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At Senate Hearing, Yemeni Says U.S. Drone War Terrifying Civilians, Empowering Militants

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Drone testimonyI have met with dozens of civilians who were injured during drone strikes and other air attacks," al-Muslimi states. "I have met with relatives of people who were killed as well as numerous eyewitnesses. They have told me how these air strikes have changed their lives for the worst."

On one occasion, he met a man who described how "he stood helplessly as his 4-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter died in his arms on the way to the hospital." The man's house was targeted by mistake. He reported on another strike that killed 40 civilians and spoke to a 12-year-old boy who cried while describing being afraid of the drones buzzing overhead every night.

In al-Muslimi's estimation, "the killing of innocent civilians by U.S. missiles in Yemen is helping to destabilize my country and create an environment from which AQAP benefits." They use innocents killed by drone strikes as a recruiting tool and rely on the impression drones create that America is at war with all Yemenis. One little boy, whose father was killed in a drone strike, carries a picture of a plane in his pocket and says he wants revenge against his father's killer, "America."

Drone strikes "are the face of America to many Yemenis," he reports. "If America is providing economic, social and humanitarian assistance to Yemen, the vast majority of the Yemeni people know nothing about it. Everyone in Yemen, however, knows about America and its drones."

In some places, hatred of the drone strikes is so strong that al-Muslimi feels it is dangerous to even acknowledge having visited the U.S., never mind having American friends and acquaintances.


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