Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A soldier stands next to a military vehicle blocking Al-Sabeen street, which leads to the presidential palace in Sanaa May 10, 2014. (Credit: Reuters/Mohamed al-Sayaghi)

US Agents Whisked Out of Yemen after Killing Two in Gunfight: Report

US Special Forces soldier and CIA agent reportedly killed two Yemeni men in botched kidnapping

Jon Queally

New reporting from the New York Times tells the story of how two U.S. agents—one from the CIA and the other a Special Forces soldier—were involved in a deadly incident more than a month ago that began in a barber shop in the Yemen capital of Sanaa and ended after two alleged assailants were killed in a gunfight.

Subsequently the U.S. officers—before news of the incident spread—were quickly extracted from the country with the blessing and quiet support of the Yemeni government.

From the Times:

News of the shootings comes at a perilous moment for the government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, whose collaboration with American drone strikes against suspected members of Al Qaeda is already a subject of seething resentment in Yemen. Yemenis believe, with some evidence, that the drone strikes often kill nearby civilians as well as their targets, so any indication that Mr. Hadi’s government helped conceal the killing of Yemenis by American commandos could be problematic.

Violence in the country is increasing, and on Friday, militants attacked a checkpoint outside the presidential palace, apparently in retaliation for the government’s roughly 10-day offensive against Qaeda strongholds.

Exactly what the two Americans were doing at the time of the shooting on April 24 is unclear. Some American officials said they were merely getting a haircut in a barbershop on Hadda Street in Sana, in an upscale district frequently visited by foreigners, playing down any suggestions that they were engaged in a clandestine operation.

Late Friday, both the Pentagon and C.I.A. declined to comment on the shooting, and referred all questions to the State Department.

“We can confirm that, last month, two U.S. Embassy officers in Yemen fired their weapons after being confronted by armed individuals in an attempted kidnapping at a small commercial business in Sana,” a State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, said in an email response to questions from The New York Times. “Two of the armed individuals were killed. The Embassy officers are no longer in Yemen.”

With so little known about the details, those skeptical of the U.S. government's narrative of incident—at least at the moment—can do little more than speculate about alternative stories. But as a suggested by investigative journalist Chris Woods, who has done extensive reporting on the CIA's clandestine drone operations in Yemen for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, any government claims about overseas episodes like this should be treated with deep suspicion. In response to the Times coverage, Woods tweeted:

_________________________________


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

In Landslide 1,108-to-387 Vote, Maine Nurses Reject Effort to Decertify Their Union

"They thought because we were a new union, they could manipulate Maine Med nurses and overturn our 2021 election," said one nurse. "But we just showed them the door."

Jake Johnson ·


Dems Threaten to Subpoena FTI Consulting Over 'Blanket Refusal' to Provide Info on Fossil Fuel Work

"FTI's refusal to cooperate with this congressional inquiry shows that they have something to hide, which will reveal the dangerous ways agencies like theirs have promoted fossil fuel greenwash and misinformation," said the Clean Creatives campaign's leader.

Jessica Corbett ·


Bad Day for DeSantis as 'Stop WOKE Act' Hit With Injunction, Lawsuit

"If Florida truly believes we live in a post-racial society, then let it make its case," a federal judge wrote in blocking part of the controversial law. "But it cannot win the argument by muzzling its opponents."

Brett Wilkins ·


US Judge Says Mar-a-Lago Affidavit 'Can Be Unsealed' With Redactions

"This is going to be a considered, careful process, where everybody's rights, the government's and the media's, will be protected," declared U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart.

Jessica Corbett ·


Federal Judge Orders Starbucks to Rehire Fired Union Organizers in Memphis

"It was a ruling in favor of what's right," said one member of the Memphis Seven. "We knew from day one that we were going to win this, it just took time."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo