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Voice from Yemen: Obama's Drones Stir 'Growing Hatred of America'

Senate holds its first hearing on legality and consequences of drone warfare and targeted killing

Jon Queally

Among those who testified at a Tuesday Senate subcommittee hearing on the Obama adminstration's drone and targeted killing program was a Yemeni national named Farea Al-muslimi.

The young man described how a suspected US drone last week fired missiles on his small village of Wessab in Yemen and told the bipartisan panel of Senators that, “What radicals had previously failed to achieve in my village, one drone strike accomplished in an instant: There is now an intense anger and growing hatred of America.”

Al-Muslimi's story gave credence, and personal voice, to other expert witnesses who testified about how the US drone program is likely harming, not helping, national security.

"Most of the world has never heard of Wessab. But just six days ago, my village was struck by a drone, in an attack that terrified thousands of simple, poor farmers," Muslimi said in prepared testimony. "The drone strike and its impact tore my heart, much as the tragic bombings in Boston last week tore your hearts and also mine."

He continued: "The drone strikes are the face of America to many Yemenis."

"If America is providing economic, social and humanitarian assistance to Yemen, the vast majority of the Yemeni people know nothing about it," he said. "Everyone in Yemen, however, knows about America and its drones."

The hearing, titled “Drone Wars: The Constitutional and Counter-terrorism Implications of Targeted Killings,” also received testimony from the New America Foundation's foreign policy expert Peter Bergen who, as Reuters recounts, explained "that in 2012 Obama authorized at least 46 drone strikes in Yemen, while former President George W. Bush launched only one there."

Offering his advice on how to better handle the situation in Yemen, Al-Muslimi suggested the US government take the following steps:

  • Stop all the targeted killing strikes.
  • Announce the names of those already on the “kill list,” so that innocent civilians can stay out of harm’s way.
  • Issue an official apology to the families of all civilians killed or injured by targeted killing strikes.
  • Compensate the families of innocent civilians killed or injured by strikes conducted or authorized by the United States.
  • In every village where there has been a targeted killing, build a school or hospital so that the villagers’ only experience with America will not be the death and destruction caused by an American missile.

Al-Muslimi's full testimony can be read here (pdf). Additional witness testimony for the panel available here.

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