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The Secret Story Behind Obama’s Assassination of Two Americans in the Name of Fighting the 'War on Terror'

Jeremy Scahill's new book, "Dirty Wars" shines a light on America’s unregulated and increasingly unilateral global assassination program.

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These two brothers, the Harad brothers, come to the rescue. And there’s—they’re in the—there’s a chaotic scene. There’s all of this smoke and clouds. And the Harad brothers get into Awlaki’s truck, Awlaki gets into their Suzuki, and then they—it’s something like out of—out of like, you know, some Hollywood movie. They drive in opposite directions away from the smoke. And I talked to a JSOC planner who saw the after action reports. He said, "We only had the top-down imagery. It looks like ants. So we didn’t know." And they had to make a decision which truck to follow. So they follow the original one, and they blow that one up. But, of course, Awlaki wasn’t in it, and Awlaki watched his car with the two brothers in it blow up while he was on a sort of cliff in the mountains. And then he slept overnight there, and then he made his way to the home of a friend of his. And he said that night, you know, that he counted 11 missiles, and he said they all missed their target, but the next one could be a direct hit.

And sure enough, in—on September 30th, 2011, just a few months later, Awlaki was in Jawf province in the north of Yemen, which was interesting because the U.S. always was looking for him in the south, and he and another American, Samir Khan, who is widely believed to have been the editor of  Inspire magazine, the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula magazine, were getting into their car and driving, and then the U.S. launched a drone strike and killed Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan in one strike. And U.S. officials said that Samir Khan wasn’t a target, but one congressman said it was a "two-fer," you know, that they got both of them at the same time. And I talked to the Khan family also, Samir Khan’s family. They’re from North Carolina, Pakistani Americans. And they said that the FBI had met with them repeatedly and said that Samir is not—hasn’t committed any crimes. A grand jury did not return an indictment against him. And they were trying to encourage the family to get him to come home. So this U.S. citizen, whose family had been told he hadn’t done anything criminal that they knew of, was actually killed that day with Anwar al-Awlaki.

AMY GOODMAN: War correspondent Jeremy Scahill on his new book, out today,  Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield. We’ll continue our conversation in a minute.


AMY GOODMAN: "Lives in the Balance," sung by Richie Havens, who died on Monday at the age of 72. This is  Democracy Now!,,  The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue our conversation with  The Nation correspondent, Democracy Now! correspondent, premier war correspondent Jeremy Scahill, author of the new book,  Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield. We turn now to President Obama speaking September 30th, 2011, announcing the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The death of Awlaki is a major blow to al-Qaeda’s most active operational affiliate. Awlaki was the leader of external operations for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. In that role, he took the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans. He directed the failed attempt to blow up an airplane on Christmas Day in 2009. He directed the failed attempt to blow up U.S. cargo planes in 2010. And he repeatedly called on individuals in the United States and around the globe to kill innocent men, women and children to advance a murderous agenda.

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