Just in case you are a sucker for Anwar Al-Awlaki quotes….
Da’awah will carry on, Tarbiyah will carry on, and Jihad will carry on and all of these are building blocks for the Ummah in it’s next stage. Allah wants victory for this Ummah and Allah is preparing the means for that. Let us not sit on the sidelines, let us be part of that Victory.
The issue in Palestine will not be solved by the United States or any other Western country. It is not going to be solved by ‘Six Pack Dan’ or ‘Sally Soccer Mom’!
We will make Jihad as American as apple pie and as British as afternoon tea.
At 42800 tons, the USS Boxer is a large vessel, categorized as an amphibious assault ship. Amphibious, because it is armed with Sea Sparrow missile batteries and around 2000 Marines. Besides that, it has a flight deck, with a gaggle of 42 fixed and rotary wing aircraft and is in fact a cross between an aircraft carrier and a large battleship. It is also the flagship of the Combined Task Force 151 , a multinational naval task force, set up in 2009 to provide security to commercial vessels in response to the repeated hijackings by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden and off the eastern coast of Somalia.
The Boxer has two legitimate claims to fame – one, when it provided support in the action against the Somali pirates who tried to kidnap the captain of the Maersk Alabama, Captain Richard Phillips, in the now famous incident that has since been immortalized in the Tom Hanks movie Captain Phillips.
It is the other brush that the Boxer had with history that is relevant to this story. In April 2011, on a calm sunny morning in the middle of the Gulf of Aden, it came across a small motor boat that had run out of gas and was floundering. A storm was forecast that evening and left to itself, the boat had zero chances of surviving the night. The Boxer came to the aid.
The motor boat had ten shady dudes, all Somalis, one of whom – the leader – turned out to be a member of the fanatical Somali terrorist group Al Shabab. Hauled to the brig aboard the Boxer, the man was held incommunicado for more than two months during which time a team ot private security contractors, with experience in enhanced interrogation techniques, was flown in to get him to talk. And talk he did. True to stereotype, the ass—le turned out to be a scaredycat and readily spilt the beans.
His name was Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame and he gushed out details of his many meetings with Anwar Al-Awlaki at a large farm house house in Khashef, a village in Jawf about ninety miles northeast of the Yemeni capital, Sana’a. Information provided by this prick was so graphic that it took no time for the JSOC to pinpoint Awlaki’s exact location, with human intelligence provided by the NSB, Yemen’s Intelligence Service Agency.
The Americans also learnt that Awlaki was filming and editing a new recruitment video for his online terror rag, Inspire. Helping him was a Pakistani-American named Samir Khan and they weren’t going anywhere, at least in the near future, while the video was being wrapped up.
Yemeni villagers have something in common with the folks who live in Pakistan’s tribal Waziristan region – the annoying but ominous buzz of drones. After the initial panicky concerns for their lives right after 9/11, they decided at some point to just chill out and that running scared every time they caught sight of a drone was pointless. In this they were right.
Sometime during the second Bush term, the White House authorized the killing of folks with drone strikes, in what is known as signature strikes – targeting based not on hard evidence, but simply on the way the targeted person was seen behaving, on the drone pilot’s monitor, the so-called signature of how according to the Americans a terrorism suspect is likely to behave, his body language. Obviously this has led to the killing of hundreds of innocents who made the mistake of seeming like terrorists and being present in the wrong place at the wrong time.
That September in 2011, villagers in Jawf did not bat an eyelid when they noticed an increase in the number of daily drone flights over their land. They had no way of knowing that Washington’s drone war was kicking into full gear. Even if some of them may have known that there was a large white building with tall pillars 7000 miles to the west, most ordinary Yemenis had no idea that counterterrorism teams under directions from from that building were watching one specific house – and waiting.
It was the current residence of Anwar A-Awlaki and his Pakistani-American sidekick. Once they got a lock on Awlaki’s coordinates, the CIA deployed several MQ-1 Predator drones from the Khamis Mushayat Air Base, 200kms to the north in Saudi Arabia and in addition, commandeered JSOC drones that were launching out of the Camp Lemonnier base in Djibouti to the south as well.
The plan to assassinate Awlaki was code named – Operation Troy, possibly implying that the US had a mole (in this case, the Al Shabab bad guy called Warsame) leading its forces to Awlaki.
Across the Atlantic, the legal grounds for killing someone in cold blood, without due process was not keeping anybody awake – definitely not President Obama – who had absolutely no qualms about targeted killings. He had already sentenced Anwar al-Awlaki to death without trial. A secret legal authorization had been prepared and internal administration critics sidelined or brought on board. All that remained to be determined was the day when Anwar Al-Awlaki was going to die. And on September 30th, 2011, that day had finally arrived.
When told that children had been seen going in and coming out of the house where Awlaki was holed up, the American President was unbending. Although it was official policy to avoid the deaths of innocent bystanders, a total of 20 innocents killed in a drone strike had been deemed to be an acceptable collateral damage, under one of the many hideous Dick Cheney-created 20/1 thumb rules in the ‘war on terror’ that had been leaked. And Obama turned out to be Cheney on steroids. Awlaki was not to escape that hut under any circumstances. The President didn’t really care if a hundred innocent civilians perished in the attack.
On the morning of September 30, 2011, Awlaki and his Pakistani-American video film maker were squatting cross-legged in the traditional Yemeni style on a rug. They had just finished breakfast – heaped plates of fried flat bread, eggs and goat cheese, a popular breakfast item in Yemen known as fatoot. They were simply sitting around, waiting for the food to settle when a little boy came running in and began gesturing excitedly toward the sky. He had spotted the first drone of the day. By then drones had become so common a sight that ordinary Yemenis didn’t bat an eyelid over their sudden appearances.
Though his blank impassive mole eyes blinked constantly and made him seem unsure of what he was about to say, it was only a physical affliction that the murderous cleric had had since childhood. Anwar Al-Awlaki was at all times a supremely confident man, sure of where he was headed in life. And sure of what was in store for him – martyrdom. He had no illusions that he would never live to see old age, but that didn’t bother him even one bit.
Even after he heard the boy nervously shouting to him about the drone in the sky, Awlaki felt nothing at all – neither apprehension nor surprise. He simply thanked the boy in mock graciousness, not bothering to caution or stop him from being out in the open. Instead, he reclined back against a cushion provided by the host, a fanatical follower who also happened to be the maternal uncle of the Al Harad brothers who had died a month previously while trying to draw drone fire away from the cleric (See Part-3)). After a while, when a lookout reported that the drone was gone, the cleric rose and prepared to leave.
Unknown to the terrorist, there was another set of eyes watching him from 12 miles away – up in the heavens – a Global Hawk surveillance UAV and it wasn’t going anywhere. It had already begun broadcasting live video and images back to a cavernous room in the basement of the Pentagon, one wall of which had this humongous TV screen, across which glided a vast vista of undulating, arid shrubland, pockmarked with stunted, scraggly trees.
Suddenly the watchers in the room stiffened and hunched forward, their eyes unwavering, as they watched two individuals emerge from a large farm house, one following a step behind and followed by six or seven others who walked deferentially a further few steps behind the two. The group began moving toward two large SUVs that had been parked out back overnight and had just been driven up to the front yard.
As if on a reflex, the man toward whom all the others seemed to defer, committed the same fatal error he had made once before not long ago – he turned to say something to a boy who was carrying some firewood into the house and since the boy was at that moment positioned at an elevation, on a knoll, Anwar Al-Awlaki’s face turned up by a fraction for a fleeting instant.
An instant is too long for a Global Hawk. In that instant he was IDed positively by an NSA team working with their IBM Cognitive Systems partners, yielding a 92% match-up with who they thought the man was.
The cleric and his henchmen got into the two SUVs and as the watchers held their collective breath, the two vehicles started snaking their way along a dirt path toward an rough unpaved road that led into the mountains.
This was it. Time to ‘rock and roll’.