On Friday morning, deep in the Jawf area of northern Yemen, a region which central authority thinks twice before entering, two vehicles were getting ready to depart. A passenger from one of the vehicles contacted a Yemeni security official whose task was to inform the Americans that their target was on the move.
The target, Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki, was born and educated in the US where he lived and worked prior to returning to his native land in 2003.
Meanwhile, the group of Americans was divided between their embassy in Sana'a and a Harrier jet fighter-carrying warship approaching the shores of the Gulf of Aden. A swift operation using these jet fighters was known as plan B and code-named “Operation Turuwy.”
However, there was no need for plan B. On his way to Friday prayers with some friends – which included Pakistani-American Samir Khan – Awlaki must have heard, even if only for a split second, an unfamiliar whistling sound before his world went dark. This was plan A, a homing torpedo from a UAV Aircraft.
I visited this area back in 2002 while I was doing research on the smuggling of antiquities from Arab countries. At the time, President Ali Abdullah Saleh insisted I be accompanied by Culture Minister Abdul Wahab al-Rohani (currently one of the leaders of the revolution), along with a convoy of security men wielding heavy weapons. Rohani had desperately attempted to persuade me from making the trip.
Nearly two years later, I returned to Sana'a, this time in search of a man who the Americans claimed they “failed to locate for interrogation” in a 9/11 Committee report.
This was Awlaki, whom I met in broad daylight on a wide street in the country’s capital. The US authorities had full knowledge of the meeting; Awlaki’s US ties are no secret.
Awlaki didn’t feel glory, nor did he feel he needed to defend himself against the fact that he was the imam of a mosque in San Diego, California, which was frequented by Nawaf al-Hazmy and Khalid al-Mehdar, the two masterminds behind the 9/11 attack.
I won’t hide my admiration at the time for this model of a sincere Arab Muslim gifted with knowledge, intelligence, discernment and self-esteem. He was a logical man capable of penetrating hearts and minds and winning any argument in seamless American English.
It’s true that in recent years he began taking the initiative rather than simply inciting resistance. Nevertheless, I cannot conceal my contempt for positions taken by both Barack Obama (and the Washington Zionists behind him) and Ali Abdullah Saleh (and the Arab Zionists behind him).
There’s an enormous gap between Obama's position when he came to Egypt and his current one. There’s also a difference between his prior insistence on using civilian courts for even the most notorious Guantanamo Bay prisoners on one hand, and the unjust and arbitrary execution of an American citizen – in an attack which killed three additional men – on the other.
As for Saleh, the Yemeni rebels won’t take pity on him when he falls in their hands. It’s only a matter of time.
Translated from the Arabic Edition