White House confirms four American citizens killed in US drone strikes since 2009

 

The Obama administration acknowledged publicly for the first time that four US citizens have been killed in drone strikes since 2009 in Pakistan and Yemen.

The disclosure comes on the eve of a major national security speech by President Barack Obama in which he plans to pledge more transparency to Congress in his counterterrorism policy.

The White House said Obama's speech today coincides with the signing of new "presidential policy guidance" on when the US can use drone strikes, though it was unclear what that guidance entailed and whether Obama would outline its specifics in his remarks.

A move to gradually shift responsibility for the bulk of US drone strikes from the CIA to the military has already begun. The CIA would continue to conduct operations in Pakistan, while the military takes on the operations in other parts of the world, according to an administration official speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorised to speak publicly,.

It was already known that three Americans had been killed in US drones strikes in counterterrorism operations overseas, but the government's top lawyer, Attorney General Eric Holder, disclosed details that had remained secret, including the fourth citizen killed.

In a letter to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Holder said the government targeted and killed US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki and that the US "is aware" of the killing of three others who were not targets of counterterror operations.

Al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric, was killed in a drone strike in September 2011 in Yemen. The other two known cases have been Samir Khan, who was killed in the same drone strike as al-Awlaki and al-Awlaki's 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, who also was killed in Yemen.

The newly revealed case is that of Jude Kenan Mohammed, one of eight men indicted by federal authorities in 2009 and accused of being part of a plot to attack the US Marine Corps base at Quantico, Virginia. Before he could be arrested, Mohammad fled the country to join jihadi fighters in the tribal areas of Pakistan, where he was among those killed by a US drone.

"Since entering office, the president has made clear his commitment to providing Congress and the American people with as much information as possible about our sensitive counterterrorism operations," Holder said in his letter. "To this end, the president has directed me to disclose certain information that until now has been properly classified."

Obama's speech is expected to reaffirm his national security priorities — from homegrown terrorists to killer drones to the enemy combatants imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay — but make no new sweeping policy pronouncements.

Obama is expected to say the US will make a renewed effort to transfer detainees out of the Navy-run detention centre for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to other countries. Obama recently restated his desire to close Guantanamo, a pledge he made shortly after his inauguration in January 2009.

That effort, however, has been stymied because many countries don't want the detainees or are unwilling or unable to guarantee that once transferred, detainees who may continue to be a threat will not be released.

There are currently about 166 prisoners at Guantanamo, and 86 have been approved for transfer as long as security restrictions are met.

Obama is also expected to make the case that the US-led war in Afghanistan has decimated al-Qa'ida's core, even as new threats emerge elsewhere.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power