Ali Soufan Quoted: Top Counterterrorism Agent: Killing al-Awlaki Was the Right Thing to Do
October 1, 2011

New York Magazine
By: Chris Smith


When the C.I.A. insisted on torturing Al Qaeda members, F.B.I. agent Ali H. Soufan protested loudly: Not only did he believe the “enhanced interrogation techniques” to be legally and morally wrong, but Soufan — who, as one of the Bureau’s few Arabic-speaking agents, had extracted key information from terrorists while debating fine points of the Koran — knew that waterboarding would be counterproductive. But yesterday’s news that a C.I.A. drone strike had killed American-born Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki gave him no such qualms.

“I’m not troubled by this at all,” says Soufan, who left the F.B.I. in 2005 and now works as an international security consultant. “I don’t discriminate between terrorists because of their citizenship. This is an individual who had repeatedly declared war on the United States and directly and indirectly killed innocent people. And capturing him? Killing Bin Laden inside Pakistan was an easy operation compared with what it would have taken to go into Yemeni tribal areas to get him.”

Soufan was first sent to Yemen in 2000, to investigate Al Qaeda’s bombing of the U.S.S. Cole. He returned after the September 11 attacks — a tragedy he believes he could have averted with greater C.I.A. cooperation, as detailed in Soufan’s new book, “The Black Banners…”


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