December 25, 1985|
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
|Died||September 30, 2011
|Occupation||Editor and publisher of Inspire magazine|
Samir ibn Zafar Khan (December 25, 1985 – September 30, 2011) was the Pakistani American editor and publisher of Inspire magazine, an English-language online magazine reported to be published by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). A citizen of the United States, he was killed in a drone strike in Yemen while in the presence of al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki.
Khan was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to parents of Pakistani descent and grew up in Queens, New York. He also spent some of his teenage years living in Westbury, New York. He graduated from W. Tresper Clarke High School in 2003 where he wrote for the school newspaper, participated in cheerleading and was an active member of the glee club. According to his classmates, he refused to recite Pledge of Allegiance and blamed Americans for the September 11 attacks. Khan's father, Zafar Khan, is an information technology executive. The family moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2004. There he attended Central Piedmont Community College.
He lived in Charlotte before leaving the country for Yemen in 2009. He reportedly cut off ties with his family when he left the U.S. After Khan's death, a family friend told CNN that Khan's father did not agree with his son's views and had tried seeking help to change his son's radical views on several occasions.
In 2003 Khan started a Blogspot blog called "InshallahShaheed" or "Martyr, God willing" from his parents' basement. After moving to Yemen he became the editor of Inspire. In an article written by Khan and published in Inspire titled "I am proud be a traitor to America", Khan outlined his grievances against the United States. According to Ben Venzke, CEO of IntelCenter, "The primary focus of the magazine is to inspire individuals to not just fly to Yemen and join the group, but rather to provide them with the inspiration, the ideological framework, the targeting philosophy and the practical mechanics of building a bomb or conducting a shooting." Another article by Khan was titled "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom."[dead link] Khan authored a sixteen-page English-language manual entitled Expectations Full about how to deal with the difficulties of life training to be a suicide bomber. The manual includes claims that the government of Saudi Arabia is "working alongside evil jinns" and called for attacks within the United States.
In his book Ticking Time Bomb: Counter-Terrorism Lessons from the U.S. Government's Failure to Prevent the Fort Hood Attack (2011), former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman wrote that Khan, Australian Muslim preacher Feiz Mohammad, Anwar al-Awlaki, and Muslim cleric Abdullah el-Faisal were examples of a "virtual spiritual sanctioner" who over the internet provides a level of religious justification for Islamist terrorist violence.
It was reported in May 2013 that Al Qaeda devotees native to the United States may be using the instruction manuals that Khan has posted online before his death. It was suspected that the Boston Marathon bombing was carried out according to these manuals.
Khan was killed in the Al Jawf Governorate of Yemen while traveling from the Ma'rib Governorate, in the same air-strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki. Both were U.S. citizens. According to U.S. officials Khan was not a significant enough target to have been specifically targeted but died because he was accompanying al-Awlaki.
Constitutional lawyer turned columnist Glenn Greenwald argued that the killing was a violation of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that no person shall be "deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law".
However, some international law experts said that the attack that killed Khan was legal. Duke Law School professor Scott Silliman said that Awlaki's activity "put him in the category of a legitimate target", and University of Utah law professor Amos Guiora said "This attack appears to have met the criteria of proportionality, military necessity and the absence of alternatives to be in full accordance with a state's right to aggressive self-defense" in spite of the unintended killing of Khan who was with Awlaki at the time of the attack.
Commenting on Khan's death, counter-terrorism expert Peter Bergen noted, "the fact that the editor of the magazine (Khan) has also been killed is a problem for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, particularly as it relates to their Western recruitment effort, because the two people who principally spoke to the Western world are now dead."
After Khan's death, his family released a statement criticizing U.S. government and asking "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."
- Almasmari, Hakim (October 1, 2011). "Drone Kills Top Al Qaeda Figure". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
- Shahid, Aliyah (September 30, 2011). "Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan dead, Al Qaeda propagandists killed by U.S. missile strikes in Yemen". New York Daily News. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
- Copeland, Baden (September 30, 2011). "Anwar al-Awlaki's Suspected Ties to Terror Plots". The New York Times. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
- Dana Chivvis (October 12, 2010). "'Inspire' Title of Jihadist Magazine Not Very Inspired". Aolnews.com. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
- "Defense officials say another U.S. militant killed". Los Angeles Times. September 30, 2011. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
- Bolger, Timothy (October 6, 2011). "Slain al Qaeda Mouthpiece Samir Kahn's Westbury Roots". Long Island Press. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
- Chayes, Matthew; Anthony M. Destefano; Robert E. Kessler; Greg Lacour; Víctor Manuel Ramos (October 6, 2011). "Samir Khan, al-Qaida figure, grew up on Long Island". Newsday. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
- Anderson, Robbie (September 30, 2011). "2nd American in Strike Waged Qaeda Media War". The New York Times. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
- "NC family of al-Qaida propagandist 'appalled' at US government". WRAL-TV. October 5, 2011. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
- Temple-Raston, Dina (August 18, 2010). Grand Jury Focuses On N.C. Man Tied To Jihad Magazine. Morning Edition, NPR
- Adcox, Seanna (October 1, 2011). "NC Muslims tried to change al-Qaida supporter". Associated Press. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
- Kelly, Suzanne (September 30, 2011). "Samir Khan: Proud to be an American traitor". CNN. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
- Suzannah Hills and Leon Watson (16 May 2012). "Glossy English language guide on how to join Al Qaeda and commit acts of terrorism targets Western recruits by telling them to 'think of the virgins that await you'". Daily Mail. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
- Moyes, Stephen (16 May 2012). "Al-Qaeda release a book of do’s & don'ts". The Sun. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
- Joseph I. Lieberman (2011). Ticking Time Bomb: Counter-Terrorism Lessons from the U. S. Government's Failure to Prevent the Fort Hood Attack. Diane Publishing. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
- Shane, Scott (5 May 2013). "A Homemade Style of Terror: Jihadists Push New Tactics". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
- Goodman, J. David (September 30, 2011). American Who Waged 'Media Jihad' Is Said to Be Killed in Awlaki Strike. The New York Times
- Mark Mazzetti; Charlie Savage; Scott Shane (March 9, 2013). "How a U.S. Citizen Came to Be in America’s Cross Hairs". The New York Times. Retrieved March 10, 2013.
- Greenwald, Glenn. "The due-process-free assassination of U.S. citizens is now reality". Salon.com. Retrieved September 30, 2011.
- "Awlaki death rekindles legal debate on targeting Americans". Los Angeles Times. September 30, 2011. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
- Williams, Carol (September 30, 2011). "Awlaki death rekindles legal debate on targeting Americans". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 2, 2011.