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December 8, 2010

US federal judge dismisses targeted killing lawsuit

US federal judge dismisses targeted killing lawsuit

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

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In a ruling issued Tuesday a United States federal judge dismissed a lawsuit which attempted to stop the U.S. government from selecting Anwar al-Awlaki for targeted killing.

Anwar al-Awlaki in 2008
Image: Muhammad ud-Deen.

John D. Bates, United States federal judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, wrote in his opinion that the lawsuit was a “unique and extraordinary case” which brought up questions over whether the government had the authority to strategize over killing its own citizens without a previous criminal justice process undertaken. Judge Bates ruled for the United States Department of Justice, and held that various civil rights organizations in addition to Awlaki’s father did not have the authority or jurisdiction to start the lawsuit in the first place.

Awlaki’s father was supported in the case by two civil rights organizations, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union. In the lawsuit these organizations argued before the court that targeted killing of an individual who does not present an imminent threat of life to citizens is not permitted by international law or by the United States Constitution. Awlaki was born in New Mexico. Yemeni law enforcement officials in November charged Awlaki with connections to Al-Qaeda, and ordered him to be arrested “by any means possible”.

U.S. officials have identified Awlaki as an influential leader within the Islamist terrorist organization Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Awlaki has made statements where he encouraged individuals of Muslim faith to murder U.S. citizens. According to Associated Press, Awlaki is located in Yemen. He has been linked to terrorist incidents in the United States including the Fort Hood shooting, the attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253, and the Cargo planes bomb plot.

Cquote1.svg The serious issues regarding the merits of the alleged authorization of the targeted killing of a U.S. citizen overseas must await another day or another nonjudicial forum. Cquote2.svg

—Judge John D. Bates

AP reported that it received confirmation from Obama administration officials that, “al-Awlaki is on a capture or kill list”; and Agence France-Presse received similar statements from U.S. representatives. However, during the actual process of the Awlaki lawsuit in court, government representatives refused to confirm or deny whether this was the case. The U.S. government put forth the notion during the case that the court did not have jurisdiction to review actions of the President of the United States, due to the fact that the President’s choices are intended in a setting of war to prevent the loss of lives of U.S. citizens stemming from acts of terrorism.

Judge Bates wrote a decision which consisted of 83-pages. He was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush. In his ruling, Judge Bates stated, “The serious issues regarding the merits of the alleged authorization of the targeted killing of a U.S. citizen overseas must await another day or another nonjudicial forum.” He wrote that the lawsuit brought up, “vital considerations of national security and of military and foreign affairs”, including how the President is able to order targeted killing of terrorists who are United States citizens, without “any form of judicial process whatsoever, based on the mere assertion that he is a dangerous member of a terrorist organization.”

The court responded to Awlaki’s father’s assertions that his son was unable to initiate a lawsuit himself or acquire legal assistance “without disclosing his whereabouts and exposing himself to possible attack by [U.S. government]”. Judge Bates replied, “Anwar Al-Aulaqi has made clear that he has no intention of making himself available for criminal prosecution in U.S. courts, remarking in a May 2010 AQAP video interview that he ‘will never surrender’ to the United States, and that ‘[i]f the Americans want me, [they can] come look for me.'”



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December 27, 2009

Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up airliner

Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up airliner

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Northwest Airbus A330 with Delta Air Lines livery (Delta and Northwest have merged), similar to the one involved in the incident aboard Flight 253.
Image: Gietje.

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U.S. authorities have charged Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab with trying to blow up a plane on its descent into the city of Detroit, Michigan on Friday. The man, who comes from a prominent Nigerian family, was read the charges in a hospital Saturday, where he is being treated for burns.

The charges were read by United States District Judge Paul Borman while Abdulmutallab was being held at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Abdulmutallab was asked if he understood the charges against him, and he answered in English that he did. Witnesses reported he was in a wheelchair with a blanket over his lap.

The U.S. government accuses the Nigerian national of bringing an explosive device onto Friday’s Northwest Airlines Flight 253 plane from Amsterdam in the Netherlands. A preliminary analysis by federal authorities indicates he used a syringe to detonate a highly explosive substance, identified as PETN. Abdulmutallab said he got the explosives in Yemen from an Al Qaeda bomb maker who sewed the device into his underwear.

Passengers have told investigators the man went into the bathroom for 20 minutes before landing and complained about stomach problems before pulling a blanket on himself.

Just as the plane was getting ready to land, they heard a pop, smelled smoke and then saw the man on fire. A Dutch passenger, Jasper Schuringa, jumped on the Nigerian to subdue him, and a fire extinguisher was used to put out the fire.

The House Committee on Homeland Security chairman, Bennie Thompson, said it was a very close call. “We’re just fortunate nothing happened. This was a serious situation,” he said. Thompson said Congress will look into the matter soon. “As soon as we reconvene from the holiday recess, we will start looking into the circumstances around the Northwest flight incident.”

Nigeria’s acting ambassador to the United States, Babagana Wakil, immediately issued a statement, which he read to the Voice of America over the phone. “Expectedly, the embassy is already in contact with relevant U.S. authorities over the incident to facilitate any preliminary investigations to get to the bottom of this unfortunate development. Officers from the embassy have already flown to Michigan to gain consular access to the individual under investigation, and to offer the mission’s cooperation to federal and local authorities,” he said.

The suspect’s family members in Nigeria said they were shocked. The suspect’s father, an accountant and businessman, was previously a very well known banker in Africa’s most populous nation. Friends and family said Adbulmutallab had studied in Togo and London, and that he had recently made several trips to Yemen. His father had, apparently, made concerns with his son’s extremist connections known to the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria.

Adbulmutallab told the FBI he met with a radical Yemeni cleric he corresponded with online. The cleric is not believed to be Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Imam connected to Major Nidal Malik Hasan who carried out the Fort Hood shooting last month.

Friday, the White House said it believed it was an attempted act of terrorism. U.S. media reports say the suspect told interrogators he had affiliations with Al Qaeda.

The charges that were read against him Saturday carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

Meanwhile, security screening measures have upgraded in the wake of the foiled attack, including only allowing one carry-on bag for international passengers, banning anyone from moving around the airplane during the last hour of the flight and additional “unpredictable” measures that will vary from airport to airport.



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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

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