57 people were killed in the drone strikes attempting to target an alleged Al-Qaida leader – who was mistakenly reported killed three times, but each time the dead were those unlucky enough to be in the path of the so-called precision strikes. One of the people killed was Nasser Salim.
Nasser was a 19-year-old student before he was killed. He had returned home between school terms to help out on the family farm in Wadi, Yemen. The target of the strike was Fahd Al-Quso, an alleged leader of Al-Qaida who lived at the next farm. The drone missile was aimed at Al-Quso, but killed both him and Nasser.
It was around 7pm on 6 May 2012 when the drone struck. According to Nasser’s uncle, Nasser was “torn to pieces.” in the explosion. Nasser’s family have never received an explanation or an apology for his death.
Reports later emerged from within US intelligence circles that British intelligence services MI5 and MI6 were allegedly involved in helping the CIA target al-Quso as part of a joint US-UK-Saudi Arabian operation. A British MI5 agent posed as a new Al-Qaeda recruit and collected the information that led directly to the death of both Al-Quso and Nasser Salim.
Because MI5 and MI6 agents are officially banned from assassinations, MI5 and MI6 were very reluctant to take credit for the operation. The UK government even requested that the U.S. government not reveal the MI5 or MI6 involvement out of fear of the public response.
“For years, the government has denied any involvement in US’s covert drone war in Yemen, saying it’s ‘a matter for the states involved.’ It’s now beyond dispute the UK is one of those states – working hand in glove with the Americans to create the very ‘kill list’ that drives those strikes. Even more disturbing, the UK has copied wholesale the US model of outsourcing the military to the intelligence agencies in order to hide their involvement and avoid any accountability.
Nasser Salim’s family, and the hundreds of other innocent civilians killed by this failed programme, deserve answers. There needs to be an urgent inquiry into just how far the UK’s involvement in this covert drone programme goes – both in Yemen and beyond.”
Jen Gibson, Reprieve staff attorney
Before his death, Al-Quso had been targeted and reported killed at least three previous times, including one time in Pakistan. As many as 57 people were killed in these attempts.