Donald Trump Vowed to Kill Terrorists’ Families. He Just Did.
During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump said he would kill the families of Islamist terrorists. On Sunday, he did just that, killing as many as 30 civilians — including women and children —in a raid targeting al-Qaeda fighters in Yemen.
It is unclear exactly how many civilians perished as US helicopters and possibly drones attacked homes in the Yakla region of al-Bayda province in southern Yemen. One Yemeni official told Agence France-Presse 16 civilians, including eight women and eight children, were killed along with 41 militants. Local medical personnel told the Independent 30 civilians were killed, including at least 10 women and children.
What is clear is that at least one of the children killed in the raid suffered a slow, painful death. Nora al-Awlaki, age 8, “was hit with a bullet in her neck and suffered for two hours,” her grandfather, Nasser al-Awlaki, told Reuters. “Why kill children? This is the new [Trump] administration — it’s very sad, a big crime.”
The Trump administration said nothing about the death of al-Awlaki or any of the other civilians killed by the first major strike of Trump’s presidency in Yemen. There was also no mention that al-Awlaki is the daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical US-born cleric killed in a 2011 drone strike. Al-Awlaki’s American son, 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki of Denver, Colorado, was killed in a separate drone strike two weeks later. He was an innocent civilian.
Trump did offer his “deepest thoughts and humblest prayers” to the loved ones of a US Navy SEAL killed in the raid, the one death in the attack that has received considerable coverage in the US corporate mainstream media.
The wholesale slaughter of families of Islamist militants is something Trump advocated on the presidential campaign trail. In December 2015, he criticized the Obama administration — whose drone and other air strikes killed at least hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Libya — for “fighting a very politically correct war.” In contrast, Trump said he would “bomb the shit out of” Islamic State, including killing women, children and other noncombatants.
“I’d blow up every single inch, there would be nothing left,” Trump said on the campaign trail in November 2015. “We’ll get Exxon[Mobil] to come in there and in two months… I’ll take the oil.”
“The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families,” Trump said on Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends” in December 2015. “They care about their lives, don’t kid yourself. When they say they don’t care about their lives, you have to take out their families.”
Trump later walked back his vow to kill terrorists’ families, even claiming he never made such a pledge. Trump was also dismissive of international and domestic human rights law when it was pointed out that killing terrorists’ families and torture — which Trump has said he supports — are war crimes under the Geneva Convention and other laws and agreements to which the United States is signatory. “It’s very interesting what’s happens with the Geneva Convention,” Trump said, an apparent reference to the so-called “ticking time bomb” scenario terrorism experts say almost never occurs. “Everybody believes in the Geneva Convention until they start losing and then it’s okay, let’s take out the bomb.”
Estimates of the number of people killed during the ongoing 15-year US-led war against Islamist terrorism range from the low hundreds of thousands to over 1.3 million. Over the past half century, US military forces have killed more foreign civilians than any other armed force in the world, by far.