2011: Controversial figures meet their demise
Newspaper headlines announce the death of Osama Bin Laden on May 2, 2011.
December 27th, 2011
05:23 AM ET

2011: Controversial figures meet their demise

Though it’s never something to rejoice, 2011 may be most remembered for the demise of some controversial figures. Their deaths sparked both celebration and anger; they had fanatical supporters but many more who loathed them and what they stood for. Here is a look back at the significance of the deaths of Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki and Moammar Gadhafi.

Osama bin Laden killed on May 2 – Enemy number 1 for many Western governments, the al Qaeda leader managed to remain hidden despite a worldwide manhunt to track him down after he planned the September 11th attacks. Nearly 10 years after that tragic day, a search by the CIA finally tracked him down to a compound in Pakistan. With the go-ahead from President Obama, Seal Team 6 launched a night raid on the compound in the city of Abbottabad and killed bin Laden.

Anwar al-Awlaki killed on September 30 – If Osama bin Laden was the heart and soul of al Qaeda, Anwar al-Awlaki was its voice. The English-speaking propagandist was famed for his ability to speak to and inspire jihadists around the world, prompting President Obama to approve the first-ever targeted killing of a U.S. citizen. The American-born cleric had managed to escape at least two previous assassination attempts, before being killed by a Predator drone in Yemen.

Moammar Gadhafi killed on October 20 – In the eyes of Americans, the Libyan leader alternated between potential North African ally and the “mad dog” of the Middle East – but to many in his country he was simply a brutal dictator. As the Arab Spring spread to Libya, protests turned to outright rebellion as civilians and some army units took up arms against pro-Gadhafi forces. After months of heavy fighting, support from NATO forces helped the rebels overthrow the Gadhafi regime and, a month later, Gadhafi was found in his hometown of Sirte. Cell phone video captured his final moments.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Barack Obama • CIA • Libya • NATO • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan • Security • September 11 • Terrorism • War • World • Yemen
soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Jason

    Good job Obama!

    December 27, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. achepotle

    Thanks President Obama1 You worked hard this year keeping America safe. Enjoy your vacation...America is praying for you!

    December 27, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Xgirl360

    Um, thetruth,

    Assad is still in power, Saleh is on his way out.
    You need a fact checker. Seriously...

    December 27, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Observer

    Good year for Obama after Bush didn't care about bin Laden.

    December 27, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Guest

    How is Osama bin Laden controversial? He was the leader behind the 9/11 attack and had no problem with starting "jihad" against America. He was about as controversial as Hitler.

    December 27, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. DjkrB

    Dear CNN:

    Congratulations.

    Your boards are the biggest joke in blogdom.

    Your “report abuse” button is apparently disabled, because nothing is ever done about the vitriolic and disgusting garbage that is posted here.

    These boards are now know as a safe haven for schoolchildren trolls who like potty humor.

    Please post a thread about feces and fetish s*e*x, because that is all that is ever posted anymore anyway.

    Perhaps this way, they will post on that thread, and leave the serious posters here alone.

    The contempt that CNN shows its readers and posters by not moderating this blog is reprehensible.

    DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

    December 27, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DjkrB

    I just pooped my panties

    December 28, 2011 at 3:13 am | Report abuse |
  8. alex

    I just bumped into a youtube video earlier and I found that one about 2012 as end of the world. if that is so then both big and small figures in the world will then meet final demise. high efficiency motor

    December 29, 2011 at 6:52 am | Report abuse |
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