Yemen Looked to Assassinate Cleric in US-Backed Attack

At Least 34 Dead in Aftermath of Air Strikes, Identities Unknown

The Yemeni government has confirmed that today’s US-backed air strike was aimed at assassinating US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, and officials speculated that he might have been slain in the attack.

Awlaki’s home was targeted during what the government called a “suspected al-Qaeda gathering,” and at least 34 people were killed, all of whom the Yemenis immediately labeled “suspects.” The identities of the slain were unclear.

The US, however, expressed hope that Awlaki and two “al-Qaeda leaders” were among the slain.

But according to Nasser al-Awlaki, the cleric’s father and a former government minister, the cleric wasn’t even home at the time and was visiting his uncle in a different city. He slammed the US for supporting the attack however, noting that his son was not accused of any crimes in the US and it was inappropriate for the American government to attempt to assassinate him.

Though US officials have repeatedly labeled Awlaki an al-Qaeda sympathizer and potentially even a member of the terrorist group, they have so far provided no evidence linking him conclusively with them.

The US support for the attack comes less than a week after the US launched a series of missile attacks against the nation which killed scores of civilians and a handful of “suspects.” All this is pointing to Yemen becoming the next battleground in the war on terror.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.