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Oct-04-2011 22:04printcomments

Uncle Sam May Want You

“The assassination of Anwar Al-Awlaki by American drone attacks is the latest of many affronts to domestic and international law.” - Vince Warren, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)

Anwar Al-Awlaki Photo courtesy: focusuk.wordpress.com
Anwar Al-Awlaki Photo courtesy: focusuk.wordpress.com

(TEHRAN ) - “We call for the Islam that was sent by Allah to Prophet Muhammad (S), the Islam of jihad and sharia ruling. Any voice that calls for this Islam, they either kill the person or the character; they kill the person by murdering or jailing them, or they kill the character by distorting their image in the media,” declared Anwar al-Awlaqi prophetically in an interview with Al Jazeera Arabic in February of 2010.

Brother Anwar al-Awlaqi had good reason to be upset with the U.S. government: American missiles had already killed 17 women and 23 children from his tribe in Yemen, and now he has joined them. On 30 September, al-Awlaqi was martyred, slaughtered by a missile fired from an American drone flying in the skies over Yemen in the province of Marib along with another U.S. citizen, Samir Khan and at least 6 others.

Wounded in the attack, Khamis Saleh Arfaj was hosting a meal for group at his home that included al-Awlaqi when the U.S. airstrike occured, causing everyone to flee. While the first missile apparently missed its intended target, the second directly struck the pickup truck carrying al-Awlaqi , according to Arfaj who at the time was in another vehicle following close behind.

Accused of having connections with Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula but never indicted, Al-Awlaqi was the first American citizen to be placed on the U.S. government’s Kill List--approved by President Obama--of people targeted for extrajudicial assassination. And as if it was not sufficient to condemn al-Awlaqi to death without trial or evidence by placing him on the list, the U.S. government froze his assets and made it illegal for an attorney to represent him without a special license from the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). While Washington has not disclosed what secret evidence they may possess against him, he may have been singled out for execution solely for meeting with two of the alleged 9/11 hijackers, Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, at his San Diego California mosque in 2000.

U.S. President Barack Obama, who had threatened to use drones to protect his daughters from overzealous suitors, lauded the strike saying, "This is further proof that al-Qaeda and its affiliates will have no safe haven anywhere in the world," adding, "This is something that we have been working with the Yemeni government for quite some time."

Leaked U.S. diplomatic cables indicate that yet-to-be-ousted Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh allowed the U.S. virtually unlimited access for drone attacks against suspected al-Qaeda targets within his country.

Previously in May of 2011, the CIA had attempted to assassinate al-Awlaqi using an unmanned predator drone but failed. Al-Awlaqi may also have been targeted by the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which has its own hunter-killer teams and fleet of drones. While technically speaking, JSOC is not legally permitted to engage in covert actions of this kind, in practice the line of demarcation between itself and the CIA is becoming increasingly blurred, with JSOC overseeing similar operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, the Philippines, Nigeria, Syria and Yemen.

Concerning this grotesque miscarriage of American justice in violation of international law, Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) declared, "The targeted killing program violates both U.S. and international law. As we've seen today, this is a program under which American citizens far from any battlefield can be executed by their own government without judicial process.”

Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) Vince Warren stated, “The assassination of Anwar Al-Awlaki by American drone attacks is the latest of many affronts to domestic and international law.” He went on to explain that the targeted assassination program, initiated by Bush and continued by Obama, grants executive authority to kill any American citizen suspected of being a threat without judicial oversight or due process of law as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. According to some constitutional scholars, the U.S. has apparently entered a new phase of banditry and lawlessness in which its own citizens can be executed as the chief executive sees fit without being constrained by the judiciary. These targeted killings amount to legalized premeditated murder in the eyes of the ACLU.

Philip Alston, Professor of Law at the NYU School of Law and former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions declared, “The United States' assertion of an ever-expanding but ill-defined license to commit targeted killings against individuals around the globe, without accountability, does grave damage to the international legal frameworks designed to protect the right to life.” Later in his statement, he observed, “ If other states were to claim the broad-based authority that the United States does, to kill people anywhere, anytime, the result would be chaos.”

In any case, the message from U.S. authorities to the American people is chilling: Even if you are a U.S. citizen--born and raised on American soil--you cannot be assured of your constitutionally guaranteed right to due process. If, because of your political views, the chief executive decides you are a threat to the U.S., you may be condemned to death, targeted and dispatched without charges and without a trial by secret executive order.

I have no way of knowing if I am on “The Kill List” but if by chance I am and the decision is made for my premeditated murder like Brother al-Awlaqi, I hope the executioners will show compassion toward my fellow Americans and choose a location so as to minimize the unavoidable collateral damage.

Yuram Abdullah Weiler is a former engineer turned freelance writer from Denver, Colorado, USA. A Shia Muslim, he has made a pilgrimage to Syria and Iraq. He frequently contributes to the Tehran Times and welcomes comments at yuram@sahafa.com




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Gina Roberts October 5, 2011 5:01 am (Pacific time)

Too dramatic. Like the man who points his gun at cops, and is then cut down, al-Awalki controlled his destiny. He chose to kill and threaten to kill more Americans.

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