NEW YORK - Osama bin Laden's possible al-Qaeda successor, Anwar al-Awlaki, was targeted but missed by a US drone attack in Yemen, according to American military officials. Pentagon officials said an unmanned aircraft bombed a remote compound Thursday, targeting the US-born al-Awlaki, The New York Times reported Saturday. There were casualties, but al-Awlaki was not among them, unidentified military officials told the Times. Since locating and killing bin Laden in Abbottabad, Monday, the US intelligence community's concern has been to identify the apparent heir to the leadership of the militant group. The Times said al-Awlaki is considered a threat because he was born in the United States and his fluency in English. He is considered to be instrumental in recruiting al-Qaeda guerrillas in Western countries. He regularly posts messages on the Internet and the CIA alleges he is recruiting English-speaking militants to join the crusade, the report said. The targeting information was not the result of information gathered from the seizure Monday of materials from Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, one official said. A US defence official confirmed that the drone was under the control of the American military - not the CIA. Al-Awlaki was born in New Mexico and preached at a mosque in Virginia before leaving the United States for Yemen. The US drone attack in Yemen was the first in the country since 2002 and came amid civil unrest calling for the ouster of President Saleh. AFP adds: a source from Awlaqi's tribe in Shabwa province east of Sanaa told AFP the cleric was travelling with a Saudi Al-Qaeda member when they were targeted by a US drone strike. The car was slightly damaged but the two men escaped unharmed. "Their car had minor damage, but they were able to proceed in another car," said the source who is linked to the local administration in the region where Awlaqi's tribe has considerable influence. The drone attack hit another car in which two local Qaeda members, both brothers, were travelling. It killed them and wounded a third. Awlaqi, an American citizen who remains at large in Yemen, is suspected of being a leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and of instigating a string of attacks against the United States. The US has also accused Awlaqi of having links with Major Nidal Hasan who is suspected of shooting dead 13 people at Fort Hood military base in Texas in November 2009.