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Al Majala Attack
For some weeks in early winter 2009 the people of al-Majala, southern Yemen, had noticed a spotter plane overhead.The aircraft, most likely American, wasn’t seen as a threat. After all, it had been seven years since the last US military action in Yemen, when a CIA drone had killed six al Qaeda-linked militants.But everything was about to change. At 6am on December 17, a US Navy vessel stationed in the Gulf launched at least one cruise missile towards al-Majala. The US target that day was Saleh Mohammed al-Anbouri, also known as al-Kazemi. The man was a known militant, who had allegedly been ‘bringing nationals from different countries to train them to become Al Qaeda members’, as stated in a later inquiry. He was linked to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a franchise of the global terrorist organisation which had launched multiple attacks against US interests in Yemen.Al Anbouri had brought his wife and four young sons to live with his tribe in al-Majala. Also living in the hamlet was the extended al Haydara family, mostly women and children. They had no known links to AQAP.Al Anbouri told locals that after recently being released from prison, he wanted to ‘start a new life.’ On the morning of December 17, he and a group of other men were digging a well.But then at least one BGM-109D Tomahawk cruise missile hit al-Majala. An Amnesty International investigation later forensically identified fragments, concluding:This type of missile, launched from a warship or submarine, is designed to carry 166 cluster sub-munitions (bomblets) which each explode into over 200 sharp steel fragments that can cause injuries up to 150m away. Incendiary material inside the bomblet also spreads fragments of burning zirconium designed to set fire to nearby flammable objects.