Did Samir Khan Kill Anwar al Awlaki?
I don't mean did he literally kill Awlaki, I mean did the publication of Inspire magazine help the CIA find where Awlaki was? Clint Watts has an excellent analysis of the Awlaki/Khan strike, and media and CT reaction to it. Here's a nugget:
Did the push to publish Inspire magazine volume number 7 bring Awlaki and Khanís demise?: Awlaki and Khanís commitment to publishing an almost monthly AQ journal in the end may have led to their demise. As any publishing company or university would probably tell you, issuing a monthly journal is a heavy burden (thatís why they do quarterly journals). Producing Inspire required transmission by courier at a minimum and ideally development electronically. All of these methods transmit signatures for targeting. So an operational security versus operational effectiveness conundrum arose for Awlaki and Khan. To be relevant, these two had to publish and preach via the Internet. To be safe in the presence of intense surveillance, Awlaki and Khan had to hunker down and minimize communication. Iíll be interested to hear if itís ever explained why the U.S. regained Awlakiís tail several weeks back. [READ THE REST]As much as I made fun of Samir, due to our half decade long public feud, I'll give him this: he was no dummy. Which means he must have been aware of the risk he was taking whenever he got on his Facebook account or uploaded a new issue of Inspire magazine. The fact that there were only three original authors in the last issue of Inspire may be interpreted as evidence that they had finally "hunkered down" in an effort to avoid detection. But, they still had to publish the magazine. Without the magazine, Khan was irrelevant and Awlaki less relevant. So, is it just a coincidence that the magazine hit the forums only a few days before the pair were killed? More than that, the electronic signature on the PDF file indicates that the magazine was completed about the 19th of Sept. -- just about the time that the powers that be seem to have relocated Awlaki. That would be some coincidence. Takeaway: keep doing that thing you do eHadis! UPDATE: Oops, I put Oct. 19th. I meant, Sept. 19th.