Targeted Killing: Drones

A Second U.S. Citizen Killed Alongside Al-Aulaqi

By Alan Z. Rozenshtein
Saturday, October 1, 2011, 2:46 PM

Yesterday, the New York Times reported that Samir Khan, a 25-year old U.S. citizen from North Carolina, was killed in the same drone strike that targeted Anwar al-Aulaqi. According to Foreign Policy, Khan "helped create the media architecture of the American online jihadi community," primarily by running Inspire, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) online magazine. (The New York Times published an in-depth profile of Khan in 2007.) This is likely a significant setback for AQAP's English-language recruitment and publicity operations. According to the most recent news reports, it appears that, unlike al-Aulaqi, Khan was not on a targeting list. Rather, Khan was "collateral damage," according to Representative C. A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D-Md.), the ranking member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and a member of the "Gang of Eight" congressional leaders that the President is required by law to inform of any covert actions. Ruppersberger added that Khan's death was "really a plus for us" and that Khan had been "recruiting through [Inspire]." It will be interesting to see how Khan's death plays into the larger discussion going on about due process limitations on strikes on American citizens abroad, or whether Khan's status as "collateral damage" renders the legal issues unproblematic.