WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The families of U.S.-born al Qaeda militant Anwar al-Awlaki and two other U.S. citizens who were killed in Yemen are questioning the deaths in court in the latest challenge to President Barack Obama's conduct of drone attacks abroad.
The lawsuit filed on Wednesday tests the Obama administration's position that, under the laws of war, it can target for secret, lethal strikes Americans who join al Qaeda or an affiliate if there is an imminent threat to the United States and capturing them is not feasible.
A drone strike in Yemen in September 2011 killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born Muslim cleric who joined al Qaeda's Yemen affiliate, and Samir Khan, a naturalized U.S. citizen who moved to Yemen in 2009 and worked on Inspire, an English-language al Qaeda magazine.
The next month, another strike killed Anwar al-Awlaki's son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born 16-year-old living in Yemen, and at least six others as they were sitting at a restaurant, the lawsuit says.
U.S. authorities have not publicly detailed evidence against the three. In response to lawsuits requesting information about targeted killings, the Obama administration has declined to confirm the program's existence, although news outlets including Reuters and The New York Times have reported some details of it.
Relatives said in their lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that the three deaths violated U.S. legal guarantees, including the right to due process.
"There is something terribly wrong when a 16-year-old American boy can be killed by his own government without any accountability or explanation," said Pardiss Kebriaei, a lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights, in a conference call with reporters. Her group is representing the relatives, with the American Civil Liberties Union.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Terrorists' families and ACLU sue Obama admin over deaths of al Qaeda terrorists