The events detailed have been reported by US and Yemeni government, military and intelligence officials, and by credible media, academic and other sources. Strikes include ground operations, naval attacks and airstrikes – by drone, cruise missile and conventional aircraft.
Many of the US attacks have been confirmed by senior American or Yemeni officials. However some events are only speculatively attributed to the US, or are indicative of US involvement. For example precision night-time strikes on moving vehicles, whilst often attributed to the Yemen Air Force, are more likely to be the work of US forces. We therefore class all Yemen strikes as either confirmed or possible. As Yemen came under severe pressure during the Arab Spring and militants seized control of cities and towns in the south, the US significantly stepped up its attacks, most notably with drone strikes. Since mid 2011 US counter terrorism operations in Yemen have been conducted by both the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency. Attacks are aimed at al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and more recently, Ansar al-Sharia.
The Bureau will continue to add to its knowledge base, and welcomes input and corrections from interested parties.
YEM038 January 31 2012 ♦ 10-14 reported killed At least ten militants were killed in a drone strike in southern Yemen. Local residents said a drone struck two vehicles east of Lawdar. An al Qaeda eulogy to militant Mouwhahhad al-Maaribi’s life described how he was killed in the strike, along with nine others. It stated that four missiles were fired at the cars, killing Maarabi, along with Ibrahim Al-Najdi, Abed Al Farraj Al-Shamri and Saleh Al-Akili. In addition, missiles were reportedly fired at a school in which militants were hiding. Abdul Munim al-Fathani, wanted by the US for alleged links to the attacks on the USS Cole in 2000, was reportedly among the dead. One report noted
Nasir al Wuhayshi, the emir or leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, ‘broke down in tears …on the road between ‘Azzan in Shabwa and Mudiyah in Abyan province, upon seeing the body of the leader Abdul Mun’im Salim Amqidah al Fatahani.
Wuhayshi’s brother was reportedly killed by a US drone strike a month earlier, on December 22. (YEM035) Talhah al Yemeni and Abdulmalik al-Dahyani, AQAP leaders, were also killed. The LA Times reported that the attacks were carried out by JSOC. Yemeni journalist Nasser Arrabyee reported on his blog that other fatalities included: Abu Ali Al Shabwani, Ahmed Noyran,Muthana Mawala Al Maramy, and Abu Al Khatab Al Marabi. Tareq Al Dhahab, AQAP leader in Rada, survived according to a local resident. A source close to AQAP allegedly told Xinhua by phone that militants Khadri Em-Soudah and Ahmed Mu’eran Abu Ali, an al Qaeda leader in Shabwah governorate, also died.
Three men were later executed by Ansar al Sharia on February 12 in connection with this attack.
YEM039 Late January 2012 General Mohammed al-Sumali, commander of Yemen’s 25th Mechanized Brigade, told journalist Jeremy Scahill that ‘the US carried out a series of airstrikes in late January and… at least two other strikes around Zinjibar that targeted al Qaeda leaders.’
Type of action: Air assault, air strikes Locations: Abyan/ Zinjibar Reference: The Nation
February 12 2012 ♦ 3 killed Three men were initially reported as being ‘beheaded at dawn’ by Yemeni militant group Ansar al Sharia for allegedly giving information to the US to allow it to conduct drone strikes in the area. Although residents of the towns of Jaar and Azzan told Reuters that two Saudis and one Yemeni were executed, a spokesman for Ansar al Sharia later said ‘none of those executed were Saudi citizens, but all three had been working for the intelligence services of the kingdom, a close ally of the United States‘.
In August 2012, video emerged indicating that one of the men – Saleh Ahmed Saleh Al-Jamely – was crucified by Ansar al Sharia. The group indicated that he had been killed in connection with the drone strike on January 31. MEMRI reported that
The other two men, Hassan Naji Hassan Al-Naqeeb – accused of recruiting, delivering chips, and paying spies; and Ramzi Muhammad Qaid Al-Ariqi – accused of spying for the Saudi intelligence by taking photographs of several buildings, were executed in public, but not crucified.
February 26 2012Following mass protests Ali Abduallah Saleh stepped down as President of Yemen. The US government stated that it would work together with Yemen’s new government to ’kill or capture about two dozen of al Qaeda’s most dangerous operatives, who are focused on attacking America and its interests‘. Saleh’s vice-president Abed Rabu Mansour Hadi was inaugurated as President on February 25. In his televised speech, Hadi swore to keep up Yemen’s fight against al Qaeda-linked militants. President Obama’s chief counter terrorism adviser John Brennan visited Yemen on February 18-19. He told a press briefing: ’Everything we do in the counter-terrorism realm, we do in full partnership with our Yemeni counterparts… Our assistance takes many forms: training, advice, different types of equipment.’ On Yemen’s new president, Brennan said that Hadi ‘is committed as well to destroying al Qaeda, and I consider him a good and strong counter-terrorism partner‘.
March 2 2012
An armoured vehicle carrying a ‘US security team’ came under fire in southern Yemen. While the Pentagon reported that noone was injured in the attack, there were competing claims that either a CIA or FBI official had been killed. Yemeni militant group Ansar al Sharia sent journalists a text reading: ‘The mujihadeen killed a CIA officer on Thursday while he was in Aden province, after tracking him and determining he was cooperating with the Sanaa government.’ Two days later AQAP issued its own statement on an Islamist website, claiming that they had killed:
an American who worked as a high-ranking officer in American intelligence, and that was after monitoring his movements for a long period of time. And targeting him comes after an increase in the American movements in Yemen in the shadow of the new political conditions, and also for bringing in large numbers of American soldiers to Aden city.’
March 6 2012
CNN reported that amid escalating violence by Islamic extremists following the Yemeni election; ‘US trainers are helping the Yemeni government in its effort to retake al-Kowd’. On March 4, a military base near al-Kowd, Abyan, was attacked by Ansar al Sharia militants, claiming the lives of around 90 Yemeni government soldiers.
YEM040 March 9 2012 ♦ 23 – 34 reported killed ♦ ‘Many’ civilians reported killed (2 named) ♦ Up to 55 reported injured A late evening airstrike on Bayda by US drones struck a gathering of alleged militants. As many as 34 ‘AQAP militants died including ‘four senior leaders‘ – one named asHadaar al-Homaiqani, a local AQAP leader. Bayda’s governor claimed that ‘two Pakistanis, two Saudi nationals, and one Syrian and one Iraqi‘ were among the dead. A source in the city told Reuters that ‘Flames and smoke could be seen rising from the area,’ while a military official reported that ‘the attack targeted a gathering of al Qaeda elements and a number of them were killed.’ An AQAP spokesman told Xinhua:
More than two US drones are still striking several posts of al-Qaida in three villages outside al-Bayda’s central city.
On April 1 a US official confirmed the attack,with the Los Angeles Times reporting: ‘American missiles soon rained down. The al-Qaida commander was killed, along with 22 other suspected militants, most of them believed to be young recruits receiving military training, U.S. officials said’.
In May 2012 the Washington Post reported that ‘many civilians’ had died in the attack, according to interviews with victims’ relatives and human rights activists. Two brothers of local businessman Salim al-Barakani – one a teacher, the other a cellphone repairman, were among the civilians killed. Al-Barakani told the paper that after the attack:
Villagers were too afraid to go to the area. Al-Qaeda militants took advantage and offered to bury the villagers’ relatives. “That made people even more grateful and appreciative of al-Qaeda,” said Barakani, the businessman. “Afterwards, al-Qaeda told the people, ‘We will take revenge on your behalf.’ ”
Yemen protest Feb 2011 Washington DC (Colin David Anderson/ Flickr)
YEM041 March 10 2012 ♦ 24 reported killed Air strikes in Jaar and Zinjibar killed up to 24 alleged militants. Although initially reported as the work of the Yemen Air Force, a senior Yemen government official told CNN that the attacks were the work of the US, part of a three-day offensive.
YEM042 March 11 2012 ♦ 3 reported killed An air attack on a militant-occupied factory where arms were allegedly stored killed three near Jaar. Ansar al Sharia said that US drones carried out the early evening strike, with up to five drones reportedly taking part. A senior Yemeni official confirmed the US involvement to CNN: ‘The United States did not inform us on the attacks. We only knew about this after the US attacked.’ However local residents reported that ‘planes’ bombarded the town. AFP also reported that two missiles were fired ‘from the sea‘.
YEM043 March 13 2012 ♦ 4-5 reported killed The ferocious air campaign against al Qaeda and its allies continued with a drone or air strike on a moving vehicle which killed up to five alleged militants. According to the Yemen Post ’a high-ranking security official confirmed that Nasser al-Thafry [aka Zafari], AQAP leader in Al-Byatha was found dead‘ though he may have been killed in linked clashes with Yemen’s security forces. CNN reported that the strike appeared to be the work of the US, which appears highly likely given its precision nature. Six air raids by the Yemen Air Force were also reported in nearby Jaar, as militant group Ansar al Sharia carried out a suicide bombing in revenge, it said, for recent US drone strikes.
YEM044 March 18 2012 ♦ 14-18 reported killed Missiles ‘fired from the sea’ onto al Qaeda positions in north-eastern Zinjibar, Abyan province, killed at least 16 suspected militants, TV network al Arabiyah reported. Reiterating this news, the Yemen Times also reported that heavy shelling had targeted fields and badly damaged crops. ‘We are not sure whether Yemeni aircraft or US unmanned drones are responsible for the airstrikes,’ one farmer told the Yemen Times. Reuters called the strike a ‘naval bombardment‘, and the Long War Journal surmised that; ‘If missiles were indeed fired from the sea (and we have no confirmation of this, only the word of an anonymous Yemeni official), then they were most likely fired by US Navy warships. The Yemeni Navy does not possess the capacity to conduct such strikes; its missile boats and corvettes fire only anti-ship missiles. Xinhua reported a local Yemen official as confirming it was a joint US Naval – Yemen Air Force offensive, but placed the naval bombardment at nearby Jaar.
YEM045 March 18 2012 ♦ 8 reported killed ♦ 1 civilian reported wounded Also on Sunday March 18, what was reported as a government warplane bombed Islamist militants in the southern city of Jaar, ‘causing people to flee their homes‘. While al Arabiya stated that there were no immediate reports of casualties, the Associated Press later stated that eight militants were killed in the strike. Residents said a civilian was wounded when an airstrike hit a post office used as a hospital in Jaar. A witness told Xinhua that, along with militant hideouts, some residential buildings in the city were also damaged in the heavy shelling. ‘The strikes demolished more than four houses located in the center of Jaar city. Many people fled their houses for fear of repeated air raids,’ the witness said. This has been reported as an airstrike by the Yemeni government, and there is no suggestion that US planes were involved. However there are reports that a considerable number of Yemeni Air Force personnel were on strike until March 19. This casts doubt on the government’s capacity to launch an aerial bombardment.
YEM046 March 22 2012 ♦ 29-30 reported killed ♦ 24+ reported wounded According to local Yemen officials, three areas in Zinjibar were struck by US drone strikes, killing at least 30 al Qaeda fighters. The website Arab Monitor stated that ‘dozens’ were wounded in the attacks, which targeted alleged al Qaeda bases. Witnesses also said that a ‘warplane also fired a missile at three vehicles of the al-Qaida group in downtown Zinjibar carrying foreign fighters‘. Associated Press stated that 29 militants had been killed in a ‘rocket and artillery barrage, spread out over a 24-hour period‘ which ended on the night of Thursday March 22. Naval vessels also allegedly took part in the extended bombardment, which some sources claimed were the work of the US Navy. The Pentagon later said that; ‘No American warships from the service’s Fifth Fleet or elsewhere in the region were involved in those operations.’
YEM047 March 30 2012 ♦ 5 killed ♦ 6-9 injured including 5 civilians ♦ 1 civilian killed Four alleged Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants died (possibly local leaders) and three were ‘critically injured’ after a US drone struck their vehicles, according to Yemen military and security officials. The attack, in Azan, Shabwa province, came as the men left Friday prayers according to Associated Press. However, a civilian, Mohamed Saleh Al-Suna was also killed and six others injured in the strike,officials and eyewitnesses told Reuters. The six civilians were in a car travelling in the opposite direction. Five of the civilian injured were identified by the Yemen Times as Saleh Ali Ba Zyad,Saleh Abdulfatha Hamid, Abdullah Mohamed Hamid, Hamza Khaled Ba Zayad, and Ali Hassan. In a linked second drone attack nearby a house was also struck, injuring four people. A US official confirmed both this strike and a CIA attack in Pakistan on the same day.
Old Sanaa city at dusk in 2012 (Photo Juadluz83/ Flickr)
YEM048 April 1-3 2012 ♦ Up to 38 killed Multiple airstrikes killed as many as 38 ‘suspected al Qaeda militants’ in Lahj and Abyan over a 48-hour period, according to CNN. A number of officials confirmed US involvement, with one local official telling the agency that ‘The U.S. is involved in a number of the latest attacks, but that does not mean our air force is not in control of the raids occurring.’ He said that the United States ‘has taken part in three of the airstrikes, but said Yemen’s air force is leading the operation. He did not detail the type of support provided,’ according to CNN.
Type of action: Air strike, US drone strikes Location: Lahjh and Abyan References: CNN
YEM049 April 7 2012 ♦ 0-8 killed News agencies reported a night time US drone strike on a moving vehicle in Shabwa province. The Yemen Air Force lacks the technical ability to carry out such a strike. The Wall Street Journal reported that the target was AQAP number three, Qasim al-Raimi. It reported that ‘After nightfall Saturday, Mr Raimi and three followers started driving on a road out of Shebwa toward Marib, residents said. Around 10 pm, a missile struck the road near their car, but missed the vehicle, according to two local security officials.’ Howeveraccording to an unnamed tribal chief, the strike ‘killed eight Al-Qaeda suspects’, who he identified as ‘five Yemenis and three Arab foreigners.’Al-Qaeda militants were aboard a vehicle on their way from Shabwa to (nearby) Marib province when a US drone fired a missile at their vehicle, killing them all. The chief also reported that drones were seen ‘flying over several areas in Shabwa, especially those which are Al-Qaeda strongholds — Rawdah, Huta, and Azzan’. The attack was the eighth confirmed drone strike of 2012. The Egyptian al Qaeda operative Abu Musab al Masriwas reported dead by the Long War Journal, killed in an April drone strike on Shabwa province. Long War Journal cited a vague date reported by the Madad News Agency in surmising YEM049or YEM053 as the possible strikes responsible.
YEM050 April 9 2012 ♦ 16 killed The Yemen Defence Ministry reported that ‘Yemeni-U.S. joint air raids bombed al-Qaida hideouts in the southern province of Abyan, killing at least 16 militants’, according to Xinhua.Other agencies did not specify US involvement.
YEM051 April 11 2012 ♦ 10-14 killed ♦ 10 injured A targeted evening strike on an ‘al Qaeda convoy’ reportedly killed up to 14 alleged militants near Loder, Abyan Province. AP reported that the vehicle had been stolen from a government barracks days earlier. A local government official told Xinhua that the attack was the work of a US drone, and that ‘there are foreign nationals among the killed.’ The Yemen Defence Ministry later said that Saudi, Pakistani and Somali nationalshad been killed, but did not specify any US involvement. As many as 72 alleged militants died in Yemen military operations around Loder that day, with a senior government official saying:
The battle of Loder is considered a decisive one for the army against the terrorist groups and a prelude to the cleansing of all towns seized by militants in the province of Abyan.
Two senior militants were reported killed in the fighting – Imad al-Manshaby and Ahmed Mohammed Taher – though it was not clear if they had died in the vehicle attack. As many asthree other airstrikes may also have taken place around the town.
YEM052 April 14 2012 ♦ 3 killed An evening airstrike on a vehicle killed at least three Ansar al-Sharia members, among them reportedly Mohammed al-Sabri, a ‘leading militant’. Yemen’s airforce reportedly lacks the ability to launch precision strikes on moving vehicles. Associated Press cited two Yemen military officials as saying that US drones had carried out the attack in Bayda province, with a security official telling AFP the same. Eyewitness Abdel-Salam al-Ansitold the agency that he heard a strong explosion and had rushed outside: ‘The car had been turned into a ball of fire.’ A Yemen Defence Ministry statement referred only to an ‘airstrike’ and reported that three ‘local al-Qaeda leaders’ had died. Ansar al-Sharia also later said that three of its fighters had died in a US drone strike.
YEM053 April 16 2012 ♦ 5-7 killed Up to five drone strikes killed at least five militants in the southeastern Shabwa province. CNN reported militant hideouts, checkpoints, training facilities and weapons warehouses were targeted in the strikes. The Yemen defence ministry initially claimed the attacks were carried out by Yemeni warplanes. Two security officials and one defence ministry official later told CNN US drones targeted the militants. This was echoed by a security official cited by AFP who reported a local official claiming a US drone targeted five militants late on Monday. A local security official told Xinhua leading foreign fighters were killed in the strikes. An intelligence officer told Xinhua the foreigners were a Syrian and an Algerian. Two defence officials told CNN the US has conducted at least 11 attacks on Yemeni soil in the preceding week. Long War Journal reported Egyptian al Qaeda militant Abu Musab al Masri killed in an April drone strike on Shabwa. Citing a vague date reported by the Madad News Agency, Long War Journal surmised either YEM047 or YEM051 as the responsible strikes.
YEM054 April 18 2012 ♦ 6-10 killed An air strike near the southern village of Loder has killed at least six militants according to a Defence Ministry statement. Reuters could not independently confirm who launched the strike and AFP said the government did not say if the air force or US drones were responsible. Xinhua reported the attack destroyed a number of armoured vehicles captured by the militants. Local residents told Xinhua that two further air strikes targeting militant positions on Jabal Khanfer, a hill over looking the city of Jaar in Abyan province. At least four militants were killed in this second action according to the Yemen Post.
Type of action: Air strike, possible US drone Location: Loder village and Jaar city, Abyan province References: AFP, Reuters, Xinhua, Yemen Post
April 19 2012 The Washington Post triggered significant debate on the future direction of US drone strikes in Yemen, revealing extensive details of US targeting policy in Yemen. It reported that the CIA was seeking the right to launch so-called ‘signature strikes’ in Yemen – attacks on alleged militants the Agency did not know the identity of. According to a senior Administration official, present CIA tactics ‘still [have] a very firm emphasis on being surgical and targeting only those who have a direct interest in attacking the United States.’ In contrast, the Pentagon’s JSOC ‘has broader authority than the CIA to pursue militants in Yemen and is not seeking permission to use signature strikes, US officials said.’ Since most of the recent US strikes were against low-ranking or unknown militants, this indicated that most current attacks were by JSOC rather than the CIA. Officials also expressed concern that the US risked being perceived as ‘taking sides in a civil war’. [see also April 26]
YEM055 April 21 2012 ♦ 12 – 17 killed ♦ 5 injured As many as 17 alleged militants were killed in a series of of strikes in the south of the country. The Defence Ministry said 17 alleged militants had been killed in a raid near Loder. But an unnamed local government official told Xinhua two Yemeni Air Force jets killed 12 militants in the strike. Kuwaiti agency KUNA reported the strike targeted a house where a group of militants were meeting, citing a defence ministry announcement. The Yemen Post reported this strike killed at least 11 and destroyed captured military vehicles and that a separate strike killed two more militants in Abyan province. AFP said it was unclear whether the strike was carried out by the Yemen Air Force or US drones.
Type of action: Air strike, possible US drone Location: Loder, Abyan province References: Xinhua, Yemen Post, AFP, KUNA
YEM056 April 22 2012 ♦ 4 killed At least four militants were killed when a drone strike destroyed two of three cars driving through the desert area of Sanda in central Marib province. Two senior security officials told CNN that US drones conducted the strike. The Yemen Air Force lacks the technical ability to carry out such a precise strike and has suffered serious problems of morale and discipline this year. The Yemen Post reported the recently ousted President’s son Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, commander of the Republican Guard, had ordered a battalion of infantry to storm the Air Force base in the capital Sana’a on the same day as this attack. The Yemeni Embassy in Washington announced 34-year-old senior AQAP militant Mohammed Saeed Al-Umada (aka Ghareeb al-Taizi) was killed in the strike. This was confirmed by AQAP. Al-Umada died along with two of his aides the embassy said. In 2005 al-Umada was convicted of supporting the 2002 bombing of French oil tanker Limburg which killed one crew member and injured a dozen more. In February 2006 he escaped from his Sanaa jail along with 22 other militants who would go on to become the core of AQAP. Among the escapees were Qasim al-Raimi (aka al-Raymi) andNasser al-Wuhayshi. Al-Raimi was AQAP’s military commander and had survived strikes in 2009 (YEM003), 2010 (YEM006) and 2012 (YEM049). Al-Wuhayshi was regional leader of al-Qaeda who was thought to be meeting Anwar al-Awlaki when the first attempt was made to assassinate the American born radical cleric (YEM004). In 2008 a Yemeni court sentenced al-Umada in absentia to at least 10 years in prison for targeting the country’s energy infrastructure. The Washington embassy said al-Umada was fourth on Yemen’s most-wanted list. A senior Yemen Defence Ministry official told CNN:
This is a success for the war on terror. Al-Umda has been on the run for years and his absence will help in limiting the terror network’s operation in Yemen.
Al-Umada is alleged to have received training from Osama Bin Laden at the al-Farouq camp. The embassy said he commanded several AQAP military operations and provided the organisation with financial and logistical support.
YEM057 April 23 2012 ♦ 3 killed ♦ 2 injured A possible drone strike hit vehicles in Shabwa province leaving three dead and two injured. Local Mohammed Bindighar told AP he had seen drones circling overhead almost daily for the last five months. The strike came as the Yemen Defence Ministry announced at least 23 alleged al-Qaeda militants have been killed as the Yemen Army battles with insurgents for control of the south and east of the country.
Type of action: Possible US drone Location: Nasab, Shabwa province References:AP, AFP, Reuters, Bikyamasr
YEM058 April 23 2012 ♦ 0 – 4 killed Fighting around the southern town of Loder killed up to 15 alleged militants with as many as four killed in an airstrike. The Yemen Army bombarded the town overnight as they continued their efforts to reclaim ground in Abyan. Local sources told AFP a Yemeni fighter plane hit a vehicle, killing four. But the Yemen Air Force lacks the technical abilityto carry out precision strikes on moving vehicles. It has suffered considerable problems with morale and discipline in 2012. A tribal leader told Reuters he feared this assault on Loder may have jeopardised negotiations for the release of a Saudi Arabian diplomat kidnapped outside his Aden residence on March 28.
April 26 2012A week after reports that the CIA was seeking authorisation to launch signature strikes, the White House gave the tactic the green light. Because the CIA would reportedly only target high-value terrorists, and not foot soldiers fighting an insurgency, the new targeting policy was called ‘signature lite’ by one US defence official. Others reported that the tactic had been renamedTerrorist Attack Disruption Strikes, or TADS. A previous request in 2011 for an expanded strike programme had been rebuffed.
Yemeni government sources told AP that President Hadi had given permission for the CIA ‘to increase the pace of their strikes’ but had drawn the line at signature strikes. Although fearful of civilian and non-militant tribesmen being killed inadvertently, the Yemeni government was said to be keen to increase counter-terrorism aid from the US. This included drone strikes as well as more military trainers and advisors. But US officials expressed concern that America may be dragged into another regional conflict. A senior US defence official told the WSJ:
We have to be careful about what they want help with. Do they [the Yemenis] want help taking out terrorist targets, or do they want help with their civil war?
There was some suggestion of a schism in Washington’s counter terrorism community. The WSJ reported that some military and intelligence officials privately complained that the White House policy in Yemen was too cautious.
YEM059 April 26 2012 ♦ 3 killed At least three alleged militants were killed in a possible drone strike in the southern city of Mudiyah. Reuters reported the strike targeted the alleged militants in a vehicle. Residents said they saw two drones after hearing an explosion. A second drone strike hit Mudiyah the same day according to local sources. There were no reported casualties. Critical Threats reported that Yemeni warplanes targeted sites in Shaqwa, on the Abyan coast.
YEM060 April 29 2012 ♦ 3 killed Three alleged militants were killed driving through the northern province of al-Jawf. A tribal source told AFP the car was completely destroyed and all its occupants killed. The source said the three were al-Qaeda militants traveling to give condolences to families of militants killed in fighting in Abyan. AP reported Yemeni officials ‘had no details on the source of the attack or the identity of the three.’ But to hit a moving vehicle requirestechnical abilities that is reportedly beyond the Yemen Air Force. This strike comes on the same day 73 Yemeni soldiers were released from captivity in Jaar. The men were captured on March 4 when Ansar al-Sharia overran an army camp near Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province.
Type of action: Possible US drone Location: al-Jawf References: AP, AFP
YEM061 April 30 2012 ♦ 4 killed Four alleged militants were killed in an airstrike near the town of Loder. The strike hit a vehicle according to a local government official. The Yemen Air Force reportedly does not have the capabilities to carry out a precision strike on a vehicle. The strike came as government forces battled ‘dozens of militants’ who had attacked an army barracks on the outskirts of Loder. Up to 21 militants, soldiers and tribesmen died in the battle. But because access to the area was restricted Reuters said they could not independently verify the casualty figures. The same day Ansar al Sharia announced they had seized 20 tanks from the Yemen Army in Abyan.
Type of action: Air strike, possible US drone Location: Loder, Abyan province References: Reuters, Xinhua, AFP
YEM062 April 30 2012 ♦ 3 killed A strike hit a vehicle near Zinjibar killing three alleged al Qaeda militants. A Yemeni presidential aide told CNN the Yemen government had approved a series of US drone strikes on militant positions in the south of the country. Since mid-April there had been at least two US drone strikes a day, the aide continued.
On June 20 a jihadist website reported that Muhammad Fazi al Harasheh, aka Abu Hammam al Zarqawi, had died in a drone strike on a vehicle. Zarqawi was the nephew of former Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, killed by the US in 2006. Initial reports suggested he had been killed by a landmine. Although the precise date of his death is unknown, this April 30 strike appears to most closely match the description. The Long War Journal reported a militant statement as saying ‘They were unable to kill him in the battles, so they sent spies to guide them to him. “A drone came to bomb the car in which he and one of the brother were riding, and so his pure soul went to its maker.’
Type of action: Air strike, possible US drone Location: Zinjibar, Abyan province References: AP, CNN, Long War Journal
YEM063 May 2 2012 ♦ 10 – 15 killed Three Yemeni security officials told CNN a US drone attacked a militant training camp outside the southern town of Jaar, killing up to 15. The strike was one of a series targeting Jaar, Zinjibar and Loder planned for the proceeding weeks the officials said. An anonymous Yemeni presidential aide told CNN the US had been launching at least two strikes a day since mid April. The aide continued:
This is part of the strategy to uproot al Qaeda from areas they control…The Yemeni government is giving the green light for the attacks and targets chosen carefully.
The strike resembled previous US drone strikes according to AP but added the US would not comment on it. Local residents told Xinhua the Yemen Air Force launched two air strikes on the training camp.
Type of action: Airstrike, possible US drone Location: Jaar, Abyan province References: AP, Xinhua, CNN, CNN
YEM064 May 6 2012 ♦ 2-4 killed ♦ 1 civilian reported killed An Al Qaeda bomber wanted for his role in the deadly 2000 bombing of the USS Colewas killed in a CIA drone strike on a vehicle in the remote mountain valley of Wadi Rafad. Fahd al-Quso, who admitted to being part responsible for the death of 17 US sailors, died in the attack in Shabwa province. Also initially reported killed was al-Quso’s nephew Fahed Salem al-Akdam, described as a ‘senior AQAP leader.’ However the Washington Post later identified the man as 19-year old farm workerNasser Salim, who was no relation to Quso. His uncle told the paper:
He was torn to pieces. He was not part of al-Qaeda. But by America’s standards, just because he knew Fahd al-Quso, he deserved to die with him.
Both Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Yemen government confirmed al-Quso’s death, with Ansar al-Sharia telling Reuters that ‘Al Qaeda affirms the martyrdom of the Fahd al-Qasaa in an American attack this afternoon in Rafad.’ The New York Times cautioned that US officials still wanted ‘a few days‘ to confirm Quso’s death, which had been reported before. The strike led to retaliatory attacks against Yemen soldiers killing at least 32, according to al Arabiya and the BBC. Confirming the US role in the attack, an official told agencies:
Fahd al-Quso was a senior terrorist operative of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula who was deeply involved in ongoing terrorist plotting against Yemeni and U.S. interests at the time of his death. He was also involved in numerous attacks over many years that murdered Americans as well as Yemeni men, women and children.
Following the strike details emerged of al-Quso’s link to an AQAP attempt to blow up an airliner. Information gleaned from a Saudi Arabian spy in AQAP who foiled the group’s plot reportedly enabled the CIA to target al-Quso. British intelligence services MI5 and MI6 were allegedly involved and British authorities said to be ‘deeply distressed‘ that details of the apparently joint US-UK-Saudi Arabia operation had been leaked. Reuters reported President Obama’s counter terrorism adviser John Brennan inadvertently let slip the presence of the spy within AQAP, an admission that ended the operation prematurely.
May 8th 2010
The Pentagon announced that it was sending ‘military trainers’ to Yemen, previously withdrawn during the Arab Spring uprising. A Pentagon spokesman said that ‘We have begun to reintroduce small numbers of trainers into Yemen.’ A second US official told AP that ‘the arriving troops are special operations forces, who work under more secretive arrangements than conventional U.S. troops and whose expertise includes training indigenous forces.’ The agency also reported that the US now has ‘a substantial naval presence near Yemen’, with around 2,000 US Marines deployed nearby.
Yemen’s Counter Terrorism unit in 2010 – key target for US training (Flickr/Ammar Abd Rabbo)
YEM065 May 10 2012 ♦ 5-12 killed A series of strikes in the small hours killed up to 8 in Abyan province. There were confused reports of the death toll, targets and source of the attacks. CNN reported that a drone targeted a convoy of vehicles carrying senior leaders of Ansar al Sharia, killing eight, adding that the strike preceded three airstrikes on Jaar by the Yemen Air Force. But a source told AFP ‘three explosions rocked the town at midnight’ when a drone struck a residence in Jaar, killing eight alleged militants meeting inside. Residents told al Arabiya 12 militants were killed by a US drone as they met outside Jaar and the Yemen Observer reported 10 killed in a number of strikes by a US drone and the Yemen Air Force. AP reported the strike ‘completely leveled’ a house where alleged militants were meeting, but said only five died. One of the dead was later reported as a senior AQAP member responsible for armaments called Jallad oral-Galadi. According to AFP the strike was precise and destructive:
‘Eight militants were killed and their bodies were left in pieces,’ the source told AFP as witnesses said parts of the two story building were completely destroyed. No other houses were affected in what appeared to be surgical strikes based on precise information.
However Jaar residents told Reuters the strike hit outside the town and appeared to come from the sea while Xinhua reported a Yemen Navy bombardment hit AQAP positions in Jaar, killing nine. A government official told Xinhua the attack struck several compounds and two local al Qaeda leaders were believed to be among the dead. Local sources told the Yemen Observer one was known as Abu Huthaifa Al Sanani.
YEM066 May 10 2012 ♦ 2-4 reported killed AP reported two more alleged militants killed in a second strike on Shaqra, northeast of the provincial capital Zinjibar. The Yemen Observer reported AQAP claims that a drone killed four men in the strike. Al Qaeda confirmed the organisation’s second-in-command for Abyan province Kheldoon Al Sayed died in the strike. But AQAP denied senior member Qasim al Raimi also perished. Al Raimi survived two strikes in April 2012,YEM049 and YEM054. Al Jazeera reported that only two died in the strike, reporting an anonymous Yemeni official as saying that ‘one of those killed was al-Qaeda’s second-in-command for Lawder, a town further north that was controlled by the group last year until its residents drove the fighters out.’
We will go after al-Qaida wherever they are and wherever they try to hide. And one of the places that they clearly are located is Yemen. We’ve obviously – the United States, both military and intelligence communities, have gone after al-Qaida, and we continue to go after al-Qaida… We have operations there. The Yemenis have actually been very cooperative in the operations that we have conducted there. And we will continue to work with them to go after the enemies that threaten the United States.
YEM067 May 12 2012 ♦ 6-7 reported killed A reported US drone strike took place in al-Hosoon, near the city of Marib. A tribal chief told Reuters that ‘a drone fired two rockets at two vehicles, killing five Al-Qaeda members.’ Reuters later revised its report to say that seven died in the attack. The Yemen Ministry of Information later said that six had died, named as Mohsen Abdul-Rahman Al-Youssefi, Saleh Mohammed Jaber Shabwani, Abu Mutib Al-Yamani,Abu Laith Al-Hadrami and two unidentified Saudis. The attack – and two others that day – were likely linked to a Yemen military offensive attempting to recapture territory in the south. Reuters reported that
Yemeni air force planes dropped leaflets on Saturday urging civilians to leave areas held by militants targeted by the army offensive, prompting a mass exodus from parts of Abyan.
AFP also reported a Yemeni military official as saying that US forces were providing ‘logistical support’ for the offensive.
YEM068 May 12 2012 ♦ 10 reported killed Agencies reported a second strike of the day, also on a convoy of vehicles: ‘One drone fired rockets at a convoy of three pick-up trucks travelling on a desert road in Hareeb area of Shabwa province. Seven militants were killed and all the three vehicles were destroyed,’ the agency said, saying that ‘the Al Qaeda militants were reportedly planning to attend a meeting in the area.’ CNN reported that only one of the vehicles was destroyed, with the other two escaping. Security officials told the news organisation that ‘the dead included three al Qaeda leaders.’
Yemen’s Ministry of Information later named those killed as Ali Hassan Ali Gharib Al -Shabwanifrom the Shabwan family; Hassan Saud Hassan Bin Mouaily, from the Obayda clan; Hamid Nasir Al-Aqraa, from the Jadaan clan; Mohsen Saeed Kharassan, from the Jadaan clan;Ahmed Saleh Mohammed Al-Faqeer, from the Murad clan; Abdullah Ali Muhammad Miqanaka Al-Quti, from the Obeida clan; and Mohammed Saleh Bakeer Al-Faqeer, from the Murad clan (all from Marib province). Two men from Shabwa province were reported killed, Aref Issa Chabwi and Mubarak, Saleh Al-Nasser Al-Nassi, along with ‘terrorist’ Abu Obeida Al-Masri, an Egyptian.
YEM070 May 14 2012 ♦ 10 killed As the Yemen government continued its offensive against insurgents and militants in the south of the country a series of airstrikes targeted alleged militants in Abyan. Government jets reportedly hit alleged al Qaeda positions in Shaqra, near the city of Zinjibar, killing ten. A militant leader called al-Muhajir was later named among the dead although it remains unclear if he perished in YEM070 or YEM071.
YEM071 May 14 2012 ♦ 6 killed In a separate strike, missiles were fired at a moving vehicle near the town of Loder. The vehicle was destroyed and six were killed in a strike reportedly carried by Yemeni aircraft. But the Yemeni armed forces have suffered considerable morale and disciplinary problems since a popular uprising unseated the president. Furthermore the Yemen Air Force reportedly lacks the ability to launch precision strikes on moving vehicles which casts doubt on whether the airstrikes were carried out by Yemen or US forces.
YEM072 May 14 2012 ♦ 2 injured, both children In a third strike of the day two children were reported wounded in Jaar. AP reported a Yemeni warplane missed its target and accidentally fired on civilians.
YEM073 May 15 2012 ♦ 14-16 killed ♦ 12-26 civilians reported killed ♦ 20-21 civilians reported injured A double airstrike in Jaar reportedly killed at least a dozen civilians and injured as many as 21, as well as killing 2-3 alleged ‘Al Qaeda militants.’ The BBC reported that the civilians ‘were hit as they were trying to dig out the bodies of those killed in the initial attack.’ Initial reports claimed that the attack was the work of the Yemen Air Force, with Xinhua describing ‘a botched air strike carried out by Yemeni warplanes’ on a residential building near a militant compound. However, shortly afterwards CNN reported that the attack had been carried out by US drones, killing eight civilians and injuring a further seven, along with three ‘senior al Qaeda leaders.’
Middle East Online also reported that the strike was the work of US drones, stating that eight civilian bodies had been pulled from the wreckage of a house, and that a further four of 25 civilians injured had later died. Two alleged militants were also killed, it said. In a slightly different version of events, Reuters said that a strike had hit cars and a house, killing ten militants, with a follow-up attack killing six civilians. On May 18 USA Today reported an eyewitness to the attack, Samir al-Mushari, as saying that 26 civilians died in the two possible drone strikes. A witness told NPR in June 2012 that the first strike killed one man in the house and the second strike killed at least 12 people instantly. ‘”They were cut…in pieces,” he says. A wall where the second strike hit is still covered in blood.’ The residents who spoke to NPR claimed the strike was carried out by a US strike fighter that was grey and ‘looked like an eagle,’ not a drone or Yemen Air Force jet.Abdullahwas badly burnt in the second strike. He told NPR the man who died in the first strike was just an ordinary citizen. Al Akbar reported in August that one of those killed was the brotherof Hassan Ahmed Abdullah, who told the paper:
About 15 minutes later [after the initial strike], another plane suddenly struck the same building killing 15 people, including my brother. He was wounded by shrapnel in his chest, liver, and neck. He also had burns on 50 percent of his body.’
The ICRC later reported that it was ‘extremely concerned‘ at possible airstrikes on civilian locations and urged all warring parties to protect civilian life. The civilian death toll was the highest attributed to US action in Yemen since an attack on a former police station in Mudiya killed up to 30 civilians on July 14 2011. In a possible worrying development, there were reports that drones had returned to the attack after crowds had gathered at the scene of the initial strike in Jaar. If confirmed, this would mark the first known case in which US drones had attacked rescuers in Yemen. In an investigation with the Sunday Times earlier this year the Bureau exposed a similar practice in Pakistan, identifying a dozen US strikes on rescuers that had killed more than 50 civilians.
May 15 2012 Associated Press reported that almost 60 US troops were just 65 kilometres from the front lines, at al-Annad airbase, from where they were were ‘coordinating assaults and airstrikes and providing information to Yemeni forces.’ A Yemen official said that ‘They brought their mobile houses and buildings for a long stay,’ with another saying that the US personnel were overseeing strikes by U.S. drone aircraft.
US and Yemeni officials told the LA Timesthat at least 20 US special forces soldiers based in Yemen were involved in the concerted Yemeni offensive trying to retake lost ground in the south. The paper said the troops were using ‘satellite imagery, drone video, eavesdropping systems and other technical means’ to target militants. The US contingent is expected to grow according to a senior military official. A source with knowledge of the intelligence operations told the paper teams of CIA officers and US contractors had been operating in Yemen for some time, hunting militants and generating intelligence networks for drone strikes. The White House insisted ‘the US military role in Yemen is limited’ and Natonal Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said:
We have not, and will not, get involved in a broader counterinsurgency effort. That would not serve our long-term interests and runs counter to the desires of the Yemeni government and its people.
Militants launched an attack on the al-Annad airbase on May 13, killing one Yemeni soldier. The reports appeared to contradict Pentagon claims on May 8 that US military advisers were being sent back to Yemen for ‘routine’ training purposes. In a separate development, a blogger identified the presence of eight US F15-E Strike Eagles at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti. Yemen’s own air force is not capable of precision strikes, with speculation that US or Saudi aircraft may instead have been carrying out attributed attacks.
YEM074 May 16 2012 ♦ 16 killed ♦ 5-14 injured At least 16 alleged militants were killed in a strike which wounded up to 14 more. AFP reported two strikes targeted a farm near Moudia, outside Loder. Officials said AQAP commander Samir al Fathani (aka Samir Salem al-Moqayda) was killed. Al Fathani’s brother Abdul Munim al Fathani was involved in the bombing of the USS Cole reported AP. He was killed in a drone strike in January 2012 (YEM038). A local military official told Xinhua a Yemen Air Force fighter jet targeted two AQAP squads in the strike. The attack came amid a concerted offensive by the Yemen armed forces in Abyan province. As many as 20,000 soldiers were reportedly involved in the push with assistance from US special forces. Witnesses told AFP the US Navy was also involved in the attacks although the naval bombardment was not confirmed by official sources.
YEM075 Mid-May 2012 ♦ 6 killed ♦ 0-1 civilian killed Two strikes hit Jaar in mid-May. One hit a house local people said was being rented by Ansar al Sharia militants. Neighbour Adnan Ahmed Saleh told NPR ‘I got back inside, closed the door, and then the first rocket hit’. The house next door to his was destroyed. The next day AQAP-linked militants ‘cleaned up the mess’ and ‘paid compensation for the house. The second strike targeted AQAP leader Nadir Shedadi. It his home but only killed Shedadi’s cousin Wael al Dhai, a civilian according to residents.
YEM076 May 17 2012 ♦ 2-3 killed ♦ 0-2 injured Three alleged militants were killed in a possible US drone strike in the eastern province of Hadhramout. Reuters reported a car apparently carrying explosives was destroyed when the overnight strike targeted a convoy. The strike came at 00.45 and was audible from 15 km distance reported the Yemen Times. Local residents said the three were all members of a militant cell. AP reported two men in another car in the convoy were wounded in the strike. A local security official told Xinhua a US drone fired two missiles on a moving pick-up truck as it passed through the Shibam area, killing two alleged militants. The defence ministry said two of the dead were local AQAP leaders, calling them Zeid bin Taleb andMutii Bilalafi. They were both on the Yemeni government’s most wanted list for terrorist attacks in the country the official told Xinhua. A security source told the Yemen Times the convoy consisted of two cars, the second of which was damaged in the attack. The source told the paper one of the dead was a ‘prominent leader of Al-Qaida’ called Mohammed al Raimi. Al Raimi (aka al-Raymi) survived two strikes in April 2012, YEM049 and YEM053, and was credited with being AQAP third in command. Eye witnesses told Yemen Times four survivors from the second car were driven from the scene of the strike 25 minutes after the event in a Toyota Hilux.
The strike appears to be the first to have been reported in real time on Twitter. A Yemeni lawyer and activist reported drone sightings on the social media network before the attack and said two vehicles were destroyed. The strike came as Yemeni officials announced they have ‘cleansed Loder [of al Qaeda],’ as part of a heavy military offensive in the south of the country. A local official told AFP the Yemen Air Force had launched several airstrikes that night on the southern cities of Shaqra and Arqoub but with no reported casualties.
YEM077 May 17 2012 ♦ 5-8 killed ♦ 0-2 civilians reported killedAs many as eight people were killed in an afternoon strike in the town of Shaqra. Security officials told CNN eight militants traveling in a convoy were killed in a drone strike which was followed by a series of airstrikes by the Yemen Air Force. Reuters reported three militants and two civilians were killed in a Yemeni airstrike according to local residents and officials. But AP reported six militants were killed when a strike hit a vehicle in the town. AFP said six militants were killed in a strike on a checkpoint in Shaqra. An unknown number of people were killed when a strike hit alleged militants in a car fleeing Loder, Reuters added. This strike came as Yemen government forces celebrated driving insurgents out of the land around Loder, the scene of fierce battles between militants and forces loyal to the government.
Anti-drone protestors take to the streets in Chicago, May 2012 (World Can’t Wait/ Flickr)
YEM078 May 18 2012 ♦ 3 killed ♦ 6 reported woundedAssociated Press reported a single Yemeni warplane struck a checkpoint in Shaqra in Abyan province. Three alleged militants were killed and six wounded the agency said.
Type of action: Airstrike, possible US Location: Shaqra, Abyan province References: Associated Press
YEM079 May 19 2012 ♦ 3-5 killed As fighting between government and insurgent forces continued in the south of Yemen a local official told Reuters three alleged militants were killed in an air strike in the vicinity of Jaar. Military officials told Associated Press that Yemeni warplanes had ‘pounded targets some 5 km (3 miles) outside Jaar’ without giving any casualty figures. Local residents told AFP Yemen Air Force jets launched four strikes on Jaar’s western entrance and the Yemen Post reported five militants were killed in ‘several airstrikes’ carried out by Yemen Air Force jets.
YEM080 May 19 2012 ♦ 2 killed A second air strike of the day destroyed a vehicle in the southern province of Bayda. The attack killed the two occupants provincial governor Mohammed al Ameri told the defense ministry website. The dead were alleged militants from Somalia and Yemen. Sources told AFP and Associated Press the strike was carried out by a US drone. The Yemen Air Force is not capable of carrying out such a precise strike, targeting a moving vehicle.
YEM081 May 20 2012 ♦ 0-9 killed A factory to the north of Jaar was targeted in an airstrike as fighting in the city continued. Up to nine casualties were reported by Reuters, citing local residents who said a vehicle carrying the bodies of alleged insurgents was seen speeding from the factory. The strike came as an American trainer was seriously wounded. The US team of military instructors were attacked while training the Yemeni coastguard in Hudaida on the Red Sea coast. Ansar al Sharia claimed responsibility for the attack.
Type of action: Airstrike, possible US Location: Jaar, Abyan province References: Reuters, CNN
May 21-22 2012A suicide bomber later named as Haitham Hamid Hussein Mufarih caused carnage in Sanaa during a military parade rehearsal metres from the Presidential Palace. The attack killed over 100 soldiers and wounded at least 300 more. Ansar al Sharia claimed responsibility for the attack, telling Xinhua: ‘The sophisticated operation was designed to target Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed and the US advisers who operate the war against our families in Abyan province in southern Yemen. This is only the beginning of Jihad,’ the group vowed.’ The Defense Minister was unhurt in the blast. A security official told AFP that two men were arrested shortly afterwards wearing belts ‘each packed with 13 kilograms’ of explosives. The Yemen Observer later reportedtheir names as Mohammed Nahshal and Jihad Saeed Al Austa. One Yemeni investigator told Reuters that preliminary findings suggested the bomber, who was dressed in army uniform, was a rogue soldier recruited by militants who had evaded security checks. Ahmed Sobhi, a soldier who witnessed the explosion, described the carnage to the Associated Press:
There are piles of torn body parts, limbs and heads. This is unbelievable. I am still shaking. The place turned into hell. I thought this only happens in movies.
The parade went ahead the following day. President Abdullah Mansur Hadi attended but was flanked by heavy security. ‘The war on terrorism will continue until it is uprooted and annihilated completely, regardless of the sacrifices,’ he said in an address. President Obama told a press conference at the NATO summit in Chicago: ‘We are going to continue to work with the Yemeni government to try to identify AQAP leadership and operations and try to thwart them.’ He added that ‘there’s no doubt that in a country that is still poor, that is still unstable, it is attracting a lot of folks that previously might have been in FATA [in Pakistan] before we started putting pressure on them there.’ Following the attack President Hadi fired a number of top security officials. General Ammar Saleh was sacked as director of the National Security Bureau, with head of central security Abdul Malik al Tayyeb also dismissed.
YEM082 May 27 2012 ♦ 7+ killed In a series of strikes on the south of Yemen at least seven alleged militants were killed when a factory in Jaar was bombed reported Reuters. The factory targeted was to to the west of the city and was allegedly a base used by Ansar al Sharia.
Type of action: Airstrike, possible US Location: Jaar, Abyan province References: Reuters
YEM083 May 27 2012 ♦ 10 killed In a second strike of the day a house allegedly used as a meeting place by AQAP militants was ‘pounded‘ by warplanes reported Xinhua. Ten alleged AQAP fighters were killed including two local leaders according to a tribal chief.
Type of action: Airstrike, possible US Location: Jaar, Abyan province References: Xinhua
YEM084 May 27 2012 ♦ 6 killed The third strike of the day on Jaar destroyed a pick-up truck. The attack killed the six occupants, all AQAP militants reported Xinhua. The Yemen Air Force reportedly lacks the ability to launch precision strikes on moving vehicles which casts doubt on whether the airstrikes were carried out by Yemen or US forces.
Type of action: Airstrike, possible US drone Location: Jaar, Abyan province References: Xinhua
YEM085 May 28 2012 ♦ 3-5 killed ♦ 4 reported wounded ♦ 0-2 civilians killed Up to five alleged militants were killed and four wounded in a possible drone strike in the centre of the country. Anwar al Awlaki‘s brothers-in-law Qaed and Nabil al Dahabwere targeted but survived. A government official told Xinhua they were hit ‘while travelling from the area of Manasih to al Himmah near the town of Radda in al Bayda.’ According to the Associated Press the al Dahabs’ sister was al Awlaki’s wife. Qaed al Dahab is reportedly AQAP’s Bayda provincial leader. Xinhua reported Qaed and his brother Nabil inherited command of the AQAP branch in the province after Yemeni intelligence officers killed its leader, their brother, Sheikh Tariq al Dahab in February. A tribal source told AFP that ‘Dahab survived but five of his guards were killed.’ The Yemen Defence Ministry told Reuters ‘several militants’ were killed in the strike but the agency quoted an SMS message from militant group Ansar al Sharia saying the strike resulted in ‘the deaths of two bystanders and one [militant] brother.’ A local official told Reuters a militant commander and his brother were the targets of the strike, but both survived.
The Washington Post later quoted US intelligence officials as questioning whether the men represented an ‘imminent threat‘ to US interests:
“It’s still an open question,” a U.S. counterterrorism official said. The siblings were related by marriage to Anwar al-Awlaki, an al-Qaeda operative killed in September, but they have not been connectedto a major plot. Their focus has been “more local,” the official said. But “look at their associations and what that portends.”
YEM086 May 28 2012 ♦ 5 killed In the second strike of the day five alleged militants were killed in the eastern province of Hadhramout, including local commander Saleh Abdul Khaleq Ali Jaber. Local media later named others killed as Hussein Rabi, Malik Bakotain and Muhammad Al Saqqaf. A fifth badly burnt body was not identified. Media reported that the strike targeted a vehicle carrying the men to the provincial capital al Mukalla from Azan, a town in the Ansar al Sharia-controlled province of Shabwa. Local sources told the Yemen Post the attack was launched by a US drone. But others contradicted this, telling the newspaper the missiles were fired from a ship off the Yemeni coast. The Associated Press also reported conflicting accounts, with security officials saying the attack was an airstrike and military officials calling it a naval operation. AFP reported that the attack was carried out by the Yemen Air Force although the air force reportedly lacks the technical ability to carry out a precision strike on a moving vehicle.
One of two Coastguard vessels delivered to Yemen by US in March 2012 (US Coastguard/ Flickr)
YEM087 June 1 2012 ♦ 11-12 killed Local officials and residents told agencies that a US drone had killed 11 -12 men they suspected of being Islamic militants, who were meeting at a house (or ‘communications compound’) in al Mahfad. Residents told Xinhua: ‘For the first time, several foreigners were killed by the air strike that targeted an al-Qaida complex in Mahfad.‘ Three of the dead were Somali. it was claimed, with the drone allegedly firing three missiles onto the compound.
Type of action: Possible drone strike Location: al-Mahfad, Abyan province References: Reuters, Xinhua
June 3 2012
The Washington Post reported what had long been suspected: that US conventional aircraft were involved in airstrikes in Yemen alongside drones. National security correspondent Greg Miller reported:
The airstrikes in Yemen this year have been split fairly evenly between operations carried out by CIA Predators and those conducted by JSOC using Reapers and other drones as well as conventional aircraft, U.S. officials said.
The report also said that High Value Targets were no longer the US’s sole objective in Yemen. ‘Officials said the campaign is now also aimed at wiping out a layer of lower-ranking operatives through strikes that can be justified because of threats they pose to the mix of U.S. Embassy workers, military trainers, intelligence operatives and contractors scattered across Yemen.’
On the same day it was reported that a number of air strikes had ‘struck Al-Qaeda hideouts inside Jaar, destroying many buildings.’
YEM088 June 7 2012 ♦ 2 killed ♦ 7 reportedly wounded Two al Qaeda comanders were killed ‘while they were inspecting a checkpoint‘ a local security official told Xinhua. Seven other alleged AQAP militants were reportedly wounded in the attack which the official attributed to the Yemen Air Force. Suspicions that US conventional aircraft were involved in airstrikes in Yemen were confirmed by US officials on June 3. Although the Yemeni armed forces operate strike fighters the force has been described as ‘barely functional’ and having insufficient equipment to defend its own airspace.
Type of action: Airstrike, possible US Location: Mudiyah town, Abyan province References:Xinhua, Washington Post
YEM089 June 7 2012 ♦ 3 reported killed An ‘al Qaeda vehicle’ was targeted in a strike near Jaar which residents said was carrying militants and heavy weapons. Xinhua reported witnesses saying some al Qaida militants were believed to have been killed or injured in the attack. Associated Press reported three alleged militants died in the strike. AP attributed the attack to ‘warplanes’ but the Yemen Air Force does not have the capacity to carry out precision strikes on a moving vehicle. US drones are operating in the country and a Washington Post of June 3 confirmed US conventional jets were also flying strike missions in Yemen.
YEM090 June 7 2012 ♦ 5 killed ♦ 3 wounded Five alleged al Qaeda fighters were killed in an airstrike on the eastern outskirts of Jaar. AFP reported three more were injured in the strike attributed to the Yemen Air Force by a local official. Reuters reported the strike hit a weapons cache as the ICRC said Abyan was on the verge of an ‘acute humanitarian crisis.’ This strike came amid a continuing Yemeni offensive in Abyan province against AQAP and Ansar al Sharia. Reuters reported the use of helicopters in the fighting, a departure from Yemeni tactics from the protracted conflict with Huthi secessionists. In battles with the Huthis in the north of the country the Yemen military was unwilling to use helicopters for anything other than transport for fear of losses to small arms fire.
YEM091 June 11 2012 ♦ 3 killed Three alleged senior militants were killed in an airstrike on their vehicle. They were killed‘while they were moving to oversee the fighting with army troops on the outskirts of Jaar.’ The strike was attributed to Yemeni ‘warplanes’ but the Yemen Air Force has been described as ‘barely functional‘. It lacks the technical capacity or equipment to carry out precision strikes on moving vehicles.
Type of action: Possible drone strike Location: Jaar, Abyan province References:Xinhua
YEM092 June 11 2012 ♦ 16 killed As the Yemen military and allied militias continued their offensive on Jaar an airstrike killed 16 alleged militants. Attributed to the Yemen Air Force, it had been confirmed thatUS strike fighters had been carrying out raids on Yemen. And the Yemen Air Force had been declared incapable of defending its own airspace and ‘barely functional‘ casting doubt on the source of the strike.
YEM093 June 13 2012 ♦ 10-18 killed ♦ ‘Dozens’ reportedly wounded US drones hit southeastern Yemen, killing as many as 27 alleged militants. In a statement the defense ministry said as many as 30 alleged militants were killed and ‘dozens’ wounded in up to three airstrikes. But a local official subsequently downgraded this estimate. It was not clear if the strikes were by US drones or the Yemen Air Force jets. An alleged militant position, a car, an insurgent weapons cache and a convoy were all said to have been targeted. Reporting was muddled because of intense battles that had taken place in the area. Ansar al Sharia said five strikes by US drones had targeted Azzan province that day. They said the attack had hit a civilians house and a mosque but with no casualties
The previous day Yemeni security forces and local militia had retaken the towns of Jaar and Zinjibar after a year of militant occupation. AQAP and Ansar al Sharia forces had retreated from the towns to Shabwa and ‘several hundred al Qaeda militants are believed to have fled to Azzan.’ US drones had reportedly been active in the region before the strike. Security officials told CNN at least 14 drone strikes had hit targets in Abyan and Shabwa provinces in the preceding two days.One of these strikes reportedly targeted Ansar al Sharia commander Jalal Beleidi’s convoy. The offensive to oust insurgents from Abyan was launched in mid-May with intelligence and operational support from US Special Forces. The campaign, ‘orchestrated by US military advisers and bankrolled by neighboring Saudi Arabia’, had ‘routed’ the insurgents. Yemeni forces had fought alongside local militia, groups of armed civilians who were funded by the Saudis.
YEM094 June 13 2012 ♦ 9 killed A US drone struck a house and car in Azzan, killing nine alleged militants in the early morning. Coming on a day when Azzan was targeted by multiple airstrikes, a local official said a dr0ne targeted the house with the nine alleged AQAP members within. A medical official confirmed the toll Military officials said a car parked near the house was destroyed in the strike which al Qaeda claimed was carried out by a drone.
YEM095 June 14 2012 ♦ Unknown The Yemen Times reported a US drone strike hit Azzan in Shabwa province, described as AQAP’s ‘last stronghold’ in the province. The reporter Ali Saeed subsequently told the Bureau via email that the strike came on Thursday evening. Casualty figures were unknown he added, because ‘the army has not yet entered the area’ his military source in Shabwa told him.
Type of action: Airstrike, possible US drone Location: Azzan, Shabwa province References: Yemen Times
YEM096 June 15 2012 ♦ 5 killed ♦ 2 injured Chinese news agency Xinhua reported an ‘airstrike’ in Shabwa province which killed five alleged militants, including ‘two senior al Qaeda commanders.’ The attack reportedly took place in a ‘mountainous region’ though few other details were given. A local security official told the news agency: ‘We have seen five corpses on a pick-up truck, all of them burned. The injured were taken to an al-Qaida-run hospital in Azzan town in Shabwa. Two groups of al-Qaida militants were hit from the air. Smokes could be seen rising after the air attack.’ The Yemen Times reported the Yemen Air Force carried out several raids on Azzan town on Friday although the paper made no mention of casualties.
YEM097 June 15 2012 ♦ 7 civilians reported killed, six of them children ♦ 0-1 injured A house in Shaqra was hit in a strike that killed six children and one woman. It was ‘not clear whether the Yemeni air force launched the strike, or whether it came from a US military or CIA drone.’ NPR told the Bureau the strike came after Friday prayers. Ali al Armoudi survived the strike and told NPR his four-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter ‘died in his arms on the way to the hospital.’
June 15 2012
In what was viewed by some as a significant move towards greater transparency, the United States officially acknowledged for the first time its military combat operations in Yemen and Somalia. In Yemen strikes are carried out both by the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command, and by the CIA. The partial declassification only refers to JSOC’s attacks. A letter from President Obamato Congress – a six monthly obligation under the War Powers Resolution passed in 1973 – stated:
The U.S. military has also been working closely with the Yemeni government to operationally dismantle and ultimately eliminate the terrorist threat posed by al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the most active and dangerous affiliate of al-Qa’ida today. Our joint efforts have resulted in direct action against a limited number of AQAP operatives and senior leaders in that country who posed a terrorist threat to the United States and our interests.
There were similar references to operations in Yemen. Previously any such details were reported only in a confidential annex to the reports. The Wall Street Journal noted that much of the impetus for partial disclosure came from General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His spokesman told the paper: ‘When U.S. military forces are involved in combat anywhere in the world, and information about those operations does not compromise national or operational security, Gen. Dempsey believes the American public should be kept appropriately informed.’ But the paper also noted that ‘officials said details about specific strikes in Yemen and Somalia would continue to be kept secret.’
The unexpected move by Obama came three days after 26 members of the US Congress wrote to Obama urging him to be transparent on covert drone strikes.They wrote:
The implications of the use of drones for our national security are profound. They are faceless ambassadors that cause civilian deaths, and are frequently the only direct contact with Americans that the targeted communities have. They can generate powerful and enduring anti-American sentiment.
The American Civil Liberties Union, while welcoming the partial declassification of military strikes in Yemen and Somalia, called for further disclosure: ‘The public is entitled to more information about the legal standards that apply, the process by which they add names to the kill list, and the facts they rely on in order to justify targeted killings.’ And Steve Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists told the New York Times: ‘While any voluntary disclosure is welcome, this is not much of a breakthrough. The age of secret wars is over. They were never a secret to those on the receiving end.’
President Obama breaks official silence on Yemen strikes (Official White House/ Pete Souza)
June 18 2012
The ‘mastermind‘ of the Yemeni army’s counter-offensive against AQAP and Ansar al Sharia strongholds in the south of the country was killed by a suicide bomber in the southern city of Aden. Major General Salem Ali Qatan, head of Yemen’s southern command, was killed in his car as he traveled in convoy through the port. The bomber reportedly threw himself onto the General’s car. Up to three of Qatan’s bodyguards were killed in the blast that wounded five bystanders. The Major General’s death came as the Yemeni government announced a series of successes in the counter-offensive. The Yemeni army retook a succession of towns and cities held by AQAP and Ansar al Sharia for up to a year.
YEM098 June 19 2012 ♦ 3 killed Militant Salah al-Jawhari was killed with two others when his vehicle was destroyed in the south of al-Baida province. Although Yemen’s state news agency claimed that the attack was the work of the Yemen Air Force, Reuters reported local residents as ‘saying a drone had fired missiles at al-Jawhari’s vehicle – indicating it was a U.S. attack.’ Other reports suggested the attack was the work of Yemen’s security services. Al-Jawhari was reportedly a bomb-maker, linked to the May 21 suicide bombing which killed more than 100 soldiers.
On the same day US CENTCOM commander General James Mattis, visiting Sanaa, was reported by the US Embassy to have discussed ‘ways that the United States can cooperate with the Yemeni military to fight the mutual threat of al-Qaida.’
YEM099 June 20 2012 ♦ 1 killed ♦ 1 civilian killed An airstrike by an unknown party in northern Abyan killed Hussein Saleh, a worker with the International Committee of the Red Cross. According to an ICRC spokesman ‘it was an air strike. We have no additional details whatsoever.’ An ICRC spokeswoman told the Bureau by email that Saleh ‘was out side an ICRC vehicle when shrapnel hit him. He died from the shrapnel injuries. The strike did not hit the ICRC vehicle directly.’ Three other ICRC staff with Saleh were unhurt in the strike the ICRC spokeswoman added. Another ICRC member told the BBC that it was not clear whether the attack was the work of a US drone or the Yemen Air Force. However a local official told Reuters the strike was the work of Yemeni aircraft.The Yemen military reportedly carried out two other strikes that day. The 35-year old father, whose wife is expecting their fifth child, died while assessing humanitarian needs in the area alongside three other ICRC workers, it was initially reported. later it was claimed the team was attempting to secure the release of a kidnapped French colleague. Eric Marclay, head of the ICRC delegation in Yemen, said of Mr Saleh:
We are devastated by the tragic loss of our friend and colleague Hussein. He was a very motivated and devoted staff member. He played a tremendously crucial role within his team, helping hundreds of thousands of people in the south, and lost his life while performing humanitarian work.
YEM100 June 20 2012 ♦ 5-30 killed ♦ 6+ injured As many as 30 alleged militants were reported killed in a series of airstrikes in southern Yemen. AP reported Yemen military officials as saying that ‘at least six air raids targeted moving vehicles and al-Qaida positions in Mahfad, the last stronghold of al-Qaida in Abyan province.’ While some agencies put the fatality numbers as low as 5, others stated that as many as 30 people died in the attacks. CNN reported a security official as saying the strikes were part of a mopping up operation after the recent offensive.
Hundreds of militants escaped unharmed when government forces retook Zinjibar and Jaar towns. The current operation is to hunt those terrorists down, and today a big number of them were killed.
The mayor of Mahfed Yaslam al-Anburi told reporters that the majority of militants died in two areas: ‘Here were 30 deaths in al-Qaeda ranks for sure. Yemeni aircraft carried out a series of raids against concentrations of al-Qaeda fighters, mainly in the Wadi Dhiman and Dayda valleys, killing 30 and wounding many others.’ In what appears to have been another strike, Al Jazeera reported that ‘a tribal chief said three suspected fighters were killed and four wounded in an air raid targeting a group of al-Qaeda fighters in a desert region between Abyan and Shabwa provinces.’
YEM101 June 25 2012 ♦ 3 killed ♦ ‘Some’ reported injuredA US drone has killed three alleged AQAP members, including one senior commander. The identities of those killed were not reported but a security official said a drone fired two missiles on a convoy which destroyed their pick-up truck. Military officials said the vehicles had been pursued by US drones, causing fear among local residents. The vehicle was targeted on a desert road on the edge of the strategically important city of Aden. The convoy was hit as it traveled away from Abyan province. A US intelligence officialconfirmed American involvement but would not say if it a CIA or military drone carried out the strikes.
The Yemen military had driven AQAP and Ansar al Sharia from their positions in Abyan in the previous week. This was reportedly the first drone strike on a target in the outskirts of of the port. The strike came a day after ten unnamed alleged AQAP members escaped from ‘a heavily guarded’ prison in the Mansoura district of Aden.
YEM102 July 3 2012 ♦ 2-5 killed ♦ 2 reported injured
Up to five alleged militants were killed in an evening drone attack. The Defence Ministry said two of the dead were senior AQAP figures namedHussein Rubayand Fahad al-Harithy. It was not clear if one or two drones took part in the strike, and if one or two cars were hit. Witnesses said while four bodies were pulled from the wreckage of the first vehicle. But said ‘the flames were so intense in the second vehicle that no one could approach to check for any casualties.’
The strike came as the Defence Ministry announced it had detained a group of 14 militants from three separate terrorist cells somewhere in the country. The group was made up of ‘four Egyptians, two Jordanians, a Somali, a Tunisian and a man from Dagestan in Russia’s North Caucasus.’
YEM103 July 4 2012 ♦ 3-13 killed ♦ 7 reported injured
Airstrikes have targeted the only town in Abyan province ‘where jihadists still have a strong presence.’ As many as four airstrikes hit ‘suspected places and hideouts to where [sic] Al-Qaeda members sought shelter.’ The death toll varied with a military officialsaying three militants died while a local official said 13 were killed. A Pakistani and two other foreign fighters were said to be among the dead. The Defence Ministry told reporters Yemeni strike fighters carried out the attacks. But the Yemen Air Force has been described as ‘barely functional‘ and incapable of even defending Yemen’s airspace. US officials have confirmed American strike jets are flying missions over Yemen from nearby Djibouti.
YEM104 July 23 2012 ♦ 5 killed ♦ Unknown injured
A night time precision airstrike killed at least five in a number of reported ‘air strikes’ in southern Abyan province’s al-Mahfad. The area is said to be the last geographic stronghold of AQAP and Ansar al-Sharia, and AP reported Yemeni media as saying that ‘the militants were consolidating their positions in al-Mahfad, quoting witnesses who said they saw military hardware headed to the area in in trucks.’ Although the attacks were attributed to the Yemen Air Force it is known not to have the technical capability to carry out such strikes. US aircraft and armed drones may therefore have been responsible.
Type of action: Airstrike, possible US Location: Mahfad, Abyan province References:Associated Press, Wired
YEM105 July 28 2012 ♦ Unknown killed
The Yemen Air Force reportedly bombed two al Qaeda compounds in Abyan province. According to a local resident one of the compounds was a disused militant training site. A security official said:
It was not immediately clear if any of the al-Qaida militants or some of their local leaders were killed in the air strikes. The bombing was in response to Wednesday’s al-Qaida attack on pro-government checkpoints.
The attacks were attributed to the Yemeni jets but the Air Force lacks the technical capability of the to carry out precision strikes. US aircraft and armed drones may therefore have been responsible.
Type of action: Airstrike, possible US Location: Mahfad, Abyan province References:Xinhua
YEM106 August 4 2012 ♦ 3-5 killed ♦2 injured
Up to five were killed and two more injured while traveling through east Yemen. A possible US drone targeted the men in an evening strike. ‘A drone fired two missiles at an all-terrain vehicle…killing its five occupants,’ according to a local official. The bodies ‘were found completely burnt with the completely destroyed car’. According to local residents the men were ‘leading members’ of al Qaeda. Security forces sealed off the scene of the strike. In the week following the strike AQAP released the name of one of the dead,Abu al Bara’a al Saya’ari, described as a driver.
The drone strike came after an alleged AQAP suicide bomber killed and injured more than 90 people in Jaar. The bomber attacked a funeral service held at the house of Abdul Latif al-Sayed, leader of the local militia that fought alongside government troops. Al Sayed reportedly defectedfrom al Qaeda before the militants were driven out of Jaar. He survived the blast but two of his brothers were killed.
YEM107 August 6 2012 ♦ 7 killed
Suspected US drones targeted two vehicles, killing seven in an evening strike. Among the dead was alleged local AQAP leader and bomb-maker Abdullah Awad al Masri(aka Abu Osama al Marebi). While his nationality is not known, his surname, al Masri, was said to indicate he was Egyptian. The state news agency said the other six casualties were all militants. They were named as Abu Ja’afar al Iraqi, a Bahraini, Abu al-Bara’a al Sharori, a Saudi, Abu Musa’ab al Nasri and Abu Hafsah al Mesri, Egyptians, Abu Hafsah al Tounisi, a Tunisian, and Ebrahim al Sakhi, Yemeni.
Some reports said one of vehicles destroyed was a motorcycle ridden by al Masri with one other. An anonymous source said: ‘Four explosions rocked the area, which was overflown by two drones in the evening.’ Residents said they ‘recognised the sound of the drone, which they said had flown over the area for hours before firing the missile.’ On August 15 a jihadist website reported that a Tunisian named as Muhammad bin Muhammad (possibly Abu Hafsah al Tounisi) had died in the attack.
YEM108 August 7 2012 ♦ 2-3 killed ♦ 2 injured
Up to three people were killed and two injured in an evening air strike. Yemeni officials said drones targeted the men which, if confirmed, would be the second US strike on the area in four days. The three men were traveling in ‘a small pick-up truck’ which ‘was completely destroyed at the scene’ according to a security official. The Defense Ministry reportedly described the attack as an ‘air raid’ that killed ‘two militants in a vehicle loaded with large quantities of explosive devices’.
August 8 2012
US chief counter terrorism adviser John Brennan discussed Yemen in an extended speech at the Council on Foreign Relations. In a short section dealing with counter-terrorism operations Brennan stated:
So long as AQAP seeks to implement its murderous agenda, we will be a close partner with Yemen in meeting this common threat. And just as our approach to Yemen is multidimensional, our counterterrorism approach involves many different tools — diplomatic, intelligence, military, homeland security, law enforcement and justice. With our Yemeni and international partners, we have put unprecedented pressure on AQAP. Recruits seeking to travel to Yemen have been disruptive — disrupted. Operatives deployed from Yemen have been detained. Plots have been thwarted. And key AQAP leaders who have targeted U.S. and Yemeni interest have met their demise, including Anwar al-Awlaki, AQAP’s chief of external operations.
Of course, the tension has often focused on one counterterrorism tool in particular, targeted strikes, sometimes using remotely-piloted aircraft, often referred to publicly as drones. In June the Obama administration declassified the fact that in Yemen, our joint efforts have resulted in direct action against AQAP operatives and senior leaders. This spring, I addressed the subject of targeted strikes at length and why such strikes are legal, ethical, wise and highly effective.
Today I’d simply say that all our CT efforts in Yemen are conducted in concert with the Yemeni government. When direct action is taken, every effort is made to avoid any civilian casualty. And contrary to conventional wisdom, we see little evidence that these actions are generating widespread anti-American sentiment or recruits for AQAP. In fact, we see the opposite, our Yemeni partners are more eager to work with us. Yemenese citizens who have been freed from the hellish grip of AQAP are more eager, not less, to work with the Yemeni government. In short, targeted strikes against the most senior and most dangerous AQAP terrorists are not the problem, they are part of the solution.
YEM109 August 28 2012 ♦ 2-3 killed
After twenty days without a reported strike, a suspected drone killed at least two people in vehicle driving from Hadramout to Mareb province. A second car reportedly escaped unscathed. A security source said one of the killed was a Saudi militant named Salim Mubarak Al-Saiary. A provincial security official said ‘a wanted Saudi national who joined al Qaida group in Yemen one year ago‘ was killed in the strike, adding: ‘The U.S. air raid was coordinated with the Yemeni intelligence agency.’ A source in the Supreme Security Committee told the state news agency that Yemeni security and military forces destroyed a car carrying weapons and explosives, killing two. While Yemeni security officials told Reuters it was a drone strike, the defence ministry called it an air strike. However the Yemen Air Force lacks the technical capability to carry out precision strikes.
YEM110 August 29 2012 ♦ 6-7 killed ♦ 2 civilians reported killed
As many as seven people were initially reported killed as they travelled through the village of al Qatn. Witnesses said a US drone fired three missiles at car with at least one hitting the target. Local residents pulled ‘charred bodies‘ from the wreckage that were ‘badly mangled by the airstrike‘. There was ‘a huge explosion’ that rocked the area, one local resident said, adding that military aircraft remained hovering ‘over several al-Qaida-held sites in Hadramout’s suburbs.’ The defense ministry said three militants were killed in the strike.
Two civilians were also reported killed in the strike according to Haykal Bafana, the Yemeni lawyer and activist who reported YEM076 in real time on Twitter. The car was targeted between houses, he reported on the social media network. A policeman, Walid Abdullah bin Ali Jaber, and a ‘mosque caretaker/imam‘, Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber (pictured right), were killed in their house in Khashamir village. The imam was reported to have delivered anti- al Qaeda sermons in the past. Blogger Nasser Arrabyee later claimed that militants had been visiting the Salafist cleric to threaten him when the strike took place:
The cleric is called Salem Ahmed Ali Jaber, teacher and mosque speaker, in Al Kutn. Jaber is Salafi who studied in the main Salafi center of Saada. And he was always speaking against Al Qaeda. In his recent sermons he said Al Qaeda is against Islam. According to local sources Al Qaeda sent on Wednesday four operatives to the cleric Jaber to blame him and while the five people were in the meeting a US drone came and killed them all.
Residents claimed that up to eight drones were flying over locations across the province that night. Demonstrators took to the streets locally to protest the deaths of civilians, local papers reported. Two days later hundreds more protested. According to Xinhua ‘four prominent tribal leaders also joined the demonstration, shouting “No for killing innocent people” and “End alliance with the U.S government,” witnesses added.’
YEM111 August 31 2012 ♦ 8 killed
Eight people were killed as they drove through Hadramout province, reportedly local commanders of the Yemen-based al Qaeda offshoot. One report said the men were traveling in an armoured car between Qatan and Khashgha when they were struck at 7.30am. Six bodies were taken to Seiyun hospital while two extremely burnt corpses were left at the scene. The defense ministry said the men were all heavily armed, with a local official speculating that they were on their way to carry out an attack. Local and military officials reported that a US drone carried out the strike (defense ministry officials initially claimed the attack was a Yemen airstrike.)
The Yemen defense ministry subsequently announced that Khaled Musalem Batis (aka Bates or Batees)died in the strike. Batis had been captured previously by security forces but escaped prison during the 2011 uprising. He was described as a top al-Qaida militant wanted for allegedly masterminding a 2002 al Qaeda attack on a French oil tanker MV Limburg. A Bulgarian sailor died in that attack. The day before the drone strike Guantanamo detainee Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Haza al-Darbi (37) was charged with plotting the Limburg bombing.
YEM112September 2 2012♦ 11 killed ♦ 11 civilians reported killed, including 3 children ♦ 4-8 reported injuredThe fourth strike in six days killed 11 people, including women and three children according to local sheikh Ahmed Ali. Other locals said a 10-year-old girl and her 40-year-old mother were killed. The airstrike was initially said to have targeted a car carrying alleged militant Abdulraouf al Dahab at 4pm local time. Abdulraouf’s half-brothers Qayid and Nabil al Dhahab survived a US drone strike in May this year (YEM085). They reportedly became local al Qaeda leaders in Radaa after Yemeni intelligence services killed their brother Sheikh Tariq al Dahab in February.
Abdullah Muhammad Ali AlQadari (25 years) Mabrook Mouqbal Al Qadari (13 years) Nasser Salah (60 years) Raselah Ali (55 years, Nasser Salah’s wife) Daolah Nasser (10 years, Nasser Salah’s daughter) Abdullah Ahmed AbedRabbo Robich (28 years) Saddam Hussein Mohamed Massad (28 years) Ismail Mabkhout Mohamed (30 years) AbedalGhani Mohammed Mabkhout (12 years) Masoud Ali Ahmed Mouqbal (45 years) Jamal Mohammed Abad (30 years)
The injured were listed as Nasser Mabkhout, Mohammed Abdo Jarallah and Sultan Ahmed Mohammed Sarhan. The victims’ families, joined in protests by hundreds of others, ‘vowed to retaliate‘. As CNN reported:
Families of the victims closed main roads and vowed to retaliate. Hundreds of angry armed gunmen joined them and gave the government a 48-hour deadline to explain the killings, which took place on Sunday. Eyewitnesses said that families attempted to carry the victims’ corpses to the capital, Sanaa, to lay them in front of the residence of newly elected President Abdurabu Hadi, but were sent back by local security forces. “You want us to stay quiet while our wives and brothers are being killed for no reason. This attack is the real terrorism,” said Mansoor al-Maweri, who was near the scene of the strike.
Yemen’s government later established a commission of inquiry into the deaths, the worst civilian tally since May. Xinhua also reported that a number of MPs ‘summoned Interior Minister Mohammed Qahtan to an emergency meeting to clarify over the civilian casualties of the U.S. drone strike’ and that Minister of Human Rights Houria Mash’hour ‘condemned the “U.S. meddling” in Yemeni internal affairs, saying that most casualties of the U.S. drones were civilians and calling for an immediate end to the U.S. interference and drone strikes.’ US chief counter terrorism adviser John Brennan also spoke with President Hadi on September 4, though it is not known if the Radaa strike was discussed.
YEM113 September 5 2012 ♦ 5-6 killed ♦ 3 injured ♦ 0-1 civilians reported killed
Up to six people were killed and three injured when a US drone reportedly fired eight missiles a house in Hadrhamout. As many as four of the dead were reportedly civilians, three foreigners and one Yemeni. The strike came at dawn the day after Yemen’s government announced a commission of inquiry into the civilian deaths from a US drone strike (YEM112). An anonymous US intelligence official confirmed a US drone carried out the strike. A Yemeni security official said ‘none of those killed were on the government’s list of most-wanted terrorists.’ The anonymous official told CNN:
Those killed were mostly new al Qaeda members who were seeking to recruit more fighters from within the province. Only one of those killed had been with the network for more than three years.
Initial reports said that two middle-ranking or senior members of the local branch of al-Qaida were also among the dead, and a Yemeni military official said a ‘senior al-Qaida member named asMurad Ben Salem was killed in the strike. However, an anonymous source told the Bureau thatMurad, while he may have had militant links, was a worker in a nearby sesame oil press. The source also reported that two foreign al Qaeda members were killed, an Iraqi and a Syrian. Other reports said a second Saudi and an Iraqi were among the dead. Witnesses said eight men escaped the building. ‘Weapons found in the house after the attack are enough to conduct more than a dozen terrorist operations,’ according to a senior security official. Reuters was the sole agency later to report that AQAP number two Said al Shehri died in the attack. All others reported that the strike took place on September 10.
Protests took place in three Yemen cities to demand an end to US drone strikes on September 7
YEM113aSeptember 8 2012♦ 4 killedThe Yemen Observer was the sole source to report that US drones killed four people including the brother of an al-Qaeda leader the US had attempted to kill days earlier.Abdulraoof Ahmad Nasser al-Thahab was supposedly driving his car in the Qaifa area of Radaa when a drone attacked him.
“Information right now indicates that Abdulraoof along with three other al-Qaeda members were killed while they were outside Radaa’,” said the officer on anonymity condition. The officer said the attack that took place in Almanasih area of Qaifah, al-Qaeda main stronghold.
Type of attack: Possible airstrike/ drone strike Location: Qaifa near Radaa References: Yemen Observer
YEM114September 10 2012♦ 6-15 killed ♦ 3 injuredSeven people including AQAP’s second-in-commandSaid al Shehri(aka al Shihri) were reportedly killed in a strike on a car and house in Hadrhamout, eastern Yemen, according to US and Yemeni officials. Al Shehri had previously survived a drone strike in September 2011 (YEM027). He ‘was prisoner number 327 at Guantanamo Bay, captured as he tried to cross the border into Pakistan from Afghanistan late in 2001.’ In 2007 he was released, returning to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, where he was put through a rehabilitation program. However within months he reportedly absconded, becoming a founding members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. He was suspected of involvement in a 2008 car bomb attack on the US embassy in Sanaa. Sixteen died, including the six attackers. A diplomat told the FT al Shehri was ‘the senior leadership figure in AQAP who was involved in external attack planning.’ Katherine Zimmerman said al Shehri’s death would have a medium-term impact on AQAP but it ‘still has room to maneuver in Yemen’ and ‘its operational network is largely intact.’
The Press Association initially reported Yemeni military officials as saying that ‘a local forensics team had identified al-Shehri’s body with the help of US forensics experts on the ground.’ The agency added:
Yemeni military officials said they had believed the United States was behind the operation because its own army does not the capacity to carry out precise aerial attacks and because Yemeni intelligence-gathering capabilities on al-Shehri’s movements were limited.
However an anonymous Yemeni official subsequently told Asharq al Awsat: ‘Saeed Ali al Shehri was not killed in the raid that targeted a number of Al-Qaeda’s fighters in Dadramawt a few weeks ago.’ The source told the London-based paper DNA tests had shown a corpse was not that of al Shehri. He said authorities ‘were confused because of a wound on the leg of the deceased that matched a wound that al Shehri has that requires him to use a walking stick.’ The paper reported that DNA samples were taken from ’15 bodies of al Qaeda members who were killed in the air raid and who are still yet to be identified.’ But it was subsequently claimed that DNA tests had not yet been carried out. An ‘American-German’ team was said to have been coming to Yemen to carry out the tests. Sources in Abyan also told the Yemen Observer al Shehri was still alive, 10 days after the strike. One said al Shehri was not at the scene of the strike. A second said ‘I am one hundred percent sure he [al Shehri] is alive. So close sources from al Shehri have also affirmed he is still alive.’ The following month, a recording purporting to be al Shehri emerged, in which he claimed the false rumours of his death were ‘to cover up the killing of innocent Muslim civilians’.
September 11 2012A car bomb tore through the Yemeni defense minister’s convoy, killing 12. Seven bodyguards and five bystanders died but the minister Major General Mohammed Nasser Ahmed survived. The blast wounded 15 people on a main road between the cabinet office and state radio station. Reporting from the scene of the blast, journalist Iona Craig tweeted: ‘Body parts blasted into trees.Really grim scenes.’ But 11 hours later she posted on the social network: ‘Amazed to see Yemen’s Defence Minister out and about tonight in Sana’a after his close call earlier today.’ This was reportedly the fourth attempt on the defense minister’s life since the new government formed in December 2011. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. The New York Times reported journalists on social media were speculating the attack was AQAP’s revenge for the death of their leader, Said al Shehri, the previous day (YEM114). State television reportedAli al Ansi, the head of the National Security Agency, was fired after the attack.
YEM115September 20 2012♦ 2-4 killed ♦ 3 injured An airstrike killed at least two people in Abyan province. A local official told Xinhua: ‘Fighter jets of the Yemeni air forces pounded a gathering of the al-Qaida militants on the eastern outskirts of Mahfad town in Abyan.’ The men killed in the strike were said to have been ‘al-Qaida insurgents believed to be behind a series of deadly attacks in Abyan.‘ The Air Force lacks the technical capability of the to carry out precision strikes. US aircraft and armed drones may therefore have been responsible. A Yemeni news websitereported the strike was carried out by a US drone. If true this would be the first drone strike since the US embassy in Sanaa was attacked during protests at a YouTube video widely condemed as offensive to Muslims. The strike came two days after the Yemen government announced a new counter terror strategy in al Mahfad to target militants who fled Zinjibar and Jaar after the US-backed Yemeni offensive earlier in the year.
September 20 2012Victims of the botched Rada’a strike of September 2 (YEM112) were buried in Dhamar, 100km south of Sanaa. Eleven civilians were killed, including three children, when missiles from a suspected US drone hit their minibus. It was reported that the intended target had beenAbdulraouf al Dahab, a local militant leader.
YEM116 October 4 2012 ♦ 3-6 killed ♦ 2-4 injured
A drone strike targeted suspected al Qaeda or Ansar al Sharia militants in the mountainous desert region of al-Saeed in Shabwa province in the late morning, killing at least three and injuring several others. Local media reported five missiles being fired in a multiple strike. Abu Addarda’a, an Egyptian militant, was among at least three who died in the attack, local sources reported. Akhbar al-Youm (Arabic) named the others killed as Sa’ad Atef Al Awaliqi, leader of Al Qaida Azzan Emirate in Shabwa; Mosa’ad Al Habishi, also known as Abu Hajir Al Barasi, a field commander; a ‘Saudi militant’ and two unidentified alleged militants from Hadramout province. Abu al Zubair aka Adel Al Abab, described as fourth in command of AQAP, was also killed, according to a report in Quds al Arabi a fortnight after the strike. A local tribal chief told AFP that al Abab had jumped out of his car and run away when he saw a drone ‘but he was hit in the head by a shrapnel.’ He added:
We buried Abab and an Egyptian comrade in a cemetery in Saeed, while other dead (militants) were taken to their villages
AP and AFP reported that the strike targeted two vehicles of alleged militants, killing all passengers in one of the vehicles. But a local official speaking to ANI/Xinhua added that missiles hit ’al-Qaida-held [sic] sites successfully’ in addition to vehicles, and quoted locals saying the strike targeted a gathering of al Qaeda in the region. The militants had weapons and explosives in the vehicle, an anonymous security official said, adding that two militants had been injured and one had escaped. A separate security official told the agency: ‘U. S. drones were behind Thursday’s air bombing’, while witnesses reported seeing two warplanes over the area and military helicopters pursuing vehicles, as well as hearing rocket fire. Local media showed photographs of a car alleged to have been destroyed in the attack.
AAS – which is based in Yemen and is a separate entity from Ansar al-Shari’a in Libya – was established to attract potential followers to shari’a rule in areas under the control of AQAP. However, AAS is simply AQAP’s effort to rebrand itself, with the aim of manipulating people to join AQAP’s terrorist cause. AAS has publicly stated that the particular brand of shari’a they hope to implement is the same as that espoused by the Afghan Taliban and the Islamic State of Iraq, a militant umbrella group and designated Foreign Terrorist Organization that includes al-Qa’ida in Iraq.
YEM117 October 18 2012 ♦ 7-9 killed ♦ Several injured
In a dawn attack, a series of missiles were fired at a targets on the outskirts of Jaar, apparently targeting al Qaeda militants on the verge of launching a suicide attack on military targets. Two of those killed were wearing explosive belts, security sources told Reuters; anonymous officials confirmed to AP that the strikes ‘followed tips from locals of an imminent al-Qaida attack on the town’. Reuters reported three separate strikes targeted a farmhouse, although ANI/Xinhua claimed the strikes hit two separate gatherings of alleged al Qaeda militants and AP quoted locals saying they had seen two cars ablaze. An unnamed official and residents claimed the missiles were fired by a US drone, although eyewitnesses told ANI/Xinhua they had seen military planes flying overhead at the time of the attack. The Yemeni Ministry of Defence claimed the attack was carried out by the Yemeni 119th Infantry Brigade, although it is common for the Yemeni government to claim responsibility for attacks carried out by the US on its turf.
Residents told Reuters they had found ‘six charred bodies and the scattered remains of three others’, while AP and others reported ’at least seven’ killed. Several sources named Nader al-Shaddadi, who was said to be a senior al Qaeda militant, as being killed; Barakish and Aden al Ghad both named Morsel Mohsen Hassan and Kamal Ali Abker as being killed. Barakish also named Adan Ahmed Ali al Sha’ar and Awadh Hamman, adding that four further bodies had not been identified. Aden al Ghad named Abdullah Hussein Yousif Somali, Arfan al Shaher andMohammed al Shaher. Reuters later said that five of the alleged militants killed were local teenagers. After the attack, there were reports that ’hundreds of Jaar’s residents, both men and women, gathered in front of the headquarters of the resistance committees in Jaar and fired in the air to celebrate Shadadi’s death. One resident told AFP that Shadadi, a Jaar resident himself, “had brought great harm to our city and he is responsible for all the devastation and the war” in the area.’
YEM118 October 21 2012 ♦ 4 killed
An evening strike on a car killed ‘at least four’ alleged al Qaeda members in Maarib province, several miles outside Maarib city, sources reported. Local al Qaeda commander Sanad Ouraidan al Aqili (aka Sanad Abdulla al Aqili) was reported to be among the dead. ‘Aqili’s three companions, whose bodies were blown to pieces, have not been identified yet,’ a local policeman told AFP. ‘A warplane targeted a car in the Wadi Abida area that was suspicious [suspected] of carrying Al-Qaeda militants,’ a local sourcesaid, although other tribal sources and Yemeni officials claimed the missiles were fired by a US drone. Al Aqili’s brother was killed three months before fighting in Abyan province, according to a local sheikh. He told the Yemen Observer that villagers had said al Qaeda took the drones away in a car after the strike.
October 26 2012
The US military confirmed for the first time that drones fly out of Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, ‘the busiest Predator drone base outside of Afghan war zone’. About 300 JSOC personnel were reportedly coordinating counterterrorism operations in Yemen and Somalia from the 500-acre base. In a detailed investigation the Washington Post also revealed US strike fighters are launching attacks in Yemen. Africom confirmed to the paper that a squadron of F-15E Strike Eagles also operate from the base. Two anonymous Air Force officers confirmed for the first time that jets fly ‘combat sorties over Yemen’.
The Pentagon sent eight Predator drones to turn Lemonnier into a ‘full-time drone base’ in late 2010. In August 2012 the US military told Congress it wanted to spend $1.4bn improving the base and housing up to 1,100 JSOC personnel there. On August 20 the Defence Department told Congress sixteen drones and four fighter jets take-off or land every day from the base. The aircraft can be over Yemen ‘in minutes’. The paper confirmed US Air Force drones from Djibouti were used with CIA drones flown from a secret base in the Arabian Peninsula in the strike that killed Anwar al Awlaki (YEM029). The paper revealed the US military counterterrorism operation in Yemen is called Copper Dune. Two other missions, code named Jupiter Garret and Octave Shield, also operate from the base. But Africom would not reveal what they entail.
The US government spent $38m a year leasing Camp Lemonnier. Sixteen drones and four fighter jets take off or land at the base each day, taxing the local air traffic controllers. The US shares the runway with Djibouti’s international airport, a French military base and the Djiboutian military. The Washington Post revealed the US government awarded a contract in September 2012 to install portable lighting at a backup site – ‘a tiny, makeshift airstrip in the Djiboutian desert, several miles from Lemonnier.’
YEM119 October 28 2012 ♦ 4 killed ♦ At least 1 wounded
At least three people were killed in a suspected drone strike in northern Yemen. Local al Qaeda commander Hadi al-Tais was reportedly killed but Reuters stressed this was unconfirmed. Two of the dead were said to be Saudis. The Yemeni Ministry of Defence announced the third man killed in the strike was Yemeni. Local commander Omar Saleh Attais was wounded along with others in the house, the government added. A local official said two houses were hit in the attack although other reports said just one was targeted. The strike hit a week after the last recorded attack, on the final day of the important Muslim festival of Eid al Adha. A tribal source told AFP ‘was the first by a US drone in the northern Saada province in recent months’. It was the first strike in Saada recorded by the Bureau since January 2010 (YEM006).