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May 6, 2003 | home

The Bush Administration's new strategy in the war against terrorism. Issue of 2002-12-23 and 30 Posted 2002-1 2-1 6

ometime on Sunday, November 3rd, an unmanned American Predator reconnaissance aircraft, flying out of a base in Djibouti, fired a Hellfire missile at an automobile in Yemen that was believed to be carrying an Al Qaeda leader named Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi. A joint American and Yemeni intelligence team had been tracking al-Harethi, and the order to fire was not given until the car was isolated, far from any other traffic—and from any witnesses—as it sped through a vast tract of desert in Marib province. Al-Harethi was in the car, along with five other men. All of them were killed. The operation entailed a high level of technical cooperation and trust between the Americans and the Yemenis. The joint intelligence team, working out of a situation room in Yemen—a Yemeni official would say only that the site was not visible from the air—had been tracing al-Harethi's satellite telephone calls for weeks. AlHarethi clearly was aware of the danger and frequently changed telephones and numbers; five cell phones were found on his body. Yemeni security officials arrived at the scene shortly after the blast—a helicopter had been standing by—and removed the bombed-out car. They took the bodies to a military hospital in Sanaa, Yemen's capital, where American officials collected DNA samples for processing at a military laboratory in the United States. By the next day, Bush Administration officials had begun informing journalists that the Predator had made its first Al Qaeda kill outside Afghanistan. Some journalists were also told that al-Harethi, long sought for a role in the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Aden harbor, in the fall of 2000, was on a list of "high-value" targets whose elimination, by capture or death, had been called for by President Bush. (A Defense Department consultant told me that, as of this fall, seven high-value Al Qaeda targets—"top guys that they're really after"—have been designated for elimination by the Bush Administration. According to the Yemeni official, there are still two high-value targets in Yemen.) The Hellfire was meant for al-Harethi, but, Yemeni and American officials told reporters, the five passengers in the car had terrorist ties as well. Four of them
http ://www. newyorker. com/printable/?fact/021223 fajact 5/6/2003

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