In a post called “Al Qaeda’s day out,” I criticized the Obama administration for backing away from drone strikes against that outfit in the terrorist hotbed of Yemen. Therefore, it is only fair that I give the administration credit for launching an aggressive drone strike campaign over the weekend in Yemen against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
In one drone strike the U.S. targeted AQAP’s top bomb maker, Ibrahim Hassan Tali al Asiri, who has built innovative bombs for the Yemeni terror group. The attack killed four APAQ terrorists. According to the Long War Journal, Asiri is reported to be among them, but his death has not been confirmed by AQAP or Yemeni officials
In another strike, U.S. drones hit an AQAP training camp in a mountainous area. Reports in the Arabic press claim that more than 30 AQAP militants were killed in that attack.
In a third attack, 15 AQAP fighters and several civilians reportedly were killed when drones hit a truck as it traveled on a road leading to Baydah City, a provincial capital. Local media reported that the targeted vehicle was carrying a large amount of dynamite and that the strike killed all of the fighters on board. A military source told the Arabic media that prominent leaders in AQAP were killed in the strike. The civilian victims were traveling in another vehicle.
The new, aggressive approach is welcome. As I noted in my earlier post, the dearth of drone activity in Yemen against al Qaeda had emboldened the outfit to the point that its terrorists filmed a video of a brazen outdoor gathering. The Washington Post reported that the al Qaeda fighters made no apparent effort to avoid detection by U.S. drones.
Not everyone welcomed the new round of attacks, of course. The drone program has drawn harsh disapproval from many on the left, and the deaths of several civilians in this round provided fuel for renewed criticism.
But AQAP is considered the most dangerous of all al Qaeda branches and offshoots. And Yemen has been the place where various al Qaeda plots to attack the United States were hatched. Indeed, during “al Qaeda’s day out,” its leader in Yemen declared, “We must eliminate the cross, and the bearer of the cross is America.”
If “the bearer of the cross” wishes to defend itself, it had better kill AQAP terrorists before they launch more plots to kill us.