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Yemeni Tells Senators About ‘Fear and Terror’ Caused by U.S. Drones

• Spencer Ackerman via

For the first time, the Senate heard from someone who lives in a village where U.S. drone strikes are believed to have killed civilians.

Farea al-Muslimi, who was born in the mountain village of Wessab and educated at a California high school, described a drone strike in the village that took place a week ago. His voice occasionally catching, al-Muslimi told a Senate judiciary subcommittee today that the target of the strike, Hameed Meftah, was well known to villagers, and could have been captured.

A “psychological fear and terror” has now taken ahold of his old neighbors, al-Muslimi said. “The drone strikes are the face of America to many.”

al-Muslimi — who actually livetweeted the strike, although he was not there — said the drone strikes have taken on a terrifying character that other weapons may not share. “The drones have made more mistakes than AQAP has ever done,” he said, using the acronym for al-Qaida’s Yemeni affiliate. Parents in Yemen now tell their children to hurry off to bed by saying they’ll call in a drone strike if they don’t. As human-rights groups have documented, the buzzing overhead of a Predator or Reaper engine as the flying robot hovers has a chilling psychological effect.

Sen. Richard Durbin, the chairman of the Senate subcommittee that convened the hearing, asked al-Muslimi if Yemenis are aware that U.S. military and CIA drone strikes occur with the complicity of the Yemeni government. al-Muslimi replied that the question barely registers.

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