Breaking: Awlaki dead? Update: American Samir Khan also killed

posted at 7:26 am on September 30, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

The New York Times reports this morning that officials in both Yemen and Washington claim that American-born Al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki has reached room temperature somewhere in Yemen:

In a significant and dramatic strike in the campaign against Al Qaeda, the Defense Ministry here said American-born preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, a leading figure in the group’s outpost in Yemen, was killed on Friday morning.

In Washington a senior Obama administration official confirmed that Mr. Awlaki was dead. But the circumstances surrounding the killing remained unclear.

It was not immediately known whether Yemeni forces carried out the attack or if American intelligence forces, which have been pursuing Mr. Awlaki for months, were involved in the operation.

A Defense Ministry statement said that a number of Mr. Awlaki’s bodyguards also were killed.

A high-ranking Yemeni security official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that Mr. Awlaki was killed while traveling between Marib and al-Jawf provinces in northern Yemen — areas known for having an Al Qaeda presence, where there is very little central government control. The official did not say how he was killed.

Awlaki has a long history of terrorism against the US.  At first considered a moderate cleric — the Bush administration invited him to the Pentagon as part of their outreach program after 9/11 — he became a suspect in the 9/11 attacks after at least three of the hijackers were traced to his mosque.  Awlaki fled the US and eventually masterminded the Christmas Day underwear plot in 2009 as well as a later plot to destroy cargo airplanes bound for the US, and at least inspired the Fort Hood massacre and other so-called “lone wolf” attacks.

These kind of early reports from places like Yemen have often proven wrong, although having confirmation from Washington makes it a little more reliable.  That also strongly hints that US forces were involved in the killing, which may mean hints will be all we’ll get.  As an American citizen, his status created controversy for the Obama administration when it became clear that they had tasked the military and intelligence communities with killing rather than apprehending him.  Awlaki put himself in that position by conducting a war against the US, though, and in war a belligerent has no particular duty to apprehend anyone who doesn’t surrender to their forces, regardless of their nationality.  For political reasons, don’t expect the same kind of celebration at the White House over Awlaki’s termination as was seen after Osama bin Laden’s death.

Assuming that Awlaki is really dead, though, this could be a bigger operational deal than getting bin Laden.  Awlaki’s group, AQAP, was by far the most active internationally among AQ affiliates, and his intimate knowledge of the US made him a dangerous foe.  His death won’t be the end of AQ’s attempts to create home-grown jihadis and infiltrators, but it will make that task a lot more difficult.

Update: Let’s not forget, however, that we’ve prematurely celebrated the end of this jihadi at least once before.

Update II: Rusty at MPJ notes that another American jihadi/traitor breathed his last in this attack, although at first he was rumored to have survived:

Sources in Yemen clarify why the rumor that he survived started: there were two missiles, he survived the first one …. but that second one? That one was the kill shot.

Samir Khan fled the US to Yemen and began producing the al-Qaeda recruitment “magazine” Inspire.  That makes two less Americans for AQ to consult on recruiting home-grown jihadis.  Be sure to read more at Khan at MPJ.

Update III: ABC News now reports on Khan’s demise:

A young American who edited al Qaeda’s English-language magazine, and had urged Muslims to mount deadly attacks on U.S. targets, was killed in the same CIA drone strike that eliminated Anwar Awlaki in Yemen Friday, U.S. officials said.

Khan, 25, was the Saudi-born, New York-raised editor behind “Inspire” magazine, the English language online publication of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP. Khan had become a rising figure in jihadist propaganda and an “aspiring” Awlaki, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

But while Awlaki relied on sermons to recruit jihadis, Khan used sarcasm and idiomatic English in an attempt to appeal to Western youth. As Khan himself has said, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that I [am] Al Qaeda to the core.” He titled a rebuke of toppled Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak “A Cold Diss.” Khan’s ability to use American vernacular, like a graphic depicting graffiti that reads, “Jihad 4 Eva,” had prompted concerns that young Muslims with an interest in jihad and al Qaeda would be drawn to a voice similar to their own.

“He does appear to be increasingly involved with operational activities [of Al Qaeda]”, a U.S. official told ABC News in 2010.

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The left has no argument or rational platform anymore. Their whole ideology is false and built on a foundation of pure hypocrisy.

Opposite Day on September 30, 2011 at 2:50 PM

That’s because the left isn’t driven by reason. They’re driven on emotion. Ann Coulter summed it up perfectly. They’re a mob, with a mob mentality.

hawksruleva on September 30, 2011 at 3:10 PM

Good gracious! All of this hand-wringing over the supposed Constitutional rights of two despicable traitors who fled the country and incited all manner of violence against the U.S. and her citizens is pretty damned sickening. These pigs, by word and deed, renounced their U.S. citizenship and did it for the whole world to see. How exactly does one renounce ones citizenzhip and still maintain Constitutional rights? That makes no sense. They are responsible for the circumstances of their demise.

CantCureStupid on September 30, 2011 at 3:11 PM

American Samir Khan also killed

Double the Pauliac heartache!

jnelchef on September 30, 2011 at 3:11 PM

There was due process, just not as we’re used to seeing. Treason isn’t something that comes up too often. The law, however, is crystal clear. Once you undertake military action, your citizenship is forfeit. That IS due process. The law was passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President.

Washington Nearsider on September 30, 2011 at 1:23 PM

You (and Rich Lowry, John Ashcroft, and others) are right. I was wrong. Because terrorists don’t wear uniforms, and don’t all carry guns and shoot people, I slipped into believing they’re civilians. But al-Awlaki and Khan were clearly at war against the U.S.

hawksruleva on September 30, 2011 at 3:17 PM

One down, 999,999,999 pisslamic jihadis to go.

Western_Civ on September 30, 2011 at 3:28 PM

Killing website pundits now?

Could AllahPundit be next?

faraway on September 30, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Cool! Let’s form a HUMAN SHIELD – for Allahpundit!

Blake on September 30, 2011 at 12:41 PM

They’d have to find and identify him first. I’m not sure it could be done.

trigon on September 30, 2011 at 3:29 PM

I am so glad we did not waterboard this guy…that would have been so much worse.

d1carter on September 30, 2011 at 4:01 PM

“was killed in the same CIA drone strike…”

Petraeus/Newt 2012…!


Seven Percent Solution on September 30, 2011 at 4:05 PM

I’m just hearing about Awlaki’s involvement in 9/11. He helped several of the hijackers get settled in the U.S. in San Diego and Virginia.

Ron Paul is criticizing the hit.

flataffect on September 30, 2011 at 4:17 PM

Happy New Year, Anwar. Any plan for 5772? A new camel, new hut, new goat?

bayview on September 30, 2011 at 4:19 PM

Enemy command and control personnel are legitimate targets of war. Being a US citizen does not get you a pass. Awalkai was just as legitimate a target as was Admiral Yamamoto.

LarryD on September 30, 2011 at 4:19 PM

According to the left then, anyone considered or labeled a terrorist regardless if they are a US citizen can be subject to a missile strike assassination that turns them into goo.

I ask the left this: If you asked the top level detainees in GITMO if they rather stay there until their outcome of a military tribunal or be turned into goo with a missile strike, which would they choose?

Sorry, lefties, you are a ton more war mongerous and anti-due process than John Yoo, George Bush or for that matter, Dick Cheney could ever dream of being.

For the record, I say kudos for the prez, the CIA or whomever turned on the goo machine.

I’m all for it, but it does reveal using disinfectant effect of sunlight, the left’s stunning hypocrisy

Opposite Day on September 30, 2011 at 4:33 PM

And another thing, FRONTLINE, PBS and the lefty media have no problem with showing images of the poor “oppressed” folks over there in sunny GITMO.

How’s about you print or broadcast some of the terrorists body parts and goo that Obama’s prefers over GITMO detention?


Opposite Day on September 30, 2011 at 4:36 PM


Sorry I had to.

clement on September 30, 2011 at 4:59 PM

Maybe they should rename their recruitment magazine to “Expire.”

flataffect on September 30, 2011 at 5:43 PM

Ode to Anwar al-Awlaki

Crossin’ the highway late last night
He shoulda looked left and he shoulda looked right
He didn’t see the Reaper in the sky
The skunk got squashed and there you are!

You got yer
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
You got yer dead skunk in the middle of the road
Stinkin’ to high Heaven!

C’mon stink!

DSchoen on September 30, 2011 at 6:22 PM

Sorry if this is a repeat or obvious to some…

If you liked the hit on al-AwLaki, you’ll LOVE Michelle’s story on his companion in the targeted convoy: yet another US-bred ne’er-do-well.

And follow her links to the Jawa reports.

I just love reading drone porn in the morning.

fred5678 on September 30, 2011 at 6:22 PM

Sorry – I just checked the updates.

I repeat my comment on drone porn, though.

fred5678 on September 30, 2011 at 6:23 PM

On the other hand, the AQ’s actuaries are quite pleased with the hefty balance on hand in the pension fund.

drunyan8315 on September 30, 2011 at 6:45 PM

Maybe someone should tell Ron Paul that Awlaki was an anchor baby. That might make him reconsider his argument that Awlaki’s citizenship rights were violated.

Kim Priestap on September 30, 2011 at 7:39 PM

can the ACLU read someone his rights faster than a hellfire drone can fly? im jus’ askin’….
ted c on September 30, 2011 at 7:35 AM

Good question, and we are working on it but we’ve ran into some technical difficulties.
We have the “Miranda” right translated into 27 languages.

We have those “Rights” running in a contentious loop being broadcast from the The AGM-114 Hellfire missile.

Once fired the missile begins broadcasting.
The technical problem is the AGM-114 Hellfire missile fly’s at Mach 1.3 (950 mph; 425 m/s)
meaning the broadcast won’t be heard till after the missile goes “boom”.

Got any work around’s?

DSchoen on September 30, 2011 at 7:53 PM

Our friend Jake Tapper has a lovely kiss up article today about this. Says Obama has a lot of terrorist “notches” on his belt and It proves he is on the Offense not defense against terrorism. Jake made sure to put a little dig in against Giuliani too.
sandee on September 30, 2011 at 10:13 AM

Says Obama has a lot of terrorist “notches” on his belt
Obama’s belt would be notch-less if it weren’t for Bush decision to arm the 40 Predator drones we had. June 2001.

Obama’s belt would be notch-less if it weren’t for Bush decision go hardcore with armed drones, ordering hundreds of them, transforming entire air-wings into drones.

The MQ-1 Predator (Armed) was deployed successfully for the first time during the Afghan campaign in 2001 and subsequently during operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

The US Air Force announced the aircraft had reached Initial Operating Capability (IOC) on March 1, 2005.

21 June 2005 General Atomics was awarded a $73 million contract to speed up procurement of 17 Predator aircraft, production of 15 MQ-1L Block 10.

This is what is correctly known as MQ-9 Reaper

The US Air Force as the main customer expected delivery of those items to be complete by September 2008.
And these MQ-9 Reaper’s have been used in the majority of the Drone strikes.

Obama’s terrorist “notches” are a direct result of Bush’s war plan including the use of Drones!

Obama’s war record is as much a fraud as everything else!

DSchoen on September 30, 2011 at 9:16 PM

We even tried Nazis.

Notorious GOP on September 30, 2011 at 11:34 AM

It was a mistake we should have treated them the same way we treated the concentration camp guards that tried to hide amongst the prisoners.

Slowburn on October 1, 2011 at 1:09 AM

From Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project

Gohawgs on October 1, 2011 at 2:26 AM

We even tried Nazis.

Notorious GOP on September 30, 2011 at 11:34 AM

And we were locked and cocked to shoot down Flight 93. What’s your point?

hawkdriver on October 1, 2011 at 9:21 AM

Anwar Awlaki Never Actually a Member of al-Qaeda

It fits poorly with the official US narrative that the man they assassinated today, Anwar Awlaki, was some high profile terror mastermind, but the US-born cleric was never even a member of al-Qaeda or its Yemeni affiliate. Indeed, he only ever appeared in one AQAP video, and that was as an interview guest.

Spathi on October 1, 2011 at 4:45 PM

What he [Anwar Awlaki] didn’t mention were two arrests and misdemeanor convictions for soliciting prostitutes along the infamous street-walker strip of El Cajon Boulevard.

In August 1996, Awlaki paid a $400 fine and was ordered to attend an AIDS awareness seminar. In April 1997, he paid a $240 fine and was sentenced to community service.

J_Crater on October 1, 2011 at 9:47 PM