7 civilians including 3 children, one as young as 8 years old, were killed in a suspected US drone strike in Somalia on January 30th.
This came in as a report from the monitoring group Airwars, and used three Somalia media outlets that spoke with the survivors as sources.
WaL recently reported on the worrying rise in drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen during this latter half of the Biden Administration, following his official policy paper on their use and procedure that was released last August.
Airwars reports the strike to have occurred between Fidow and Qura’ley villages on January 30th, 2023, though US African Command didn’t claim any attacks on that date. It’s possible it could have been the CIA, which has other drone bases in the region—one we know of in Niger that officially doesn’t exist.
It’s also possible to have been the Turkish military, who VOA news recently managed to get on record saying that they neither confirmed nor denied that their drones were in use over Somalia.
The strike killed three brothers—20-year-old Ahmed Mohamed Noor, 18-year-old Abdiqadar Mohamed Noor, and 8-year-old Qeys Mohamed Noor. The strike is also supposed to have killed Umar Maham Abukar, 18 years old, Abdullahi Mohamud Issa, Ahmed Khadar Ibrahim Osman, 13 years old, and Assir Hassan Abdi, 14 years old.
“Local people told Caasimada Online News that three of the youths were initially arrested by al-Shabaab, while the other four took them to a place for lunch,” said Airwars. “All of the sources that reported on the incident attributed the strikes to the US, with the Somali Guardian specifying that the attack was carried out by drones”.
AFRICOM has said that they remain certain no civilians were hurt in any of these strikes, but official Pentagon policy is to neither investigate reports of civilian harm nor to report them if there are any.
A forgotten war
On October 3rd, al Jazeera reported that Abdullahi Nadir, one of the co-founders of the armed group, was assassinated by a drone strike. Who Nadir really was, what his power amounted to, and whether his death would at all change al-Shabaab’s ability to operate is anyone’s guess. US Africa Command didn’t mention him by name.
Reporting from Time magazine during the last concerted effort to bomb al-Shabaab quoted Amnesty International that more bombs were dropped in 2020 than in the whole of the Obama Administration, but despite the exertion, the insurgents remained “adaptive and resilient”.
The New York Times reported in October around the time Nadir was assassinated that of the 11 drone strikes in Somalia that year, 10 had fallen under “collective self-defense,” a justification that, under Biden’s new policy, bypasses the need for executive branch approval of drone strikes.
The Times also quoted Somali government sources who said the new presidential administration had specifically asked Biden “to more broadly define what can count as a collective self-defense strike,” and to “deem certain parts of Somalia as a war zone, where it is permissible to target members of an enemy force based only on their status, even if they pose no imminent threat”.
The war has nearly disappeared entirely from mainstream media coverage, and these 7 innocent deaths are representative of the whole drone warfare program from Obama to Trump to Biden.
In March, WaL reported that the reputation of drones as civilian killers, mixed with their disappearance from media scrutiny and Biden’s new drone bombing policy which is essentially a middle ground between Obama’s and Trump’s, would lead to disastrous outcomes for those living in between their targets.
Questions about what al-Shabaab represents to the safety of the American people, or of their relevance to those who committed the September 11th attacks, do not merely go unanswered and unasked, but so do questions about whether drone bombing them or anyone 22 years later is the correct policy for achieving American goals. WaL