“The drone strike in Yemen that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, the American voice of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, eliminated one of Islamic radicalism’s most persuasive recruiters and propagandists.”
“Senior al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki and another America-born militant were killed in Yemen early Friday morning by a CIA-led U.S. drone strike, marking the highest-profile takedown of terror leaders since the raid on Osama bin Ladin’s compound.”
Fox News, 30/09/11
“Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki — an American whose fluency in English and technology made him one of the top terrorist recruiters in the world — was killed Friday in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen.”
Amidst the growing controversy over the US’s use of unmanned drones in the fight against al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen, the announcement of the killing of US-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki on 30 September 2011 sounds like ‘good news at last’, offering solid proof that the ends justify the means. At first sight, it seems difficult to deny the benefit of eliminating the man who allegedly inspired a number of recent attacks, including the shooting of 13 at Fort Hood, the failed attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day 2009, and the stabbing of British MP Stephen Timms. Yet while his death is widely perceived as another success in the controversial fight against terror, it is unlikely to have a long-term impact on the workings of AQAP. As an ideologue, Awlaki played at most a marginal role in the operational proceedings of AQAP. Moreover, his message of virulent anti-Americanism inspiring individuals to attack the US and its interests was not monopolized by him but has been, and continues to be, communicated by others based in Yemen through a variety of traditional and non-traditional channels. In other words, Awlaki’s message is destined to stay. Indeed, if the strength of AQAP depends on its ability to win supporters and mobilize individuals into carrying out attacks, the latest increase of US-led attacks on Yemeni soil plays into the hands of AQAP’s recruiters by providing them with easy propaganda and hence ensures that AQAP remains a force to be reckoned with.
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