Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

USYEM137-C

Incident date

December 24, 2012

Location

ملعب نادي وحدة شحير, Wahid Shoheer Club stadium, Hadhramout, Yemen

Geolocation

14.684176, 49.399389 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Nearby landmark level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Three missiles hit motorbikes killing three to five Al Qaeda militants and injuring between one and 15 people including 14 civilians. The alleged US drone strike occurred in Shehr in Hadramout province in the evening on December 24th, 2012.

The number of people injured in the strike varies greatly from one to two militants reported injured by Reuters to 14 civilians injured as reported by Marib Press who were informed by medical workers at the local hospital. No further information was reported about those injured.

The drone strike led to the later death of one teenager, Hamza Hussein Said Ben Dahman, who passed away in March 2014 from PTSD. Hamza initially ran out of the stadium which the missiles hit against and went into a state of shock when he saw the bodies of the militants killed in the strike according to Al Karama.  “His body was paralyzed; he lost consciousness and his condition worsened day by day.” His family attempted to seek medical attention in Yemen, Egypt, and Jordan but Hamza’s condition continued to deteriorate until his passing in March 2014 according to Gulf News. Large demonstrations followed for four consecutive days protesting American drone strikes.

The evidence presented to the Senate hearing said a group of children were playing on the other side of the field. One, Hamzah Hussayn bin Dahman, 16, was so traumatised by the strike that he continued to suffer mentally and physically after the event. Hamzah’s father told the investigators: “When he returned home, Hamza was shaking with fear. He spoke with difficulty and said he saw people dismembered and bleeding, and then fainted.”

Bin Dahman died in March 2014 “after experiencing a sharp drop of blood pressure and glucose,” his relatives said. He had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing the strike. He was “haunted by the bodies of those people who were killed,” his father said.

Omar Abdullah al Najjar, Bin Dahman’s friend, also witnessed the strike. “Out of the blue, Hamza shrieked in terror when he saw the bodies. My brother snuggled him and I recited some verses of Quran on his head and immediately sent him home. The next day, I heard that he became sick,” he said

Mustafa, Bin Dahman’s elder brother, told Gulf News his brother began talking gibberish when he came home after the strike, adding: “He said to me, ‘my throat would fall into my stomach’. He used to be glued to the mirror and stay in the bathroom for hours. Sometimes he fell down when he walked.” Bin Dahman’s health deteriorated and his father took him to first Egypt then Jordan to find treatment. However the doctors in both countries could not halt Bin Dahman’s decline.

One of the men killed was named as Nabil Al-Kaladi. There are mixed reports of the location where he was when he was killed. Al-Kaladi’s family reported to Al Karama that he was in the stadium when the missiles hit but AQAP reported that he was on the motorbike with the other militants at the moment of his death. Al-Kaladi’s case was being followed by Al Karama, a human rights group based in Switzerland, as he was arrested without warrant on October 21st, 2007, and held in detention for five years, including three years without charges. He later escaped from prison with 62 other militants in June 2011. He was 38 years old at the time of his death. Abdullah Bawazir, a ‘chief architect behind a mass prison break in 2011’ was also amongst the victims of the drone strike. Based on the eulogy by AQAP obtained by SITE Intelligence Group, Bawazir also fought with ISIS in Iraq.

Local government officials told the Global Times that “the deadly air bombing occurred in an area that is widely believed to be the main operating base of al-Qaeda members in Hadramout”. It occurred in Shehr near the Wahid Shoheer Club where children and teenagers were playing. Reports vary in terms of the location. Some reports noted that the strike occurred on the pitch of the football stadium but most of the accounts reported that the missiles struck the motorbikes and simultaneously hit the outside of the stadium. @almasdaroline tweeted that the strike occurred at 5pm whereas Al Karama reported that it occurred at 6:30pm. Furthermore, as children were playing on the pitch, Airwars deduced that the strike took place in the early evening.

Between three and five Al Qaeda militants who were riding the motorbikes and carrying pistols were also killed in the incident. Reuters provided the lowest estimate with three killed, while  Long War Journal, citing AFP, claimed that four were killed. Xinhua, and Global Times claimed that five killed. Gulf News reported that there was a five additional deaths, bringing the death toll to eight.  The information is unclear as Gulf News reported that one militant was injured on the scene and later passed away at the hospital whereas Xinhua reported that all five died on the scene. “The bodies of the dead were charred, and some of them were torn into pieces” which indicated that there could have been confusion as to the identities of those killed. A local official speaking to Gulf News was quoted saying “Four of the people died at the scene and the fifth suffered heavy injuries and died later on in hospital. We do not know whether they are members of Al Qaeda or not. Shiher residents suspect that there are outsiders,” said the official who asked not to be named”.

The drone strike was allegedly an American unmanned aircraft which shot three missiles according to AFP which may have been Hellfire missiles.

The incident occured in the evening.

Geolocation notes (2) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in a stadium/on a public sports pitch in the outskirts of the coastal town Shoheer/Shehr (شحير). The coordinates for the only stadium in the town (the Wahid Shoheer Club stadium/ملعب نادي وحدة شحير) are: 14.684176, 49.399389.

  • The Wahid Shoheer Club stadium (ملعب نادي وحدة شحير) in the outskirts of the coastal town Shoheer/Shehr (شحير)

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

  • The Wahid Shoheer Club stadium (ملعب نادي وحدة شحير) on the first available satellite image after the strike (15 February 2013)

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • (0–1 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1–14
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1–2

Sources (31) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (6) [ collapse]

  • A victim of alleged US drone strikes on December 24, 2012. (Image posted by @majalis_hadrmut)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Very graphic image of a victim of alleged US drone strikes on December 24, 2012. (Image posted by @majalis_hadrmut)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    A victim of alleged US drone strikes on December 24, 2012. (Image posted by @9fang3)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Very graphic image of a victim of alleged US drone strikes on December 24, 2012. (Image posted by @majalis_hadrmut)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    A victim of alleged US drone strikes on December 24, 2012. (Image posted by @9fang3)
  • Damage from alleged US drone strikes on December 24, 2012. (Image posted by @majalis_hadrmut)

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
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • (0–1 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1–14
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1–2

Sources (31) [ collapse]