The White House has given the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command authority to launch drone strikes against suspected al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen whether they know their identities or not, the Washington Post reports.
According to the report, President Obama approved the measure this month, expanding U.S. service members’ abilities to strike against an al-Qaeda affiliate located in Yemen.
The CIA and JSOC now have the authority to fire on targets based on signature behavior patterns detected through signal intercepts, human sources and aerial surveillance.
The first attack resulting from the reformed policy took place this month near the border of Yemen’s Marib province, the report said.
U.S. groups targeted a commander of military operations for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
CIA and JSOC have conducted nine strikes in the past four months, equal to the sum all strikes conducted last year, the Post reports.
Previously, the operatives were only authorized to launch a strike attack against known terrorist leaders who appeared on JSOC and CIA target lists.
The strike also could only be launched if the person’s location was confirmed.
The Post said U.S. officials have indicated the attacks will draw heavily from CIA and JSOC experiences conducting similar missions in Pakistan.