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Fort Hood Shooter's Cleric Dead?

9:42 AM, Dec 24, 2009 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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From the Washington Post:

Yemeni forces killed at least 30 suspected militants in an air strike early Thursday morning on an alleged al-Qaeda hide-out in southeastern Yemen, the second such assault in the past week, according to Yemeni security and government sources.

The strike appeared to target the home of Anwar al-Aulaqi, the extremist Yemeni-American preacher linked to the suspected gunman in the Fort Hood army base attack in November.

A Yemeni government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said al-Qaeda leaders were believed to be meeting at the house. It was unknown whether Aulaqi was present at the gathering, and, if so, whether he died or escaped, the official said.

The rest of the piece goes on to explain that no one knows for sure yet who exactly was killed in the strike. In addition to Aulaqi, the top leaders of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) may have been present. This includes Nasir Wuhayshi (an al Qaeda bigwig with direct ties to al Qaeda central's leadership in northern Pakistan) and Said al Shihri (who is reportedly AQAP's #2).

If the name Said al Shihri rings a bell it is probably because there were a significant number of reports on al Shihri's rise earlier this year. Al Shihri is now among Guantanamo's most famous alumni.

But, let's get back to Aulaqi. When Aulaqi's ties to Major Nidal Malik Hassan first surfaced in the aftermath of the Fort Hood shooting, the FBI was quick to pooh-pooh them. The Bureau claimed that Hassan's numerous emails back and forth with Aulaqi were consistent with Hassan's research. (Maj. Hassan was reportedly researching the psychological effects of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.)

This was transparently false. There is no legitimate reason for a Major in the U.S. Army to contact a leading al Qaeda cleric with ties to the September 11 hijackers (Aulaqi assisted at least two of them en route to their day of terror as a "spiritual advisor"). Aulaqi does not have anything legitimate to say about the psychological effects of combat on U.S. troops other than, as a leading al Qaeda ideologue, he is all for them. Also, we've come to learn that Hassan said something to the effect that he couldn't wait to join Aulaqi in the afterlife.

Got that? Major Hassan -- who professed his admiration of suicide bombings and offered a theological justification for them in a June 2007 presentation at Walter Reed Hospital -- told a top jihadist ideologue, who preaches the virtues of suicide bombings, that he couldn't wait to be reunited in the next life.

Meanwhile, the FBI concluded: "Nothing to see here, move along."

This latest reported airstrike, whether it killed Aulaqi or not, further demonstrates the underlying absurdity of the FBI's "analysis" of Hassan's ties to Aulaqi.

Anwar al Aulaqi has played a prominent role in al Qaeda's war against the West and America - so much so that his home was an appropriate military target. And if that strike killed any of the al Qaeda leaders who were reportedly meeting there, then it was a successful one in terms of depleting the terror network's ranks.

The dichotomy could not be any plainer: The U.S. military, which bungled its own evaluation of Major Hassan, is at war with al Qaeda and its allies. For years, the FBI couldn't put together a prosecutable case against one of America's more effective enemies. For those who believe terrorists can be defeated primarily, or even exclusively, by our law enforcement agencies and in the courts, the story of the FBI's investigations into Anwar al Aulaqi is a striking rebuttal.