This is Hassan Huraydan. Huraydan lost two of his sons in a US drone strike in the Yemeni governorate of al-Jawf in June 2013. The younger son, Abdulaziz, was 10 years old. He had been walking along the side of the road when he saw a pick-up truck passing by, and noticed that his brother was in it. Even if his brother hadn’t have been inside, hitchhiking is common in rural parts of Yemen.
The drone strike didn’t miss its target. That was Abdulaziz’s elder brother, Saleh, a member of al-Qaeda. This was confirmed by Hassan Huraydan, who said that he had publicly disowned Saleh.
“Whoever is wanted … we kick them out. My eldest son … we told him to go his way [and leave us] … I went to the commander in Bayhan, I said, ‘this man … went with those people … It’s nothing to do with me.”
Abdulaziz was most certainly not a member of al-Qaeda. He was a 10 year old studying at school. Throughout our meeting Hassan Huraydan held Abdulaziz’s seventh grade certificate, out of 700, he’d scored 555 in his exams. He would’ve had to have been a pretty clever kid to get to the seventh grade at his age.
Hassan is angry at suggestions that Abdulaziz was a fighter, or that it was somehow his fault for getting in the pick-up truck.
“If people say he is from al-Qaeda, tell them to call me, to bring me to them … he was a 10 year old child … If you really believe this, or are just saying it for the Americans. A child … an innocent child.”
Hassan also directs his anger at the Yemeni government, saying that it shouldn’t allow foreign powers to ignore the country’s sovereignty.
“We have a state, we have planes, we have an army, we have tanks … If there is a criminal we’ll shoot him ourselves, we don’t need to call for America … We have men who are prepared to take these people [al-Qaeda] on … It is shameful that America can fire in our country.”
“We don’t like al-Qaeda, but we’re not delegating the Americans to deal with them. We are prepared to cooperate, to deal with them [al-Qaeda], to capture them, to kick them out.”