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US favors killing terror suspects abroad over their capture and prosecution
US assassination drone pilots in action (file photo)
US assassination drone pilots in action (file photo)


Press TV

Monday, April 08, 2013

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The secret overseas capture and transfer to US of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, an alleged al-Qaeda operative and son-in-law of Osama bin Laden who awaits a criminal trial in a federal court in New York this month, is “a rare illustration of what Obama administration officials have often said is their strong preference for capturing terrorists rather than killing them,” The New York Times states in a Monday report.

Insisting that “an overwhelming reliance on killing terrorism suspects… has defined the Obama years,” the daily underlines that since US President Barack Obama took office, the American spy agency, the CIA, and its military have used assassination drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia to kill nearly 3,000 people.

“Only a handful” have been captured and brought to the US and “an unknown number” have been detained and jailed by “other countries” through American “intelligence and other support,” the daily adds.

Citing “experts on counterterrorism” both within and outside the US government, it further states that the Obama administration’s targeted killing program is mainly shaped by factors such as “availability of weapons that does not risk American casualties,” the resistance of foreign rulers to American military incursions, and the declining urgency of interrogations at a time the US has developed “deep intelligence” on its enemies and the terrorism threat has “diminished.”

Pointing to major critics of the Obama administration’s secret targeted killing program within the US, the report says on one side are the Republican lawmakers who accuse Obama of “adopting a de facto kill preference” due to his shut-down of “CIA’s overseas prisons” to avoid sending more detainees to the US military’s Guantanamo prison and torture facility in Cuba.

Furthermore, the report notes, human rights advocates argue that the American assassination drone strikes have “amounted to extrajudicial killings, the execution without trial of people suspected of being militants whose identities American officials often do not know and who sometimes pose little threat to the United States.”

Citing official accounts of benefits gained through the capture and interrogation of a few terror suspects by US agents in recent years, the Times article concludes by suggesting that the Obama administration has either grown wary of “the convenience of targeted killing” or may be “running out of high-level targets” to assassinate.

It then notes that following a “sharp rise” in assassination drone strikes in the first two years of the Obama presidency, “the total number” of terror drone attacks overseas by the CIA and the Pentagon “is now in sharp decline.”

According to The Long War Journal, which tracks US terror drone strikes overseas, such attacks peaked in Pakistan to 117 during 2010 but declined to 46 in 2012. So far this year, there has been 11 US terror drone strikes in Pakistan.

In Yemen, on the other hand, the assassination hits surged to 42 cases in 2012 while no such attacks has yet been reported so far in the current year.


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