The Wall Street Journal reports the drone strike was carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency in the central Marib province. Yemeni Defense Ministry officials said three men believed to be al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants were traveling in a sport utility vehicle in the Hareeb region of Marib when the strike occurred. Two suspected fighters were killed in the drone attack, US and Yemeni officials said.
It was the first drone strike since US-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his government resigned last week as Shia Houthi rebels took control of the capital, Sana’a.
The strike also comes just weeks after AQAP took responsibility for the January 7 terrorist attack on the Paris headquarters of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, in which 10 staff members and two police officers were killed. Charlie Hebdo often published cartoons mocking religions, including Islam, and had repeatedly depicted the Islamic ‘prophet’ Mohammed in a manner which offended many Muslims.
The child’s death has received little attention in the US corporate mainstream media, although the Wall Street Journal mentioned it in the fourth paragraph of its report on the drone strike. Reuters reports the Yemeni National Organization for Drone Victims (NODV) has identified the victim as 12-year-old Mohammed Saleh Qayed Taeiman, a sixth-grade student described as “a normal kid.”
But Taeiman’s childhood years were anything but normal. According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, his father, Saleh Qaid Toayman, and his 14-year old brother Jalal were killed in a US drone strike in late 2011 while grazing their camels in an area where AQAP militants are known to operate. A third brother was wounded in that strike as well.
NODV identified one of the other victims in Monday’s drone strike as Abdallah Khaled Aziz al-Zindani, a farm worker married to a woman from the Taeiman clan.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has documented between 73 and 85 confirmed US drone strikes in Yemen, with as many as 544 people killed. Of these, as many as 85 have been civilians, including eight children. In one of the deadliest attacks since President Barack Obama took office, 15 Yemeni civilians on their way to a wedding party were killed by a drone strike in Al Bayda province in December 2013.
Months before the Al Bayda attack, former State Department official Nabeel Khoury warned that, in his opinion, for every al-Qaeda militant killed by a US drone strike, 40-60 new “enemies of America” are created.