Yemeni Government Covers Up U.S. Responsibility for Civilian Drone Deaths

Saturday, December 29, 2012
Funeral for drone victim in Yemen (AP Photo)

The government of Yemen has tried to claim responsibility for numerous airstrikes by American drones in an effort to keep its population from siding with al-Qaeda militants.


Of the nearly 40 attacks launched by U.S. unmanned aircraft in the Middle Eastern country, one in particular has stirred considerable controversy and antipathy towards Washington.


On September 2, an American missile destroyed a Toyota truck loaded with 14 Yemenis from a village near Radda. The attack killed 11, including a woman and two children.


The Yemeni government tried to claim that its own air force carried out the assault, and that those killed were al-Qaeda militants. Many locals refused to accept the official explanation, and eventually Yemeni officials were forced to acknowledge that the strike killed only civilians.


Following a 2009 U.S. drone strike on the southern region of al-Majala, which resulted in the deaths of dozens of civilians, Yemen’s then-leader Ali Abdullah Saleh told then-U.S. Central Command chief Gen. David H. Petraeus, “We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours.” The assurance was made in a U.S. Embassy email, which was later disclosed by WikiLeaks.


Sudarsan Raghavan of The Washington Post wrote that “the deaths have bolstered the popularity of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist network’s Yemen affiliate, which has tried to stage attacks on U.S. soil several times.”


One of the survivors of the September 2 attack, Ahmed Mohammed, told the newspaper: “Our entire village is angry at the government and the Americans. … If the Americans are responsible, I would have no choice but to sympathize with al-Qaeda because al-Qaeda is fighting America.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

When U.S. Drones Kill Civilians, Yemen’s Government Tries to Conceal It (by Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post)

Suspected U.S. Drone Strike Kills Civilians in Yemen, Officials Say (by Hakim Almasmari, CNN)

Drone Killing of Civilians Sparks Outrage in Yemen…Apathy in U.S. (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Third U.S. Citizen Killed by Obama’s Yemen Drone Strikes was a 16-Year-Old Boy (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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