Contradicting a version of events presented by the U.S. military and reported widely by the corporate press, a human rights group and a journalist in Yemen are citing witnesses who said a raid by U.S. Navy SEALs on Monday night killed multiple innocent civilians and not just “Al Qaeda militants” as the Pentagon claimed.
Reprieve, a UK-based human rights group, cited witnesses from the village of Al-Jubah in Marib province, where the raid took place, and offered the names of five civilians killed as Nasser Ali Mahdi Al-Adhal; Al-Ghader Saleh Salem Al-Adhal; Saleh Al-Taffaf; Yasser Al-Taffaf Al-Adhel; and Shebreen Saeed Salem Al-Adhal.
The witnesses said that none of those five were fighting for al-Qaeda and that Nasser al-Adhal, identified as being approximately 70-years-old and partially blind, was the first one shot by the U.S. soldiers when he mistook them for arriving guests and came out to greet them. According to Reprieve:
The four other villagers were killed when they started to argue with the Navy Seals after the shooting of Nasser al-Adhal. Six villagers were seriously injured, including another elderly man who was around 69-years-old.
Al-Qaeda fighters gathering nearby, who are thought to have been the original target of the raid, were alerted by the gunshots in the village and firefight ensued in which at least two of them were killed. The Navy SEALs then left with the help of air support from a helicopter.
Independent journalist Iona Craig, who has reported from the ground in Yemen for years, helped corroborate the version of events provided to Reprieve.
“Five tribesmen amongst killed in US raid last night were not AQ,” Craig tweeted on Tuesday. “They were tribesmen of young activists who drove me from Mareb into Yakla.”
Part of the wider “global war on terror” that the U.S. began in the wake of the September 11th attacks in 2001, Yemen has been a target of drone strikes and clandestine operations for years. But as foreign policy experts and the people of Yemen have repeatedly stated, the use of drones and clandestine raids have only hardened Al-Qaeda’s position in the country and the killing of innocent civilians as provided a nearly perfect recruiting tool for the militant group.
In addition to backing the ongoing Saudi-led war against Yemen, the military under President Donald Trump has continued to target Al-Qaeda aligned forces in the country. In January, just days after his inauguration, Trump was roundly criticized for a botched raid that led to the death of one U.S. soldier and as many as thirty civilians, including children.
Kate Higham, head of the Assassinations Programme at Reprieve, said this week’s killing of more innocent Yemenis proves that Trump is no better than his predecessors when it comes to protecting civilian lives.
“This new flawed raid by President Trump shows the US is not capable of distinguishing a terrorist from an innocent civilian,” Higham said in a statement. “When even a 70-year-old is shot dead, it is clear these attacks are not targeted or precise. President Trump must order an immediate investigation into what went wrong and halt all raids and drone strikes before more innocent Yemenis are killed.”
Graffiti at a Yemeni village (Source: The National)
Yemen, of course, is not the only place where the U.S. military is claiming innocent lives. On Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks casualties amid Syria’s ongoing civil war, reported the number of civilians killed by U.S. bombings over the last month has been the highest ever recorded over a 30-day time period. According to the group, 235 civilians were killed in U.S. airstrikes from April 23 to May 23. That number includes 44 children and 36 women.
“The past month of operations is the highest civilian toll since the coalition began bombing Syria,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told Agence-France Presse in an interview. “There has been a very big escalation.”
According to Rahman’s group, which is also based in the U.K., the U.S.-led coalition has now killed 1,481 civilians since operations against the Islamic State (ISIS) began in 2014. Of that total number, the groups says, 319 were children.
And as people mourned the horrific loss of life in Manchester this week, where innocent children and other concert-goers were targeted by a suicide bomber, it was difficult not to notice the difference between the attention various killings—all of them horrific and none of them possible to justify—received in the dominant western press.
As journalist and columnist Glenn Greenwald, citing the killings of those civilians in Yemen on Monday, asked,
“More reporting that US killed 5 more innocent Yemenis yesterday. Will the media tell their stories, hear from their grieving relatives, etc?”
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How Can Vladimir Putin Destroy Non-Existent U.S. Democracy?
TIME Magazine’s Bill Powell is a gifted journalist. Anyone who reads the LinkedIn recommendations for the former Newsweek bureau chief will assuredly be impressed. Dozens and dozens of senior editors and journalistic colleagues are there, as are people like Dorinda Elliott, who is the Editorial and Communications Director at Harvard’s prestigious Paulson Institute. Yes, Bill Powell is an American storyteller. And his latest piece for Newsweek hits like an expertly wielded meat clever.
“Inside Putin’s Campaign to Destroy U.S. Democracy”, that’s the expertly stylized headline Newsweek’s bosses must have desperately needed this week. Reading the introductory paragraphs on how Vladimir Putin more-or-less rescued a chaotic Russia from the Russian robber barons, and how the America and the world reveled in the former KGB operative’s deft potential, I found myself captivated. “Here is the Newsweek I remember”, I caught myself thinking. But that title? I should have known – Powell interjects:
“We forget now, in the midst of the intensifying hysteria in Washington, D.C., about all things Russia, that Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin—now commonly portrayed as a cartoon villain by Western politicians and press—had a honeymoon period. Many people back then chose to disregard Putin’s career in the KGB and focused instead on the fact that he had been an energetic aide to the reform-minded mayor of his native St. Petersburg in the immediate post-Soviet era.”
Then masterfully, like a Houdini magician with a keyboard Powell (image on the right) creates the “set up”, he inserts the fallibility of former US presidents, then draws back on the well used wooden handle of the glistening cleaver… Set to cut the meaty brain tissue that connects reality from fiction and PR, The TIME veteran lowers the boom!
“Now Russia is again public enemy No. 1 in the United States, and Putin is on offense around the world. He is the primary backer of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, thanks to his audacious deployment of Russia’s military to combat the anti-Assad Islamic rebels. He annexed Crimea and sent Russian troops and special operators into eastern Ukraine, where they remain today. In the Far East, he is moving Russia closer to a military alliance with Beijing. And in Europe and the United States, Putin’s cyberwarriors are wreaking havoc.”
In a single paragraph the wordsmith recounts the Obama White House rhetoric, he severs once again the thin tendril of hope that links western nations to an oh-so logical alliance for peace. America’s “thinkers” are forced to think again. Europe is pinned in the middle, as always. And Russia is left with the nagging realization nothing has changed since the Tsar was murdered. Russophobia, the “Great Game”, the globalist quest for all those Russia riches is still on. Newsweek puts familiar Putin quotes under the subtitle “Shining Tsar” – which is strangely appropriate given it’s coming up on the centennial of the October Revolution of 1917.
For his ending, Powell manages to insert Russian ousted Yukos billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky (image on the left) once again. And I am snapped back into reality where Newsweek is concerned. The media outlet now owned by IBT Media, which is in turn owned (supposedly) by Etienne Uzac and Johnathan Davis, was the subject of several of my stories in the past. Most pointedly, “Is Newsweek Led by Jesus, or Mikhail Khodorkovsky?” calls to question who really owns IBT, the man some say is the second coming of Jesus himself, the right Korean reverend David J. Jang. Now here I am reverting to familiar themes to combat a perverted mainstream. It’s sad we’re still caught in an inescapable maelstrom of expert paid journalists versus willing narrators of a dissenting view. Some call Russia sympathetic writers like me “Kremlin Trolls”, when the reality of this geo-political situation is a simple matter of choosing the status quo versus the world we were told to dream of. For those who see Russia as the needless victim in all this mess, NATO snatching up one former Soviet boundary after another is the clincher.
Finally, journalists like Bill Powell are brought in as the “go-to” people who either snatch or just maintain credibility for these “owned” media outlets. While the west hammers on state owner RT and others for being Putin’s propaganda bull horns, five thousand times Russia’s media budgets are wagered in the same old crisis game. At the end of Powell’s piece the chips fall into place. Forget the lead and the middle, it’s the title or the ending readers will remember. Here’s his ending:
“Putin may have restored Russian pride, and a semblance of its Great Power status, but the former spymaster may well have overplayed his hand in trying to tilt the 2016 U.S. election to his preferred candidate. He may have gotten the result he wanted—but someday wish he hadn’t.”
Russia as a “great power” equals a new Soviet Union for Newsweek readers. The “former spymaster” in charge labels Vladimir Putin the KGB assassin of old Hollywood. Then saying Putin “tilted” the election, without any proof to back the claim, simply galvanizes the globalist claims. The rest is fortification, and gloating like a Clinton fanatic. Powell should have been paid well for this one, for Newsweek surely retained thousands of liberal readers and Putin haters. Why the “Jesus” owned magazine even got certified Kremlin agents to read. But I’m not ready to subscribe just yet. My guess is that Putin could care less about destroying something that does not exist – something like American democracy. Let’s hear your thoughts.
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
Featured image: New Eastern Outlook