American Cleric Killed By U.S. Airstrike In Yemen
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
DAVID GREENE, Host:
NPR's Dina Temple-Raston covers counterterrorism and she joins us now. Dina, good morning to you, and what's the latest?
DINA TEMPLE: The thing is, the U.S. likes to have DNA evidence before confirming the death of someone they've been hunting. They even took a DNA sample from bin Laden to confirm his death. And they don't have that DNA on al-Awlaki. And he's in the middle of the desert, apparently, where he was killed, so it's unclear whether they'll get that evidence.
GREENE: The final, final confirmation might be a while out. Remind us why this man was so important.
TEMPLE: Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab, the man who's now on trial in Michigan for the attempted bombing of a U.S. airliner outside Detroit two years ago, also with an al-Awlaki connection. He allegedly told Abdulmuttalab to wait to detonate his bomb until he was over a U.S. city so there would be more casualties. You remember he had that bomb in his underwear and it malfunctioned. So for counterterrorism officials this killing is seen as a really big deal.
GREENE: So not just someone who spouts propaganda, not just a public figure; someone with some real operational connections, it sounds like.
TEMPLE: Apparently so.
GREENE: If, as you say, this was an American drone strike that, if this is true, killed someone born in America, doesn't that raise some legal questions?
TEMPLE: But then again, this has happened before. Back in 2002, there was an American al-Qaida recruiter named Kamal Derwish; he was in a convoy and he was killed by an airstrike. So they've had this happen before.
GREENE: That's NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reporting for us. Dina, thank you.
TEMPLE: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.