Trump's Disastrous Yemen Raid Killed Nine Children: What Went Wrong
February 12, 2017
Jack Moore / Newsweek & Reuters
A new investigation into the Trump administration's Special Forces raid targeting Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen has found the operation went "dreadfully wrong," killing nine children under the age of 13, with the youngest victim a three-month-old baby. Our allies in Yemen and the Middle East warn that such attacks only create new enemies for the US. Meanwhile, Donald Trump insists that criticizing his raid "only emboldens the enemy."
Trump's Yemen Raid Killed Nine Children:
What Went Wrong
Jack Moore / Newsweek
"Why did they have to kill children and women and elderly people? If such slaughter happened in their country, there would be a lot of shouting about human rights. When our children are killed, they are quiet."
-- Zabnallah Saif al Ameri
(February 9, 2017) -- A new investigation into the special forces raid targeting Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen has found the operation went "dreadfully wrong," killing nine children under the age of 13, with the youngest victim a three-month-old baby.
In the first military operation authorized under President Trump, US commandos launched a raid on an Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula stronghold (AQAP) in the al-Bayda province, leaving at least 25 civilians dead, as well as a US soldier.
But new evidence from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) reveals the extent of the mission's collateral damage. As US forces embarked on the raid after weeks of preparation, targeting what they believed was an Al-Qaeda compound, their cover was blown.
An armed battle began in the dark of night. AQAP militants fired from rooftops, leading the US to call in an airstrike on a building that likely caused civilian casualties, US military officials told CNN.
The US's $75 million Osprey aircraft was destroyed as they sought top AQAP militants; their ultimate target was reportedly AQAP chief Qasim al Raymi.
The report is in stark contrast to the Trump administration's claim that the raid was "absolutely a success."
Trump, who ordered the mission over dinner with key aides including son-in-law Jared Kushner, took to Twitter on Thursday to defend the raid, calling it a "winning mission." He responded to criticism from Senator John McCain, who said: "When you lose a $75 million airplane and, more importantly, an American life is lost and wounded I don't believe you can call it a success." Trump claimed McCain's criticism "only emboldens the enemy."
Working with journalist on the ground who visited the site of the raid five days later, the BIJ has collected the names and ages of all civilians killed, as well as photos of homes wrecked by helicopter gunship fire.
The report states that AQAP, known as Al-Qaeda's most dangerous wing, reported losses of 14 militants in the firefight. Villagers said that 25 civilians killed were not members of AQAP. Beside the nine children killed, US forces killed eight women, including one who was pregnant, they said.
Villagers reported the victims as:
* Asma Fahad Ali al Ameri, three months;
* Aisha Mohammed Abdallah al Ameri, 4;
* Halima Hussein al Aifa al Emeri, 5;
* Hussein Mohammed Abdallah Mabkhout al Ameri, 5;
* Mursil Abedraboh Masad al Ameri, 6;
* Khajija Abdallah Mabkhout al Ameri, 7;
* Nawar Anwar al Awlaqi, 8;
* Ahmed Abdelilah Ahmed al Dahab, 11;
* Nasser Abdallah Ahmed al Dahab, 12.
"It is true they were targeting al Qaeda but why did they have to kill children and women and elderly people?" said Zabnallah Saif al Ameri, who lost nine members of his extended family. "If such slaughter happened in their country, there would be a lot of shouting about human rights. When our children are killed, they are quiet."
Another villager, Mohsina Mabkhout al Ameri, who lost her brother, nephew and three of her nephew's children, told BIJ: "They killed men, children and women and destroyed houses. We are normal people and have nothing to do with al-Qaeda or [Yemeni rebel movement] the Houthis or anyone. The men came from America, got off the planes and the planes bombed us."
The raid caused an outcry in Yemen, with officials describing it as a "failure." The Yemeni government denied reports that it had banned US ground operations in the country but rights groups have said that the raid will have a long-lasting impact in the country, inspiring greater recruitment for Al-Qaeda and further anti-Western sentiment.
Crucially, the AQAP leader who was apparently the central target of the raid, remains elusive. But he has issued a mocking response to Trump's first major foreign policy decision in an 11-minute audio message: "The new fool of the White House received a painful slap across his face."
US Military Releases, Then Withdraws, Fatal Yemen Raid Video
(February 3, 2017) -- In an awkward reversal, the US military promptly withdrew a video by Islamist militants it had released on Friday as evidence that a fatal raid in Yemen by American special forces was a counter terrorism success.
An expert in radical Islamist media said the footage by unknown militants appeared to be part of videos first released by jihadists online some 10 years ago, potentially undermining the Pentagon's explanation about its value.
It is the latest controversy surrounding the raid on a branch of al Qaeda in Yemen, the first such operation authorized by President Donald Trump as commander in chief.
Al-Qaeda Will Benefit from Trump
Strikes on Yemn, Rights Group Says
Jack Moore / Newsweek
(February 2, 2017) – Al-Qaeda's wing in war-torn Yemen is growing in power and US strikes in the country may embolden the group still further, a rights group warned on Thursday.
The International Crisis Group (ICG), in a new report, said that actions like the deadly US raid over the weekend that may have killed civilians and left one Navy SEAL dead could cause more harm than good.
The special forces assault, in the country's Baida province, killed 14 members of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, also known as AQAP, which is viewed as the group's most dangerous branch.
"The Yemeni branch of Al-Qaeda is stronger than it has ever been," ICG said. "The first military actions by the Trump administration in Yemen bode poorly for the prospect of smartly and effectively countering AQAP."
It said that the strikes, which the US said "likely" caused civilian casualties, could increase anti-US hostility in the country and aid the recruitment for extremist groups in the impoverished country.
The US initially denied any civilian casualties but changed their assessment. Medical sources on the ground told The Guardian that 30 people were killed.
"The use of US soldiers, high civilian casualties and disregard for local tribal and political dynamics…plays into AQAP's narrative of defending Muslims against the West and could increase anti-US sentiment and with it AQAP's pool of recruits," the rights group said.
As well as AQAP, the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for several attacks against the country's Shiite Muslims, particularly in the capital Sana'a.
Yemen's civil war is between Shia Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, and government forces, backed by the Saudi-led coalition air forces. The conflict, which began in March 2015, has killed thousands and left the country on the brink of what rights groups say is a humanitarian crisis.
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