Three weeks after the Radda attack, Hadi visited Washington and praised the accuracy of U.S. drone strikes in an interview with Washington Post editors and reporters, as well as publicly. “They pinpoint the target and have zero margin of error, if you know what target you’re aiming at,” he told an audience at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
‘That’s why we are fighting’
The day after the attack, tribesmen affiliated with al-
Qaeda blocked the roads around Radda and stormed government buildings. They set up a large tent and held a gathering to denounce the government and the United States. Fliers handed out around town read: “See what the government has done? That’s why we are fighting. . . . They are the agents of America and the enemy of Islam. . . . They fight whoever says ‘Allah is my God,’ according to America’s instructions.”
At the funeral, some mourners chanted “America is a killer,” said Mohammed al-Ahmadi, a human rights activist who attended.
A few days later, at a gathering, relatives of the victims urged Yemeni officials to be careful about the intelligence they provided to the Americans. “Do not rush to kill innocent people,” declared Mohammed Mukhbil al-Sabooly, a village elder, in testimony that was videotaped. “If such attacks continue, they will make us completely lose our trust in the existence of a state.”
On extremist Web sites and Facebook pages, grisly pictures of the attack’s aftermath, with bodies tossed like rag dolls on the road, have been posted, coupled with condemnations of the government and the United States. In Sabool and Radda, youths have vowed to join al-Qaeda to fight the United States.
“The drone war is failing,” Berman said. “If the Americans kill 10, al-Qaeda will recruit 100.”
AQAP sent emissaries to Sabool to offer compensation to the victims’ relatives, seeking to fill the void left by the government, which has provided no compensation to the survivors and the families of those killed. Some relatives have joined AQAP since the attack, said Hamoud Mohamed al-Ammari, the security chief of Radda.
Others are considering.
“If there’s no compensation from the government, we will accept the compensation from al-Qaeda,” Rubaih said. “If I am sure the Americans are the ones who killed my brother, I will join al-Qaeda and fight against America.”
Greg Miller in Washington and Ali Almujahed in Sanaa, Yemen, contributed to this report.