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If U.S. Government Can Kill An American Child In A Drone Strike, Is Anyone Safe?

Published in partnership with MintPress News.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015, would have been Abdulrahman Awlaki’s 20th birthday.

Instead, he was killed in 2011, by a CIA drone strike in Yemen, a country which the US had not declared war on. The American teenager had been staying with his grandparents in Yemen when he ran away from their home to try to find his father, Anwar, who was a known target of the US drone assassination program. [1]

After learning that his father had been killed in a drone strike at the end of September, Abdulrahman made plans to head home but decided to wait a little while for the current political instability to die down. On October 14, Abdulrahman was eating at an outdoor restaurant with his cousin when a US drone launched a missile that killed them and several other civilians. [3]

Abdulrahman was not linked to any terrorism-associated activity, never mind charged with an actual crime. [2] The closest to a public explanation for his death ever issued by the US government was when a journalist asked President Obama’s campaign adviser, Robert Gibbs, about it and Gibbs responded that Abdulrahman “should have a far more responsible father …” [4]

The US government killed a 16-year old American child with a MISSILE and has not been held accountable for it in any fashion. This should have been cause for national outrage.

It leads to questions that are painful but must be asked: what is it about Abdulrahman that gave his life so little value that most Americans have never even heard his name? Is it because he wasn’t on US soil? Because he had a Muslim-sounding name? Because he was brown-skinned?

Why have people have allowed themselves to be brainwashed into believing the government — and the mainstream media – propaganda that any military-aged male in a designated area overseas is a “combatant” … similar to the propaganda that any young black male in an urban neighborhood is a “thug” or “gangster”?

Why is it that when unarmed people die at the hands of the US government – be it the violence of the US military overseas or police violence in the cities of the US — they are viewed as guilty until proven innocent?

What would the response have been if Yemen ordered a drone strike that killed a blond-haired, blue-eyed American teenager on the streets of the US?

What would you do if Abdulrahman was your child? Your cousin? Your brother?

How many thousands of non-American kids and innocent people are killed by US drones, airstrikes, and other military operations, every year, in the name of “the war on terror”? How many new enemies are created every time the US government kills an innocent person?

When does this end?






Mari Matsuo

Mari Matsuo

Mari Matsuo focuses on a range of issues concerning human rights, social justice, and civil liberties. She works with several organizations including Capital Area Against Mass Incarceration, Project SALAM, and the United National Antiwar Coalition.