Iona Craig has a horrifying account of the deadly carnage that was recently unleashed on the Yemeni village of Al Ghayiil due to a botched raid by US forces. According to reports, the target of the attack, a senior al Qaeda official, escaped. The media here has largely focused on the death of a US Navy Seal whose widow was used as an applause line during Donald Trump’s speech to the joint session of Congress. As usual, Trump has tried to have it both ways, falsely claiming that the raid was a success because of the valuable intelligence received and thus he should get credit for it, while blaming the soldier’s death on the false claim that the planning for the raid was approved by president Obama before he left office. Of course, mutually contradictory claims do not faze the administration of a pathological liar.
Craig’s account is chilling.
IN JANUARY 29, 5-year-old Sinan al Ameri was asleep with his mother, his aunt, and 12 other children in a one-room stone hut typical of poor rural villages in the highlands of Yemen. A little after 1 a.m., the women and children awoke to the sound of a gunfight erupting a few hundred feet away. Roughly 30 members of Navy SEAL Team 6 were storming the eastern hillside of the remote settlement.
According to residents of the village of al Ghayil, in Yemen’s al Bayda province, the first to die in the assault was 13-year-old Nasser al Dhahab. The house of his uncle, Sheikh Abdulraouf al Dhahab, and the building behind it, the home of 65-year-old Abdallah al Ameri and his son Mohammed al Ameri, 38, appeared to be the targets of the U.S. forces, who called in air support as they were pinned down in a nearly hourlong firefight.
With the SEALs taking heavy fire on the lower slopes, attack helicopters swept over the hillside hamlet above. In what seemed to be blind panic, the gunships bombarded the entire village, striking more than a dozen buildings, razing stone dwellings where families slept, and wiping out more than 120 goats, sheep, and donkeys.
Three projectiles tore through the straw and timber roof of the home where Sinan slept. Cowering in a corner, Sinan’s mother, 30-year-old Fatim Saleh Mohsen, decided to flee the bombardment. Grabbing her 18-month-old son and ushering her terrified children into the narrow outdoor passageway between the tightly packed dwellings, she headed into the open. Over a week later, Sinan’s aunt Nadr al Ameri wept as she stood in the same room and recalled watching her sister run out the door into the darkness.
His mother’s body was found in the early light of dawn, the front of her head split open. The baby was wounded but alive. Sinan’s mother was one of at least six women killed in the raid, the first counterterrorism operation of the Trump administration, which also left 10 children under the age of 13 dead. “She was hit by the plane. The American plane,” explained Sinan. “She’s in heaven now,” he added with a shy smile, seemingly unaware of the enormity of what he had witnessed or, as yet, the impact of his loss. “Dog Trump,” declared Nesma, turning to the other women in the room for agreement. “Yes, the dog Trump,” they agreed.
Of course, the US military conducted an ‘inquiry’ into the strike but as Alex Emmons reports it quickly declared the case closed and that the US military had, as always, acted perfectly correctly, the mission was flawless except for the heroic but tragic death of one American, and that anyone who said otherwise was some kind of traitor.
THE PENTAGON’S TOP Middle East commander told Congress on Thursday that he found no signs of “poor decision-making or bad judgment” in a January raid in Yemen that killed 10 children and at least six women, as well as Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens.
“I made the determination that there was no need for an additional investigation into this particular operation,” said Gen. Joseph Votel.
The White House has tried to shame the raid’s critics into silence. Last month, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters “anyone who undermines the success of that raid owes an apology and [does] a disservice.” In a series tweets the next day, President Trump said criticism from Sen. John McCain, R.-Ariz., “emboldens the enemy.”
This is merely the latest atrocity committed on Yemen either by the US or its surrogate Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is using deadly cluster bombs that are manufactured and supplied to them by the US even though such weapons have been banned by 119 countries because of their indiscriminate nature and because they spread many bomblets over a wide area that can lie dormant for a long time before being triggered.
Villagers in al-Hayma told The Intercept they heard rumbling around 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Soon after, they saw a jet from the Saudi-led coalition circling over the coast. Assisted by the U.S. with weapons and intelligence, Saudi Arabia has been bombing and blockading Yemen for 21 months.
“The warplane was hovering toward the shoreline before I saw something with parachutes falling down,” said Yahya Qassem Zabah, a local fisherman. “For a moment I thought that soldiers were landing. Then I heard a number of explosions soon after that.”
What Zabah saw was not a soldier parachuting toward the coast, it was a cluster weapon. In mid-air, its shell casing opened and released cylinder-shaped bomblets, which scattered as they plummeted to the beach.
All at once, like deafening firecrackers, explosions ripped across the sand, splintering, smashing, and overturning fishing boats.
Jubahi’s family found his body among the wreckage in a pool of his own blood. His head had been struck by one of the munitions while he slept. “There was a hole in his head with blood spilled underneath,” Jubahi’s father, Mohammed Omar Medarij, told The Intercept before bursting into tears.
The villagers recovered two empty shell casings and three parachutes, which Jubahi’s family kept as evidence and showed to The Intercept. “They took out my son and left these rags behind,” Medarij said, gesturing toward the parachutes.
It was not the first time the villagers had seen such weapons. In December 2015, Human Rights Watch confirmed that coalition warplanes dropped CBU-105 cluster bombs on al-Hayma, damaging multiple homes and seriously injuring at least two civilians.
Researchers from Human Rights Watch identified the shell casings in photographs taken by The Intercept as a U.S.-made cluster bomb. The serial number documented in the photographs also begins with the five-number “commercial and government entity” (CAGE) code 04614 — indicating that the weapons were produced in the United States, by the Rhode Island-based company Textron Systems.
Some Yemeni relatives of the victims of this US-Saudi massacres have launched a lawsuit in the US against drone strikes, asking that this covert drone program be declared illegal
Obama and the Democrats share much of the blame for these war crimes and they should also be held responsible for the fact that “the dog Trump” will use the entire machinery that was bequeathed to him to continue the carnage inflicted on that hapless nation. Who cares how many innocent people, old and young and infants, men and women, die indiscriminately in Yemen? After all, they are brown and Muslim and dirt poor, people whose lives are not worth anything to this righteous, white, Christian nation.