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YEMEN: Fingerprints confirmed identities of Awlaki and Khan

September 30, 2011 | 12:21 pm

Sana
REPORTING FROM WASHINGTON -- U.S. operatives on the ground in Yemen used fingerprint analysis to confirm that a joint CIA-military drone strike Friday killed American militants Anwar Awlaki and Samir Khan, according to a U.S. government official briefed on the operation.

“It was good to see the Yemen government actually allow us to go in,” the official said on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record. “Allowing us to go on the property and get fingerprint analysis was a nice gesture of cooperation by the Yemeni government.”

Information about Awlaki’s location came from the interrogation of an operative of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula held in Yemeni custody. Samir Khan was not targeted in the strike, but fingerprint analysis after the fact confirmed he was killed as well, said the official.

“Samir Khan was a bonus. It was a twofer,” said Rep.  Mike McCaul (R-Texas), who serves on the House Committee on Homeland Security. “It’s a pretty good hit.”

Mohammed Albasha, spokesman for the Yemeni Embassy in Washington, confirmed that Yemeni intelligence recently located Awlaki at a hideout in the town of Khashef, near the border with Saudi Arabia.

Awlaki was riding in a convoy of vehicles when the airstrike hit the motorcade, killing him, Khan and two other Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula operatives, Albasha said in an email.

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-- Brian Bennett

Photo: Yemeni soldiers on a vehicle patrol in Sana, Yemen, on Friday. Credit: Yahya Arhab / EPA

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