A secret document discussing the legality of killing al-Qaida operative Anwar al-Awlaki found that his assassination would only be lawful if he could not be taken alive, The New York Times reported on Saturday, citing sources who had read the document.
The 50-page memorandum completed in June 2010 justified the operation despite an executive order banning assassinations and international law prohibiting such activity.
The document was tailored specifically to the case of Awlaki and did not seek to set a precedent for similar such operations, according to the report.
Alwaki was a legal target for assassination because he was part of al-Qaida's war against the US, he posed a significant threat to US citizens and Yemeni authorities were not taking steps to or were unable to bring him to justice, the document purportedly found.
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