Washington: US President Barack Obama on Friday said the killing of radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen is a major blow to the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

He made the remarks in the retirement ceremony of Adm. Mike Mullen, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reported a website.  

Obama said Al-Awlaki was behind several high-profile attacks on the US, and is 'directly responsible for the deaths of many Yemeni citizens'.

“He directed the failed attempt to blow up an airplane on Christmas Day in 2009. He directed the failed attempt to blow up US cargo planes in 2010,” said Obama. 

Al-Awlaki was killed earlier in southeast Yemen in an air raid, according to Yemen's defence ministry.  

He was a major recruiter for al Qaeda, and US officials suspect him to have provided spiritual guidance to attackers who carried out Fort Hood shooting in November 2009 and the underwear bomb attempt on a US airliner the following month.  

The 40-year-old cleric was born in the US state of New Mexico to Yemeni parents, and has US citizenship.