Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

USYEM014-B

Incident date

May 5, 2011

Location

شبوة‎, Shabwa province, Shabwa, Yemen

Geolocation

14.723675, 46.795827 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Province/governorate level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Two to three middle-ranking Al Qaeda affiliates were killed and another was injured due to a US drone strike, originally targeting US-born cleric Anwar al Awlaki in the province of Shabwa in the morning of May 5th, 2011.

In one of the first recorded US attack using remotely piloted drones since 2002, during Yemen’s Arab Spring uprising, an attempt was made to kill US-born cleric Anwar al Awlaki in a coordinated tripartite drone strike. Instead two AQAP-linked brothers died, identified by Yemeni government officials as Abdullah Mubarak and Mosaad Mubarak (or al Harad). Mareb Press added that “there is a third injured person, and no information is available about his health status” while @NatSecCNN tweeted that “US drone struck target in southern #Yemen in last 48 hrs, killing 3 [Al Qaeda] operatives affil’d w/ al Alwaki, US defense official says”.

ABC News featured a special investigation on the attack, stating that on the morning of May 5, ‘the US military dispatched a fearsome array of heavily armed warplanes including Marine Harrier jets, predator drones and a special operations aircraft carrying short range Griffin missiles to follow a pickup truck in which Awlaki was a passenger’. But the US troops were unable to keep missiles locked on Awlaki’s truck. One missile grazed his bumper, then, ‘the Harriers, which were almost out of gas, had to leave. The remaining aircraft tried to keep following Awlaki to take another shot. But then cloud cover got in the way. Awlaki was able to exploit a moment of hesitation while the targeting pods and the surveillance aircraft were refocusing to jump out of his pickup truck and move to another.’ Awlaki later mocked the failed attack in AQAP’s English-language jihadist magazine Inspire, saying ‘It looks as if someone was a bit angry with us this evening.’

The Wall Street Journal offered more detail on the assault, which it said consisted of two elements: According to local residents and the Yemeni security officials, the first failed strike, which included three rockets targeted a pickup truck in which Mr Awlaki and a Saudi national and suspected Al Qaeda member were traveling. It was alleged that the attack took place 20 miles away from the provincial capital of Shebwa.

Two Yemeni Mubarak brothers rushed to the location of the attack and Awlaki switched vehicles with the brothers, leaving the two Yemenis in the pickup truck that had been targeted before. A single drone then hit the pickup truck, killing the Yemenis inside. Mr. Awlaki escaped in the other vehicle along with the Saudi.’ Mr. Awlaki is considered to be at the forefront of threats the US faces by US officials, as Alwatanvoice stated.

The New York times reported that the Yemeni defence ministry described the two men as dangerous and accused them of involvement in bomb attacks. Furthermore it was stated that the two brothers were being pursued by Yemeni security forces seeking to arrest the two men.

Information on who carried out the strikes varies, as Arabnews reports that the Yemeni government claims the two men were killed by Yemeni security forces, contradicting a statement published in the Wall Street Journal that quotes a senior security official claiming that the Yemeni government provided the US authorities with crucial information on Awlakis whereabouts days before the alleged attack.

However Reuters Washington stipulated that a US official told CBS that the US hoped it was Awlaki, but further comments or confirmation were declined by the US Defense Department.

The incident occured in the morning.

Geolocation notes

Reports mention that the incident took place outside the village of Jahwa, 20 miles from the Shabwa provincial capital of Ataq. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available, we were unable to locate the village. The coordinates for Shabwa province are: 14.723675, 46.795827.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–3
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1

Sources (37) [ collapse]

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–3
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1

Sources (37) [ collapse]