Anwar al-Awlaki was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico to Yemeni parents. After earning a master's degree in agricultural economics at New Mexico State University in 1971, he went on to receive a doctorate from the University of Nebraska and work at the University of Minnesota. Since then, the known facts about al-Awlaki are that he adopted an extreme variety of Islam, moved to Yemen and has counseled and corresponded with like minded others, most notably US Army Major Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter. While he told Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Hider Shaea in a November 2009 interview that he "neither ordered nor pressured ... Hasan to harm Americans", he nonetheless praised Hasan as a hero and, "blessed the act because it was against a military target. And the soldiers who were killed were not normal soldiers, but those who were trained and prepared to go to Iraq and Afghanistan".
These facts combined may warrant an investigation into whether or not al-Awlaki is party to conspiracy. To that point, Yemeni Foreign Minister Abubaker al-Qirbi said in Washington last week that his government's present goal is to persuade Aulaqi to surrender so he can face local criminal charges stemming from his contacts with the Fort Hood suspect, according to the Washington Post.
However, the CIA and the US military have jumped a few legal steps ahead, forgoing a trial, criminal charges, or even arrest or al-Awlaki, a US citizen, and have added him to a hit list of "High Value Targets". Using information from US intelligence on al-Awlaki's whereabouts, Yemeni jets bombed a house in a remote section of the country, the remarks of the Yemeni foreign minister notwithstanding. Al-Awlaki turned out to either not to have been at the location or somehow survived the attack. Thirty people were reported to have been killed in the bombing. It is not surprise that the number of 'collateral damage' deaths is estimated at thirty, since, according to the Los Angeles Times, "Marc Garlasco, the Pentagon's former chief of high-value targeting, told Salon magazine in 2003 that, 'the magic number was 30.' That meant that if an attack was anticipated to kill more than 30 civilians, it needed the explicit approval of then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld or President George W. Bush. If the expected civilian death toll was less than 30, the strike could be OKd by the legal and military commanders on the ground."
Consider these news clips, all from within the last 12 months:
* Adnkronos, 12/07/2009: “Up to 30 suspected militants were killed in a NATO airstrike on a Taliban hideout in eastern Afghanistan close to the Pakistani border on Monday. The airstrike targeted the village of Sangar Dara in the mountainous Watapur district of Kunar province , the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said.”
* SF Chronicle, 12/04/2009: “Air strikes in two areas of the Mohmand border region killed 30 suspected militants, a military statement said. It said the strikes were “highly successful” but provided no further details, including whether any civilians were hurt.”
* Xinhua, 11/04/2009: “The military said that the troops have killed 30 more militants during the last 24 hours, bringing the total fatalities to 400, as the operation in the country’s tribal area steadily progressed towards the Taliban strongholds in South Waziristan.”
* Calgary Times, 07/04/2009: “The attack included an attempted suicide truck bombing of the base in the Zirok district of southeastern Paktika province, local officials said. As many as 30 Taliban insurgents might have been killed when troops called in air strikes, they said.”
* Khaleej Times, 06/24/2009: “Thirty Taliban militants were killed in clashes with NATO and Afghan forces in separate incidents in southern Afghanistan, officials said Wednesday.”
* Monsters and Critics, 05/28/2009: “In another incident, the Afghan Defence Ministry said Thursday that its troops, backed by international forces, killed 30 suspected militants in neighbouring Khost province Wednesday after the militants attacked their joint base.”
* Monsters and Critics, 05/14/2009: “At least 30 Taliban fighters were killed Thursday when government artillery fire destroyed their hideout in north-west Pakistan, residents and officials said, as concerns about the fate of thousands of refugees in the region grew amid an escalating humanitarian crisis. Up to 30 suspected militants were in the compound when it was hit, and the Taliban have moved the dead and injured to an undisclosed location, he said.”
* Reuters, 01 April 2009: “U.S. and Afghan forces have killed 30 Taliban fighters, including a local commander, in an operation in Afghanistan’s southern province of Helmand, the Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.”
* IRNA, 02/17/2009: “Suspected US drone fired missiles on a training camp of Taliban militants in a Pakistani tribal region on Monday, killing around 30 people, witnesses and official sources said.”
* Reuters, 02/03/2009: “[Yemeni President Ali Abdullah] Saleh urged the leaders not to give refuge to militants and help the state’s fight against al-Qaeda by turning them in. A security official told Reuters authorities had detained 30 suspected militants in a renewed campaign.”
Meanwhile, the US government is still equating the accusation of terrorism with being a terrorist and carrying out what are euphemistically called "extra-judicial killings" of the accused. In an interview with CNN, al-Awlaki's father said: "I will do my best to convince my son to do this (surrender), to come back but they are not giving me time, they want to kill my son. How can the American government kill one of their own citizens? This is a legal issue that needs to be answered," he said. How can a government kill one of its own citizens without any kind of judicial process whatsoever? As the Obama administration, like its predecessor, continues the worldwide assault on civil and human rights around the globe, there is little hope of discovering the truth behind that question. That's what trials are for.