Anwar al-Awlaki killed in drone strike; ACLU charges illegality
US-born purported al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki was killed Sept. 30 in a drone strike outside the town of Khashef in Yemen's Jawf province. At least three of al-Awlaki’s companions were also killed in the same strike, including fellow US citizen Samir Khan, editor of the slick al-Qaeda magazine Inspire. President Obama hailed the killing as "a major blow to al-Qaeda's most active operational affiliate," saying the death "marks another significant milestone in the broader effort to defeat al Qaeda." American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer said the killing was part of a US counter-terrorism program that "violates both US and international law."
US officials added al-Awlaki two years ago to a list of targets the military is authorized to kill. He was the only publicly known name among the US citizens on the list. "For two years since Awlaki has reportedly been added to a kill list, the administration has made a lot of statements to the press but has presented no evidence to a court," said Ben Wizner, the National Security Project litigation director at the ACLU. "There's a distinction between allegations and evidence that's pretty critical here. Our argument isn't that you need to go to a court just to make the claim that he is an imminent threat, but placing someone on a kill list for months or years seems fundamentally inconsistent with the legal definition of 'imminent,' and so there's really no reason why a judicial role can't happen here." (CNN, Huffington Post, Saba, Mother Jones, The Guardian, Sept. 30)