Sent to me with the following words
“America: Your planes just give us what we seek [if Allah wills] victory or martyrdom
Ansar al Shariah”
As the above image shows US drone strikes make shaheeds (martyrs) out of Al Qaeda leaders and local affiliate members of Ansar al-Shariah and serve to inspire a new generation of jihadis. This year has been a difficult one for the organization losing key figures such as Sheikh Nasr-al-Anisi who appeared on video praising the attack on the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo which left several dead. However in terms of recruitment, the martyrdom visualization of the deceased will act as a calling to many young people in Yemen and further afield.
As Sudarsan Raghavan wrote in the Washington Post back in 2012,
“after recent U.S. missile strikes, mostly from unmanned aircraft, the Yemeni government and the United States have reported that the attacks killed only suspected al-Qaeda members. But civilians have also died in the attacks, said tribal leaders, victims’ relatives and human rights activists.
“These attacks are making people say, ‘We believe now that al-Qaeda is on the right side,’ ” said businessman Salim al-Barakani, adding that his two brothers — one a teacher, the other a cellphone repairman — were killed in a U.S. strike in March.”
Read, “In Yemen, US airstrikes breed anger and sympathy for Al Qaeda”
The same route to radicalization can be found in Pakistan where US drones violate sovereignty and cause a considerable amount of “collateral damage” through misleading intelligence and inaccurate operations. Photos of deceased militants appear on CDs and DVDs which are circulated on social media and handed out in madrassas. The sons of dead leaders who perished following drone strikes can now be seen on film recruited to training camps in Afghanistan, Pakistan and beyond. Iran Awan wrote in the Guardian,
“public perception of drones in Pakistan is one that portrays a lack of trust and confidence in the Pakistani government for its pro-drone stance which has inevitably left a vacuum for extremist groups like the TTP (Pakistan Taliban) and others that gives them an opportunity to amplify their actions and raise the public alarm through a number of well-coordinated and sophisticated terrorist assaults upon the public.”
The first US strike in Yemen was carried out on November 3rd 2009 but was viewed as an isolated incident. In 2009, the first known drone strike in Yemen to be authorized by President Obama left 14 women and children dead in al- Majala and brought protesters onto the streets burning the US flag. As Ibrahim Mothana identified in the New York Times,
“the strikes have created an opportunity for terrorist groups like Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Ansar al-Sharia to recruit fighters from tribes who have suffered casualties, especially in Yemen’s south, where mounting grievances since the 1994 civil war have driven a strong secessionist movement.”
Jack Searle (The Bureau of Investigative Journalism) highlighted that the death toll from confirmed US drone strikes in Yemen hit 424 in January 2015 including 8 children, additional persons have now been added to the list of the dead. According to AFP, the most recent drone attack occurred on Monday and it is alleged that four Al Qaeda members were killed and others wounded following a strike on Mukalla where a vehicle was targeted at the entrance to the Presidential Palace, see following story for report,
Yemen: Muhib-al-Rahman on the life of Abu Hafs al -Masri Muhannad Ghallab killed in US drone strike
“AQAP: Khalid-ba-Tarfi writes on the life of Sheikh Nasr-al-Anisi killed in a US drone strike”
“Al Qaeda: Nasser bin ali Ansi, another AQAP commander killed by US drone strike in Yemen”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.