In a letter to Congress (below), AG Eric Holder admitted that the administration deliberately killed American Anwar al-Awlaki (the radical Muslim cleric) in a drone strike in September 2011 adding, as the NY Times reports, “the decision to target Anwar al-Awlaki was lawful, it was considered, and it was just.” As RT notes, there was collateral damage, as it has been widely reported but rarely acknowledged in Washington that two other US citizens – Samir Khan, and al-Awlaki’s teenage son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki – were executed in that same Yemen strike. With Holder’s latest admission, however, a fourth American – Jude Mohammed – has also been officially named a casualty of America’s continuing drone war; bringing the total ‘known’ Americans killed under the US Drone War to 4 since 2009.
One day before President Obama is due to deliver a major speech on national security, his administration on Wednesday formally acknowledged that the United States had killed four American citizens in drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan.
The American responsibility for Mr. Awlaki’s death has been widely reported, but the administration had until now refused to confirm or deny it.
The letter also said that the United States had killed three other Americans: Samir Khan, who was killed in the same strike; Mr. Awlaki’s son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, who was also killed in Yemen; and Jude Mohammed, who was killed in a strike in Pakistan.
According to former acquaintances of Mr. Mohammed in North Carolina, he
appears to have been killed in a November 2011 drone strike in South
Waziristan, in Pakistan’s tribal area. Mr. Mohammed’s wife, whom he had
met and married in Pakistan, subsequently called his mother in North
Carolina to tell her of his death, the friends say.
“These individuals were not specifically targeted by the United States,” Mr. Holder wrote
“The administration is determined to continue these extensive outreach efforts to communicate with the American people,” continued Holder. “To this end, the president has directed me to disclose certain information that until now has been properly classified…”
As part of the vaguely defined ‘War on Terror,’ the US has reportedly waged drone strikes outside of Afghanistan where the Taliban once harbored al-Qaeda. In recent years, those strikes have targeted towns in neighboring Pakistan, as well as Yemen, Somalia and perhaps elsewhere.
But despite growing criticism over escalating use of drones, the president and his office has remained adamant about defending the operations. It’s “important for everybody to understand that this thing is kept on a very tight leash,” Obama said last January, adding that his administration does not conduct “a whole bunch of strikes willy-nilly.”
Full AG Letter: