Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has criticized President Barack Obama over the killing of top al-Qaida leader, in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Anwar al-Awlaki.
Awlaki was the second highest al-Qaida member that has been killed since Osama bin Laden was slain last March in Pakistan. Awlaki was killed in the hills of Yemen by U.S. predator drones.
Paul, who is known for his libertarian views, told reporters in New Hampshire while on a campaign trail that the killing of Awlaki amounts to “assassination.”
According to Paul, there was no certainty that Awlaki was responsible for the death of any Americans.
“If the American people accept this blindly and casually that we now have accepted a practice of the president assassinating people who he thinks are bad guys,” he told reporters.
Paul added that U.S. leaders should “think hard about assassinating American citizens without charges,” even if they do have ties to terrorist groups.
Awlaki was born in the United States to Yemeni parents. He moved back to Yemen at the age of seven but returned to the United States where he was educated at the University of Colorado and San Diego State University.
In 2002 he returned to Yemen and was heavily involved in al-Qaida’s usage of modern tools such as the Internet to create extremist videos and propaganda.
He has been called the face of “al-Qaida 2.0.”
Awlaki was also involved in the Fort Hood attack that killed 13 people in Texas, and was part of constructing the foiled “underwear bomber” attack on a U.S. airliner in 2009.
Paul’s criticism echoes earlier condemnation that the Obama Administration faced over the killing of Osama bin Laden last March. Bin Laden was unarmed when he died, but White House spokesman Jay Carney said that the terrorist leader resisted capture.
The U.S. government has faced much scrutiny with regards to its war on terrorism and the way terror suspects have been treated in the United States and abroad.
However, Obama spoke in Fort Myer, Va., today and seemed to justify the killing of Awlaki even if he was killed without going through due process.
He called the death of Awlaki a “major blow” to AQAP and praised the U.S. in its successful alliance with Yemen’s security forces.
Obama said, “The death of Awlaki marks another significant milestone in the broader effort to defeat al-Qaida and its affiliates.”