Natonal Security Brief: September 30, 2011

— Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical Islamic preacher turned propaganda chief for Al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), has been killed in an air strike. “He’s dead,” a senior U.S. official told The Envoy today.

— A senior administration official told the New York Times Awlaki was a concern because of his propaganda and alleged role in planning attacks: “First and foremost, we’ve been looking at his important operational role. To the extent he’s no longer playing that role it’s all to the good.”

— Army Major General David Perkins said yesterday that large numbers of U.S. troops are no longer needed on the ground in northern Iraq to defuse Arab-Kurdish tensions and have begun handing over control to local forces.

— The White House reportedly approved Adm. Mike Mullen’s comments to a Senate committee that Pakistan’s intelligence agency was linked to a recent insurgent attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul.

— Senior U.S., Pakistani and Afghan officials were scheduled to meet on Oct. 8 in Kabul to discuss ways to get insurgents into peace talks but Afghanistan suspended the effort after the assassination of Kabul’s top peace negotiatator was linked back to Pakistan.

— Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen says defense budget cuts will shrink the size and types of missions the military can tackle but the cuts won’t hobble the U.S. military.

— Iran hosted a delegation of Taliban members in Tehran, suggesting Iran seeks deeper ties with the insurgent group and greater influence in Afghanistan.

— The Palestinian leadership is standing steadfastly behind its demand that Israel halt all illegal West Bank settlement construction before negotiations can be re-opened.

— Yemen’s embattled president Ali Abdullah Saleh said that all of his rivals must be ousted from Yemen before he agrees to finally step down from power.