In civilians' claims for damages after drone strike in Yemen, District of Columbia Circuit affirms dismissal of case on Political Question grounds

Citation metadata

Date: April-June 2017
From: International Law Update(Vol. 23, Issue 2)
Publisher: American Bar Association
Document Type: Article
Length: 1,655 words
Lexile Measure: 1500L

Document controls

Main content

Article Preview :

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress authorized the President "to use all necessary and appropriate force" against al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces. This case concerned an alleged drone misfire a bombing that resulted in unnecessary loss of civilian life. Plaintiffs Ahmed Salem bin Ali Jaber ("Ahmed") and Esam Abdullah Abdulmahmoud bin Ali Jaber ("Esam"), through their next friend Faisal bin Ali Jaber ("Faisal"), seek a declaratory judgment stating their family members were killed in the course of a U.S. drone attack in violation of international law governing the use of force, the Torture Victim Protection Act ("TVPA"), and the Alien Tort Statute ("ATS"). *243

In late-August 2012, the bin Ali Jaber family gathered in Khashamir, Yemen for a week-long wedding celebration. On August 24th, Ahmed Salem bin Ali Jaber ("Salem"), an imam in the port town of Mukalla, was asked to give a guest sermon at a local Khashamir mosque. His sermon, a direct "challenge [to] al Qaeda to justify its attacks on civilians," apparently did not go overlooked by local extremists. On August 29th, three young men arrived at Salem's father's house and asked to speak with Salem. The men first arrived in the "early afternoon," but Salem's father told them Salem was "visiting neighboring villages." The three men left and returned around 5:00pm that same day, when Salem's father informed them they might find Salem "at the mosque after evening prayers." The men again departed before reappearing at the mosque around 8:30pm. Fearful of the men, Salem asked Waleed bin Ali Jaber ("Waleed"), one of the town's two policemen, to accompany him to meet them. According to the Complaint, "Two of the men sat down with Salem under a palm tree near their parked car, while the third [man] remained a short distance away, watching the meeting." Shortly thereafter, members of the bin Ali Jaber family "heard the buzzing of the drone, and then heard and saw the orange and yellow flash of a tremendous explosion." Ibid. According to witnesses, "the first two strikes directly hit Salem, Waleed[,] and two of the three strangers. The third missile seemed to have been aimed at where the third visitor was located.... The fourth strike hit the [men's] car." Plaintiffs' contended a U.S.-operated drone deployed the four Hellfire missiles that killed the five men. *244

Shortly after this lawsuit was filed, the government successfully moved under the Westfall Act, 28 U.S.C. [section] 2679, to substitute the United States for the...

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A550996292