ENID, Okla. —
Drones, or what the military refers to as remotely piloted aircraft, were among the topics of conversation Thursday during John Brennan’s confirmation hearing for director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Specifically, some senators were concerned with the Obama administration’s classified reasons for using drones to kill Americans suspected of working for al-Qaida and other terrorist gangs.
Senators want the president to justify his decision to use drones against suspected American terrorists.
The administration now says it will brief members of Congress on the matter, which had previously been classified.
The American public, at least those responding to a recent poll, favors the use of drones to kill suspected terrorists, but not if they are U.S. citizens.
The Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll showed 83 percent of those surveyed said they favor the use of drones against terror suspects, but 48 percent say it is illegal to use them against U.S. citizens.
The star of this beltway kerfluffle is American-born and-raised Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a major figure in al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
“Fighting the devil doesn’t require consultation or prayers seeking divine guidance. They are the party of the devils,” he wrote in a November 2010 Internet post. “Fighting them is what is called for at this time. We have reached a point where it is either us or them.
“We are two opposites that will never come together. What they want can only be accomplished by our elimination. Therefore, this is a defining battle.”
The “devils” he referred to were America and our allies.
After the November 2009 attack at Fort Hood, Texas, in which 13 people were killed, allegedly by Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, al-Awlaki said “Nidal Hasan is a hero. He is a man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people.
“My support to the operation was because the operation brother Nidal carried out was a courageous one.”
A hero. Murdering innocent people in cold blood. Uh-huh. By the way, Nidal was reportedly inspired by hearing al-Awlaki speak
In November 2009, he posted this on his website, “I, for one, was born in the U.S. I lived in the U.S. for 21 years. America was my home. I was a preacher of Islam involved in nonviolent Islamic activism.
“However, with the American invasion of Iraq and continued U.S. aggression against Muslims, I could not reconcile between living in the U.S. and being a Muslim, and I eventually came to the conclusion that jihad against America is binding upon myself, just as it is binding on every other able Muslim.”
In May 2010, al-Qaida released an interview with al-Awlaki, in which he said, in part, “We are dealing with an infidel country, America, which is at war with us. The image of ourselves that we want to convey to America is: Oh America, if you attack us, we will attack you, and if you kill us, we will kill you.”
During the same interview, he said, “How can we possibly oppose an operation like Nidal Hassan’s? He killed American soldiers on their way to Afghanistan and Iraq. Who could possibly oppose this?”
In February 2009, he posted the following on an Internet blog, “I pray that Allah destroys America and all its allies. We will implement the rule of Allah on Earth by the tip of the sword whether the masses like it or not.”
Al-Awlaki also was said to have inspired Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to bring down a passenger jet with a bomb hidden in his underwear on Christmas Day 2009, but only managed to set his wee wee on fire.
“He is likewise a student of mine,” al-Awlaki said of Abdulmutallab, and this also is an honor. I support what he did,” then went on to say Abdulmutallab had accomplished his goal, which was apparently to set his private parts alight.
As for the killing of civilians, al-Awlaki said, “A combatant is someone who bears arms — even if this is a woman. Non-combatants are people who do not take part in the war. The American people in its entirety takes part in the war because they elected this administration and they finance this war.”
Al-Awlaki also said, “I have no intention of turning myself into them (the Americans). If they want me, let them search for me.”
In the fall of 2011, after a two-year manhunt, we found him.
RPA’s launched from a base in the Arabian Peninsula and controlled by the CIA, rained Hellfire missiles down on a car carrying al-Awlaki and other top operatives of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. Problem solved.
Al-Awlaki recognized he was part of a war, but he said the war was against America and Muslims. Wrong.
The war is against America and its allies and anyone who would attack our people, our institutions, our way of life.
And war, as they say, is hell, or Hellfire, in this case. So what is the problem with using unmanned aircraft to take out those bent on doing us harm?
Consider how many American lives may be lost if we don’t.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.