Tags: Al-Qaida | drones | qaida | Al Farekh | terror trial | Anwar al-Awlaki

American al-Qaida Suspect's Capture Revives Debate on Drone Use

By    |   Monday, 13 April 2015 07:25 AM

The trial of a Texas-born man accused of being an al-Qaida operative has reignited the debate over the circumstances under which Americans fighting with jihadi groups ought to be targeted by drone strikes, The New York Times reported.

Those who oppose targeted killings of U.S. citizens argue that it is best to bring them to trial. They cite the capture of Mohanad Mahmoud Al Farekh as demonstrating that apprehension is feasible.

Administration figures had been deliberating whether he should be liquidated by a CIA drone strike in Pakistan. He had been nominated for placement on the targeted kill list by the Pentagon and CIA because of his involvement in manufacturing and distributing roadside bombs used to blow up American troops in Afghanistan.

In the end, Pakistani security forces took Farekh into custody based on U.S.-provided intelligence and he is now facing justice in a Brooklyn, New York, courtroom.

Some in the intelligence community additionally suspect that Farekh is a high-ranking al-Qaida figure, the Times reported.

Four U.S. citizens have been killed in drone strikes during the Obama administration, though only al-Qaida of the Arabian Peninsula preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, in 2011, was expressly targeted. His sermons helped radicalize Farekh, authorities believe.

Farekh left the U.S. as a boy and spent much of his life in the Arab world before moving to Pakistan in 2007. He married the daughter of a senior al-Qaida figure, the Times reported.

The administration is still refining its guidelines on when U.S. citizens may be targeted.

A Justice Department memo crafted in 2010 and released in 2014 holds that drone strikes may be ordered "at least where high-level government officials have determined that a capture operation overseas is infeasible, and that the targeted person is part of a dangerous enemy force and is engaged in activities that pose a continued and imminent threat to U.S. persons or interests," The Wall Street Journal reported.

Attorney General Eric Holder had been doubtful that Farekh fell into the imminent threat category and opposed using a drone strike to kill him, the Times reported.

The American Civil Liberties Union's Jameel Jaffer argued that intelligence officials appear not to have internalized the principle that killing a U.S. citizen engaged in terrorism abroad needs to be the absolute last resort, the Times reported.

Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch, who is the United States attorney responsible for prosecuting Farekh said, "We will continue to use every tool at our disposal to bring such individuals to justice."

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The trial of a Texas-born al-Qaida operative has reignited the debate over the circumstances under which Americans fighting with jihadi groups ought to be targeted by drone strikes, The New York Times reported.
drones, qaida, Al Farekh, terror trial, Anwar al-Awlaki
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2015-25-13
Monday, 13 April 2015 07:25 AM
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