The Assassinations of Awlaki and Khan Change Nothing
Samir Kahn & Anawar Al-Awlaki of AQPA
The US had another alleged victory Friday in the war against the unnamed threat-Islamic terrorism. American – born Jihadi Preacher Anwar Al-Awlaki (Awlaki) and Saudi –born US Citizen Samir Khan (Khan) of Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) were assassinated by missiles fired from a CIA Predator UAV at a convoy in Yemen. As indicated in this FoxNews report by Catherine Herridge, they had been instrumental at exploiting social media via the Internet to recruit Jihadis. The attack, according to an ABC News report, occurred near the town of Khasaf, about 90 miles from the Yemeni Capital of Sana. The New York Times reported President Obama hailing this as a major strike crippling Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
The death of Awlaki marks another significant milestone in the broader effort to defeat Al Qaeda and its affiliates,” the president said at a ceremony Friday to mark the retirement of Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Both House Homeland Security Chairman, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney congratulated President Obama.
“The killing of al-Awlaki is a tremendous tribute to President Obama and the men and women of our intelligence community,” Representative Peter T. King of New York, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement Friday.
“I commend the president, the members of the intelligence community, our service members, and our allies for their continued efforts to keep Americans safe,” Mr. Romney said in a statement. “Nevertheless, we must remain vigilant and continue the fight against those who seek to destroy us and our freedoms.”
The ABC report further indicated the more significant casualty in the CIA drone attack may have been Saudi-national and bombmaker, Khalid Ibrahim al-Asiri. Al-Asiri had been involved with the ‘engineering’ for the bombing attempt on the Saudi Interior minister in August, 2009, the Christmas 2009 underwear bombing attempt over Detroit and creation of the printer cartridge bombs found in October, 2010 on a plane in Dubai in DHL courier packs destined for targets in the US.
The Awlaki and Khan killings were not without critics. The President’s actions were lambasted by the left, the ACLU, and from the libertarian right, with Texas Republican Congressman and perennial GOP candidate for the Presidency, Ron Paul.
The ACLU immediately jumped in indicating that the killing of two American citizens was illegal under the US Constitution, notwithstanding Obama’s 2010 ‘capture or kill’ order for Awlaki. Note what the PBS Need to Know blog site reported:
“We continue to believe that the targeted killing program violates both U.S. and international law,” Jameel Jaffer, the deputy legal director of the ACLU, said in an interview Friday morning with Need to Know. “As we’ve seen today, it’s a program under which U.S. citizens far from any battlefield can be executed by their own government without judicial process and on the basis of standards and evidence that are secret.”
. . . That Americans need to think about such actions because Awlaki was born in the United States and was entitled to the same rights as all U.S. citizens.
"No, I don't think that's a good way to deal with our problems,” Paul said in a videotape of the questioning by reporters. Awlaki “was never tried or charged for any crimes. No one knows if he killed anybody. We know he might have been associated with the ‘underwear bomber.’ But if the American people accept this blindly and casually that we now have an accepted practice of the president assassinating people who he thinks are bad guys. I think it's sad.”
Paul went on to compare the situation to Timothy McVeigh, convicted of blowing up a truck bomb at the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. The attack killed 168 people and injured more than 800 people.
“I think, what would people have said about Timothy McVeigh? We didn't assassinate him, who certainly had done it,” Paul said. McVeigh “was put through the courts then executed. … To start assassinating American citizens without charges, we should think very seriously about this.”
Paul argued that the killing of Awlaki was different from the attack on Bin Laden because Bin Laden was involved in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.
“I voted for authority to go after those individuals responsible for 9/11,” Paul said. “Nobody ever suggested that he [Awlaki] was participant in 9/11.”
Paul may not be in command of all the facts about Awlaki’s association with 9/11 perpetrators.
Awlaki had met with three of the 9/11 perpetrators involved with the Flight 77 attack on the Pentagon in both San Diego and when he preached at the Dar al Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Virginia. Awlaki engaged in taqiyyah immediately following 9/11 with the media, see this October, 2001 PBS News Hour interview with Ray Suarez. Then there were revelations about Awlaki’s dinner at the Pentagon in 2002-see here. After his interrogations by the FBI, he was never detained and fled the country for Yemen. The question remains why wasn’t he placed on a no fly list by the counterterrorism echelons in the FBI to prevent his flight from the US? Moreover, why hadn’t federal prosecutors convened a grand jury investigation after his flight to issue warrants for his arrest under federal counterterrorism law? Perhaps those secrets died with him in the CIA Predator attack in Yemen. But we would gainsay a Freedom of Information Act dragnet might reveal, at least heavily redacted, evidence that such investigations had been initiated.
Awlaki had exchanged more than 20 emails with lone Jihadi, Maj. Nidal Hasan, the perpetrator of the November, and 2009 Fort Hood Massacre. Hasan is about to undergo a military courts martial under the Universal Code of Military Justice with the ultimate penalty of death. Fawzi Shahad, the Kashmiri-born naturalized US citizen acknowledged being “inspired” by Awlaki for his May 1, 2010 Times Square attempted bombing. Moreover, there is the American Muslim convert, Carlos Bledsoe, who adopted the name of Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad who killed US Army recruiter, Pvt. William Long, and wounded another soldier at a Little Rock, Arkansas mall recruiting center in May, 2010. Bledsoe/Muhammed had traveled to Yemen to learn Arabic, married a Yemeni woman and received training. Was he in contact with Awlaki and the AQAP? Probably.
Awlaki was involved in a death fatwa against a Seattle -based cartoonist, Laurie Norris in July 2010 who at the urging of the FBI went into hiding. According to this CNN report, Norris had drawn a cartoon and posted it on her Facebook page. She called for an “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” on May 20, 2010 for which over 100,000 had signed up.
Awlaki in a signed article in the AQAP English language magazine and webzine, Inspire, edited by Samir Khan a cyber Jihadi killed in Friday’s missile attack said:
She should be taken as a prime target of assassination. This campaign is not a practice of freedom of speech, but is a nationwide movement of Americans who are going out of their way to offend Muslims worldwide.
Did Awlaki lose his entitlement to protection under the US Constitution, through these and other alleged involvements in terrorist bombing attempts? We wait for US Attorney General Eric Holder to respond to these questions. Attorney General Holder tried to grant the right to criminal prosecution under US law for several 9/11 alleged planners and detainees at GITMO, most prominently, Khaled Sheik Mohammed. Under intense criticism from Congress and elements of the media, the Obama Administration reverted back to the original Military Tribunals, which have yet to proceed against the suspected 9/11 planners in GITMO detention.
We noted in an NER article in November, 2007 about the cyber sleuthing of colleague Joseph Shahda that Samir Khan had been profiled by the New York Times as the alleged webmaster for al Qaeda, operating from his base in North Carolina. We wrote:
One of those engaged in the war against internet Jihad, Joseph Shahda, emerged from those shadows in a series of investigative articles by New York Times reporter, Michael Moss, that appeared on October 15th and 21st. The first article discussed the internet Jihadis themselves, including, most dramatically, 21 year old Samir Khan of North Carolina who ran an internet relay for al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, seemingly with impunity.
Saudi-born Khan grew up in Queens, New York in a middle class family. Unlike, Awlaki, he was a naturalized US citizen. If this was public knowledge four years ago, you would have thought that Khan, whose on-line activities were being monitoring by the FBI, would at least have been put on a no-fly list?
While both Awlaki and Khan are now dead, would that have closed the book on them and the AQAP? Catherine Herridge of Fox News said on an interview Friday, the broad reach of Awlaki and Khan remains as a legacy on the AQAP internet site leading to possible retaliatory attacks.
Media reported that there were at least three other US Citizens on the ‘capture or kill’ list. Perhaps that might include ‘Bama boy, Omar Hammami, an al Shabaab commander in Somalia. At least, in his case, the Federal prosecutors convened a grand jury investigation in Mobile, Alabama to issue an indictment under US law charging him with giving material aid to terrorists.
Jerry, how right you are to say: “Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose”.
This news of Awlaki’s, Khan’s and possibly Al-Asiri’s death as well as that of Bin Laden before, should be viewed in the context of Obama’s responsibilities rather than in the context of momentary elation.
One such duty of Obama, like Bush before him, was and remains to go after Al Qaeda, its forces and leadership.
That these people are dead and gone is a good thing. It is a consequence of Obama doing his job as president, just as it was Bush’s job to do what he could to that end.
The death of these people is not however, the result of Obama being daring, bold, brilliant and going above and beyond the call of his duty to order these attacks. American forces did act under Obama’s orders, but his giving those orders, was only in furtherance of doing his ordinary duty and what Americans expect of him and all their presidents.
Given that, I find King’s and Romney’s high praise to Obama misguided. Misguided, not just in their giving Obama political advantage by such praise, but in the context of giving high praise to Obama personally as if Obama did something unusual, bold, daring and brilliant in giving American forces the order to proceed with their attack.
Though it may take a few months for al Qaeda to replace these leaders, there are 1000’s ready to take their place.
Praising Obama for his success in doing his ordinary duty re al Qaeda’s leadership, which would not have happened but for the American forces, including intelligence forces, distracts Americans from the fact that Al Qaeda is only 1 of a great many facets of Islamic Jihad that mortally threaten the West and America and Israel in particular.
It also distracts attention away from the fact that Obama’s apology/appeasement policies as regards the Muslim world are not working nearly as well as he hoped. In spite of those Obama extended hand outreach appeasement policies, there is growing anger, suspicion and resentment in much of the Muslim world towards America.
The Islamic Jihadists use that to gin up their followers to join as the ground troops in the war against the West and those ground troops are coming from not just outside, but from within the West.
Obama is thus failing in his duty to Americans when it comes to confronting and dealing with so many other facets of Islamic Jihad that threatens America, Israel and the West.
Even if America pats Obama on the back for these al Qaeda leaders being taken out under his watch Obama’s failures in confronting, dealing with and combatting Islamic Jihadists and their entire infrastructure outside and within America should remain the primary focus.
Most of the praise for the deaths of these Al Qaeda leaders however, must go not to Obama, but to the American forces that made the obvious fulfillment of Presidential duty happen this time.