A member of SEAL Team 6 and an 8-year-old girl were among the people killed in Yemen on Sunday during the first clandestine military raid authorized by President Trump.
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) January 29, 2017
According to NBC, the raid was a "boots on the ground" mission at an al Qaeda camp near al Bayda in south central Yemen, and was conducted by the supersecret Joint Special Operations Command. It was carried out with the intention to capture valuable intelligence, specifically computer equipment.
"Almost everything went wrong," an anonymous official told NBC, which reports: "An MV-22 Osprey experienced a hard landing near the site, injuring several SEALs, one severely. The tilt-rotor aircraft had to be destroyed. A SEAL was killed during the firefight on the ground, as were some noncombatants, including females."
The SEAL has been identified as Chief Petty Officer William "Ryan" Owens. Defense Secretary James Mattis said in a statement that the 36-year-old, "gave his full measure for our nation, and in performing his duty, he upheld the noblest standard of military service."
At least three al Qaeda leaders were killed in the raid. Among the women and noncombatants killed was the 8-year-old girl, Nawar al-Awlaki, also known as Nora. She was the daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, the New Mexico-born al Qaeda leader who was killed in a U.S. drone strike five years ago.
12/3/15: Candidate Trump says "You have to take out their families." 1/30/17: 8-year-old daughter of al-Awlaki killed in raid. WORDS MATTER.
— Christopher Orr (@OrrChris) January 31, 2017
The most disturbing report on the raid comes from the girl's grandfather, Nasser al-Awlaki, Yemen's former agriculture minister. He described what happened at the camp based on conversations with what he characterized as Yemeni sources:
"My granddaughter was staying for a while with her mother, so when the attack came, they were sitting in the house, and a bullet struck her in her neck at 2:30 past midnight. Other children in the same house were killed," al-Awlaki said. He said the girl died two hours after being shot.
"They [the SEALs] entered another house and killed everybody in it, including all the women. They burned the house. There is an assumption there was a woman [in the house] from Saudi Arabia who was with al Qaeda. All we know is that she was a children's teacher."
Al-Awlaki said the girl and her mother had fled the Yemeni capital, Sa'ana, where he lives, to escape the heavy shelling.
Al-Awlaki also tells Reuters his granddaughter "was hit with a bullet in her neck and suffered for two hours. Why kill children? This is the new (U.S.) administration - it's very sad, a big crime."
It's unclear how many more civilians were killed: the Pentagon said 14 militants were killed, along with "numerous" civilians, while Nasser al-Awlaki said Yemenis were claiming the number of dead combatants and civilians was as high as 59.
Another local resident tells Reuters, "The operation began at dawn when a drone bombed the home of Abdulraoof al-Dhahab and then helicopters flew up and unloaded paratroopers at his house and killed everyone inside. Next, the gunmen opened fire at the U.S. soldiers who left the area, and the helicopters bombed the gunmen and a number of homes and led to a large number of casualties."
The Intercept reports that Nora's American-born brother, 16-year-old Abdulrahman, along with the boy’s 17-year-old cousin and several other innocent Yemenis, were all killed in drone strikes carried out by the Obama administration in 2011, weeks after the death of Anwar al-Awlaki.
NBC adds that as details of the disastrous raid emerged over the weekend, "Defense Secretary James Mattis had to leave one of Washington's biggest annual social events, the Alfalfa Club Dinner, to deal with the repercussions, according to the official. He did not return."