Family of al Qaida blogger Samir Khan 'appalled' by U.S. actions

The Charlotte ObserverOctober 6, 2011 

The Charlotte family of Samir Khan, the al-Qaida propagandist killed in a U.S. airstrike Friday, ended its silence Wednesday night.

In a statement, the family cast the 25-year-old Khan as a "law-abiding" U.S. citizen who was assassinated by an American government that has not "contacted us with any news about the recovery of our son's remains (or) offered us any condolences."

"As a result," the family added, "we feel appalled by the indifference shown to us by our government."

Khan's family moved to Charlotte from New York in 2004. A year later, while a student at Central Piedmont Community College, the young Khan started a radical blog, which he wrote in the basement of his family's home in northeast Charlotte.

A few years ago, after media reports exposed his controversial blog, Khan moved to Yemen to produce "Inspire," an English-language magazine for al-Qaida. The magazine, which appeared online, ran articles such as "How to Build a Bomb in Your Mom's Kitchen." In one early edition, Khan wrote that "I am proud to be a traitor to America."

On Friday, he was killed along with radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

Friday's drone attack is thought to be the first instance in which a U.S. citizen was tracked and killed based on secret intelligence and the president's say-so. Al-Awlaki was placed on the CIA "kill or capture" list by the Obama administration in April 2010 - the first American to be so targeted.

Al-Awlaki's death was the biggest success in the Obama administration's intensified campaign to take out al-Qaida's leadership since the May killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. The pursuit of al-Awlaki and Friday's strike were directed by the same U.S. special unit that directed the Navy SEALs raid on bin Laden's hideout.

Al-Awlaki and his comrades were moving through a desert region east of Yemen's capital near the village of Khasaf when the drone struck, U.S. and Yemeni officials said.

In Wednesday's statement, Khan's family asserted that Samir Khan "never broke any law and was never implicated in any crime." Echoing some civil libertarians, who have questioned the decision to kill Khan and al-Awlaki - both U.S. citizens - the Khan family also raised these issues: "Was this style of execution the only solution? Why couldn't there have been a capture and trial? Where is the justice? As we mourn our son, we must ask these questions."

The family's statement was released through Jibril Hough, a spokesman for the Islamic Center of Charlotte. It was Hough who arranged two attempted "interventions" in his Charlotte home, where he and Khan's father, Zafar Khan, gathered with local Muslim leaders in an attempt to persuade the young Khan - prior to this exodus to Yemen - to abandon his radical rhetoric.

Here is the full Khan family statement:

"We, the family of Samir Khan, in our time of grief and mourning, request that the media let us have our peace and privacy during this difficult time. It has been stated in the media that Samir was not the target of the attack; however no U.S. official has contacted us with any news about the recovery of our son's remains, nor offered us any condolences. As a result, we feel appalled by the indifference shown to us by our government.

"Being a law abiding citizen of the United States our late son Samir Khan never broke any law and was never implicated of any crime. The Fifth Amendment states that no citizen shall be 'deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law' yet our government assassinated two of its citizens. Was this style of execution the only solution? Why couldn't there have been a capture and trial? Where is the justice? As we mourn our son, we must ask these questions."

To read more, visit www.charlotteobserver.com.

McClatchy Washington Bureau is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service