The private murderous drone war launched by George Bush and increased by Barack Obama is causing large numbers of people in Yemen, Pakistan, and Afghanistan to hate America and support Islamist terrorism, the US Congress has been told.
The bold statement—perhaps the first time in many years that anyone has dared to speak the truth before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights—was made by a Yemeni man, Farea al-Muslimi, who studied at an American high school as an exchange student when he was 16.
He told the committee on Tuesday that a drone strike on his village, Wessab, in Yemen last week terrified his neighbors and had turned them against the United States “in a way that terrorist propaganda had failed to do.”
“My friends and neighbors used to know of the United States primarily through my stories of the wonderful experiences I had here.
“Now, however, when they think of America, they think of the fear they feel at the drones over their heads. What the violent militants had failed to achieve, one drone strike accomplished in an instant.”
A man killed in the strike was well known locally, Muslimi said, adding that this person could easily have been arrested by Yemeni forces.
He said that the American drone strikes in Yemen are emboldening the country’s al-Qaeda branch, embittering Yemenis against the United States and delegitimizing the Yemen government.
“They fear that their home or a neighbor’s home could be bombed at any time by a US drone,” he said.
“What radicals had previously failed to achieve in my village, one drone strike accomplished in an instant: There is now an intense anger and growing hatred of America.”
Muslimi said that across villages in Yemen, mention of the weapons elicits such fear that parents have come to use the threat of drone strikes to get kids to go to bed.
“Go to sleep or I will call the planes,” he said, quoting a parental tactic he recently learned about.
A classified US government report, published earlier this month, confirmed that “drone kills” in Pakistan are not the precision strikes against top-level al-Qaeda terrorists which they are portrayed as by the Obama administration.
Instead, many of the attacks are aimed at suspected low-level tribal militants, who may pose no direct danger to the United States—and for many there appears to be little evidence to justify the assassinations.
Top secret documents obtained by McClatchy newspapers in the US show the locations, identities and numbers of those attacked and killed in Pakistan in 2006–8 and 2010–11, as well as explanations for why the targets were picked.
Between 1,990 and 3,308 people are reported to have been killed in the drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, the vast majority of them during the Obama terms.
In the 12-month period up to 2011, 43 out of 95 drone strikes in the reports (which give an account of the vast majority of US operations in the country) were not aimed at al-Qaeda at all.
And 265 out of 482 people killed in those assassinations, were defined internally as “extremists.”
Indeed, only six of the men killed–less than 2 percent–were senior al-Qaeda leaders.