Friday, September 30, 2011
U.S. Plot to Kill Al-Awlaki Included Fighter Jets, Special Ops
September 30, 2011 - U.S. forces killed two U.S. citizens who had become important Al Qaeda operatives. Dead are senior Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki Samir Khan, plus two others who were traveling with them in Yemen early this morning. The terrorists were taken out by "a CIA-led U.S. drone strike, marking the highest-profile takedown of terror leaders since the raid on Usama bin Laden's compound," reports Fox News. The operation involved two Predator drones. They flew over al-Awlaki's convoy and fired Hellfire missiles, killing al-Awlaki. Fox News says that a senior U.S. official claims that the operation "was carried out by Joint Special Operations Command, under the direction of the CIA." A CBS News report late today notes that the U.S. military and intelligence forces tracked Anwar al-Awlaki for a number of years. "Awlaki," says CBS, "who apparently inspired the Fort Hood major who killed 13 service members and whose ties to al Qaeda may go back as far as the 9/11 hijackers, was tracked down leaving a funeral in Yemen and killed by a rocket fired from a U.S. drone aircraft." "Al-Awlaki would be the most prominent Al Qaeda figure to be killed since bin Laden's death in a U.S. raid in Pakistan in May," says Fox News, which also notes that U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in July that Al-Awlaki was on the most wanted list, which included Ayman al-Zawahri, bin Laden's successor as the terror network's leader." The FBI's Most Wanted Terrorist List says that "Ayman Al-Zawahiri has been indicted for his alleged role in the August 7, 1998, bombings of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya." Al-Awlaki, says the FBI, was designated by the United States as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist” on July 12, 2010. (Also see Terrorism Designations Press Releases, U.S. Dept. of State) CBS reports that while Samir Khan two fellow convoy passengers were also killed, Awlaki was the real target. "He had narrowly escaped an earlier drone strike the week after the Bin Laden raid," said CBS, "and this time the U.S. was taking no chances." Fox News notes that "Al-Awlaki was a U.S.-born Islamic militant cleric who became a prominent figure with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the network's most active branch." One of Al-Awlaki's most important roles within Al Qaeda was propagandist. As a native English speaker and one who had first hand knowledge of American culture, he was especially effective at recruiting jihadists from within the U.S. "Awlaki has become a prominent cyber-jihadist," reported Long War Journal in July. "Combining his ability to communicate in English with his charisma with young, radical Muslims and his presence on the Web, Awlaki has developed a large following. He gives numerous lectures and speeches via the Internet and teleconferences. US law enforcement agencies and intelligence services consider Awlaki to be a prime recruiter for al Qaeda as well as a provider of the needed religious justifications, or fatwas, for jihadis to carry out attacks." That deadly voice has been silenced. There will be others.