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Update U.S. Citizens On the "Kill List"?
December 10, 2010
Eight years ago, Kamal Derwish was one of six Al Qaeda operatives taken out in a Predator drone strike in a remote section of Yemen. His death is the earliest known example of an American citizen killed by the U.S. government in its war on Al Qaeda.
U.S. officials allege Derwish had ties to Al Qaeda and recruited the "Lackawanna 6," a cell of Yemeni-American men who pleaded guilty to providing material support to Al Qaeda and received seven-to-10 year sentences.
While the primary target of that 2002 Yemen strike was Abu Ali al-Harithi, the suspected organizer of Al Qaeda's October 2000 bombing of The U.S.S. Cole, word that the U.S. purposefully killed Derwish raised for many people constitutional and ethical questions that have resurfaced today in the case of Anwar al-Awlaki.
[For details on al-Awlaki's life and the terrorist events that he's been linked to, listen to "Jihad Message Man: al-Awlaki," an NPR On Point radio discussion 12/14/10.]
Just last week, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the government from targeting al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and radical Islamic preacher believed to be hiding in Yemen. U.S. analysts allege he's an operative of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP]. The suit was brought by al-Awlaki's father after learning last spring that his son was added to a list of suspected terrorists the CIA is authorized to kill.
In an 83-page opinion [PDF], U.S. District Court Judge John Bates ruled that Nasser al-Awlaki did not have the authority to bring the case to court on behalf of his son and that the decision is an issue that should be resolved by executive officials, not the courts. Still, Judge Bates said the case raised serious issues about the authority of the president to "order the assassination of a U.S. citizen without first affording him any form of judicial process whatsoever, based on the mere assertion that he is a dangerous member of a terrorist organization."