The Pentagon released video clips from seized al Qaeda propaganda on Friday to justify the weekend raid by SEAL Team 6 in Yemen in which “almost everything went wrong.”
US Central Command uploaded video it said was seized from a computer during the operation, which featured a masked man teaching “would-be terrorists” how to build bombs.
In an email release to reporters, the command noted that “one of the videos demonstrates the process for making Triacetone Triperoxide, an explosive used in numerous terrorist attacks, including the attempted ‘shoebomber’ attack in 2001 and the attacks across the London transportation system in 2005.”
Not mentioned, however, is the method to create Triacetone Triperoxide, or TATP, can be found within seconds on Google, along with how-tos for many other incendiary devices and other weapons. It’s also incredibly easy to find al Qaeda and terrorist propaganda online, such as the fiery sermons of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born al Qaeda cleric, who despite being killed in 2011, has continued to inspire other militants to carry out attacks.
The release of the videos is unusual since the Pentagon is usually tight-lipped about raids such as these, as they are often carried out in secret by elite special operations forces. Besides the videos, CENTCOM also said that among the 14 militants who were killed, it believes Sultan al Dhahab and Abd-al-Ra’uf al-Dhahab — operational planners and weapons experts — were also among the dead.
The video release seems to put a positive spin on the operation — initially planned in the Obama administration and approved by President Trump — that resulted in the death of a Navy SEAL and more than two dozen innocent civilians.
The operation in Yemen quickly went downhill after the SEALs, along with troops from United Arab Emirates, moved closer to their target in Yakla. The approach was guarded by land mines, and the militants were somehow tipped off to the SEALs’ presence, resulting in a fierce firefight that lasted nearly an hour, according to The Washington Post.
“They kind of knew they were screwed from the beginning,” a former SEAL Team 6 official told The New York Times.
One SEAL, Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens, was killed in the operation, and three other troops were injured. And a Marine V-22 Osprey, called in to evacuate the commandos, made a “hard landing” and had to be deliberately destroyed in place since it was unable to take off.
Though the Pentagon initially denied there were any civilian casualties, local news reports revealed roughly 30 non-militants were among the dead. That number included a dual American-Yemeni citizen: Nawar Anwar al-Awlaki, the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki.
His daughter’s death will likely be used in militant propaganda efforts, especially since she is the second of Anwar al-Awlaki’s children killed by the United States.
“The perception will be that it’s not enough to kill al-Awlaki — that the US had to kill the entire family,” Karen Greenberg, director of Fordham University’s Center on National Security, told NBC. According to the Middle East Monitor, the US was already being accused on social media of “assassinating children.”
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