U.S. steps up Awlaki targeting

Published 5 May 2010

In an unprecedented move, president Obama in April authorized the assassination of U.S.-born radical Yemeni cleric Anwar al Awlaki; Awlaki was involved in the attempt to bring down a U.S. passenger plane on Christmas Day and in the shooting by U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan in Fort Hood, Texas; the U.S. military is deploying an increasing number of UAVs to the skies of Yemen in search of Awlaki

al Awlaki in December, 2009 // Source: wordpress.com

Efforts to take down U.S.-born radical Yemeni cleric Anwar al Awlaki are increasing as evidence of his role in al Qaiea mounts, U.S. intelligence officials said. Awlaki in a March audiotape called for war against the United States. He has ties to the suspected would-be bomber of a U.S. passenger plane targeted Christmas Day and U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, accused in the Fort Hood, Texas, shooting rampage in November.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemeni branch of al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for a failed plot last week to assassinate Tim Torlot, the British envoy to Yemen. British authorities believe the 22-year-old attacker was radicalized at an AQAP training camp in Yemen.

U.S. intelligence officials say Awlaki is taking a larger operational role in AQAP, expanding on his previous role as an ideologue. The U.S. military in response deployed unmanned drones over the skies of Yemen to target Awlaki, Telegraph’s Con Coughlin and Philip Sherwell report.

The Telegraph adds that Awlaki sermons were found in the possession of the recruiters for the July 2006 bombings in London.

President Barack Obama sparked controversy in April when he authorized the assassination of Awlaki. Rights groups complain it is a violation of international law to mark targets inside nations that aren’t at war with the United States.