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Guest Thinkers

Hit Lists

One question that came to mind after reading through the second issue of Inspire is: Does the US now put Samir Khan on the CIA hit list now that he has unmasked himself as a member of al-Qaeda or, as he puts it, is “al-Qaeda to the core”?

I ask because the rationale for putting al-Awlaki on the hit list seems to be, at least on the outside, similar to putting Khan on the list. Some may say that al-Awlaki had a hand in planning attacks – whether Fort Hood or the Christmas Day plot – while this hasn’t been proved for Khan. But I would reply that I don’t think this case has been made for al-Awlaki. The US intelligence agencies – often behind anonymous quotes in the media – have claimed this is the case, but what I know about AQAP and the planning and military wing of the organization leads me to believe that this is more speculation driven by media attention than it is a matter of fact.

Khan’s article is meant to be embarrassing to the FBI and the rest of the US intelligence services, portraying them as inept bunglers who couldn’t manage to keep tabs on one young American with known al-Qaeda sympathies either in the US or when he traveled abroad. Khan expresses surprise that it was so easy for him to leave the US travel to Yemen and join al-Qaeda – certainly something, that no matter the source – someone will have to answer for.

A quick note on the purported pictures from Lawdar – while some of them come from that conflict and one matches a previously published picture that AQAP released of the fight, others of them seem to pre-date the operation, and I have seen some of them prior to the Battle of Lawdar.


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