“It is incredibly dangerous what the US is trying to do in Yemen at the moment because it really fits into AQAP’s broader strategy, in which it says Yemen is not different from Iraq and Afghanistan,” says Mr. Johnsen of Princeton University in New Jersey, who adds that AQAP can recruit militants from outside Yemen as well. “They are able to make the argument that Yemen is a legitimate front for jihad… They’ve been making that argument since 2007, but incidents like this are all sort of fodder for their argument.”
The June 7 Amnesty report offers photographs of the wreckage of what it said were US-made cruise missiles and an unexploded cluster bomblet that were allegedly used during an attack on an Al Qaeda hideout in Abyan, a remote area of southern Yemen, in December. Amnesty said the photos were taken immediately following the attack, which killed 35 women and children as well as 14 militants just a week before the Christmas Day underwear bomber tried to carry out his mission.
“A military strike of this kind against alleged militants without an attempt to detain them is at the very least unlawful,” said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme in the report. “The fact that so many of the victims were actually women and children indicates that the attack was in fact grossly irresponsible, particularly given the likely use of cluster munitions.”