US Kills Four in Northeast Yemen Drone Strike

Officials Say All Slain Were 'al-Qaeda'

A US drone strike against Wadi Abida, east of Sanaa, has destroyed two cars and killed four people, all of whom the Yemeni government immediately labeled “al-Qaeda members.”

Yemen routinely identifies everyone the US kills as “al-Qaeda,” but in many cases it has later been revealed that the victims were innocent civilians hit as part of the policy of “signature strikes.”

Under signature strikes, US drone strikes don’t need to target anyone specifically identified on the ground, but can target people who look like they’d probably be guilty of something.

In December, one signature strike targeted a group of vehicles traveling together, since officials figured that must be an al-Qaeda convoy. It was revealed later to be a wedding procession, and 16 civilians were slain.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.