The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

US Drone Strike Kills Two in Southeast Yemen

January 8th, 2013

In a move that was nearly a month too late, the Obama Administration has finally gotten around to announcing an “investigation” into the December 12 drone strike against a Yemeni wedding party, which killed a large number of civilians.

The strike fueled massive opposition from locals, and also a rare rebuke from the Yemeni parliament, which has long looked the other way over civilian deaths. The Obama Administration hasn’t learned any lesson however.

That’s because even as the probe was getting underway, the US launched yet another drone strike against the Hadrawmut Province, killing two unidentified people.

Officially, both of the slain have been declared “suspected al-Qaeda militants,” but that explanation would be a lot more credible if the US hadn’t labeled the wedding party the exact same way after that hit.

Though the US has long insisted virtually no civilians are slain in their strikes, they likewise have never identified a large number of their victims, shrugging them off as suspects unless someone says otherwise.

US Drone Attacks Yemen Wedding Party, Killing 15 Civilians

December 12th, 2013

When a US drone strike tears through some vehicle, building, or picnic in Yemen, the Yemeni government is quick to label all of the victims “suspected al-Qaeda fighters,” and today was no different.

That claim was stretched beyond all credibility, however, when witnesses came forward saying today’s strike, on the outskirts of Qaifa, actually hit a wedding party. The procession of vehicles was traveling together when missiles slammed into one of the middle cars, causing chaos and killing 10 civilians instantly, while wounding 12 others. Five of the wounded have since died, bringing the toll to 15.

The early indications are that this was yet another “signature” attack, where US drones target totally unidentified people doing something they thing seems terrorist-like. In this case, it was driving cars in a convoy, which is bad news for weddings and funeral processions.

The Hadi government has yet to issue an official statement, but is unlikely to be too critical of the US, having openly endorsed drone strikes repeatedly.

US Drone Strike Kills Four in Southern Yemen | Antiwar

December 9th, 2013

Another US drone strike hit the Hadramawt Province in southeastern Yemen today, destroying a truck and killing four unidentified people within.

Yemeni officials dubbed the slain “al-Qaeda suspects,” and in some accounts “gunmen,” though they conceded that they have no idea who the four victims of the attack actually are since the bodies were burned beyond recognition in the strike. That is nothing new, as the overwhelming majority of US drone strikes kill so-called “signature” targets, people even the attackers don’t know but who simply look like they might be up to something.

Of thousands of victims of US drone strikes across the world, only a few dozen have ever been named officially, with the rest forever labeled “suspects.”

Air strikes, probably CIA drone strikes, kill five people in southern Yemen | Reuters

November 8th, 2013

Five “suspected al Qaeda fighters” have been killed by two air strikes in Yemen’s southern province of Abyan, the country’s interior ministry said on Friday.

A ministry statement said the militants were killed on Thursday but did not say whether the strikes were launched by Yemen or the United States.

However, local officials in Abyan, which was a stronghold for Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and other militant groups during an uprising that ousted veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh last year, told Reuters the strikes were carried out by American drones.

US Drones Kill 11 in Yemen, Including Civilians | Antiwar.com

September 8th, 2013

US drones hit multiple targets in Yemen today, killing at least 11 people, including at least two, but potentially many more innocent civilian bystanders, according to Yemeni officials.

The Yemeni military initially claimed all the slain were “al-Qaeda militants,” but officials later revised this count to say that only four of the dead had “links” to al-Qaeda, and two of the slain were definitely civilians. The other five remain totally unidentified. Of the last six confirmed US strikes, this is the second time Yemeni officials have publicly conceded to civilian deaths, an unusual trend in a nation where the policy is usually to deny civilian victims no matter how much evidence there is to support it.

Locals have complained the attacks are fueling local support for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) as well as resentment against the US, though Yemeni ruler Maj. Gen. Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi insists that 9/11 obliges them to allow the US unrestricted access to Yemeni airspace.

Drone strike kills Al Qaida spiritual leader in Yemen

August 30th, 2013

Sana’a: Suspected US drone strikes killed a senior Al Qaida militant and three others in Al Manaseh area in the southern province of Al Baydha, southern Yemen, a source told Gulf News.

The source said that the attack occurred at 1am when the first drone hit the car of Qaid Ahmad Nasser Al Dhahab, the spiritual leader of Al Qaida in the province. Another male passenger was also killed.

“The strike killed them all and when the other group of Al Qaida rushed to rescue them, the second drone fired missiles, killing two more,” the source said.

Yemenis call U.S. drone strikes an overreaction to al Qaida threat | McClatchy

The United States’ launching of eight drone strikes in Yemen in the span of 13 days has ignited widespread outrage in the country.

The anger over the strikes, which came as an al Qaida-related threat shuttered U.S. embassies and consulates in Yemen and 15 other countries, has overwhelmed attention to the threat itself, which many here view skeptically anyway.

“In the end, I think the American reaction has been far more than has been reasonable,” said Abdulghani al Iryani, a Sanaa-based political analyst. “It comes off almost as a show of strength. But, ultimately, it may end up backfiring, as al Qaida is getting more attention now than they would have even if they carried out an attack.”

The U.S. State Department announced Friday that it would reopen all its diplomatic missions Sunday except for the embassy in Yemen and the consulate in Lahore, Pakistan, which had been evacuated early in the day because of an unspecified threat. There was no word on when the embassy here might be reopened. On Tuesday, what the State Department called “non-emergency” embassy staff members were flown to Germany.

The surge of strikes, the most concentrated series of drone hits since 2002, has come in four provinces, Abyan in the south, Shabwa and Hadramawt in Yemen’s southeast and Mareb in the country’s center. That alone underscores the difficulty of combating al Qaida’s Yemen affiliate, al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

Earlier this year, the central government was able to push one of al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula’s main affiliates, Ansar al Shariah, from strongholds it had seized during the push by dissidents to topple the government of then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh. But the bulk of the fighters were able to escape to other parts of the country, including areas with comparatively little history of an al Qaida presence, such as Hadramawt, which has emerged as a focus of recent U.S. strikes.

A number of the strikes appear to have been aimed at senior al Qaida figures in this country, but it isn’t clear how many of the targets have been killed.

The first strike, on July 27 in the al Mahfad district of Abyan, was aimed at al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula’s top bomb maker, Ibrahaim al Asiri, but he wasn’t among the four suspected militants killed.

Local tribal fighters who oppose the al Qaida group claimed that the next strike, on July 30, killed Ibrahim al Rubaish, a Saudi Arabian who’s its top ideologue and the successor to Saeed al Shihri as its deputy leader, but that hasn’t been confirmed. Shihri, a Saudi who was once held at Guantanamo, died in January of wounds he’d suffered in a November drone strike, but the group confirmed the death only last month.

While Western news reports have cast casualties of the next strike, on Aug. 1, as militants, locals in the area of Hadramawt where it took place have claimed that the dead had no links to the al Qaida group and included a child.

Five days later, a strike to the northwest, in Mareb, killed four, including two prominent figures in the group, one of whom was named in a list of wanted militants that the Yemeni government recently released. A strike the following day in Shabwa killed at least six, all cast as suspected fighters for the group.

Thursday saw the greatest drone activity, with three attacks on al Qaida targets, the first in Mareb and the second and third in southern Hadramawt, killing at least 11. The exact death toll and the identities of those killed remain unconfirmed.

Outrage over the strikes has spread to the capital, where the dismay over their frequency was heightened by their timing, during the final days of Ramadan and the start of the Eid al Fitr holiday, one of the holiest and most festive times of the Islamic year. The anger built on tensions caused by two days of unprecedented flyovers of the capital by one or more manned, American-made spy planes.

Yemeni officials have tied the spate of strikes to a plot by al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula to seize major cities in the country’s south. But many here view suggestions of such a plot with unvarnished skepticism, saying the group doesn’t have the manpower to carry out such an ambitious operation.

Count Von Count Drones Yemen | emptywheel

The flurry of drone strikes in Yemen has gotten so difficult to keep up with that I imagine a twisted version of Count Von Count leading counting lessons after each one.

As of last count, he’d be up to the number 8. “You can hold it this way you can hold it that way.”

Three U.S. drone strikes killed a total of 12 suspected al-Qaida militants Thursday, a Yemeni military official said, raising to eight the number of attacks in less than two weeks as the Arab nation is on high alert against terrorism.

The uptick in drone strikes signals that the Obama administration is stepping up its efforts to target Yemen’s al-Qaida offshoot — al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula — amid fears of attacks after the interception of a message between its leader and the global leader of the terror network.

Since July 27, drone attacks have killed 34 suspected militants, according to an Associated Press count provided by Yemeni security officials.

Happy Eid, Yemen, Count Von Count would sing. Ha ha ha.

Who's Terrorizing Who? In Yemen, America Is The Terrorist

Nonstop fear mongering by lawmakers and White House officials about the allegedly growing threat of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has pushed Yemen into the national spotlight as a country synonymous with terrorism. Yemen is home to the scary bearded terrorists that want to kill our innocent American children, or so the mainstream narrative goes. But contrary to popularly indoctrinated opinion, if anyone is a terrorist in this scenario, it is us, the United States. [++]

Drone strike kills six people in Yemen

August 7th, 2013

A U.S. drone killed at least six [people] in southern Yemen on Wednesday, officials said, a day after U.S. and British embassies evacuated some staff because of growing fears of attacks.

It was the fifth strike in less than two weeks and follows warnings of potential attacks by militants that pushed Washington to shut missions across the Middle East, and the United States and Britain to evacuate staff from Yemen.

Witnesses and local officials in the province of Shabwa said the drone fired at least six missiles at two vehicles in a remote area some 70 km (50 miles) north of the provincial capital, Ataq. Both vehicles were destroyed.

Residents who rushed to the scene found only charred bodies, they said.

At least 20 [people] have been killed since July 28, when a drone strike killed at least four [people].

U.S. drone strike kills 4 in Yemen; U.S. citizens urged to leave | latimes.com

August 6th, 2013

A suspected U.S. drone killed four [military age males] in Yemen on Tuesday, as the State Department ordered the U.S. Embassy there evacuated as a result of the threat by “al-Qaida” that has triggered temporary shutdowns of 19 American diplomatic posts across the Muslim world.

The drone fired a missile at a car carrying the four men in the al-Arqeen district of Marib province, setting it on fire and killing all of them, officials said.

The strike is the fourth in less than two weeks. Three similar attacks have hit cars belonging to alleged al-Qaida figures in southern Yemen.

Meanwhile, a statement issued Tuesday says the State Department has ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Yemen [again] “due to the continued potential for terrorist attacks.”

The travel warning says U.S. citizens currently in Yemen should depart and calls the security threat level in Yemen “extremely high.”

US Drone Strikes Kill Eight in Southern Yemen | Antiwar.com

July 28th, 2013

At least eight people were killed today in the Abyan Province, when a US drone launched multiple attacks at the convoy of vehicles outside of the town of Mahfad.

The six people killed in the initial strike were all dubbed “suspects,” and none of their identities are known. Two other people were killed who attempted to pull wounded people from the wreckage in additional strikes, and three wounded are said to have survived.

US drone strikes have become increasingly common against Yemen, fueling anger among locals who say that the strikes, endorsed by the Hadi government, are killing as many bystanders as al-Qaeda.

The US doesn’t generally discuss its attacks in Yemen or elsewhere, except on the rare occasions when a named militant is killed. That is rarely the case, however, and most of the victims are never identified.

Former Guantanamo Detainee Killed in Yemen Drone Strike | Dashiell Bennett

While the United States has promised a more judicious (and less frequent) use of drone strikes overseas, the airborne attacks have not stopped completely, as another Al-Qaeda leader has been killed in Yemen. The group known as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has confirmed that Saeed al-Shehri was killed in a U.S. drone strike, after numerous earlier reports of his death that turned out to be false.

No timetable was given for the drone attack, but the most recent report that he was killed (one of at least three such attempts to declare him dead) was in January of this year.

Shehri is a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who was captured in Afghanistan and released in 2007, when he was sent to Saudi Arabia to be “rehabilitated.” However, he quickly returned to Yemen and began plotting operations there, including arranging the kidnapping of a Saudi official, who is still missing. Shehri is being identified as the proverbial “Number 2” man in the organization, perpetuating the long-running cliché (or joke) that the terrorist outfit seems to have a lot of people ranked number two, all of whom manage to turn up dead.