The New York Times as members of al-Qaeda in Yemen.
According to Reprieve, a London-based human rights organization, five civilians were killed in what the Times and the Pentagon describe as an al-Qaeda “compound” located deep within the Yemeni countryside.
Iona Craig, writing for The Intercept, says that village residents gave a list of 10 names of civilians killed and wounded during the raid. “Fifteen-year-old Abdullah Saeed Salem al Adhal was shot dead as he fled from his home with women and children. Another child, 12-year-old Othman Mohammed Saleh al Adhal, was injured but survived.”
The Pentagon described the raid as a success. “Operations such as this provide insight into AQAP's disposition, capabilities and intentions, which allows the U.S. to continue to pursue, disrupt and degrade AQAP,” the Defense Department reported on May 23, citing a Central Command news release.
“AQAP has taken advantage of ungoverned spaces in Yemen to plot, direct, and inspire terror attacks against America, its citizens and allies around the world, the release said.”
The Times echoed the Pentagon narrative. “Even after the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, American counterterrorism officials have said the Qaeda franchise in Yemen poses the most direct threat to the United States, largely because of its proven ability to develop plots to smuggle hard-to-detect bombs aboard passenger airliners bound for the United States. So far, three such plots have been thwarted.”
This is a reference to the October 29, 2010 cargo plane bomb plot allegedly masterminded by Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemini imam born in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Al-Awlaki dined at the Pentagon in the months after 9/11 despite an FBI interview at the same time about his contacts with Nawaf al-Hazmi, Khalid al Midhar, and Hani Hanjour, three men said to be 9/11 hijackers.
News reports claimed two packages, each containing a bomb consisting of 300 to 400 grams of plastic explosives and a detonating mechanism, were found on separate US-bound Emirati cargo planes on a stop-over in Dubai following a tip-off from Saudi intelligence.
The United Arab Emirates’ Civil Aviation Authority, however, rejected the claim. “The Emirates plane that arrived today in the United States from Dubai did not contain any packages from Yemen,” the official Emirati WAM news agency quoted an unnamed source with the country’s civil aviation body as saying, according to Press TV.
“Out of an abundance of caution, The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) diverted two Canadian CF-18’s from the 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron out of Canadian Forces Base Bagotville, Quebec, to track a civilian aircraft determined to be an aircraft of interest as it flew into and over Canadian airspace. The civilian aircraft was passed to two U.S. F-15’s from the 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes Air National Guard Base, Mass., as it transited into U.S. airspace and to its ultimate destination at JFK airport where it landed without incident,” a press release issued by NORAD stated on October 29, 2010.
Other attacks blamed on al-Qaeda in Yemen include the 2009 Christmas Day attempted underwear bombing of an airliner in Detroit and later the 2015 attack on French satirist newspaper Charlie Hebdo that killed 12 in Paris. A passenger on Northwest Flight 253, Kurt Haskell, raised questions about Umar Abdulmutallab, the alleged bomber, and portrayed the incident as a false flag.
The incidents have provided the United States with a further pretext for military involvement in Yemen. “The events of the past 24 hours underscores the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism,” President Obama said the day after the disputed cargo plane bomb plot. “The American people should be confident that we will not waver in our resolve to defeat Al Qaeda and its affiliates and to root out violent extremism in all its forms.”
The following year, the United States gained permission from Saudi Arabia to construct a secret CIA drone base. Prior to this, the U.S. conducted drone attacks inside Yemen from Djibouti and the Seychelles. Drone strikes in Yemen began in 2002.
“The facility was established to hunt for members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen,” the BBC reported two years later. “A drone flown from there was used in September 2011 to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born cleric who was alleged to be AQAP's external operations chief.”
The CIA and American special forces also established a command center in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, and from there coordinated drone attacks and airstrikes with conventional aircraft.
There were ten times more airstrikes in the covert war on terror during Obama’s presidency than under his predecessor, George W. Bush, reports the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
“A total of 563 strikes, largely by drones, targeted Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen during Obama’s two terms, compared to 57 strikes under Bush. Between 384 and 807 civilians were killed in those countries, according to reports logged by the Bureau.”
The actual number, however, is far larger. In 2016, the UK-based group Air Wars estimated at minimum 1,660 civilians have been killed so far. “For years and years now we’ve been fed this line by the military that they don’t kill civilians, that our weapons are so smart we only kill the bad guys,” Air Wars director Chris Woods told The Washington Spectator. “That’s just not true. It’s not born out by the data.”
President Trump embraced the drone war upon entering office and also stepped up special forces raids. In April, he ordered 70 airstrikes in Yemen within a one month period and as a result civilian casualties have risen dramatically. The number of airstrikes more than doubled the number for all of 2016.
Within days of taking office, Trump ordered a raid on a small village in al-Ghayil, a village in the Yakla area of the Al Bayda province in central Yemen. More then 30 civilians, including an eight-year-old American girl and a pregnant woman, were killed by special forces during the nighttime raid. U.S. gunships hit more than a dozen buildings and killed more than 120 goats, sheep, and donkeys.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during a briefing that the raid was "highly successful.” The establishment media downplayed the civilian deaths and focused on the death of Chief Petty Officer William "Ryan" Owens and the wounding of three other SEALs. Spicer added that anyone critical of the raid "owes an apology" to the Navy SEAL who was killed.
While The New York Times does mention in passing the death of civilians during Trump’s latest raid, it concentrates primarily on the wounded members of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team 6 and the dubious “intelligence” gathered after the raid.
“These missions are intended to provide the American military with more information about the Qaeda leadership and operations, as well as insights into other extremist groups in the country,” the Times reports. “The Central Command statement said the raid was conducted with the support of the beleaguered Yemeni government, which has been fighting a two-front war: one with Arab allies against Houthi rebels in the western part of the country, and another against Qaeda militants in the country’s central and eastern regions.”
Donald Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia signals U.S. involvement in the Yemen war will increase exponentially. Saudi Arabia is a vassal state and does not engage in military hostilities without the express permission of the United States. The war against the Houthis in Yemen is a proxy war against Iran, although Iran has little influence over the Zaidi Shia-led religious-political movement. Trump and his generals have made confronting Iran the centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy.
Left out of the discussion and reportage by The New York Times and the rest of the propaganda media is the fact Iran tried to prevent the Houthis from continuing their war against government forces loyal to Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, the former president of the country who fled to Saudi Arabia on the day the Saudis began the brutal bombing of the country.
In August, 2015 Obama admitted Iran had tried to dial back the advance of the Houthis. “When the Houthis started moving, that wasn’t on orders from Soleimani [head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard], that wasn’t on an order from the IRGC,” he said. “That was an expression of the traditional Houthi antagonism towards Sanaa, and some of the machinations of the former president, [Ali Abdullah] Saleh, who was making common cause out of expediency with the Houthis… There were moments where Iran was actually urging potential restraint.”