A 14-year old boy was reportedly a victim of the “massive and unprecedented” U.S. drone bombing campaign in Yemen over the weekend. The drone strikes were ordered to assassinate high-ranking leaders of the terrorist group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP.
According to Yemeni journalist Abdul Razzal al-Jamal, a fourteen year old by the name of Jarallah was caught in the crossfire. The report on Twitter notes he is the son of a US-designated terrorist known as Sheikh Abdul Majeed al-Zindani, the leader of a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate in Yemen.
Al-Zindani was described by many as a “spiritual leader” to Osama Bin Laden. He is the head of Iman University, a school for radical Islamist studies in Yemen. In 2009, Zindani launched a “fatwa” invalidating a Yemeni law setting the minimum wage for marriage. In 2004, he was designated a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” by an executive order from former President Bush:
The U.S. has credible evidence that AL-ZINDANI, a Yemeni national, supports designated terrorists and terrorist organizations. AL-ZINDANI has a long history of working with bin Laden, notably serving as one of his spiritual leaders. In this leadership capacity, he has been able to influence and support many terrorist causes, including actively recruiting for al-Qaeda training camps. Most recently, he played a key role in the purchase of weapons on behalf of al-Qaeda and other terrorists.
United States and Yemeni security forces have ramped up efforts to combat Jihadist movements within Yemen. The U.S. drone strikes coincided with a ground-based operation lead by Yemeni special forces. Yemen’s Supreme Security Committee noted the operations over the weekend were a preventative measure against AQAP forces training to attack “Yemeni and foreign interests.”
Anwar Al-Awlaki, the American-born turned radical Al Qaeda cleric, was killed in 2011 following a U.S. targeted drone strike in Yemen. The killing brought into question the legality behind drone strikes overseas. In addition, the case gained particular notoriety because it had stirred debate over whether Al-Awlaki, an American citizen, was stripped of his due process rights.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen, has emerged as one of the most dangerous global threats to the western world. “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is rapidly emerging as a major security threat to rival the traditional al-Qaeda organisation that is based in northern Pakistan. Its ability to devise increasingly sophisticated plots to attack Western targets is now a serious concern,” said a senior British security official.