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Yemeni-American died in CIA strike U.S. suspects link to N.Y. terror cell
By John J. Lumpkin Associated Press Nov. 9, 2002
WASHINGTON - A Yemeni-American killed in a CIA airstrike in Yemen has links to members of the al-Qaida cell in suburban Buffalo, N.Y., that was raided by U.S. authorities in September, a federal official said Friday.
The man, identified by Yemeni officials as Ahmed Hijazi, is a U.S. citizen, U.S. and Yemeni officials said on condition of anonymity.
The killing of a U.S. citizen, even a possible terrorist killed collaterally, threatens to draw the CIA into murky waters. The agency is conducting a massive, largely hidden effort to catch and kill al-Qaida members as a part of the war on terrorism.
On Sunday, a CIA Predator drone aircraft near Marib, Yemen, fired a missile at a car carrying Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, al-Qaida's chief operative in Yemen.
Hijazi and four non-Americans, all described as al-Qaida operatives, were traveling with him.
The strike on Harethi was conducted under a wide-ranging directive by President Bush allowing the CIA to pursue al-Qaida operatives worldwide. The agency has declined to comment on the strike.
The attack has drawn criticism from human rights circles. On Friday, Amnesty International sent letters to U.S. and Yemeni officials seeking information on the attacks. An Amnesty International spokesman in Washington said Thursday that the U.S. attack violates international treaties prohibiting summary executions done without the due process of law.
Bush administration officials have said it was a legitimate wartime operation against a known enemy.
Hijazi's precise links to the Buffalo cell were not made clear. Yemeni officials said Hijazi was a pseudonym and his real name was not known.
Two suspected in the Buffalo cell, leader Kamal Derwish and Jaber Elbaneh, were at large in Yemen, according to U.S. officials. Officials would not rule out whether Hijazi was one of these two.
Six more suspects involving the cell, all Americans of Yemeni descent, were arrested days after the Sept. 11 anniversary. Five were taken in raids in Lackawanna, N.Y.; a sixth was captured in Bahrain and brought to the United States.
Last month, the six pleaded innocent to charges that they trained at an al-Qaida camp in Afghanistan.