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Grandfather of 16-year-old US Citizen Killed by Drone Strike: 'Why?'

Nasser Al-Awlaki, who has filed suit against the US government for the killings, says he does not want money, only justice

Jon Queally, staff writer

US citizen Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki, age 16, killed by a US drone in Yemen.

In his first televised interview since both his son, Anwar, and his sixteen year-old grandson, Abdulrahman, were assassinated by separate US drone strikes in Yemen, Nasser al-Awlaki spoke with CNN's Christiane Amanpour Wednesday night to ask a simple question of the US government.

"I want to know why Abdulrahman was killed," al-Awlaki told Amanpour via satellite from Cairo.

“Anwar, it was expected, because he was … targeted,” al-Awlaki said. “But how in the world they will go and kill Abdulrahman, a small boy, a U.S. citizen, from Denver, Colorado?”

The ability of the US government to kill American citizens has become a highlighted aspect of the ongoing controversy that surrounds President Obama's 'Kill List' and the use of military and CIA drones to carry out attacks in countries with which the US is not technically at war.

Watch the two-part CNN coverage here:

Nasser al-Awlaki, who is being represented by the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights, has filed a lawsuit against four U.S. officials—including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Former CIA Director David Petraeus—over his son and grandson’s deaths. A third American citizen was also killed in the strike against Anwar.

"There are extraordinary circumstances in which the government may use lethal force in response to an actual, concrete, and imminent threat – and those circumstances were not met in the case of any of the three citizens that we brought the lawsuit regarding," said the ACLU's Hina Shamsi, who also appeared in the CNN segment.

"They are specifically called into question when you look at the case of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, a 16-year-old boy eating dinner outside. No one has made any allegation that he was engaged in wrongdoing, and his case is representative of either a wrongful targeting or the case of a civilian bystander being killed…the lawsuit is an effort to provide transparency about the vague legal criteria the government is using and the basis on which it is carrying out that program."

Though he knew his son Anwar was a target of US efforts, and despite a letter he wrote the Obama Administration plaintively asking that the US government "not kill my son," Nasser is especially angered and saddened over the killing of his grandson.

“I took care of him,” al-Awlaki said. “I want to know why Abdulrahman was killed. He is only a small boy.”

“I am not looking for compensation, I am not looking for money,” he said. “What I am looking is justice from the U.S. court system, because I feel my son and my grandson Abdulrahman were killed for no reason.”

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