According to Pentagon claims, the people were “militants” attending a “training camp”, and they were “planning a large-scale attack” that “posed an imminent threat to US and [African Union] forces”. On Thursday, an al-Shabaab spokesperson denied that this many had been killed, calling the number “American propaganda”.
No evidence has been provided by the Pentagon to back up these claims, and no information has been provided as to the identities of the individuals who were killed, suggesting that the United States itself does not even know the names of the dead.
The United States government is expanding its ‘War on Terror’ on African soil through drones. US President Barack Obama has no Senate approval to kill people in Somalia or to wage a war. The killings are unlawful and constitute war crimes.
Somalia is 14,000km from the United States, and no person on Somali soil can legitimately pose an “imminent threat” to Americans. Furthermore, the term “imminent” has been proven to be a loose term, easily manipulated to justify acts such as these.
An aggressive, violent response to Islamic political insurgencies will not have a preventative effect, but will cause more individuals to turn to groups like al-Shabaab. Moreover they will increase blowback resulting in more violence on civilians.
United States impunity and disdain for the rule of law is shocking. However, the act should be seen as part of a broader counter-terrorism campaign in East Africa in which the US and its ally Britain, are destabilising Somalia and its neighbouring countries.
Karen Jayes, co-ordinator for CAGE Africa, said:
“This shocking act of extrajudicial killing sets a chilling precedent for Africa, where the United States is able to simply violate sovereign airspace and execute individuals en masse, with very little argument from African leaders, or from the broader international community. Both are content to be fed standard Pentagon press statements without demanding proof or due process.”
“The US terms ‘militants’, any military aged male residing in a conflict zone. Such broad definitions, coupled with the fact that the US continues to use drone strikes despite ample evidence showing that drone attacks target civilians 90% of the time, means this could be a war crime, unjustifiable under any law.”
“CAGE Africa stands for principles of the rule of law. Extrajudicial killings through drones violate these principles and only beget further violence. They must end in favour of dialogue-based solutions and accountability before international law. This is the only way to stop the violence.”
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(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)