“Off with the crown, and with the crown his head;
And, whilst we breathe, take time to do him dead.”
(King Henry VI part 3, act 1, sc. 4)
Comment. So says the Lancastrian Queen Margaret of the Yorkist Gloucester, captured in the battle of Sandal, during the War of the Roses.
And “ …on our quickest decrees, the inaudible and noiseless foot of time steals ere we can effect them”. A very sharable observation by the King of France in All’s Well that Ends Well. These days extraordinary events unfold so quickly that before we comment on one, another occurs just as extraordinary.
Still, the planned and executed assassination of two American citizens by drones in Yemen calls for an article. If not else, to inform our many international visitors and those domestic visitors who may have got the “feed” from the corporate media. Media that, for practical purposes, is but the public relations front of the administration.
Unlike Gloucester in King Henry VI, the first of the assassinated American citizens did not wear a crown. His name was Anwar Awlaki, born in 1971 in Las Cruces New Mexico. His father, Dr. Nasser Awlaki had come to the United States as a student, got a degree in engineering and returned to Yemen to become minister of agriculture. He first brought his son Anwar with him back to Yemen. But Anwar wanted to study in the States where he returned and went to school in Denver, Colorado.
It was the time of the Mujaheddin, the “freedom fighters”, financed, armed and supplied by Reagan and the CIA to kill the Russians. Not long afterwards there was the first Iraq War. Anwar saw the destruction of Baghdad and began to understand the essence of US foreign policy. Whereupon he started attending anti-war meetings and became a speaker himself in various mosques. He was a good speaker and shortly later became an imam. His son, and as we will see, the other murdered victim, was born in Denver, Colorado in 1995.
When 9/11 happened, Anwar Awlaki denounced the perpetrators, said the United States had a right to hunt down those responsible and bring them to justice. He was on PBS and NPR to discuss the feelings of many American Muslims on hearing George Bush talk about “clash of civilization”, about invading Afghanistan and hinting at the invasion of a number of Muslim countries – as it in fact happened. Iraq was destroyed and all Middle East countries but one are now essentially under American occupation.
This is when Anwar Awlaki’s views became more radical. But let’s invite an average American from, say, Ohio, to imagine a foreign army invading his state. An army of soldiers and contract killers equipped with the most deadly weapons imaginable, carrying out house-to-house searches, drone strikes, missile strikes, killing people indiscriminately, torturing people, raping and urinating on their victims, and installing a puppet government in Columbus – a government that is nothing but their slave.
Could not the average American citizen from Ohio imagine that he would not be at all pleased with the turn of events? Especially considering that the criminal apparatus in question has the gall to claim to be the bearer of “freedom and democracy”?
In the US, Anwar Awlaki did not commit any act of defiance or terror. In fact the FBI, in a complicated twist irrelevant to the story, tried to enroll him to spy on other Muslims.
He did not but he saw the invasion of Iraq, Guantanamo, the pictures, the massacres in Baghdad and vicinity. So he left for England where he became a prominent figure at Islamic centers and mosques, preaching anti-war and anti-US administration messages.
Eventually, he and his family returned to Yemen, where his father taught at the university. In Yemen Awlaki preached at local mosques while also attending university.
Then, on request by the US, the Yemen government jailed Anwar for 18 months, 17 of which spent in solitary confinement, without a charge. It transpires that the US wanted him kept in prison for another 4-5 years so that people could forget about him.
In a recurrent ironic twist, the United Nations investigated the matter and declared that it was “a wrong and unlawful imprisonment”.
Awlaki came out of prison a changed man. He started a blog that quickly became very popular – he was known as the “You Tube Imam” And as the US wars extended, Awlaki’s anger grew accordingly.
Then in 2009 Major Nidal Hasan, an army psychiatrist killed 12 fellow soldiers at an army base in Kansas. And it emerged that Hasan had been in e-mail contact with Awlaki in Yemen.
The FBI floated the story that Awlaki had helped plan the Fort Hood massacre though no evidence was produced. And common sense suggests that the decision for a soldier to take up a machine gun and open fire on people, is an individual act that does not require planning from 10000 miles away.
But when the shooting happened, Awlaki wrote a blog post saying that Nidal Hasan was a hero. US Intelligence shut down Awlaki’s blog in Yemen and got the Yemeni government to harass him. The US-proxy Yemen dictator Saleh, who knew Awlaki’s father Dr. Hassan Awlaki, suggested to the family that Awlaki turns himself in in the capital Sanaa’ or the Americans will kill him with a drone.
Anwar Awlaki refused and now the story becomes bizarre, as well as a tragic. Obama authorized a series of missile strikes in Yemen, not just drone strikes. One of the strikes, on Dec 17 2009, hit the village of al-Majalah. 46 people were killed, 37 of whom were women and children.
In one of the Wikileak released secret messages there is an interesting interchange between the Americans and the Yemen dictator. Together, they agree to make Yemen responsible for the massacre conducted the Americans in al-Majalah. By the way, one tribal leader, Sheikh Saleh bin Fareed, head of the Awlak tribe in Yemen, went to al-Majalah after the attack. He said, “If someone had a weak heart, they would collapse, because you saw meat, and you couldn’t tell if it was goat meat or human meat. And you saw limbs of children….”
The twist in the story is that the list of the killed in al-Majalah, released by the Yemeni government, included Anwar Awlaki, who was not there and who was not killed.
As of this date, no one knows why the Al-Malajah village was destroyed. One plausible hypothesis is that the Yemeni government was under pressure from the Obama administration and they suggested Al-Malajah as a target, because it was very poor, in the middle of nowhere and few would ever know about what happened. In fact the Obama administration released a statement praising Yemen for the raid.
Given the ludicrous manipulation of the information, the reader will conclude independently in what respect the US administration holds the American people.
Now the Alwaki family knew that Anwar was on the Obama kill list. Anwar’s father, Nasser al-Awlaki, filed a lawsuit in the US – before his son was killed – challenging the government’s right to assassinate him. CIA Director Leon Panetta and associates submitted briefs to the court saying that “if the evidence became public, it would threaten National Security”. Translation, “We will kill your son but cannot tell you why.” And so they did, along with another American citizen, who happened to be there when the drone struck, and for whom there were no official or unofficial charges pending.
By the way, not long ago Panetta was received by the Pope who told him “Thank you for keeping the world’s peace” (!!!, my exclamatives).
Nor it ends here. Two weeks later Anwar’s 16 year old son Abdulrahman Awlaki (Dr. Hasan’s grandson), was sitting at a bar with his cousins when another drone strike killed him and the cousins.
For this second multiple assassination the reason is an even darker mystery. The most plausible explanation is that it was a “signature” strike – where “signature” means a show to prove that the US can kill whom, where and when they like.
The surviving father and grandfather claims that Obama’s charges against his son Anwar are a total fabrication. But even if they had been true, it is another mystery why revealing them to Dr. Hassan Awlaki, when he asked for them, would have compromised National Security.
As for the assassination of the 16 year old Awlaki, Obama has not given any reasons. Who knows, even dead the young Awlaki may be a threat to National Security.
All in all, the proof is extant and growing that an empire will eventually turn against its own people.
In the Play. Queen Margaret scoffs at the captured Gloucester in the battle at Sandal Castle.