- By Cii News
A US Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) secret airbase for unmanned drones in Saudi Arabia has been identified by US media as the source of a drone strike that killed Shaykh Anwar al Awlaki in Yemen in 2011.
Revelations about the existence of the facility have emerged in the wake of President Obama’s announcement that he intends to install counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan as the director of the CIA. Brennan faces a Senate confirmation hearing scheduled for Thursday.
The Washington Post reported that Brennan, a former CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia, played a key role in negotiations with the government in Riyadh over building the drone base.
The location of the secret drone base was not revealed in the US reports.
However according to the New York Times, construction was ordered after a December 2009 cruise missile strike in Yemen.
It was the first strike ordered by the Obama administration, and ended in a catastrophe, with dozens of civilians, including women and children, killed.
US officials told the newspaper that the first time the CIA used the secret facility was to kill Awlaki.
Since then, the CIA has been “given the mission of hunting and killing ‘high-value targets’ in Yemen” – the leaders of the Mujahideen who government lawyers had claimed posed a direct threat to the US – the officials added.
BBC News reports that the New York Times published its report on Tuesday night, ending an “informal arrangement” among several news organisations not to disclose the location of the base.
News organisations had been complying with a request from Obama administration officials, who said it might undermine operations and collaboration with Saudi Arabia, according to the Washington Post.
Two other Americans, including Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, have also been killed in US strikes in Yemen, which can reportedly be launched without the permission of the country’s government.
Awlaki, a popular US born Islamic preacher, was a sworn opponent of ‘corrupt’ Muslim leaders. In a November 2010 video message, he reasoned that if leaders were corrupt, Islamic scholars had to step in and shoulder the responsibility to lead the nation.
“Islam commanded [Muslims] to obey the leader in order to use him for protecting Islam. But, how about if the ruler is the one fighting Islam. Is it reasonable that Islam would command [us] to obey he who seriously seeks to fight the [Islamic] religion? Islam commanded the obeying the ruler; in order to protect the Muslims and defend them, and to protect their lives, honour and wealth. So how about if the ruler is the one fighting his [own] people for the benefit of the enemy?..How about, if the ruler is the one who is spying on the Muslims for the benefit of the enemy? And how is it if the ruler is working as a spy for the benefit of America?”
A source close to the Saudi Interior Minister, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, declined to comment on the reports when contacted by the BBC.
- CIA operates drone base in Saudi Arabia (alhittin.com)
- Saudi jets join US in strikes on Al-Qaeda in Yemen (alhittin.com)