The Obama administration is debating whether to target an American member of al-Qaida for a drone strike, according to U.S. officials.
The Justice Department has not finished building a case against the alleged terrorist, who is said to be actively planning terrorist attacks against Americans overseas.
President Obama's new policy states that American suspected terrorists abroad could only be killed by the military, as opposed to the CIA. This policy shift creates a dilemma for the administration since the suspected terrorist is located in a country that refuses American military action on its soil.
One of the U.S. officials revealed that the Pentagon recommended proceeding with a drone strike in spite of the potential domestic implications of killing an American without formal charges. The suspect is allegedly located in a well-fortified, remote area that would entail a risky military operation, if it involves U.S. troops.
The Justice Department's efforts to build a case against the suspected terrorist is similar to the case constructed against U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by drone in Yemen in 2011.
Awlaki's assassination took place long before the institution of the new targeted killing policy. An official said that the president could make an exception to his policy, despite the potential objections of the country in question.
Steven Emerson is executive director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism. He was a correspondent for CNN and a senior editor at U.S. News and World Report. Read more reports from Steve Emerson — Click Here Now.
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