WASHINGTON -- A Yemeni man named Farea al-Muslimi told a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday that a U.S. drone strike on his small town of Wessab "tore my heart," much as the Boston Marathon bombings upset Americans.
"Most of the world has never heard of Wessab. But just six days ago, my village was struck by a drone, in an attack that terrified thousands of simple, poor farmers," Muslimi said in prepared testimony. "The drone strike and its impact tore my heart, much as the tragic bombings in Boston last week tore your hearts and also mine."
Muslimi testified that he was with an American colleague in the town of Abyan last year when the local residents suddenly became worried.
"They were moving erratically and frantically pointing toward the sky. Based on their past experiences with drone strikes, they told us that the thing hovering above us -– out of sight and making a strange humming noise -– was an American drone. My heart sank. I was helpless. It was the first time that I had earnestly feared for my life, or for an American friend’s life in Yemen. I was standing there at the mercy of a drone. I also couldn’t help but think that the operator of this drone just might be my American friend with whom I had the warmest and deepest friendship in America," Muslimi said.
"My mind was racing and my heart was torn," Muslimi continued in his statement. "I was torn between the great country that I know and love and the drone above my head that could not differentiate between me and some AQAP militant. It was one of the most divisive and difficult feelings I have ever encountered. That feeling, multiplied by the highest number mathematicians have, gripped me when my village was droned just days ago. It is the worst feeling I have ever had. I was devastated for days because I knew that the bombing in my village by the United States would empower militants."