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One Year After Drone Strike on Anti-Terrorist Yemeni Preacher, Still No Apology From Obama

LONDON - One year after a covert US drone strike killed a Yemeni preacher who opposed al Qaeda, his family are yet to receive any acknowledgement from the US Government of what happened.

Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber was killed on 29 August 2012 by a strike in the Hadramout region of Yemen. He was known for making speeches denouncing al Qaeda, and his brother-in-law, Faisal bin Ali Jaber, recently wrote to President Obama to ask why he – along with Faisal’s nephew, a local policeman – was hit in the strike.

However, one year later, neither Faisal nor any other member of the family has received an apology or even a response.


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This week, Faisal bin Ali Jaber expressed disappointment over the lack of response, telling human rights charity Reprieve, which represents civilian victims of covert drone strikes: “I do not understand why President Obama will not even apologise for killing my brother in law and nephew. Salem was strongly opposed to al Qaeda – can the President explain how killing him made either the US or Yemen any safer?”

Yemen’s President Hadi, to whom Faisal’s letter of July 31 was also addressed, has similarly failed to reply. Instead, he last week gave a speech in which he defended the US drone programme in Yemen, claiming that civilian casualties were exaggerated. Mr Hadi’s views are at odds with the overwhelming majority of the National Dialogue – a body which is mapping out the country’s democratic future – which is opposed to drone strikes, and recently voted to outlaw them in the country.

Commenting, Reprieve Legal Director, Kat Craig said: “It seems painfully obvious to everyone except President Obama that drone strikes in Yemen are doing more harm than good. Yet the President will not even apologise when this misguided campaign kills not only a civilian, but one who has vocally and publicly opposed al Qaeda. The Yemeni people have said they do not want the illegal drone campaign to continue – when will Obama listen?”


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Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.

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