Normally I won’t cite the WaPo, but in this case, it’s a balanced view, for a change.
U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who in the past six weeks have killed scores of people, among them six of 15 top leaders of a regional al-Qaeda affiliate, according to senior administration officials.
The operations, approved by…Obama and begun six weeks ago, involve several dozen troops from the U.S. military’s clandestine Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), whose main mission is tracking and killing suspected terrorists. The American advisers do not take part in raids in Yemen, but help plan missions, develop tactics and provide weapons and munitions. Highly sensitive intelligence is being shared with the Yemeni forces, including electronic and video surveillance, as well as three-dimensional terrain maps and detailed analysis of the al-Qaeda network.
As part of the operations, Obama approved a Dec. 24 strike against a compound where a U.S. citizen, Anwar al-Aulaqi, was thought to be meeting with other regional al-Qaeda leaders. Although he was not the focus of the strike and was not killed, he has since been added to a shortlist of U.S. citizens specifically targeted for killing or capture by the JSOC, military officials said. The officials, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the operations.
Here’s the real kicker:
……The collaboration with Yemen provides the starkest illustration to date of the Obama administration’s efforts to ramp up counterterrorism operations, including in areas outside the Iraq and Afghanistan war zones.
……Obama has ordered a dramatic increase in the pace of CIA drone-launched missile strikes into Pakistan in an effort to kill al-Qaeda and Taliban members in the ungoverned tribal areas along the Afghan border. There have been more such strikes in the first year of Obama’s administration than in the last three years under President George W. Bush, according to a military officer who tracks the attacks.
On the one hand, Obama plays diplomatic patty-cake with despots, won’t allow enhanced interrogations to get information on terrorist plots, and intends to try the scumbags in civilian court. On the other, he wants to appear tough by increasing attacks in Yemen and Pakistan.
Having said that:
……but he has embraced the notion that the most effective way to kill or capture members of al-Qaeda and its affiliates is to work closely with foreign partners, including those that have feeble democracies, shoddy human rights records and weak accountability over the vast sums of money Washington is giving them to win their continued participation in these efforts.
That’s a dangerous proposition. You’re making a pact with the devil; the very countries he’s dealing with are either sponsors of Islamic terrorism or allow terrorist cells to operate within their borders carte blanche. To say they can’t be trusted, is an understatement.
Yemeni airstrikes on Wednesday targeted one of the country’s most wanted Al Qaeda figures for the second time in a week, security officials said.
The target was Ayed al-Shabwani, who officials accuse of providing sanctuary for top Al Qaeda figures in the country. Yemeni forces bombed a farm in a remote area east of the capital San’a — where a number of Al Qaeda leaders are believed to be living. It was not immediately clear whether anyone was hurt.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to talk to the media.
Al Qaeda in Yemen has become a pressing concern for U.S. security after the Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a Detroit-bound jetliner on Christmas, told FBI investigators the group provided him with explosives and training.
In the wake of the failed plot, Yemen intensified an offensive against Al Qaeda with the help of U.S. counterterrorism aid and training.
……Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American-Yemeni Islamic cleric suspected of ties to Al Qaeda is believed to be hiding in the remote Yemen mountains under his tribe’s protection.
U.S. and Yemeni officials say al-Awlaki, who once preached in mosques in California and northern Virginia and posted fiery English-language Internet sermons urging Muslims to fight in jihad, is now an active participant in Al Qaeda’s offshoot in Yemen.
Al-Awlaki has been connected with the alleged perpetrators of two recent attacks on American soil: the Nov. 5 shooting rampage at the Fort Hood army base in Texas and the attempt to bomb the U.S. plane on Christmas.
Some people have questioned the “constitutionality” of going after Aulaqi. It’s pretty cut and dry. Anwar al-Aulaqi and those like him, crossed the threshold of “citizen” to enemy combatant the day they declared their allegiance to Al Qaeda. Hunt him down and kill the pig. He deserves it.
As for Obama’s decision to go after Islamic terrorists in Yemen and Pakistan safehavens, we’ll see how long that lasts.