The U.S. military obtained “valuable intelligence” from the raid against al-Qaeda in Yemen that cost a Navy SEAL his life, insist a senior American official and the top United States commander in the region.
However, ABC News learned from a senior U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity that the Jan. 29 Yemen assault against al-Qaeda jihadists did indeed yield “valuable information.”
“The official’s comments were prompted by recent reports questioning whether any useful intelligence was gathered from the raid where Senior Chief William ‘Ryan’ Owens was killed and civilians were caught in the crossfire,” notes ABC News.
Moreover, the chief of U.S. military operations in the Middle East has also defended the importance of the raid against a compound in rural Yemen used by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), long considered to be the most potent branch of the terrorist group.
“The object was to go in and collect intelligence,” Army Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), told CBS News. “We accomplished that, so from that perspective it was successful. I certainly understand how the [Owens] family would look at this in a different light.”
The primary goal of the raid was to gather intelligence on AQAP.
ABC News learned from the senior U.S. official that “intelligence gathered during the raid has provided insights into AQAP’s activities, particularly the terror group’s recruiting, training techniques and explosives manufacturing.”
“The official said the intelligence has provided information about who the terror group is targeting,” also reports ABC News, adding, “Information obtained during the raid is still being used by U.S. intelligence.”
Moreover, the official pointed out that the “ferocity” with which AQAP jihadists defended their compound is an indicator of the value of the information they were fighting to protect.
According to the Pentagon, U.S. troops killed at least 14 AQAP fighters, some of whom were women.
In addition to the death of Navy SEAL Owens, the Pentagon reports that three other U.S. service members were injured.
Furthermore, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, citing Yemeni villagers, reported that 25 civilians lost their lives during the raid, including nine children.
A Marine MV-22 Osprey aircraft, valued at an estimated $70 million, was also destroyed to prevent it from falling into enemy hands after a “hard landing” during the operation.
The Pentagon and the White House have maintained that the raid produced valuable intelligence.
Currently, the U.S. military is conducting several investigations into the Yemen offensive, which is standard whenever an operation results in fatalities. The late Navy SEAL’s father, Bill Owens, is demanding answers and the White House has vowed to oblige him.