Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in a targeted assassination by the United States in Yemen last Friday. He was an American citizen and al-Qaida’s propaganda chief and was responsible for recruiting thousands of Muslim men, particularly young Western ones, to global jihad. al-Awlaki was especially adept at using the internet to preach hatred of the United States and the West and fostered and promoted jihad at every turn. Virtually every Islamist who executed or attempted to execute terrorist attacks against Western targets in the past ten years had his teachings in their possession and he was personally in touch with many of them.
President Obama was correct when he said his death was “a major blow to al-Qaida’s most active operational affiliate” and he should be commended for authorizing it. Obama has been criticized because al-Awlaki was an American citizen and because the targeted assassination was “extra-judicial” but those criticisms are unjustified. They’re unjustified because al-Qaida is at war with the United States and the West and al-Awlaki was an enemy combatant and a very senior one at that. In war enemy combatants get killed. His death will keep untold numbers of Americans and Westerners from being maimed and murdered and will stop one of the world’s foremost preachers of hatred and jihad from spouting pernicious bile and luring others to do his bidding. It also crippled al-Qaida in the short term and perhaps in the long one as well. President Obama can be criticized for a great many things but authorizing al-Awlaki’s assassination isn’t one of them.
Too bad it took so long though.
Anwar al-Awlaki shouldn’t be mourned. His beliefs and behaviour were an affront to civilized people everywhere and the world is well rid of him. Killing him was a blow for peace, freedom, secularism and everything America and the West stands for and a blow against hatred, terrorism, war and everything Islam and Islamists stand for.