Provoking Yemeni Terrorism

The U.S. government and mainstream media continue to play dumb about threats to Americans from the Muslim world. After two Chicago-bound packages of explosive materials originating in Yemen were found in England and Dubai, White House homeland security and counterterrorism advisor John Brennan said, “We are trying to understand who is behind it ….”

President Obama added, “We will continue to pursue additional protective measures for as long as it takes to ensure the safety and security of our citizens. I’ve also directed that we spare no effort in investigating the origins of these suspicious packages….”

Those statements are disingenuous. We already know who — more precisely, what — is behind the attempt to perhaps blow up airplanes with the explosives. We understand — or should understand — the origins of such terrorism. And despite his words, the president steadfastly refuses to pursue the best protective measure to keep Americans safe.

What’s behind it all is the American empire’s intervention in the Muslim world. Specifically, U.S. forces have been conducting a covert war on the people of Yemen for almost 10 years. In that light it is not so difficult to fathom why Yemenis might want to hurt Americans.

“US Special Forces, warplanes and killer drones have been active since 2001, assassinating Yemeni militants and antigovernment tribal leaders,” writes Eric Margolis, a reporter long familiar with Yemen and the wider region. “It was only a matter of time before Yemeni jihadists struck back at the US.”

Once again, conceited American officials have blundered into civil war in a desperately poor Muslim country, this time backing a military dictatorship hated by Shi’ite Muslims and local tribesmen.

In December a Nigerian Muslim who spent time in Yemen tried to blow up an airliner over Detroit. Margolis notes, “Just before the Detroit air incident, US warplanes killed 50–100 Houthi tribesmen fighting the American-backed regime.”

Besides warplanes the Obama administration is also using that weapon of choice, the unmanned drone, from which operators sitting safety in the United States shoot deadly Hellfire missiles at Yemeni villages. That has not exactly endeared the United States to the Yemenis. “I wish I had a weapon that could reach that aircraft,” one tribesman said. In the eastern part of the country, people hear drones overhead for hours every day. “Now children and women are terrified and can’t sleep…. People are haunted. They expect the next strike to hit the innocent and not the fugitives,” a man told Reuters. He spoke after an attack in May in which, Reuters reported, “an errant air raid targeting al-Qaeda killed five people, among them Jaber al-Shabwani, the province’s deputy governor who was mediating between the government and the militants.” The Reuters report continued, “The killing so angered Shabwani’s tribesmen that in the subsequent weeks they fought heavily with government security forces, twice attacking a major oil pipeline in Maarib.”

That is what U.S. policy in the Muslim world yields every time. Yes, Margolis reports, “The most prominent Yemeni militant group is al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a fusion of local Yemeni and Saudi jihadists dedicated to overthrowing the Saudi monarchy and Yemeni military regime and replacing them with an Islamic government. AQAP numbers around 100–200 core members, with thousands of supporters.” However, “It is not an organic part of Osama bin Laden’s group but, like similar al-Qaida franchises in Iraq, North Africa, Somalia, and West Africa, a like-minded local revolutionary group” (emphasis added).

In other words, al-Qaeda wannabes are popping up wherever the American regime intervenes. Their militancy is not motivated by religion or a hatred of Americans’ way of life but by a desire for revenge for America’s cruel invasions, occupations, bombings, assassinations, and torture. Robert Pape of the University of Chicago, who has studied suicide terrorism more thoroughly than anyone, concludes, “More than 95 percent of all suicide attacks are in response to foreign occupation…. The vast majority of suicide terrorists hail from the local region threatened by foreign troops….” The motivation for shipping explosives is not likely to be different.

Contrary to Barack Obama, the best way to protect ourselves from militant Yemenis is to get out of their country.

SHELDON RICHMAN is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation (www.fff.org) and editor of The Freeman magazine.


More articles by:

Sheldon Richman, author of America’s Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society, and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.  He is also the Executive Editor of The Libertarian Institute.

March 22, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Italy, Germany and the EU’s Future
David Rosen
The Further Adventures of the President and the Porn Star
Gary Leupp
Trump, the Crown Prince and the Whole Ugly Big Picture
The Hudson Report
Modern-Day Debtors’ Prisons and Debt in Antiquity
Steve Martinot
The Properties of Property
Binoy Kampmark
Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and Surveillance Capitalism
Jeff Berg
Russian to Judgment
Gregory Barrett
POSSESSED! Europe’s American Demon Must Be Exorcised
Robby Sherwin
What Do We Do About Facebook?
Sam Husseini
Trump Spokesperson Commemorates Invading Iraq by Claiming U.S. Doesn’t Dictate to Other Countries; State Dept. Defends Invasion
Rob Okun
Students: Time is Ripe to Add Gender to Gun Debate
Michael Barker
Tory Profiteering in Russia and Putin’s Debt of Gratitude
March 21, 2018
Paul Street
Time is Running Out: Who Will Protect Our Wrecked Democracy from the American Oligarchy?
Mel Goodman
The Great Myth of the So-Called “Adults in the Room”
Chris Floyd
Stumbling Blocks: Tim Kaine and the Bipartisan Abettors of Atrocity
Eric Draitser
The Political Repression of the Radical Left in Crimea
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan Threatens Wider War Against the Kurds
John Steppling
It is Us
Thomas Knapp
Death Penalty for Drug Dealers? Be Careful What You Wish for, President Trump
Manuel García, Jr.
Why I Am a Leftist (Vietnam War)
Isaac Christiansen
A Left Critique of Russiagate
Howard Gregory
The Unemployment Rate is an Inadequate Reporter of U.S. Economic Health
Ramzy Baroud
Who Wants to Kill Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah?
Roy Morrison
Trouble Ahead: The Trump Administration at Home and Abroad
Roger Hayden
Too Many Dead Grizzlies
George Wuerthner
The Lessons of the Battle to Save the Ancient Forests of French Pete
Binoy Kampmark
Fictional Free Trade and Permanent Protectionism: Donald Trump’s Economic Orthodoxy
Rivera Sun
Think Outside the Protest Box
March 20, 2018
Jonathan Cook
US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank
Jeffrey St. Clair
How They Sold the Iraq War
Chris Busby
Cancer, George Monbiot and Nuclear Weapons Test Fallout
Nick Alexandrov
Washington’s Invasion of Iraq at Fifteen
David Mattson
Wyoming Plans to Slaughter Grizzly Bears
Paul Edwards
My Lai and the Bad Apples Scam
Julian Vigo
The Privatization of Water and the Impoverishment of the Global South
Mir Alikhan
Trump and Pompeo on Three Issues: Paris, Iran and North Korea
Seiji Yamada
Preparing For Nuclear War is Useless
Gary Leupp
Brennan, Venality and Turpitude
Martha Rosenberg
Why There’s a Boycott of Ben & Jerry’s on World Water Day, March 22
John Pilger
Skripal Case: a Carefully-Constructed Drama?
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us