Mr. President, Please Don’t Kill This Terrorist
The United States is on the hunt for Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, the al-Qaeda master bombmaker behind the just-thwarted plot to bring down a U.S.-bound jetliner. If previous patterns hold, at some point in the coming weeks or months a drone launched from a secret CIA base will take al-Asiri out — and we will celebrate another “success” in what was once called the war on terror.
Mr. President, don’t do it.
A drone strike would vaporize this ingenious terrorist intent on attacking the United States. But it would also vaporize all the intelligence inside his brain. Our national security would be better served if the United States captured al-Asiri and kept him alive for questioning, so we can find out what he knows.
What would be lost if President Obama chose to kill, rather than capture, al-Asiri? According to former senior intelligence officials involved in terrorist captures, a high-ranking terrorist leader such as al-Asiri could provide us with treasure trove of information on al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — the terror network that poses the greatest threat to the homeland today.
Al-Asiri could tell us “who’s who” in the AQAP network — identifying the couriers, financiers, operators, commanders, supporters and facilitators who make the network run, as well as the phone numbers, e-mail addresses and kunyas (or code names) they use so that we can track them down.