An Obama administration memo released Monday justifies the 2011 killing of a former San Diegan by San Diego-made drones in Yemen.

Anwar al-Awlaki, former San Diegan and U.S. citizen killed in Yemen in 2011. Image via Wikimedia Commons

According to NPR, the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals released the long-secret memo “in which the Obama administration lays out its legal reasoning for launching a drone attack on an American citizen overseas.”

The strike killed Anwar Al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen tied to plots against America, including 9/11.

The New York Times in 2013 reported that two Predator drones pointed lasers at the trucks in Yemen carrying Al-Awlaki to pinpoint the targets, while Reapers took aim.

“The Reaper pilots, operating their planes from thousands of miles away, readied for the missile shots, and fired,” the Times reported.

The Predator and Reaper drones are made by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems of Poway.

The 40-year-old al-Awlaki was for years an influential mouthpiece for al-Qaida’s ideology of holy war, and his English-language sermons urging attacks on the United States were widely circulated among militants in the West.

U-T San Diego reported that al-Awlaki was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico, while his father was on diplomatic posting and enrolled in San Diego State University’s master’s in educational leadership program in 1999.

The 9/11 Commission Report noted that in 2000, he began a four-year preaching stint at a San Diego mosque where he met and possibly assisted two of the Sept. 11 hijackers.

On Monday, The New York Times reported:

The memo, signed by David Barron, who was then the acting head of the department’s Office of Legal Counsel … concluded that it would be lawful to target Mr. Awlaki for killing if his capture was not feasible. Intelligence analysts had concluded that Mr. Awlaki was an operational terrorist.

The Times said the White House fought the memo’s disclosure, initially refusing to confirm or deny its existence. In January 2013, a Federal District Court judge ruled that it could keep the memo secret.

“But in April, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that portions of the memo containing legal analysis — but not those compiling the evidence against Mr. Awlaki — must be made public,” The Times said.

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