No US citizens will be targeted in terror strikes: White House

During the tenure of former President Barack Obama, the Justice Department had issued a legal opinion giving the U.S. the authority to target Americans who are working with terrorists abroad.

No US citizens will be targeted in terror strikes: White House

The White House on Tuesday said no American citizen "will ever be targeted" in raids against terror suspects.

During the tenure of former President Barack Obama, the Justice Department had issued a legal opinion giving the U.S. the authority to target Americans who are working with terrorists abroad.

Speaking to reporter, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer said the Trump administration will lean on the guidance of Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, but he added that “no American citizen will ever be targeted.”


It was not immediately clear whether Spicer’s intended to recalibrate U.S. policy.

The U.S. specifically targeted and killed American Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical cleric, in Yemen in 2011. Other Americans, including suspected terrorists, have been killed in U.S. drone strikes, but they were not specifically targeted.

Last week, a U.S. service member and an American child died in a ground raid authorized by President Donald Trump. The child was the 8-year-old daughter of Al-Awlaki. Al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old American son was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2012.

The raid left nearly 30 others dead, including more than half a dozen militant suspects. Several more children were also killed.

It has been a much talked about debate whether the U.S. should target its own citizens in drone strikes. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump discussed “going after” the families of suspected terrorists, but he did not specify what that meant.

The U.S. has been striking al-Qaida in Yemen from the air for more than 15 years, mostly using drones. Sunday’s surprise pre-dawn raid could signal a new escalation against extremist groups in the poor but strategically located country.

Last week, the Trump administration imposed an immigration and travel ban on people from seven countries, including Yemen, citing terrorism concerns.