The Australian reports: Two Australian citizens have been killed in a US airstrike in Yemen in what is the first known example of Australian extremists dying as a result of Washington’s highly controversial use of predator drones.
The Australian has been told the two men, believed to be in their 20s, were killed in a Predator drone strike on five al-Qa’ida militants travelling in a convoy of cars in Hadramout, in eastern Yemen, on November 19.
The men were Christopher Harvard of Townsville and a New Zealand dual citizen who went by the name “Muslim bin John” and fought under the alias “Abu Suhaib al-Australi.”
The Australian government, which insists it was given no advance warning of the strike, has positively identified the remains of the men using DNA analysis, with samples taken from families of the two men.
It is understood at least one of the men, Harvard, was buried in Yemen, possibly as recently as last week, following prolonged discussions with his family, which hoped to repatriate his remains.
A senior counter-terrorism source told The Australian the men were “foot soldiers” for al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qa’ida’s regional franchise based in Yemen.
It is understood US authorities notified Australian officials about the possibility Australian citizens might have been “collateral damage” in the strike, part of an ongoing campaign by the US and Yemeni governments to wipe out AQAP militants. [Continue reading…]