May 16th, 2013
11:52 AM ET

'You have given al Qaeda a golden ticket'

"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

On April 17, a U.S. drone strike killed an al Qaeda militant and four others in a remote village in Western Yemen. CNN’s Jessica Gutteridge talks to Farea Al-Muslimi, a former U.S. exchange student who grew up in the village.

“I grew up in Wessab, a remote the mountain in Yemen.  It's nine hours south away from the capital, a very deprived area where mostly farmers live there. It’s a place where there is no electricity, even today, not a single hospital, not a single school. It’s a very miserable area.

I lived here in high school with a host family, as an exchange student. The best year of my life – ever. It's beyond imagination. It was the richest year of my life, I think, in every sense – education-wise, knowledge-wise, friendship-wise, school-wise, because it's just like taking someone from the seventh century in a time machine to the 21st century. I became technically an ambassador for Americans for the rest of my life. The people, I think, are the best, the very best part about my year in America.

There was at the day of the strike, there was a plane hovering over the head of the village, though people didn't know that this plane was targeting someone or looking for someone. And it was…not a physical strike, but a heart and mind strike for the people.

Five people were killed. Four and al-Radmi. Hamid al-Radmi was was not someone, according to our knowledge, until recently – until after the strike – someone who is associated with AQAP, with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. It angered people there. You don't come, regardless of what is happening in this area, you don't come explode a bomb and go away as if nothing happens, just like a PlayStation from away. And it has been something that people are asking – why did this happen? Why were we dying? There was nothing easier than capturing this man. I haven't heard even close to a logical answer why this happened, and I don't think I will ever have.

I went to an American friend and I was so afraid about her life from al Qaeda. So I veiled her…with whole black so she looks totally Yemeni. And even she needed to put a finger hole in her gloves so she can use her iPhone. And there she was – she looked like the most Yemeni you can ever see veiled and I looked like the most Yemeni man with my traditional clothes you can ever see.

And that was because I was afraid about her life from al Qaeda. I hear a buzz over my head. This is an American drone above us. And I turned around to my friend and I say, I was afraid about your life from al Qaeda. I’m now afraid about your life from your own government. This policy does not differentiate between her, me and any other militant.  Targeted killing must be stopped.

In the past, women used to tell their children, ‘go to bed or I will call your father.’ Now they say, ‘go to bed or I will call the plane.’ That is a golden ticket you give al Qaeda to use against you.

Since the strike drones were used, al Qaeda is now powerful as never before today.

Your government and my government have failed you big time in this war.

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Topics: Terrorism • Yemen

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