While the liberal media and political establishment will inevitably feel an urge to lionize resigning Defence Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis for taking a “principled stance” against President Trump, it would do us all well to remember that the very first military action taken by Mattis and Trump was a horrifying crime against humanity.
The Pentagon was forced to admit on Thursday that the U.S. Special Forces raid on the village of al-Ghayil in Yakla, Yemen, had killed 35 “enemy combatants” — more than twice of what the original casualty count (14) was reported to have been.
While they claim that there were “minimal civilian casualties,” on-the-ground reporting reveals that the vast majority of the slain were, in fact, innocent civilians. “Villagers in al-Ghayil gave the Bureau of Investigative Journalism a list of 25 names of residents killed in the raid, nine of whom were said to be children under the age of 13″ reports Alex Emmons at the Intercept. A pregnant woman was shot in the belly and local doctors attempted to perform an emergency c-section but the baby did not survive, bringing the toll to ten children.
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al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula provided a list of eight more names; taken together, that makes 35 — which means the Pentagon likely is counting the women and children as “enemy combatants.”
One of those children was Nawar “Nora” al-Alwaki, an eight-year-old American citizen, who was shot in the neck and killed.
The raid was an absolute disaster from the start. President Trump and Mattis “approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations” according to Reuters. “One of the three U.S. officials said on-the-ground surveillance of the compound was ‘minimal, at best.‘”
It has also been revealed that the proposed raid had been presented before ex-President Obama, who had refused to give the green light due to operational reasons.
Mattis, however, wanted his prize, which was allegedly the emir of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Qasim al-Rimi — and goaded Trump into giving him the go-ahead by intimating that President Obama was too scared to do it.
He got no prize; the raid accomplished nothing but slaughter the inhabitants of a village who reacted with hostility to armed men who entered their homes at night and then shot their children in the face for asking who they were, as Sheikh Abdelraouf al-Dhahab saw happen to his eleven-year-old nephew, Abdullah.
It’s clear now, a year later, that the Pentagon has drastically misrepresented what happened on that fateful night. While they sold the attack as a raid on a “reinforced al Qaeda base defended with landmines and sniper nests,” local witnesses say that it was simply a village of houses containing gun-owning families in the second most heavily armed country in the world.
It wasn’t even clear that local tribal leader Sheik Abdelraouf was ever fully affiliated with al-Qaeda in the first place; Abdelraouf was trusted enough that the Yemeni government had recently paid him 15 million rials in order to marshal the 800 or so tribal fighters he could summon to fight against the Houthi rebels, who are at odds with both al-Qaeda and the United States.
While several members of the Dhahab family had been al-Qaeda members, reports indicate that the loss of four of his brothers to first al-Qaeda and then American drones had turned Abdelraouf against them; local journalists told al-Jazeera that “he [Dhahab] made clear on numerous occasions that he has no ties with al-Qaeda. He denied that over and over and we know that based on those living with him.”
the Intercept’s determined FOIA requests reveal that the Pentagon was furious with the negative portrayal of the raid in the media, which killed one American SEAL, Owen Williams, and led to the destruction of a $75 million MV-22 Osprey plane.
“Unfortunately, the media did not characterize the mission in a successful light. The media described the raid as killing dozens of civilians and resulting in one death and the destruction of a $70 million dollar [sic] aircraft. The new U.S. administration was seen as brash and unconcerned with U.S. military or Yemeni lives” complained an internal Joint Chiefs of Staff report obtained by the Intercept.
That should come as no surprise to the Pentagon, for it is notorious for being unconcerned with the lives of any foreign people of color lost to their bombs and bullets.
Since the Trump administration took over, over 6,000 innocents have been killed in the relentless bombardment of ISIS-held Iraqi and Syrian cities, not to mention hundreds more killed in Afghanistan, where just last month a U.S. airstrike hit a compound in Helmand province and killed sixteen children.
While the scale of the bombardment and the death toll have substantially increased during the Trump administration, this constant slaughter has been a hallmark of American foreign policy for years now, with nary a peep from the media, the political establishment, or the voters who continually shrug off the incessant death without much thought.
So before we fall over ourselves welcoming James Mattis to “the Resistance,” let’s keep in mind who he really is: the man who said that it is “a hell of a lot of fun to shoot some people.”