A 10-year-old Yemeni boy named Abdulaziz was killed on June 10, reports McClatchy. And it was the U.S. government that killed him.
Perhaps he should have known better than to be the younger brother of al Qaeda chief Saleh Hassan Huraydan, the target of the drone strike. At least that’s what President Obama’s former press secretary turned MSNBC contributer, Robert Gibbs, might say considering his justification for the U.S. drone strike that killed 16-year-old American Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki two weeks after his father, Anwar, was killed in a separate strike.
Though Obama has not commented on the death of Abdulaziz, I imagine he would chalk this up to the unintended consequence of war, just another tragic casualty. And most Americans would probably agree.
Still, I don’t understand how dead civilians, particularly dead children, quality as war casualties when the people we target aren’t actually involved in any sort of battle at the time of the attack. In this latest strike, “a U.S. drone fired up to five missiles at an SUV that was carrying suspected militants in Mahashama.” How on earth does an SUV packed with what might be “militants” (whatever that means) pose a “continuing and imminent threat to the American people”, the standard by which Obama decides who to assassinate.
Can you imagine if al Qaeda attacked a minivan they suspected was being driven by a US soldier and ended up killing that soldier along with his/her entire family? That would be murder, plain and simple. So why is it any different when we drop bombs on suspected al Qaeda soldiers when they’re likely with their families driving, eating, or sleeping, far from any battlefield?
If that isn’t enough to make you question U.S. targeted killing policy, then perhaps the anger toward America provoked by civilian deaths will. As McClatchy points out, Abdulaziz’s death “set off a firestorm of complaints that underscores how American airstrikes can so outrage a community that even though al Qaida loses some foot soldiers, it gains dozens of sympathizers.”
“Killing al Qaida is one thing, but the death of an innocent person is a crime that we cannot accept,” said a sheikh from the area, who like other tribal leaders McClatchy interviewed spoke only on the condition of anonymity because of security concerns. “What did Abdulaziz do? Was this child a member of al Qaida?”