Friday’s lethal strike on Anwar al-Aulaqi was carried out by a CIA drone operating from a new agency base on the Arabian peninsula, U.S. officials said. It marks the first time that the CIA has launched a drone strike in Yemen since 2002, and the first indication that the new base is operational.
The Obama administration has dramatically expanded the U.S. drone campaign against al-Qaeda over the past two years but, until recently, the CIA did not have easy access to targets in Yemen. The nation is home to an increasingly important affiliate, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, often called AQAP.
The Post has withheld details on the specific location of the new drone base at the request of the Obama administration, but the base was intended to improve the ability to hit targets in Yemen, including Aulaqi, U.S. officials have said.
The military, under the Joint Special Operations Command, has patrolled the airspace over Yemen with its own drones for much of the past year. Those aircraft are flown out of a base in Djibouti. The military has also operated drones out a base on the Seychelles and is establishing an airstrip in Ethiopia.
In addition to Aulaqi, a second U.S. citizen, Samir Khan, 25, a propagandist who helped produce Inspire magazine, was killed in the drone strike Friday.
For more on the development of the U.S. drone campaign against targets on the Arabian peninsula, please see this story.