Zendani, whom the U.S. government has identified as a “global terrorist.” Awlaki was arrested in Yemen in 2006 for his role in kidnapping the son of a rich Yemeni family and demanding ransom money “to finance al-Qaeda,” Yemeni security sources said. Two years later he was set free on condition that he report to police daily, but he fled to the eastern Shabwa region. Awlaki went to ground after an air raid on December 24, 2009 struck a meeting of al-Qaeda leaders in Wadi Rafadh, in Shabwa province, killing 34. In May this year, a Yemeni tribal source said Awlaki narrowly escaped a U.S. drone attack three days after American commandos killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. The strike in Shabwa was the first reported U.S. targeting of other key figures in the terror network after a commando raid killed bin Laden inside Pakistan on May 2. Awlaki was married with five children.