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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soundoff (218 Responses)
  1. deejer

    I take his point. I really do, but the young man is no doubt wrong about the ease of capturing the militant killed in the drone attack. It looks easy if you are there, but the logistics are mind boggling. And, as much as I regret this tactic, too often used by the US as the "easy" way to eliminate presumed enemies, even I know that the tactic is sometimes necessary.

    There seems to be no way to fight al Qaeda. They live with complete impunity among people who either support or, at the very least, do not oppose them. And their numbers grow, and will continue to grow, unless we do "something." If there is no price to be paid for engaging in terrorism, what will stop it? Despite the claim that our drone activity just generates new al Qaeda recruits, it is much more likely that these recruits are simply the radical crazies who would find their way into al Qaeda anyway.

    May 18, 2013 at 11:42 am | Reply
  2. PeteH

    You don't come, regardless of what is happening in THIS area, you don't come and kill 3,000+ people and then go away like nothing happened... and expect no retaliation! If you harbor terrorists, you ARE terrorists! Don't expect any sympathy from this Yankee.

    May 18, 2013 at 11:44 am | Reply
  3. Michael

    How can you say they failed? You are using the the targeting of yourself as an example? But you're still alive? I am not for war, and would rather not attack terrorists, but what other option is there. It is idiotic liberals like this author that made us do drone strikes. What is the alternative to drone strikes? SENDING OUR SOLDIERS TO DIE! If our soldiers were dying, the liberals would have a problem with that too. We can't just sit back and ignore the problem either because then our nation becomes very open to attacks.

    May 18, 2013 at 11:45 am | Reply
  4. Liz

    So you'd prefer a ground occupation? Folks, war sucks but this is the most surgical that war can get, focusing as much as possible on the bad people and leaving everyone else alone.

    May 18, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Reply
    • John Bolivar

      To achieve victory in war against a determined opponent you must kill people and destroy infrastructure to the point your opponent is either no longer willing or no longer capable of fighting. Sad but true.

      May 19, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Reply
  5. Bnode

    Have you considered that this is exactly the effect the powers that be are looking for?
    They can't control us properly without a boogieman and radical Islam is just that.

    May 18, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Reply
    • Don't Tread On Me

      Oh and the fact that ALL of these terrorists, including those in Boston, are islamic is just a coincidence. And the poor islamists are being villified as boogie men as a destraction.

      Really....that's the logic?

      May 19, 2013 at 10:14 pm | Reply
  6. Peter Gruid

    IIsn't it time to rid this planet of all angry Muslim Arabs?

    Drones are good but I think we now need to take the initiative and nuke Yemen, Somalia, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq as an initial statement to all remaining Arabs that if they don't stop their cruelty to their women and the West, more nukes will fall.

    Do you think this initial obliteration of the Arab menace will have the desired affect? I think it has a good chance, don't you?

    May 18, 2013 at 7:50 pm | Reply
    • Sammo

      I agree Peter but why not just nuke all Arabs straight away?

      Why leave any alive after the initial wave of nukes?

      May 18, 2013 at 8:20 pm | Reply
  7. ournation2012

    To all,

    After reading both this article and the responses to it, i am shocked to see hateful comments towards Muslims. Some posts conclude that all Muslims are evil, bent on the destruction of the west. Rather than this hatred being confined to one comment, some comments like "nuke all the arabs" and "Death to Islam" strum similar chords in my mind. I think these comments show a lack of understanding of different religions and cultures, whose unique customs stand in conflict with ones own ideas on how the world should look. Don't get me wrong, there are many people, not just muslim, whose aim is to bring terror on those whose ideology differs from their own. The basic point is to have a more open mind when it comes to different values, and to see the world for the diverse place that it is.

    May 18, 2013 at 10:19 pm | Reply
    • Don't Tread On Me

      And Islam preaches tolerance and dialog...hah!

      Islam only talks of dialog when it is convenient to their agenda, when they want to try and use our rules of society against us, or when AMERICA is handing them their collective assets on the wings of a drone!

      May 19, 2013 at 10:17 pm | Reply
  8. Roger Fenwick

    The villagers should be thankful that we have the technology to pin point our enemies, a few decades ago we would have just bombed the whole village.

    May 18, 2013 at 10:55 pm | Reply
  9. Lee Oates

    We have turned into a nation of killers. Realistically we can eventually expect Blowback from those we are terrorizing around the world.

    May 18, 2013 at 11:58 pm | Reply
    • Joe

      Im going to assume you are pakistani? because as an american your opinion would possibly find some realism in the viet nam era, or maybe in iraq, but certainly not in this story, or with pakistan. just in case you weren't aware: blasphemy laws in pakistan (instigated and supported by the taliban but as well large parts of society) have resulted in countless (literally countless there are too many to count) lynchings of christians and other religious 'undesirables'. entire neighborhoods have been burned. drones have obvious and inevitable collateral damage and of course there will be blowback, but the more suicide bombers and their recruiters we can eliminate the better. the stats are obvious, suicide bombers/etc account for more than 10 times the non combatant drone casualties. pakistanis have a lot more to worry about than drones. and even farther than that: the difference between our enemies and the Nazis is budget. the intolerance, racism, brutality, all the rest is the same.

      May 19, 2013 at 7:28 am | Reply
  10. Joe

    I just don't understand the logic of this opinion. the drone strike in question on 4-17 killed 5. in the runup to the election in pakistan far greater than 100 civilians have been killed by suicide bombers/terrorists. many because they were secular, or women. many of these terrorists are the very ones on the drone target lists. multiple drone targets have in the past been recruiters for suicide bombers (incidentally who have an attraction to recruiting mentally ill, children or impoverished). Pakistanis should be far more concerned with the statistically far great threat their own home grown racist militancy, which seems to be growing in popularity, and as well is the instigation for the drones.

    May 19, 2013 at 7:20 am | Reply
  11. Dr. Otto Van Strump

    If diversity is such a good thing , why does the liberal left still hate white people and Nazi's ?

    May 19, 2013 at 9:35 am | Reply
  12. mlblogscbgoldsmith

    Talk about wasting a golden ticket? This kid is given both an education and forum and this is what he produces? Perhaps if his village put less effort into dressing their women they might see the 17th. century within a 100 more years. How un-self aware must a person and a news organization be to waste their voice in such silliness? At some point, the 3rd world's fate must rest on the 3rd worlds behaviors and this dope is exhibit A.

    May 19, 2013 at 10:00 am | Reply
  13. Jerry

    I'm getting very sick and tired of reading all these blogs posted by all these moronic psychopaths here, praising those ungodly drones and their bla-bla-bla about their killing "terrorists" only. In fact, at least 70% of those slaughtered are civilians who have nothing to do with this obscene war. These warmongering psychopaths here are a national disgrace, proving just what a sick society we now live in!!!

    May 19, 2013 at 11:12 am | Reply
    • Don't Tread On Me

      Don't do anyting? Oh really...they celebrate in the streets when AMERICANS die, but they do nothing. They harbor these islamaic terrorists, but they do nothing.

      Don't like this society go live with those gentle peace loving tolerant people. Talk about moronic....those people you proclaim as innocents would just as soon behead any AMERICAN just because we are AMERICAN. Like all the liberal dolts you all forget how this all started....THEY ATTACKED US or does your limited memory forget that. THEY KILLED US or does your BS philosphies not allow you to acknowledge that.

      You are pitiful and pathetic.

      May 19, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Reply
    • davey

      100% of those killed or injured in Boston were civilian casualties of your insane war, but that is probably ok with you.

      May 19, 2013 at 8:32 pm | Reply
    • Suteki73

      Jerry. If the drone strikes were not working, don't you think Obama would have stopped them immediately to distance himself from a page from the "Bush" doctrine? 70% civilians? Where did you get those dreamt up numbers? Do you think a family is going to admit their dead relative was a member of a terrorist group? Do you think the terrorists carry ID cards identifying them as such? Of course families and friends are going to say no one here was a terrorist, it was the Great Satan attacking Islam. Do some innocents civilians get killed? Of course they do and it should be avoided when at all possible, but whether you want to believe it or not, we are in a war and these terrorists would kill you and your whole family if given the chance for no other reason than your not Muslim. Why do the terrorists hide within the civilian population? Because they know if they get killed, there will at least be a propaganda victory. So whose more at fault for the civilians death? If drone attacks were not working do you think the Pakistan/Afghanistan Taliban would be asking supporters for "Any opinions, thoughts, ideas, and practical implementations to defeat this drone technology must be communicated to us as early as possible because these would aid the Ummah greatly in its war against the Crusader-Zionist enemy,". Bottom line is the drone attacks work and has kept you safe over the past decade.

      May 20, 2013 at 8:24 am | Reply
      • Jerry

        Get real, Suteki73! These obscene wars and those dastardly and cowardly drone attacks have absolutely nothing to do with our national security nor with any of our rights or freedoms. Wise up and quit buying into all that right-wing propaganda, will you? I assure you that this country can well survive without either Afghanistan or Iraq!!!

        May 20, 2013 at 11:57 am |
      • Suteki73

        Saying they are "dastardly and cowardly" doesn't answer any of the questions I posed to you. Where did you dig up the 70%? Why hasn't Obama stopped the attacks? If they do not work, why does the Taliban asking for help stop the attacks form targeting them? Aren't the terrorists just as responsible for the civilian deaths? CONVINCE me this is all right wing propaganda.

        May 20, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
  14. TP

    There is no excuse for having a terrorist in your midst. You need to know your companions and what they stand just like you would anywhere. Too many people claim ignorance well that no longer should work. We all need to become smarter and more aware of what and who is around us.

    May 19, 2013 at 4:21 pm | Reply
  15. John Bolivar

    My grandson is in the USAF and in training to be a penguin (drone pilot). I wish him good hunting. The muslim terrorists hide behind their children while murdering ours with the assumption that they win either way. Either we don't fire at them for fear of collateral damage, or we do fire at them and they can cry "Look what the great satan has done!" for propaganda purposes. Its not too hard a choice as far as I'm concerned. If the muslims want children to be murdered then let it be theirs and not ours.

    May 19, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Reply
  16. Burn-Arabs-not-

    Islam is NOT a religion; it is an ideology of totalitarian world-domination masquerading as religion.

    May 19, 2013 at 6:31 pm | Reply
  17. Corrupter

    You see, what Farea Al-Muslimi and others in the Arabian Peninsula fail to understand is that their objections to the US using drones to hunt our enemies is not a concern of the average American. We would much rather send a machine than our brothers and sons, and that is not going to change. You want it to stop? YOU EXPEL THE MILITANTS FROM YOUR COUNTRY. Either you capture of kill them, or we will do it.

    May 19, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Reply
    • Elias BinRashid

      Amen brother!

      May 20, 2013 at 9:15 am | Reply
  18. shawbrooke

    Oh please. Of course the guy could not be easily arrested, anyone trying to so do would be killed on the way in. People the world over suffer for the company they keep. Sometimes innocents die when villages allows militants to stay. If you choose to take a girl to meet your mom in a village that allows militants, then you put her in danger. Don't blame others.

    May 19, 2013 at 7:00 pm | Reply
  19. QuietStormX

    Come on.... First of all you can't hear the Drones way up in the sky. And the ones spreading terrorism are the ones on target. The people in Afganistan know the deal and want peace and womans rights, plus education for young girls. Also it would be foolish to sent troops or a squad to track down these targets. It won't be easy or cheap. If ones really take the time and read why and what to know what really is going on. Shoot, turn on the radio and listen to VOA.

    May 19, 2013 at 9:26 pm | Reply
  20. lui xi ung

    as soon as he makes his connections and obtain some money he will become a terrorist just like the rest

    May 19, 2013 at 10:27 pm | Reply
  21. superbole

    I'm not buying this "tragic tale." As a matter of fact, you can take this opinion of yours and sit quietly under a tree and eat it. What about the "golden ticket" Americans received when extremist Islamists crashed passenger jets into two iconic American buildings? Why hasn't all of Islam turned inward to defeat the extremists? Where is the moral indignation of murdering innocent people on 911 and why hasn't it involved every peace-loving Muslim? Personally, I have come to believe that Median and Meccan have long relished harm to all people who are not Islamic. This goes back to the mythologies of the Crusades spread by Imams and word of mouth. I'll ask the sitting POTUS to stop killing people who might do us harm when I am convinced that Islam no longer wants my blood for not beliving in their god.

    May 20, 2013 at 5:42 am | Reply
  22. bobhamiltonchicago

    Where or how does this story show any kind of connection to al-Qaeda getting a Golden Ticket or an advantage of any kind? Was the story edited and his essential point cut out? This makes no sense. Or does simply making the claim, prove the point?

    May 20, 2013 at 7:38 am | Reply
  23. Sumguy2006

    I know English is this guys second language, but come on! It's the writers job to put a story together in a way that is at least moderately intelligible.

    May 20, 2013 at 8:32 am | Reply
  24. John Bolivar

    It sure seems that Farea Al-Muslimi is trying to help the islamic terrorists in their strategy of hiding behind their children to kill ours. We make every effort to avoid killing civilians while the islamic terrorists make every effort to kill as many civilians as possible.

    May 20, 2013 at 8:34 am | Reply
  25. Freedomfighter

    Drones are illegal, the US's use of it internationally is a breach of international law. The fact that other countries allow the US to do this shows a weak government. Should citizens of this weak government have the resources to defend and strike back at the US, they have the right to. The US has given them this opportunity on a silver platter. Reading through the comments i see people applauding the US actions, by definition these are the terrorist while those trying to fend for their families and communities are the freedom fighters.

    May 20, 2013 at 8:35 am | Reply
    • Elias BinRashid

      Give it a shot. We have a 1000 nukes we have never used since WWII. About time we dusted one off and finished cleaning house over there.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:14 am | Reply
    • suteki73

      Terrorism is illegal too so what is your point? You are correct about the weak government though. If they were strong, they would root out the terrorists themselves. Since they weak they are unable to bring law and order to areas of their own country, the US is left no choice but strike at those who would do them harm. Does the US conduct drone strikes in Indonesia, the worlds largest Muslim nation? No, because the Indonesians can identify, capture or kill the terrorists on their own. If Yemenis hate drone attack so much, I recommend they stop complaining about the US and look in the mirror. They have the power to stop the attacks themselves. Preach tolerance and peace and force those who would do others harm out of their country.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:29 am | Reply
    • Don't Tread On Me

      Drones are illegal, oh yeah so is terrorism, so is using civilians as shields, oops so is buying arms on the black market...all things these terrorists do.

      ...and we've given them an opportunity on a silver platter, really that's your story.

      Clearly you are not an AMERICAN, but a terrorist sympathizer....think they are so sweet and innocent then go live with them. We can make it here in AMERICA without you....promise!

      May 20, 2013 at 9:26 pm | Reply
  26. Suteki73

    If the drone strikes were not working, don't you think Obama would have stopped them immediately to distance himself from a page of the "Bush" doctrine? Unfortunately civilians die in war and it should be avoided when at all possible, but if a terrorist purposely hides amongst civilians hoping they also get killed in an attack, whose is ultimately responsible for the civilian death(s)? Also, the number of civilians killed is heavily inflated. How many of these civilians killed are truly "innocent civilians"? Do you think the terrorists carry ID cards identifying them as such? Do you think a family is going to admit their dead relative or friend was a member of a terrorist group when it is easier and safer to say it was the Great Satan attacking Islam again? If drone attacks were not working do you think the Pakistan/Afghanistan Taliban would be pleading supporters for "Any opinions, thoughts, ideas, and practical implementations to defeat this drone technology must be communicated to us as early as possible because these would aid the Ummah greatly in its war against the Crusader-Zionist enemy,". Bottom line is the benefits of drone attacks (e.g. disruption of attack planning/training, removal of leadership) outweighs the cost (e.g. civilian deaths, terrorist group PR) and has kept Americans and citizens from many other nations (even Muslim nations) safe over the past decade.

    May 20, 2013 at 8:47 am | Reply
  27. Elias BinRashid

    What? Are you high? Al Qaida is almost destroyed. Sorry for the drones but associate with terrorists too closely and you get fallout too.

    May 20, 2013 at 9:12 am | Reply
  28. Paul

    Any person who believes we can continue to willy nilly assassinate people around the world with drones and have no consequences for doing so is a very ignorant and misinformed person who should have no power in decision making in this country.

    May 20, 2013 at 9:53 am | Reply
    • suteki73

      Running around assassinating people willy nilly? I bet Obama has a big dart board in the Oval Office and just closes his eyes and lets fate and the dart decide who is next. Grow up. Yemenis are unwilling to expel the terrorist from their villages and country and if anyone feels they have no responsibility to do so or there will be no consequences for harboring them, that shows who is "very ignorant and misinformed".

      May 20, 2013 at 10:44 am | Reply
    • Don't Tread On Me

      Why is it people like always forget what started this war. THEY ATTACKED US!!!! Look it up it was in all the papers...you'll remember it is called 9/11 or more recently the Boston Marathon.

      So....isn't us fighting back, even with drones that put fewer US military at risk, considered consequences. By your own logic of course.

      You and these terrorists are just a bunch of cowardly bullies who whine when you come out on the short end of a fight you started. Buck up...THE USE OF DRONES IS CONSEQUENCES!!

      May 20, 2013 at 9:31 pm | Reply
  29. pie

    Not really a story. More of an opinion. If your own country would have taken care of the problem, prior to 9-11, guess we wouldn't be there. Good luck.

    May 20, 2013 at 10:27 am | Reply
  30. hypatia

    What's wrong, sugar? Did one of your friends get hit?

    May 20, 2013 at 8:31 pm | Reply
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