High Praise, Hard Questions for Strike Against Terrorist Targets in Yemen

An air strike in Yemen may have killed a top al-Qaeda official and the imam sought out by Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan

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An air-strike in Yemen targeted and is said to have killed regional al-Qaeda leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi and extremist imam Anwar al-Awlaki, who was earlier contacted by Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan. This is the second recent air-strike in Yemen. American involvement in the earlier bombing raised concerns about our escalating violence in Yemen. As is often the case with bomb strikes in war-town regions, the deaths of the targets are difficult to confirm. What should we think about this latest strike?

  • Wuhayshi a Prime Target  Long War Journal's Bill Roggio profiles al-Wuhayshi. "Wuhayshi is a top al Qaeda commander and a rising star in the organization. Wuhayshi served as Osama bin Laden's aide-de-camp and was one of 23 al Qaeda operatives to escape from a Yemeni jail in 2006. He is considered to be a top contender to take command of the global terror network if al Qaeda's central leadership based in Pakistan is decapitated in Pakistan, a senior US military intelligence official who closely tracks al Qaeda's network told The Long War Journal."
  • Demonstrates Hasan's Terrorism  Weekly Standard's Thomas Joscelyn argues, "This latest reported airstrike, whether it killed Aulaqi or not, further demonstrates the underlying absurdity of the FBI’s 'analysis' of Hassan’s ties to Aulaqi. Anwar al Aulaqi has played a prominent role in al Qaeda’s war against the West and America – so much so that his home was an appropriate military target." He laments, "For those who believe terrorists can be defeated primarily, or even exclusively, by our law enforcement agencies and in the courts, the story of the FBI's investigations into Anwar al Aulaqi is a striking rebuttal."
  • Why Yemen Matters  The Washington Post's Sudarsan Raghavan reports, "Yemen's government, with assistance from the United States, has been intensifying its crackdown on alleged hideouts of al-Qaeda, whose presence in recent years has expanded in this poor yet strategic Middle East nation where Osama bin Laden's father was born." He writes, "The U.S. government is increasingly concerned that al-Qaeda could create a haven in Yemen, whose weak central government is struggling with a civil war in the north, a secessionist movement in the south and a crumbling economy."
  • Saudi-Yemeni Peace?  Middle East blogger Gregg Carlstrom thinks the long and destabilizing fight between Saudi Arabia and Yemeni insurgents could be cooling. "On Yemen's northern front, a spokesman for the Huthi rebels said yesterday that they will withdraw from Saudi territory if Saudi Arabia ends its cross-border attacks. Rebels have launched frequent raids across the border, occasionally seizing territory for hours or days. They seized the village of al-Jabri during the most recent raid, on Tuesday. And Saudi officials appear to have accepted the offer: Saudi Arabia's deputy defense minister, Prince Khaled bin Sultan, said yesterday that the army will suspend major military operations against the rebels."
  • Good For US To Get Tough  Hot Air's Ed Morrissey nods, "This is the response that the US needed to give — and should have given Awlaki when he reappeared after 9/11.  Congratulations on a job well done and on answering Awlaki’s boasts with a massive and eminently final response." He writes of al-Awlaki, "Right now, they’re busy looking for the various parts of his body, but really just the important ones."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.