On the night of August 6th 2012, between six to ten Al Qaeda militants were killed in a suspected US drone strike or Yemeni airstrike in Qayfah, Dhamar province. There are currently no known reports of civilian harm.
The official state news agency SABA reported that among the dead was local Al Qaeda leader and wanted bomb-maker Abdullah Awad al Masri (also known as Abu Osama al Marebi). While his nationality is unknown, Long War Journal speculated that his surname al-Masri indicates he is of Egyptian origin. The other six casualties were allegedly militants from different nationalities: Abu Ja’afar al Iraqi, a Bahraini; Abu al-Bara’a al Sharori, a Saudi; Abu Musa’ab al Nasri and Abu Hafsah al Mesri, Egyptians; Abu Hafsah al Tounisi, a Tunisian; and Ebrahim al Sakhi, Yemeni. According to the Long War Journal, a Jihadist website reported on 15th August 2012 that a Tunisian named Muhammad bin Muhammad (possibly above mentioned Abu Hafsah al Tounisi) had died in the attack. Long War Journal also reported on a statement posted by the website Shumukh al Islam with links to AQAP. The statement read “al Tunisi was from the city of Benzert al Jala’a. He “joined the convoy of mujahideen in the Yemen of victory after he spent years in the prisons of the runaway tyrant Zine El Abidine Ben Ali,” the former president of Tunisia who was ousted last year during a national uprising”.
The strike took place a part of Qayfah closely bordering Radaa in al-Bayda and many outlets located the strike to Radaa. There was a strike in Manasih in al-Bayda on the same day that hit a motorbike and some media, like YEMENPOST, Saba and Sheikh Ahmed Zaid, a leader in Radaa speaking to Yemen Times, attributed the casualties of this strike to Manasih.
Some sources, including the Yemen Times, said that the strike hit two vehicles, one of which was ridden by al Masri. A tribal source told Agence France-Presse that “[f]our explosions rocked the area, which was overflown by two drones in the evening.” According to the Chinese state press agency Xinhua, residents “recognised the sound of the drone, which they said had flown over the area for hours before firing the missile.”
The Yemen Post holds Yemeni security forces responsible for the strike. However, most reports including Xinhua, Fox News, BBC Arabic, and Long War Journal claim that the strike was carried out by US drones, drawing on eyewitnesses, local sources, and Yemeni security officials. The US was the only known country with a military presence in the region that possessed drones at the time of the strike.
The incident occured during the night.
Sources (28) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention multiple locations, all in the northwestern part of Bayda’a (ٱلْبَيْضَاء) province or just across the governorate’s border in Dhamar (ذمار) province. The one area that refers directly to the 7 deaths that occurred in this incident is that of the village of Qayfa (القيفة), for which the coordinates are: 14.5333330, 44.6833330. Other areas mentioned are Rada’a city (coordinates: 14.415088, 44.840937), the village of Manaseh (المناسح) (coordinates: 14.579762, 44.750219), the village Sailat Al Jarra (سائلة الجراح) (coordinates: 14.5689930, 44.7515590) and the area of Walad Rabee’a (which we were unable to locate), but they might be connected to other strikes. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.