Why the US Had to Kill al-Awlaki

Monday, 03 Oct 2011 10:17 AM

By Tawfik Hamid

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Since the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, several voices have been raised to criticize his killing. For example; in an Op-Ed by Ed Hussein, published on CNN, the author considered killing al-Awlaki as counterproductive to defeating terrorism in the long run because “it demolishes the very values that America stands for: the rule of law and trial by jury.”

The author also considered that the torture of Islamic radicals in prisons as being the main cause for transforming non-violent extremists into violent ones.

Mr. Hussein sees that “an easier, cheaper, and more effective way of discrediting al-Awlaki and countering his message would have been to disclose his three arrests for the solicitation of prostitutes in San Diego and the Washington, D.C., area between 1996 and 1997.”

The above approach in dealing with radical Muslims is not only erroneous but is also dangerous.

On the contrary to what the author have suggested, the lack of strong military response to Islamic terrorists when they attacked the U.S. embassy in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 was one of the factors that encouraged the radicals to attack the United States again which was on Sept. 11 and resulted in the killing of thousands of innocent American people.

Had the response of the U.S. administration back then been very powerful and had it resulted in the killing of the leaders of al-Qaida — without a court trial — Sept. 11 likely would not have happened and thousands of innocents would have been saved.

The jihadists are likely to be laughing by now when they watch the United States having such debate over whether leading terrorists such as al-Awlaki have to be given a due trial before killing them.

Hussein needs to realize that we deal with people who behead innocent human beings and enjoy watching and videotaping them. Such barbarians do not understand the language of “due trial.” They can only understand the language of power.

Attempting to capture al-Awlaki to give him the privilege of a due trial while he was hiding in a place like Yemen could have resulted in killing many American soldiers. Is the life of a terrorist like al-Awlaki more important in the view of Hussein than the lives of the American soldiers?

The only options were either to kill a terrorist and protect the lives of Americans or to let him remain free and allow him to kill or cause the killing of more American people.

Furthermore, the author’s view that torture in prisons is the main factor that transforms non-violent extremists into violent ones is very misleading as most homegrown terrorists in the West such as Maj. Nidal Hasan have never been imprisoned or tortured in the West.

Nice treatment and freedom in western countries did not stop Islamist terrorists from trying to kill their fellow citizens.

The author’s idea that it would have been better to discredit al-Awlaki by disclosing his past arrests for the solicitation of prostitutes is a very primitive idea. Al-Awlaki could have simply countered that he committed fornication before he became a good Muslim and has been forgiven by Allah based of the Koranic verse that teaches that adulterers' sins will changed into good deeds once they have repented (Koran 25: 68-70).

The killing of al-Awlaki is a great step as it sends a clear message to the radicals that their U.S. nationality will no longer protect them.

In addition, killing the leaders of terrorist groups makes them perceived as ‘weak’ by young Muslims and thus decreases the appeal of terrorist groups in the eyes of these young Muslims.

Additionally, showing the terrorist groups that the U.S. intelligence is capable of infiltrating their cells can make members of the terror cells mistrust one another — which can only work for our benefit.

In fact, people like al-Awlaki must be considered traitors and U.S. lawmakers should consider withdrawing American citizenship from terrorists who join our enemies and incite others to kill Americans.

It is time that human rights activists to consider giving more care for the rights of innocent people than for the rights of the criminals to have a “due trial.”

Finally, U.S. intelligence, the military, and Obama administration must be saluted for orchestrating such a well-synchronized attack on the enemies of humanity.

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