Noah Shachtman, writing for Wired magazine's Danger Room national security blog Sept. 5, notes that while the Democrats are partying in Charlotte, and patting themselves on the back for the death of Osama bin Laden, the drone war in Yemen has gone into "overdrive"—to little notice in the US media.
29 dead in a little over a week. Nearly 200 gone this year. The White House is stepping up its campaign of drone attacks in Yemen, with four strikes in eight days. And not even the slaying of 10 civilians over the weekend seems to have slowed the pace in the United States' secretive, undeclared war...
The US Department of Defense announced Aug. 29 that the Chief Prosecutor for Military Commissions has filed terrorism charges against a Saudi Guantánamo Bay prisoner accused of plotting with al-Qaeda to blow up oil tankers near Yemen. The detainee, Ahmed al Darbi, has been accused of six offenses under the Military Commissions Act of 2009, including conspiracy, aiding and abetting attacks on civilians, and aiding and abetting terrorism based on his former work as a weapons instructor, contact with Osama bin Laden, and support of bombing civilian oil tankers. According to the statement released by the Pentagon:
Presumed militants from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) early Aug. 21 blew up a pipeline pumping liquefied gas to Yemen's southern Balhaf export terminal, causing a complete halt in operations, security officials said. The gunmen blew up the pipeline "at Station 5, in the village of Zahira, in the Shabwa province," according to the provincial security chief. Witnesses reported that dozens of villagers fled their houses due to a raging fire caused by the explosion. (Critical Threats, Aug. 22; Middle East Online, Aug. 21) On Aug. 18, presumed AQAP militants killed at least 14 soldiers and security guards in a car bomb and grenade attack on the intelligence service headquarters in the southern port city of Aden. (Reuters, Aug. 18)
US drones killed 10 supposed al-Qaeda militants in separate strikes targeting moving vehicles in Yemen Aug. 7—in the midst of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The official SABA news agency said one of the dead was Abdullah Awad al-Masri AKA Abou Osama al-Maribi, described him as one of the "most dangerous elements" of al-Qaeda in the militant stronghold of Bayda province and the man in charge of a bomb-making lab. Another US drone targeted a second vehicle carrying three supposed al-Qaeda militants in the Zoukaika region of Hadramout province. (AP, Aug. 7) A US drone attack on Aug. 5 killed at least seven in Pakistan, striking a compound in Khushhali Turikhel village of North Waziristan tribal district. (NY Daily News, July 29)
A suicide bomber struck at a funeral in Yemen's southern city of Jaar Aug. 4, killing at least 35 and wounding dozens more, including the leader of a local group that was fighting al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Authorities also said they had intercepted a would-be suicide martyr who intended to attack the British embassy in the capital Sana'a. (The Guardian, Aug. 5; Yemen Observer, Aug. 4) A US drone strike meanwhile killed five supposed AQAP militants at al-Qotn in Hadramout province. The last confirmed US drone strike in Yemen took place on July 3 in Shabwa province, reportedly killing two AQAP operatives. (Long War Journal, Aug. 4)
Saudi Arabia's Ministry of the Interior announced July 30 that a former Guantánamo Bay inmate who had completed the country's militant rehabilitation program surrendered to Saudi authorities. Adnan al-Sayegh, who was placed in the Ministry's rehabilitation program after returning from Guantánamo in 2006, escaped to Yemen and rejoined al-Qaeda. He expressed remorse when he surrendered himself to the authorities, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Interior. Sayegh argued that he was deceived into joining the terrorist group. He was placed on the country's wanted list in 2009 as the 85th most wanted terrorist. Authorities stated that he will receive proper procedure and that his surrender will be taken into consideration. The rehabilitation center was a measure by the country addressing the attacks initiated by Islamist militants during 2003 and 2006.