Despite US officials repeating the allegations that New Mexico-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki is a known leader of al-Qaeda, Ali Hassan al-Ahmadi, the governor of Yemen’s Shabwa Province, the region in which the cleric is believed to be hiding from US assassins, has never been given evidence against him.
“So far we have not received any official statement that confirms his affiliation with al-Qaeda,” the governor insisted, adding that he had no information at all to suggest that Awlaki had ties to the organization.
Which is particularly troubling as, despite never charging Awlaki with any crimes, the Obama Administration announced months ago that he had been added to an official list of targets for the CIA to assassinate. Officials have defended the plan to kill Awlaki with oblique references to his supposed al-Qaeda membership.
Yet Governor Ahmadi’s statement suggests that the only reason to target Awlaki are his various public comments, which he described as sympathetic to al-Qaeda but which are primarily based around opposition to US foreign policy, rather than some unproven assertions about his private activities. Officials have denied that Awlaki is being targeted for speaking out against the administration, but in the absence of evidence to the contrary it appears that this is precisely what is happening.