Last week, a U.S. drone strike in Yemen killed Anwar al-Awlaki, the English-speaking imam linked to several attempted terrorist attacks on the United States. Al-Awlaki was an American citizen, but that doesn’t bother many respondents in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll. Asked whether the military should try to kill U.S. citizens suspected of being terrorists, or arrest them to be tried in civilian courts, 43% would have the suspect targeted; 36% would give the American suspect the Constitutional right to trial.
Majorities of Republicans, conservatives, and those over 65 years old believe terror suspects should be killed, even if they are U.S. citizens. Men favor killing such suspects 51% to 32%, women divide 36% in favor and 39% opposed.
As they did a year ago, Americans think any U.S. citizens captured as terror suspects should be treated as enemy combatants, not given the rights of U.S. citizens.
Since Al-Awlaki’s death, the President’s approval rating for handling terrorism has risen, just as it did after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May. In this poll, 52% approve of the way President Obama is handling terrorism, up eight points from last week. And though only 36% of Republicans approve of the President’s handling of terrorism, that is the highest rating Barack Obama gets from them on any issue.
Approval of the President’s handling of terrorism rose 15 points after the killing of Osama bin Laden.
However, ten years after the start of the war in Afghanistan, which began in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the public is not as positive about the President’s performance managing that concern. Just 36% this week approve of how the President is handling the war in Afghanistan, and half disapprove. Approval for handling the war in Afghanistan has not changed significantly in the last week.
Photo source: Press Association