Yemen Rules Out Awlaki Extradition, Asks US for Evidence

New Mexico Cleric Holds Dual Citizenship

Yemeni Minister Hamoud al-Hitar today insisted that his government would not be able to extradite New Mexico-born cleric Anwar Awlaki to the United States or any place else, because he holds Yemeni citizenship.

Anwar AwlakiIt is unclear from the comments if the US has actually requested Awlaki’s extradition, because they have not actually charged him with any crimes. They have apparently, however, requested his capture.

Awlaki is the first American citizen to be officially put on an assassination list by the US government. President Obama’s addition of Awlaki to the list, despite the lack of charges against him, was announced in April.

Exactly what Awlaki has done is unclear, but he has openly criticized US foreign policy, which officials say has made it easier for al-Qaeda to recruit. This criticism is not, however, actually a crime, let alone a capital one.

Hitar asked the US to provide some sort of proof for Awlaki’s wrongdoing, and said they would in that event take action themselves. This is an odd switch for the Yemeni government which actually tried to assassinate Awlaki in a Christmas Eve air strike coordinated with the US. Since that attack killed mostly women and children, Yemen seems to want some actual evidence before trying again. Whether the US will provide such evidence, or if they even have such evidence, remains to be seen.

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.