Drones "inhumane", dead al Qaeda man's family says

TRIPOLI Thu Jun 7, 2012 7:27am IST

A still image from January 22, 2008 video footage shows Abu Yahya al Libi, a Libyan-born top al Qaeda leader, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan earlier this week, a U.S. official said on June 5, 2012. REUTERS/IntelCenter/Handout

A still image from January 22, 2008 video footage shows Abu Yahya al Libi, a Libyan-born top al Qaeda leader, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan earlier this week, a U.S. official said on June 5, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/IntelCenter/Handout

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - The brother of al Qaeda's second-in-command, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike, said Washington's use of the remote-controlled weapons is inhumane and makes a nonsense of its claims to champion human rights.

U.S. officials said on Tuesday that Libyan-born al Qaeda operative Abu Yahya al-Libi was killed by a drone strike in Pakistan, in what was described as a major blow to the militant group.

The attack is likely to fuel an increasingly fierce debate about the legality and morality of the drones, which have become one of the chief U.S. weapons against al Qaeda but which opponents say stretch the definition of the legitimate use of lethal force.

"The United States talks human rights and freedoms for all, but the method they used to kill him is savage," Abu Bakr al-Qayed, brother of al-Libi, told Reuters on Wednesday in a telephone interview.

"The way the Americans killed him is heinous and inhumane," he said, speaking from the town of Wadi Otba, south of the Libyan capital. "We are in the 21st century and they claim to be civilised and this is how they take out people."

"Regardless of my brother's ideology, or beliefs, he was a human being and at the end of the day deserves humane treatment," he said.

For years considered a covert Central Intelligence Agency programme, the unmanned aircraft can be remotely piloted from thousands of kilometres (miles) away and can fire missiles at targets at the push of a button.

White House officials say there is nothing in international law that forbids the use of the drones and that, by killing dangerous insurgents, they are making Americans safer.

That view has been challenged by authorities in Pakistan, who are angry because many of the strikes have happened on their soil, and by rights campaigners.

Civil liberties groups argue that the strikes are illegal because they take place outside an active battlefield, meaning the rules of law which allow a combatant to kill their opponent do not apply.


The United States and security analysts say al-Libi was a veteran militant and leader of operations for al Qaeda, a group responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. cities as well as dozens of other acts of violence.

His brother offered a more nuanced account, describing how al-Libi had gone from being a chemistry student in Libya to hiding out in the mountains of Pakistan's North Waziristan region.

He said his brother, also known as Mohammed Hassan al-Qayed, had been radicalised by his treatment under Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader killed in an uprising last year. Gaddafi's security forces routinely arrested anyone who strayed from officially approved Islam.

"We come from a great line of students of religion, we are a religious family and we all studied Islamist jurisprudence at school. I am an Islamic studies professor," al-Qayed, 57, told Reuters.

"He was a very bright student and always had high marks and he wanted more out of his studies, so was forced to leave Libya... The last time we saw him was in 1990 when he left to study abroad because he was oppressed in Libya due to his beliefs."

"The last time we spoke to him was in 2002, and since then we only know what's happening with him through the media," the brother said.

"I never heard him speak of killing innocent people and don't believe he would ever condone it. He was a Muslim, and we don't kill people without reason."

"My brother was attracted to his ideology because he was oppressed and we were all oppressed and saw great suffering from Gaddafi's regime."

In what one analyst said was a retaliation for al-Libi's killing, a bomb exploded outside the offices of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi early on Wednesday. There was only slight damage.

Al-Qayed said he knew nothing about the attack in Benghazi. Asked if he expected any reaction inside Libya to his brother's killing, he said only: "I don't know, but the Muslim is the brother of the Muslim."

He appealed to Pakistan's government and humanitarian agencies to find his brother's body and bring it back to Libya "so we may bury him here as a martyr."

(Reporting by Hadeel Al-Shalchi; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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Comments (1)
Jugmohan wrote:
The brother of al Qaeda’s second-in-command, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike, said Washington’s use of the remote-controlled weapons is inhumane and makes a nonsense of its claims to champion human rights.

Question for Abu Yahya al-Libi brother & all other who think killing a militant by drone strike is inhuman: -
1. Renowned Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jehangir on Monday night said that the country’s powerful security establishment was planning to get her killed using one of the many jihadi outfits operating in the country. Is this not inhuman?
2.In Pakistan and Afghanistan The Taliban is poisoning schoolgirls by bribing students and workers to sneak toxic chemicals into drinking water or spread it around school grounds, sickening scores. Is this not inhuman?
3. In March 2001 when Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban destroyed two giant Buddha statues,Is this not inhuman?
4.Even after 65 years of partition, about 3.5 million Hindus living in Pakistan have an uncertain future. They are left to perish; they are targeted and discriminated.
It’s not that only Hindus are in a pathetic state in Pakistan – the condition of other minorities including Christians, Iranian Shias, Sikhs and Parsis is also no better.
It is no longer a secret that minorities in Pakistan are being denied their basic rights, religious freedom and, more importantly, their right to lead a secure and peaceful life in a country where they have lived for generations.
No one cares about Rimple Kumari, Lata Kumari and hundreds of unknown Hindu girls who are being abducted, raped, killed or forcibly converted to Islam every month. Is this not inhuman?
5. Killing thousand of innocent people in Sep 11 not inhuman?
6. What about the Bombay attack.
What ever done by you guys is inhuman in nature and to bring you all to justice we the peace loving people will have to use every resource available with us. I would like to request the president of all democratic countries to come forward and kill all those who are against humanity and its peaceful origin.

Jun 07, 2012 10:42am IST  --  Report as abuse
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