Yesterday a Anwar al-Awlaki an outspoken and notorious Islamist cleric was apparently killed by a US drone attack in Yemen. Let us be clear, he was not a nice guy. He openly called for terrorist attacks against western civilians and generally whooped for joy whenever Islamist did anything (even if all they did was the equivalent of jumping out of a bush and saying boo!). Presumably he had the video footage of 9/11 in his favourites drawer. However, his involvement in terrorism par say was fairly limited. He certainly inspired a number of wannabe jihadis using online social media channels and may have even met the infamous underpants bomber (gotta love that name! hows he ever going to live that one down! The stick he must get in prison from the other prisoners!). However to leap to the conclusion that he was a serious threat to US security, so serious that it required that he be blown up by a drone and essentially executed without trail is stretching things.
The terrorist attacks he inspired were by and large amateurish affairs undertaken by stupid-icide wannabe’s jihadi’s that did little if any damage. Indeed most of the terror caused by these attacks revolves around the complete over reaction by the security services to what was and still is a minor threat in the big scale of things. Consequently I would argue that this targeted killing was pushing the boat out and has set a very dangerous prescient. I mean if I was Sarah Palin ( who put a US congresswoman in her crosshairs who was then shot by a radical tea partier) or Glenn Beck (discussed his fantasy about killing Michel Moore live on air) or Pat Roberston (who called for Hugo Chavez to be assassinated) Id be shitting myself about now!
If Al-Awlaki was such a serious threat that he had to be taken off the air there were other alternatives, notably arresting him, bringing before a court and putting him on trail. Unfortunately, we must assume by virtue of the fact that they didnt do this that either the evidence against him was unreliable (read tortured out of people by Syrian or Libyan intelligence with a little help for the CIA) or figments of paranoid agents imagination (have they found any of those Iraqi WMDs yet?). Or alternatively they were afraid hed say embarrassing things at the trail (like say, that the CIA had originally backed him to act as an agent for them in their Middle east chess game and he, like Osama, tired of being a pawn).
Again, few will mourn his passing, even many Muslims will probably breath a sigh of relief, but we do not want to live in a world where government can just turn around and kill people whom they dont like in foreign countries using remote drones. That is a very dangerous and very slippery slope were not heading down.