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.