Media outlets reported today that Anwar al Awlaki, the recruiter, trainer and public face of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), was killed in an airstrike in Yemen. Awlaki was an American, and while his treason was unforgivable, we must not ignore the tragedy of his life. Sometimes it seems even when we win, we lose. While it is good he can no longer help al Qaeda’s evil efforts, his death should stir some remorse for a life lost. Another American has been killed in the fight against terror. That is nothing to celebrate. Here’s a piece I wrote on this theme for the Defense Media Network.
Since U.S. special operations forces bullets ripped through Osama bin Laden in his Pakistan compound in May, the United States and its allies have decimated al Qaeda’s senior leadership. In a matter of months, the chief of Pakistan operations, three senior leaders in Yemen, al Qaeda’s deputy leader and many others have been killed.
Another high-profile assassination happened this morning when Anwar al Awlaki, the recruiter, trainer and public face of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), was killed in an airstrike in Yemen. The difference between Awlaki and the other al Qaeda leaders killed this year is that Awlaki – considered by some the “most dangerous man in the world” – was an American.
Awlaki has been tied to Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called Christmas Day Bomber. His ability to inspire hate and violence made him a serious threat to U.S. security efforts, and as a result, he was the first American added to the Central Intelligence Agency’s “kill or capture” list.