A New Zealander was killed by a US drone attack in Yemen in
November, it has been revealed.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade today confirmed the
death of the New Zealander, believed to have died in a
counter-terrorism operation in November.
"We do not propose to discuss the details of the operation.
We never discuss the details of such activity,'' the
"There was no New Zealand involvement in, or prior awareness
of, the operation.''
The Australian reported the New Zealander was a dual
Australian citizen, and a "foot soldier'' for al-Qaeda in
The ministry spokesman said next of kin had been informed,
and media were asked to respect their privacy.
Last year Prime Minister John Key said during debate of the
controversial amendment to the GCSB legislation that New
Zealanders with links to al-Qaeda were known to be training
The man, who The Australian said went by the name
Muslim bin John and fought under the alias Abu Suhaib
al-Australi, was killed alongside another Australian citizen
named as Christopher Harvard of Townsville.
They were reportedly killed in a US Predator drone strike on
five al-Qaeda militants travelling in a convoy of cars in
Yemen, The Australian said.
The incident happened on November 19 but their identities had
only just come to light.
Prime Minister John Key said he had been advised that the New
Zealander was in Yemen last year and had attended a terrorist
He was told that it was likely the man had been killed late
in 2013, but it took some time to confirm this through DNA
Mr Key was informed about the killing by New Zealand
intelligence agencies but said he did not know where they got
the information from.
The man was the subject of a New Zealand intelligence
The Prime Minister would not confirm the man's identity, but
said it was not Mark Taylor, a New Zealander with links to al
He confirmed that the man was born in New Zealand and that
his next of kin still lived here.
Mr Key said drone strikes were legitimate when countries were
trying to contend with very dangerous situations and
terrorists, without putting their own people in harm's way.
Asked whether the strike which killed the New Zealander was
legitimate, he said: "I suspect so, given that three of the
people killed were well known al Qaeda operatives.''
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said extra-judicial
assassinations were never warranted and eroded respect for
the US Government.
"It shows that the United States thinks that it has free
reign to assassinate people it doesn't like.
"I think [Barack] Obama is fundamentally wrong in his pursuit
of extra-judicial assassinations via the drones.''
He questioned whether the GCSB had a role in providing
information which assisted with the killing.
Dr Norman said he believed that a New Zealander working for
al Qaeda posed a threat to this country.
"But if we're going to deal with terrorism, we can't act like