Official: U.S. drones fired missiles that killed U.S.-born cleric Awlaki Anwar al-Awlaki

Reply Fri 30 Sep, 2011 10:51 am
September 30, 2011
Official: U.S. drones fired missiles that killed U.S.-born cleric Awlaki
Anwar al-Awlaki

By Adam Baron and Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Newspapers

SANAA, Yemen — Anwar al Awlaki, an American-born Muslim preacher who became among the world's most wanted terrorist figures, was killed in Yemen, the Yemeni Defense Ministry announced Friday.

In a statement, the government said Awlaki was "targeted and killed" about 90 miles east of Sanaa, the Yemeni capital. The "operation" was launched at around 9:55 a.m. local time, the statement said. It provided no other details.

But a senior U.S. official confirmed the death and said the attack had been conducted by “multiple” U.S. drones firing missiles. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.

A senior Pentagon official declined to discuss details of the attack. Drones flying over Yemen are operated by the CIA.

Also killed in the attack was a second American, Samir Khan, who was the editor of the English-language Al Qaida magazine "Inspire". Khan, who was born in Saudi Arabia and grew up in New York, moved to North Carolina with his family in 2004. He was known for a militant blog while he was a student at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte.

Born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents, Awlaki was considered the public face of Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemeni affiliate of the terrorist network, though his terrorist role is sharply disputed. Many analysts in the Middle East suggested that his greatest contribution to al Qaida was inspirational, not operational.

But U.S. officials quickly accused him of having taken a leading role in AQAP's operations.

Speaking at a retirement ceremony for Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, President Barack Obama called Awlaki's death a "major blow to Al Qaida's most active operational affiliate."

He said that as "leader of external operations" for AQAP, Awlaki "took the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans," charging that Awlaki directed the failed attempt to blow up an airplane on Christmas Day in 2009 and directed the failed attempt to blow up U.S.-bound cargo planes in 2010.

"He repeatedly called on individuals in the United States and around the globe to kill innocent men, women and children to advance a murderous agenda," Obama said. "The death of Awlaki marks another significant milestone in the broader effort to defeat Al Qaida."

A senior Defense Department official in Washington said Awlaki "wasn't simply a propagandist, but over the years had become an operational figure who was increasingly focused on planning and carrying out attacks against the United States and our allies."

"A very bad man just had a very bad day," said the official, who spoke on the condition he not be identified. "It's a good day, though, for American counterterrorism efforts."

Obama last year authorized the killing of Awlaki in an executive order. Awlaki is the only American citizen known to have been subject to such authorization.

Though he lacked substantial grounding in Islamic theology, Awlaki’s fluent English and technological savvy provided him with an audience few preachers could dream of.

Awlaki’s name is attached to at least four terror plots against American soil, most notably the November, 2009, shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas, that left 13 people dead. Major Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused in the shooting, had exchanged more than a dozen emails with Awlaki prior to the shootings.

He was also suspected of contacts with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called underwear bomber who attempted in December 2009 to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner with an explosive device hidden in his pants. The bomb failed to explode.

But suspicions about Awlaki's ties to terrorism date to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. Awlaki knew at least two of the 9/11 hijackers and had been a cleric at mosques where they worshiped in both San Diego and suburban Washington.

"He's a 9/11 loose end," Philip Zelikiow, the executive director of the commission that investigated the 9/11 attacks, once told McClatchy. Zelikow added that one of his frustrations with the 9/11 investigation was its inability to determine what Awlaki's relationship was to 9/11 hijackers who turned up at Awlaki's mosques in San Diego and then again in Falls Church, Va.

Awlaki left the United States in 2002 after investigators began taking an interest in his 9/11 ties.

Awlaki’s death caps a string of major successes in the U.S. war on terrorism that began May 2, when U.S. commandos killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan. In the months since, U.S. drone strikes have killed several key al Qaida-linked militants.

Landay reported from Washington. Lesley Clark contributed to this report from Washington.

Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/09/30/125728/us-born-cleric-anwar-al-awlaki.html#ixzz1ZSHy4J7y
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Reply Fri 30 Sep, 2011 10:53 am
A U.S. Citizen??? Who signed the death warrant???
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Reply Fri 30 Sep, 2011 11:30 am
CharlotteObserver.com Local News
September 30, 2011
Ex-Charlotte man killed in U.S. attack in Yemen
By Steve Lyttle

Samir Khan is a former Central Piedmont Community College student who started a blog that promoted his jihadist views.

Samir Khan, who left his northeast Charlotte home for Yemen and became editor of an al Qaida-linked web magazine, was among the militants reported killed Friday in a U.S. air strike in Yemen.

Yemen's Defense Ministry announced that Khan, 25, was killed in the same strike that claimed Anwar al-Awlaki, also an American militant. Al-Awlaki, 40, was considered one of the top figures in the terrorist group's network.

Khan spent his early years in New York but moved to Charlotte with his family in 2004.

He attended CPCC and wrote a militant blog while a student there. That blog, titled "Inshallahshaheed," or "a martyr soon if God wills," was the first of several blogs he edited while living with his parents in northeast Charlotte.

National Public Radio reported a year ago that the FBI was preparing to bring terrorist charges against Khan, although FBI officials in the Charlotte area said they could not comment on the reports.

After moving to Yemen, apparently two or three years ago, he began producing "Inspire," an English-language magazine for al Qaida. At the time, Khan wrote that he "pledged to wage jihad for the rest of our lives."

The magazine included articles on how to conduct terrorist attacks in the United States. The most recent edition of the magazine focused on the U.S. media.

U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick has used Khan as an example of the reason she is pushing for tougher anti-terrorism laws in the United States.

U.S. military officials told the Associated Press on Friday that they believe Khan was in the convoy carrying al-Awlaki. That convoy was attacked by the same U.S. Joint Special Operations Command unit that killed Osama bin Laden earlier this year.

Jibril Hough, spokesman for the Islamic Center of Charlotte, told the Observer last year that Khan's views were widely rejected in the local Muslim community. Hough said Khan was not allowed to speak at any of the major mosques.

Hough also told the Observer that Muslim community leaders, including Khan's father, met with Khan in late 2007 and early 2008 in an unsuccessful effort to steer him away from supporting terrorism.

"Our counseling didn't look like it made that great of an impact," Hough said.

Staff writer Franco Ordonez and the Associated Press contributed

Read more: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/09/30/2652250/ex-charlotte-man-killed-in-us.html#ixzz1ZSRz8fgs
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