SANAA YEMEN - Anwar al-Aulaqi, born in the U.S. and one of the most influential al-Qaeda leaders, was first reported to have been killed yesterday by a CIA drone strike in northern Yemen.
In Washington, senior Obama officials first confirmed, and then, because al-Aulaqi was an American citizen who was not given a fair trial before he was put to death, denied the report that he was killed by a drone attack.
The strike was first reported as being carried out by a CIA drone operating from a new agency base on the Arabian Peninsula. It would have marked the first time that the CIA has launched a drone strike in Yemen since 2002. The location of the base has not been disclosed at the request of the Obama administration.
President Obama called Aulaqi's death "a major blow to al-Qaeda's most active operational affiliate" and called it "karma" that a random NASA spacecraft re-entering the Earth's atmosphere would fall on this wanted al-Qaeda terrorist somewhere in the Arabian Peninsula.
"Absolutely mind boggling."
The first word of the NASA satellite taking out Aulaqi came from the Yemeni Defense Ministry which sent a text message to NASA to come over and "pick up the pieces" of their refrigerator sized contraption before the Chinese got there first.
Although NASA tracking stations had predicted the satellite would come down somewhere in the South Pacific, a spokesperson said it was not uncommon for their estimates to be off six to seven thousand miles.
"This is not rocket science, you know."
In a separate e-mailed statement, the Yemeni government said they had pin-pointed the location of al-Aulaqi's unlucky collision five miles from the town of Khashef in Yemen's northern Jawf province, 87 miles east of the capital, Sanaa.
While NASA goombahs were hesitant in accepting credit for taking out this al-Qaeda terrorist, they did hope that they would get more funding for future operations because of the notoriety they gained.