Courtesy of CSPANIn a stirring Senate testimony Tuesday, Farea al-Muslimi, an American-educated Yemeni activist and journalist, described the effects of a U.S. drone strike on his home village just six days ago.
“I could never have imagined that the same hand that changed my life and took it from a miserable to a promising one would also drone my village,” al-Muslimi told Senators.
“In the past, what Wessab villagers knew of the U.S. was based on my stories about my wonderful experiences here,” he said.
“Now, however when they think of Americans they think of the terror they feel from the drones overhead that hover, ready to fire missiles at any time. What the violent militants have previously failed to achieve, one drone strike accomplished in an instant. There is now an intense anger towards America in Wessab.”
The testimony, delivered at a special Senate hearing on the legality of drone strikes, marked the first time that members of Congress have heard from a civilian affected by drone attack. And his remarks bear powerful witness to the human toll — and unintended blowback — U.S. drone strikes have among local civilian populations.
Here’s the most stirring passage:
“Late last year, I was with an American colleague from an international media outlet on a tour of Abyan. Suddenly, locals started to become paranoid. They were moving erratically and frantically pointing toward the sky. Based on their past experience with drone strikes, they told us that the thing hovering above us — out of sight and making a strange humming noise — was an American drone. My heart sank. I was helpless. It was the first time that I had earnestly feared for my life, or for an American friend’s life in Yemen. I was standing there at the mercy of a drone.
I also couldn’t help but think that the operator of this drone just might be my American friend with whom I had the warmest and deepest friendship in America. My mind was racing and my heart was torn. I was torn between the great country I know and love and the drone above my head that could not differentiate between me and some AQAP militant. I was one of the most divisive and difficult feelings I have ever encountered. That feeling, multiplied by the highest number mathematicians have, gripped me when my village was droned just days ago. It was the worst feeling I have ever had. I was devastated for days because I knew that the bombing in my village by the United States would empower militants. Even worse, I know it will make people like Al-Radmi look like a hero, while I look like someone who has betrayed his country by supporting America.”
Watch the full testimony below:
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