Yemen: an outspoken opponent of Al Qaeda killed in drone strike

In the New York Times this week it was reported that a 40-year-old cleric who commanded great respect in the community, Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber, denounced Al Qaeda in a village mosque in far eastern Yemen. Two days later, three members of Al Qaeda came to the mosque in the tiny village of Khashamir after 9 p.m., to talk to Mr.Jaber, who brought his cousin Waleed Abdullah, a police officer, for protection. The NYT report continues:

“As the five men stood arguing by a cluster of palm trees, a volley of remotely operated American missiles shot down from the night sky and incinerated them all . . .

”At least one drone had been overhead every day for about a month, provoking high anxiety among local people, said Aref bin Ali Jaber, a tradesman who was related to the cleric: ‘After the drone hit, everyone was so frightened it would come back. Children especially were affected; my 15-year-old daughter refuses to be alone and has had to sleep with me and my wife after that.”

The angry people of the village protested and blocked a road for some time. Some in the town say this has caused an upwelling of support for Al Qaeda, because such a move is seen as the only way to retaliate against the United States.

“Several former top military and intelligence officials — including Stanley A. McChrystal, the retired general who led the Joint Special Operations Command, which has responsibility for the military’s drone strikes, and Michael V. Hayden, the former C.I.A. director — have raised concerns that the drone wars in Pakistan and Yemen are increasingly targeting low-level militants who do not pose a direct threat to the United States. In an interview with Reuters, General McChrystal said that drones could be a useful tool but were ‘hated on a visceral level’ in some of the places where they were used and contributed to a ‘perception of American arrogance.’ “

The drone strike killing of civilians like Mr. Jaber has raised troubling questions in America and world-wide that apply to Pakistan and Somalia as well:

“Could the targeted killing campaign be creating more militants in Yemen than it is killing? And is it in America’s long-term interest to be waging war against a self-renewing insurgency inside a country about which Washington has at best a hazy understanding?”

Read the full article, which includes an examination of the role of John Brennan, the subject of our last post.


This entry was posted in Afghanistan, CIA, Civilian deaths, Drone strikes, Pakistan, US government and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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