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Anwar Al-Awlaki Dead: U.S.-Born Al Qaeda Cleric Killed In Yemen

High_Gravity

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Anwar Al-Awlaki Dead: U.S.-Born Al Qaeda Cleric Killed In Yemen

Anwar-al-Awlaki_1555336c.jpg


SANAA, Yemen -- In a significant new blow to al-Qaida, U.S. airstrikes in Yemen on Friday killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an American militant cleric who became a prominent figure in the terror network's most dangerous branch, using his fluent English and Internet savvy to draw recruits for attacks in the United States.

The strike was the biggest U.S. success in hitting al-Qaida's leadership since the May killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. But it raises questions that other strikes did not: Al-Awlaki was an American citizen who has not been charged with any crime. Civil liberties groups have questioned the government's authority to kill an American without trial.

The 40-year-old al-Awlaki was for years an influential mouthpiece for al-Qaida's ideology of holy war, and his English-language sermons urging attacks on the United States were widely circulated among militants in the West.

But U.S. officials say he moved into a direct operational role in organizing such attacks as he hid alongside al-Qaida militants in the rugged mountains of Yemen. Most notably, they believe he was involved in recruiting and preparing a young Nigerian who on Christmas Day 2009 tried to blow up a U.S. airliner heading to Detroit, failing only because he botched the detonation of explosives sewn into his underpants.

Washington has called al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, as the branch in Yemen is called, the most direct threat to the United States after it plotted that attack and a foiled attempt to mail explosives to synagogues in Chicago.

In July, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said al-Awlaki was a priority target alongside Ayman al-Zawahri, bin Laden's successor as the terror network's leader.

The Yemeni-American had been in the U.S. crosshairs since his killing was approved by President Barack Obama in April 2010 – making him the first American placed on the CIA "kill or capture" list. At least twice, airstrikes were called in on locations in Yemen where al-Awlaki was suspected of being, but he wasn't harmed.

Friday's success was the result of counterterrorism cooperation between Yemen and the U.S. that has dramatically increased in recent weeks – ironically, even as Yemen has plunged deeper into turmoil as protesters try to oust President Ali Abdullah Saleh, U.S. officials said.

Apparently trying to cling to power by holding his American allies closer, Saleh has opened the taps in cooperation against al-Qaida. U.S. officials said the Yemenis have also allowed the U.S. to gather more intelligence on al-Awlaki's movements and to fly more armed drone and aircraft missions over its territory than ever before.

The operation that killed al-Awlaki was run by the U.S. military's elite counterterrorism unit, the Joint Special Operations Command – the same unit that got bin Laden.

A U.S. counterterrorism official said American forces targeted a convoy in which al-Awlaki was traveling with a drone and jet attack and believe he's been killed. The official was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Yemeni government announced that al-Awlaki was "targeted and killed" around 9:55 a.m outside the town of Khashef in mountainous Jawf province, 87 miles (140 kilometers) east of the capital Sanaa. It gave no further details.

Local tribal and security officials said al-Awlaki was traveling in a two-car convoy with two other al-Qaida operatives from Jawf to neighboring Marib province when they were hit by an airstrike. They said the other two operatives were also believed dead. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.

Al-Awlaki, born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents, began as a mosque preacher as he conducted his university studies in the United States, and he was not seen by his congregations as radical. While preaching in San Diego, he came to know two of the men who would eventually become suicide-hijackers in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The FBI questioned al-Awlaki at the time but found no cause to detain him.

In 2004, al-Awlaki returned to Yemen, and in the years that followed, his English-language sermons – distributed on the Internet – increasingly turned to denunciations of the United States and calls for jihad, or holy war. The sermons turned up in the possession of a number of militants in the U.S. and Europe arrested for plotting attacks.

Al-Awlaki exchanged up to 20 emails with U.S. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, alleged killer of 13 people in the Nov. 5, 2009, rampage at Fort Hood. Hasan initiated the contacts, drawn by al-Awlaki's Internet sermons, and approached him for religious advice.

Al-Awlaki has said he didn't tell Hasan to carry out the shootings, but he later praised Hasan as a "hero" on his Web site for killing American soldiers who would be heading for Afghanistan or Iraq to fight Muslims.

In New York, the Pakistani-American man who pleaded guilty to the May 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt told interrogators he was "inspired" by al-Awlaki after making contact over the Internet.

After the Fort Hood attack, al-Awlaki moved from Yemen's capital, Sanaa, into the mountains where his Awalik tribe is based and – it appears – grew to build direct ties with al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, if he had not developed them already. The branch is led by a Yemeni militant named Nasser al-Wahishi.

Yemeni officials have said al-Awlaki had contacts with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the accused would-be Christmas plane bomber, who was in Yemen in 2009. They say the believe al-Awlaki met with the 23-year-old Nigerian, along with other al-Qaida leaders, in al-Qaida strongholds in the country in the weeks before the failed bombing.

Anwar Al-Awlaki Dead: U.S.-Born Al Qaeda Cleric Killed In Yemen
 

waltky

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A face only a mother could love...
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Anwar Al-Awlaki: From American Boy to Face of Terror
Sept. 30, 2011 - Radical al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki's life may have ended in the violent blast of an airstrike in the heart of Yemen, but it started a half-a-world away in the heart of America.
Al-Awlaki was born in 1971 in New Mexico, where his Yemeni-born father was attending school, but as a boy moved back to Yemen with his family in 1978. He returned to the U.S. in 1991 to attend college in Colorado. By 1994, al-Awlaki, who had no formal religious training, had become the imam of a Muslim center in Denver. He moved to San Diego in 1996, where he attended graduate school and served as an imam at a local mosque. While al-Awlaki was establishing himself as a religious leader, he was also succumbing to temptation. In San Diego, he was twice arrested for soliciting prostitutes. He pled guilty both times, paying a fine and attending an AIDs awareness class for a 1996 charge and paying a fine, performing community service and serving three years of probation for the second offense.

It was al-Awlaki's ties to jihad, however, that brought him to the attention of federal authorities. In San Diego, he met with an associate of so-called "Blind Sheik" Omar Abdel Rahman, who had been convicted in connection with the 1993 terror attack on the World Trade Center. He was also serving as the vice president of an Islamic charity founded by a man believed to be an Osama bin Laden associate. The charity was thought to be an al Qaeda front. After a federal investigation, no charges were brought.

Two of the future 9/11 hijackers visited and met with al-Awlaki while he was serving as an imam in San Diego. In 2000, Nawaf al-Hamzi and Khalid al-Midhdar, both Saudis, traveled from an al Qaeda summit in Malaysia, where both the upcoming attacks on the USS Cole in Yemen and 9/11 were discussed, to San Diego. While staying in California, the men attended al-Awlaki's mosque and had private meetings with him. The 9/11 commission report later found: "Another potentially significant San Diego contact for [9/11 hijackers] Hazmi and Mihdhar was Anwar Al-al-Awlaki, an imam at the Rabat mosque. ... The operatives may even have met or at least talked to him the same day they first moved to San Diego. Hazmi and Mihdhar reportedly respected al-Awlaki as a religious figure and developed a close relationship with him."

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ABikerSailor

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You know..........in the future, if an American citizen decides to go over to help and aid terrorist organizations, the government should REVOKE THEIR CITIZENSHIP, then declare them enemy combatants.

I think treason of that level should be rewarded with revocation of their citizenship. That way, we wouldn't have the problem of killing an American citizen.
 

martybegan

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"all enemies, foreign and domestic"

I think he falls under that catagory. Its nice to think the last thought in the back of his head was the seeker head of a maverick missle.
 

Trajan

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I wonder if someone told Hasan his mentor bought the farm? ;)
 

yidnar

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You know..........in the future, if an American citizen decides to go over to help and aid terrorist organizations, the government should REVOKE THEIR CITIZENSHIP, then declare them enemy combatants.

I think treason of that level should be rewarded with revocation of their citizenship. That way, we wouldn't have the problem of killing an American citizen.
....why don't we just kill them !! and this bastard was a traitor !!
 

Defiant1

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It sucks when you aren't number one on the US born terrorist who would be president list.

Is Obama killing off his competition?
 

Ropey

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You know..........in the future, if an American citizen decides to go over to help and aid terrorist organizations, the government should REVOKE THEIR CITIZENSHIP, then declare them enemy combatants.

I think treason of that level should be rewarded with revocation of their citizenship. That way, we wouldn't have the problem of killing an American citizen.

I agree. Canada as well. We have terrorists here who fought in Afghanistan, were injured and came back to suck our health care.

[The Khadrs:] Canada's First Family of Terrorism :: Daniel Pipes

"We are an Al Qaeda family." So spoke one of the Khadrs, a Muslim Canadian household whose near single-minded devotion to Osama bin Laden contains important lessons for the West.

The terrorism-related activities of other Khadr family members — wife, one of two daughters, three of four sons — complement their patriarch's record.

* Wife Maha Elsamnah took her then 14-year-old son Omar from Canada to Pakistan in 2001 and enrolled him for Al Qaeda training.
* Daughter Zaynab, 23, was engaged to one terrorist and married, with Osama bin Laden himself present at the nuptials, a Qaeda member in 1999. Zaynab endorses the 9/11 atrocities and hopes her infant daughter will die fighting Americans.
* Son Abdullah, 22, is a Qaeda fugitive constantly on the move to elude capture. Canadian intelligence states he ran a Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan during the Taliban period, something Abdullah denies.
* Son Omar, 17, stands accused of hurling a grenade in July 2002, killing an American medic in Afghanistan. Omar lost sight in one eye in the fighting and is now a U.S. detainee in Guantánamo.
* Son Abdul Karim, 14, half-paralyzed by wounds sustained in the October 2003 shoot-out that left his father dead, is presently prisoner in a Pakistani hospital.

Fortunately, there is also one positive story:

* Son Abdurahman, 21, reluctantly trained with Al Qaeda, was captured by coalition forces in November 2001 and agreed to work for the Central Intelligence Agency in Kabul, Guantánamo, and Bosnia. He returned to Canada in October 2003, where he denounced both extremism ("I want to be a good, strong, civilized, peaceful Muslim" ) and his family's terroristic ways.

Harper needs to end this as well...
 

waltky

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Granny says it means the only good terrorist is a dead terrorist...
:clap2:
Anwar al-Awlaki dead: what it means for US, Yemen
September 30, 2011 - The assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen and Al Qaeda recruiter in Yemen, will be heralded as a major triumph in the US today. But it has very little to do with Yemen's own problems.
Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni-American preacher who has emerged in recent years as a recruiter for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was killed at around 10:00 local time in Yemen this morning, according to Yemen and unnamed US officials. In a brief statement, Yemen's foreign ministry said Awlaki was killed five miles outside of Kashef, in al-Jawf province, about 80 miles east of Sanaa, the capital. Yemen didn't say who carried out the attack, but early indications are that Awlaki was killed in an airstrike, which would almost certainly point to the US. Reuters reports that an unidentified US official confirmed the death.

The Obama administration, in concert with President Ali Abdullah Saleh, has been running an intense air campaign against Islamist militants in Yemen for the past year, and Yemen has negligible air assets of its own. The US also quickly said it was "fairly certain" that Awlaki is dead, implying some inside knowledge of the situation. The US had tried and failed to kill Awlaki with drone strikes in the past. Awlaki would appear to be the first US citizen to fall at the hands of a targeted killing from the government since what the "global war on terror" started 10 years ago. He became a particular target for the US after Maj. Nidal Malik Hassan murdered 12 of his comrades in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009. Major Hassan had been in email contact with Awlaki, and the preacher has been cited as an inspiration for Hassan's attack. US officials said Awlaki had also met with failed underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian who sought to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner in December of 2009.

The value of Awlaki

The importance of Awlaki to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is debatable. The group itself has become of particular concern to the US, particularly after it took credit for smuggling two bombs onto cargo planes bound from Yemen to the US in October 2010. The bombs were found and defused on a layover in the UK. But Awlaki's main value has been in propaganda (thanks in part to the publicity created by America's public focus on him) and in his presumed ability to reach out to an English-speaking Muslim audience – individuals who, Washington worries, are better able to blend into the communities they aimed to attack. In recent years, he's been the driving force behind the Al Qaeda's English-language magazine "Inspire."

In testimony before Congress in February, director of the National Counterterrorism Center Michael Leiter said "I actually consider al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, with Awlaki as a leader within that organization, probably the most significant risk to the US homeland. I'm hesitant to rank them too carefully – but certainly up there." As for Awlaki himself, Leiter said: "He certainly is the most well-known English speaking ideologue who is speaking directly to folks here in the homeland. There are several others who we're concerned with, but I think Awlaki probably does have the greatest audience on the Internet and the like."

Awlaki's path

See also:

Al-Awlaki's Death Leaves Gap in al-Qaida
September 30, 2011 - The death of a senior al-Qaida figure by a U.S. air strike in Yemen leaves a gap in the senior ranks of what counterterrorism officials say is the most lethal of the group's franchises, Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). But how significant a gap is open to question. Was Anwar al-Awlaki primarily an inspirational figure to would-be jihadists? Or did he play a significant operational role for the group as well?
Former CIA director Michael Hayden says the death of Anwar al-Awlaki is significant, but not as significant as the death of Osama bin Laden. In an interview with VOA, Hayden says Awlaki's death will not have great operational impact on al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula because his primary role was as an inspirational figure. "It's a big deal," said Hayden. "And if you regard, as I do, the most serious current threat to be the self-radicalized, one-off, low-threshold person legitimately inside the United States, this undercuts that effort over the long term because he truly was an inspirational figure. But in terms of making al-Qaida shudder as an organization, this isn't in the same league as bin Laden."

With his flawless, idiom-laden English skills, the American-born Islamic cleric could reach disaffected young Muslims in the West and inspire them to mount attacks. It was a skill precious to al-Qaida as it sought to ramp up attacks on Western targets, but found itself increasingly constrained by Western counterterrorism efforts. But Hayden points out that Awlaki was viewed in the U.S. as more significant than he actually was because of his background. "He was an American," said Hayden. "He knew our jargon and knew our culture, could relate to people here. And because of that - how to put this? It was much easier for us to understand the threat coming from him because of who he was and his background, if you know what I mean. It's almost a natural that he floats to the top in the broad popular coverage of the threat, because he was easier for us to talk about, easier for us to explain, easier for us to focus on."

An analysis by the private intelligence firm, Stratfor, cautions against overstating Awlaki's role in AQAP. It points out that he was not the group's leader - that post is held by Nasir al-Wahayshi - and was not even the group's primary religious leader. But Michael Leiter, who until earlier this year was chief of America's National Counterterrorism Center, disagrees on Awlaki's significance. In a separate VOA interview, Leiter says Awlaki played a very large part in planning AQAP's operations. He points to Awlaki's pivotal role in such plots at trying to blow up an aircraft over Detroit on December 25, 2009, and a plan to plant bombs on U.S.-bound cargo planes as evidence that his death will have a profound impact on AQAP operationally as well as ideologically.

"I think it's significant on both the operational and inspirational front," said Leiter. "First and foremost, Anwar al-Awlaki was in fact the chief of external operations for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. He had planned and directed attacks against the U.S., most notably the failed Christmas Day attack, and then the plot to attack two cargo planes. And his loss in that sense is very, very significant." Leiter says Awlaki's American background made him operationally creative, thinking up plots aimed at harming America psychologically as well as physically, and seeking to obtain weapons of mass destruction. "He was quite imaginative," Leiter added. "And he also understood American psychology in a way that led him to try attacks that I think he understood would be particularly terrorizing. So he was both imaginative and also insightful in many ways."

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waltky

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Granny says, "Dat's right - a Hellfire missile uppa wazoo'll shut `em up...
:clap2:
No 'clear successors' to al-Awlaki, analysts say
30 Sept.`11 WASHINGTON – Anwar al-Awlaki's value to al-Qaeda and the risk he posed to the United States was rooted less in the operational capability of the terror network and more in his role as a charismatic spokesman for a movement that was desperately trying to connect with disaffected Muslims in the West, terrorism analysts say.
With U.S. intelligence reports indicating that al-Qaeda's ability to mount a major strike on U.S. soil has diminished, al-Awlaki's role as al-Qaeda's chief propagandist and recruiter raised his importance within an organization that was looking to recruit Muslims in the United States and Europe to take up their cause. But now it's unclear there's anyone within al-Qaeda who can take his place. "There aren't any clear successors on the bench," said Fred Burton, an analyst at the private intelligence firm STRATFOR.

Awlaki spent much of his childhood and adolescence in Yemen, but he was born in New Mexico and educated at Colorado State University. He not only spoke flawless English, but he also peppered his anti-American rhetoric on the Internet with pop culture references. During his years in the United States, he led mosques in Denver, San Diego and Northern Virginia, where he was regarded for both his piety and eloquence. "Someone like Anwar al-Awlaki, who had a duality of cultural understanding, was the perfect weapon, the perfect tool to help perpetuate the al-Qaeda ideology in Western audiences," said Rick "Ozzie" Nelson, a homeland security expert at the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

Al-Awlaki, in a sense, perpetuated Osama bin Laden's vision for the al-Qaeda movement to become self-sustaining. He was creating franchises for the terror organization, helping al-Qaeda reach potential followers into the United States and the United Kingdom and also southeast Asian countries such as Singapore with large English-speaking Muslim populations, Nelson said. The radical U.S. cleric's skills were so "unique," said Gregory Johnsen, a Yemen analyst at Princeton University, that his death, along with that of chief propaganda minister Samir Khan — another U.S. citizen — are losses that may be extremely difficult to replace within the weakened terror organization.

Johnsen said al-Awlaki, whose YouTube sermons attracted a dedicated global following, and Khan, the editor of al-Qaeda's slick English-language Internet magazine known as Inspire, were enormously successful in encouraging so-called lone-wolf terrorists, who U.S. authorities said represented the greatest threat to the homeland. Al-Awlaki alone is credited with inspiring a string of recent attacks and attempted assaults on the U.S., including the 2009 failed Christmas Day bombing of an airliner over Detroit, the 2010 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, and last year's foiled plot to bomb cargo planes with explosives concealed in printer cartridges. "I don't know if there is anybody capable of filling those roles," said terror analyst Evan Kohlmann. "Inspire magazine may be dead."

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See also:

Obama: Terrorists will find 'no safe haven anywhere'
Sep 30, 2011 - President Obama called Anwar al-Awlaki's death in Yemen today "a major blow to al- Qaeda's most active operational affiliate."
"Make no mistake, this is further proof that al-Qaeda and its affiliates will find no safe haven anywhere in the world," Obama said. Obama spoke at a Pentagon ceremony to honor retiring Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Mike Mullen and incoming chief Martin Dempsey. Al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born al-Qaeda leader in Yemen, helped plot the attempted bombing of a U.S airliner on Christmas Day 2009, "and he repeatedly called on individuals in the United States and around the globe to kill innocent men, women and children to advance a murderous agenda," Obama said.

The president did not discuss details of the operation that killed al-Awlaki earlier today in Yemen, but did call it "a tribute to our intelligence community" and "another significant milestone in the broader effort to defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates." Yemeni security officials also received presidential praise for helping bring down al-Awlaki.

"Awlaki and his organization have been directly responsible for the deaths of many Yemeni citizens," Obama said."His hateful ideology and targeting of innocent civilians has been rejected by the vast majority of Muslims and people of all faiths, and he has met his demise because the government and the people of Yemen have joined the international community in a common effort against al-Qaeda."

The fight against terrorism is not over, Obama added: "We will be deliberate, we will be relentless, we will be resolute in our commitment to destroy terrorist networks that aim to kill Americans, and to build a world in which people everywhere can live in greater peace, prosperity and security."

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ABikerSailor

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You know..........in the future, if an American citizen decides to go over to help and aid terrorist organizations, the government should REVOKE THEIR CITIZENSHIP, then declare them enemy combatants.

I think treason of that level should be rewarded with revocation of their citizenship. That way, we wouldn't have the problem of killing an American citizen.
....why don't we just kill them !! and this bastard was a traitor !!

Hey stupid........even if you ARE a traitor, as a citizen of this country, you are entitled to due process and a fair trial in this country.

That's why I say, the next time some idiot from here decides to join the terrorists, the first thing the State Department should do is announce formally via all channels, that the person joining the terrorists has 30 days to come back to the States and stand trial. If they don't then announce their citizenship is revoked on the 31st day, and they are now considered an enemy combatant.

Would save on the hassle for the country.
 

chikenwing

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Like this is the 1st time the authorities have killed a US citizen.He put himself on the battle field and was killed simple as that.
 

The Infidel

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"If any person or persons, owing allegiance to the United States of America, shall levy war against them, or shall adhere to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States, or elsewhere, and shall be thereof convicted on confession in open Court, or on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act of the treason whereof he or they shall stand indicted, such person or persons shall be adjudged guilty of treason against the United States, and SHALL SUFFER DEATH; and that if any person or persons, having knowledge of the commission of any of the treasons aforesaid, shall conceal, and not, as soon as may be, disclose and make known the same to the President of the United States, or some one of the Judges thereof, or to the President or Governor of a particular State, or some one of the Judges or Justices thereof, such person or persons, on conviction, shall be adjudged guilty of misprision of treason, and shall be imprisoned not exceeding seven years, and fined not exceeding one thousand dollars."
 
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High_Gravity

High_Gravity

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You know..........in the future, if an American citizen decides to go over to help and aid terrorist organizations, the government should REVOKE THEIR CITIZENSHIP, then declare them enemy combatants.
I think treason of that level should be rewarded with revocation of their citizenship. That way, we wouldn't have the problem of killing an American citizen.

I agree 100% Biker.
 
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You know..........in the future, if an American citizen decides to go over to help and aid terrorist organizations, the government should REVOKE THEIR CITIZENSHIP, then declare them enemy combatants.

I think treason of that level should be rewarded with revocation of their citizenship. That way, we wouldn't have the problem of killing an American citizen.
....why don't we just kill them !! and this bastard was a traitor !!

Hey stupid........even if you ARE a traitor, as a citizen of this country, you are entitled to due process and a fair trial in this country.

That's why I say, the next time some idiot from here decides to join the terrorists, the first thing the State Department should do is announce formally via all channels, that the person joining the terrorists has 30 days to come back to the States and stand trial. If they don't then announce their citizenship is revoked on the 31st day, and they are now considered an enemy combatant.

Would save on the hassle for the country.

Frighteningly, I agree.
 

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