An 8-year-old American girl was reportedly killed in Donald Trump’s first approved clandestine operation against Al-Qaeda in Yemen, according to NBC News.
Nawar al-Awlaki, sometimes called Nora, the daughter of an American-born Al-Qaeda leader assassinated by the United States several years ago, was slain in the U.S. operation that also killed a Navy Seal, the network reported.
Other news organizations had attributed claims of the girl’s death to her grandfather. NBC News reported that a “senior military official” the network did not name had confirmed the child’s death. The New York Times reported that U.S. officials denied there were civilian casualties but then said they were “assessing reports that women and children” had died.
Also killed in the raid targeting Al-Qaeda militants was American Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens. He was a member of the famed SEAL Team 6. Owens was the first U.S. combat death under President Trump.
Heavy asked the Department of Defense, “Is it true that another American citizen died in that incident also? Who? And what age? Is it true that an 8-year-old American citizen, Nawar al-Alwaki, was killed in the incident? Was she killed by the Americans, Al-Qaeda or in another manner? How did she die?”
Christopher Sherwood, a Department of Defense spokesman, responded, “We take all civilian casualty reports seriously. As is CENTCOM’s policy, they are looking into the civilian casualty claims and will make a determination on if there needs to be a full investigation.”
The military has now released a statement saying that it’s likely civilian casualties resulted from the raid, including possibly children.
The child’s father, Anwar al-Awlaki, was born in New Mexico but became a high-profile leader of Al-Qaeda.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Nawar’s Father & Teenage Brother Were Previously Killed by the Americans
The child’s grandfather claimed that she “was hit with a bullet in her neck and suffered for two hours,” according to the Christian Science Monitor.
The grandfather, Nasser al-Awlaki, told Reuters: “Why kill children? This is the new (US) administration – it’s very sad, a big crime.”
The United States, upon the order of President Barack Obama, killed the girl’s father with a drone in 2011. Her father, Anwar al-Awlaki, was a New Mexico born cleric who was the top Al-Qaeda leader in Yemen, according to The New York Times. The Times reported that his brother-in-law, also an Al-Qaeda leader, was believed killed in the recent raid.
Nawar’s 16-year-old brother, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, also an American citizen, was then killed in another drone strike also authorized by Obama, according to the Atlantic.
The recent operation was planned for months, before Trump took office, but he authorized it, according to KTLA.
The Times reported that a Yemeni official contends seven children died in the recent raid, but this was not confirmed.
2. The Raid Was Supposed to Obtain Intelligence, Such as Computer Equipment, but Things ‘Went Wrong’
The raid was targeting a powerful family associated with Al-Qaeda terrorist, Abdulraoof al-Dhahab. KTLA reported that the raid was “against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula headquarters.” According to The New York Times, a “fierce firefight” erupted in the raid, which was part of the “yearslong shadow war against Al-Qaeda’s “Yemen affiliate.”
The Times reported that the goal was to obtain computer planning intelligence of plots against America in the targeted Al-Qaeda home.
“Almost everything went wrong,” NBC News quoted the unnamed official of the botched raid, which was overshadowed by the protests and controversies over Trump’s immigration ban.
According to Reuters, accounts of the dead and injured conflicted.
The U.S. military claimed 14 militants were killed, but medics present “said around 30 people, including 10 women and children, were killed,” Reuters reported.
At least two other U.S. service members were injured, and a military aircraft had to be purposely destroyed, Reuters reported.
3. Owens, Killed During a Firefight on the Ground, Was a Decorated SEAL
Owens, 36, of Peoria, Illinois, was a “decorated Navy SEAL from the Virginia-based elite unit known as SEAL Team 6,” according to the San Diego Union Tribune.
The newspaper said the SEAL “was twice awarded the Bronze Star medal with V for valor in combat.” According to the Union-Tribune, Al-Qaeda women were among the fighters the SEALS faced.
The gun battle that killed Owens lasted for two hours, reported the San Diego Union-Tribune. Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, went to meet Owens’ body as he arrived back on American soil. You can read more about Owens here:
4. The New Defense Secretary Abruptly Left a Social Event After Getting Word That Things Went Wrong
New Defense Secretary James Mattis rushed out of one of “Washington’s biggest annual social events, the Alfalfa Club Dinner,” NBC News reported.
Mattis later praised the slain SEAL. “Ryan gave his full measure for our nation, and in performing his duty, he upheld the noblest standard of military service,” the defense secretary said, according to UPI. “The United States would not long exist were it not for the selfless commitment of such warriors.”
There’s very little news coverage of the child’s reported death and the Pentagon has not officially confirmed it.
5. Yemen Is One of the Countries Affected by Trump’s Immigration Ban
Yemen is one of the countries subjected to Trump’s 90-day immigration ban, which he has said was necessary to thwart Islamic radical terrorists from entering the U.S. The ban has sparked protests at airports throughout the United States. The photo above is of Anwar Al-Awlaki.
According to Military Times, Trump labeled the raid a “success.”
Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told the Military Times that the raid “would provide the Pentagon with further insight into planning” within this branch of Al-Qaeda, “which has taken responsibility for the 2015 ‘Charlie Hebdo’ terror attacks in Paris.”
The Yemen branch of the terrorist operation is considered one of its most lethal and has plotted to bring down American airliners, according to The New York Times.