Solving the al-Awlaki problem

It appears that the Yemeni government, doing the work that American intelligence agencies won't do, have sent a number of Al Qaeda bigwigs off to their virginal reward:

"Initial reports that the airstrike may have been the work of the CIA seem to have been mistaken: Yemeni authorities say it was their jets that conducted the dawn operation, in the province of Shabwa, 400 miles south of the capital Sana'a. In a statement, the Yemeni embassy in Washington D.C. said the strike targeted a meeting of "scores of Yemeni and foreign Al Qaeda operatives." The meeting had been called to discuss retaliation for government raids in mid-December on al-Qaeda hideouts in Abyan and Sana'a provinces.

Around 30 people are reported to have been killed in the strike, among them, Nasser Al-Wuhayshi, the regional al-Qaeda leader and his deputy, Saeed Al-Shihri, a former Gitmo detainee."


The strike was focused on the home of Anwar Al-Awlaki, the radical American imam who was email pals with the alleged Ft. Hood shooter, Major Nadal Hasan. Despite Awlaki's links to two of the 9/11 hijackers and continued incitement to jihad aimed at recruiting Americans, the FBI considered Awlaki more of a research associate of Hasan's than a terrorist:


"Investigators on the JTTF reviewed certain communications between Major Hasan and the subject of that investigation (read:Awlaki) and assessed that the content of those communications was consistent with research being conducted by Major Hasan in his position as a psychiatrist at the Walter Reed Medical Center. Because the content of the communications was explainable by his research and nothing else derogatory was found, the JTTF concluded that Major Hasan was not involved in terrorist activities or terrorist planning. Other communications of which the FBI was aware were similar to the ones reviewed by the JTTF."


Apparently the Yemenis thought otherwise. Although JTTF here was meant to abbreviate the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force, it might as well have been the JTWW or Joint Terrorism White Wash. It is inconceivable that the FBI would discontinue its pursuit of this obvious jihadist inciter.

That Awlaki was consorting with Gitmo alumni, Saeed Al-Shihri can't bode well for the wisdom of releasing additional detainees or even for the Obama administration's plan to relocate the remaining detainees onto American soil in Illinois.

Reports from these airstrikes are often murky and confusing and take time to sort out. Many of the targets carry multiple passports and use many aliases and dress and groom themselves similarly, so it will take some time to discover precisely which terrorists have shuffled off this mortal coil. One has to admit, the Yemeni approach seems a bit more effective than the mincing, politically correct and half-hearted efforts of our FBI.


Ralph Alter blogs at Right on Target

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