Drone strikes: Four American citizens killed. Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged Wednesday that US drones have killed four American citizens in Pakistan and Yemen, justifying the attacks under US and international law. President Obama is scheduled to address the subject in a speech Thursday.
The US government has acknowledged the killing of four American citizens as part of its drone attack program – one person intentionally and three others not specifically targeted but killed in strikes aimed at terrorist suspects.
The information comes in a letter to congressional leaders from Attorney General Eric Holder, reported Wednesday by several news organizations, first by The New York Times.
The news comes on the eve of a major speech President Obama is scheduled to give on national security issues at the National Defense University on Thursday, and it focuses on what could be the most controversial subject Obama intends to cover.
The one US citizen targeted was radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, killed in Yemen in 2011. Also killed in strikes aimed at other individuals were Mr. Awlaki’s 16-year-old son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, Samir Khan (both killed in Yemen), and Jude Mohammed, who was killed in a strike in Pakistan.
Mr. Kahn was the publisher of Inspire magazine, which Mr. al-Awlaki edited, ABC News reports. Mr. Mohammed was on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List and was believed to be plotting a car bombing on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
“These individuals were not specifically targeted by the United States,” Mr. Holder acknowledges without citing further information on those three US citizens killed in drone attacks.
The bulk of Holder’s letter reiterates the legal justification for killing Americans abroad laid out in a speech the attorney general made in March at Northwestern University Law School, as well as the specific justification for killing al-Awlaki.