2022-06-01. Calls are growing for the Pentagon to acknowledge that a U.S. drone strike on March 29, 2018, in Yemen mistakenly struck civilians. Adel Al Manthari was the only survivor of the drone strike, which killed his four cousins as they were driving a car across the village of Al Uqla. The Pentagon refuses to admit the men were civilians and it made a mistake. Now supporters are demanding the U.S. pay for the devastating injuries Al Manthari sustained and fund the surgery he urgently needs. “He’s effectively fighting for his quality of life and his dignity and to survive,” says Aisha Dennis, project manager on extrajudicial executions for the rights group Reprieve. “It’s a scandal that the Pentagon can completely dodge responsibility,” says Kathy Kelly, peace activist and a coordinator of the Ban Killer Drones campaign, which is fundraising for Al Manthari’s medical care. (Democracy Now)
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Because of a broken civilian casualty compensation system, the U.S. military never made a payment to Yemeni drone strike survivor Adel Al Manthari. The Intercept
THE MARCH 29, 2018, drone strike left Al Manthari, then a civil servant in the Yemeni government, with severe burns to the left side of his body, a fractured hip, and serious damage to the tendons, nerves, and blood vessels in his left hand. The injuries left him unable to walk or work, plunged him into debt for medical treatment, and caused his daughters — aged 8 and 14 at the time of the strike — to drop out of school to care for him.
A 2018 investigation by the Associated Press and a meticulously documented 2021 report by the Yemen-based group Mwatana for Human Rights determined that the victims of the 2018 strike were civilians not, as the Pentagon claimed, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula “terrorists.” In March, Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., asked the Pentagon to open a new investigation of the airstrike that disabled Al Manthari, as well as 11 other U.S. attacks in Yemen.
If Al Manthari’s story sounds familiar, there’s a good reason. From Libya to Somalia, Syria to Yemen, the U.S. military regularly undercounts civilian casualties, according to victims’ family members, investigative journalists, and humanitarian groups that independently investigate claims. For years, exposés by journalists and NGOs have been necessary to push the Department of Defense to reinvestigate attacks and, in limited instances, acknowledge killing civilians.
Dad Says Botched U.S. Drone Strike Could Now Cost Him His Legs. Daily Beast
Because of a broken civilian casualty compensation system, the U.S. military never made a payment to Yemeni drone strike survivor Adel Al Manthari.
“Congress cut DoD a check for millions to pay for exactly this type of scenario,” said Jennifer Gibson, a human rights lawyer and project lead on extrajudicial killing at Reprieve, an international human rights organization representing Al Manthari. “DoD’s refusal to spend even a penny of it — on Adel or any of the thousands of civilians harmed by U.S. drones — sends the message that they simply don’t care about accountability.”
In cases like Al Manthari’s, experts said that compensation is hampered by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s resistance to reassessing past allegations of civilian harm.
“It was the U.S.’s Hellfire missile that cost Adel his family and his health,” Gibson said. “It should be the U.S. that pays for the treatment to save his legs. That’s what responsible governments do. They own up to their mistakes.”
“The watchwords of the U.S. drone program,” said Gibson, “have consistently been ‘no accountability, no apology, no compensation,’ and a radical rethink is needed.”
Until then, victims like Al Manthari will need to rely on fundraising websites and the kindness of strangers to stay alive, as the Pentagon boasts about accountability while trafficking in secrecy and impunity.
Drone Warfare History: Tortoise Media
Industrialised under Barack Obama, drone warfare has been accelerated by Donald Trump. Obama authorised 186 drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia in his first two years in office. Trump authorised 240.
We talked to Makbhout Adhban, an on-the-ground investigator for the charity Reprieve in Yemen, where civil war has raged for nearly five years, and where al-Qaeda and the Islamic State continue to operate.
Adhban painted a harrowing picture of Yemen in the time of Trump: a country at the whim of a US drone campaign which seems to have become increasingly careless about its targets.
“The drone strikes are no longer limited to certain areas that used to be hit during the Obama era,” Adhban told us. “There is a clear disregard of the rules of engagement, for example, when it comes to strikes in residential neighbourhoods.”
In the early afternoon of 29 March 2018, a little over a year into Trump’s first term, Adel Al-Manthari, then a 51-year-old civil servant, was behind the wheel of his Toyota Land Cruiser. He was driving four family members to the al-Sawma’ah district in southern Yemen.