Friday, September 30, 2011

CIA Drone Strike Kills Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen

U.S. officials have confirmed that Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric linked to al Qaeda's Yemen-based wing, was killed by a CIA drone strike today. The targeted assassination is being claimed as a success for Washington and its partners in the fight against Islamic militancy.

"The United States has stepped up drone strikes in Yemen to try and keep al Qaeda off balance and prevent it from capitalizing on the strife and chaos gripping the nation.

Awlaki was the first U.S. citizen who the White House authorized the CIA or other U.S. agencies to kill because of his alleged operational role in militant attacks directed against the United States.

This authorization was issued after intelligence was collected linking him to a botched attempt to bomb a U.S.-bound plane in December 2009. He was also accused of helping to oversee a failed plot in October 2010 to blow up U.S. cargo aircraft, the Obama administration official said."

More Drone Strikes in Pakistan

The Voice of America reports that earlier today targeted CIA drone strikes in Pakistan killed three people. "U.S. officials do not publicly acknowledge the use of drone strikes inside Pakistan, but privately have confirmed their existence to various news outlets. Pakistani leaders condemn the strikes as a violation of the country's sovereignty."

The Long War Journal reports that "today's strike is the fourth in Pakistan's tribal areas this month, and the third since September 23. In the last two strikes, which took place in North Waziristan on September 23 and South Waziristan on September 27, no senior al Qaeda or Taliban leaders were reported killed. The previous strike, on Sept. 11, killed killed Abu Hafs al Shahri, whom U.S. intelligence officials have described as al Qaeda's operations chief for Pakistan."

The attacks in Pakistan come as tensions are increasing between the two countries. Several U.S. officials, including Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, have accused Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, of directly supporting Haqqani Network attacks inside Afghanistan.

Additional Resource: How the CIA Became a Killing Machine

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Afghanistan 101 is a blog of the American Friends Service Committee
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