The Obama administration Wednesday for the first time acknowledged killing four U.S. citizens in “counterterrorism operations” abroad.
The deaths of three of the Americans — Anwar al-Awlaki, his 16-year-old son Abd al-Rahman Anwar al-Awlaki, and Samir Khan, all of whom were killed in drone strikes in Yemen in 2011 — had been previously reported. The death of the fourth, Jude Kennan Mohammad, a Florida native apparently killed in Pakistan, had not been.
The acknowledgment, in a letter from Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, came one day before President Obama is scheduled to deliver a major speech on counterterrorism policy.
In that speech, Obama will discuss his belief that it is in U.S. interests to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Obama administration is planning to restart the transfer of some detainees held there, according to a U.S. official, although it was unclear whether the president would announce that move in his speech.