Salem and Waleed bin Ali Jaber (“Salem” and “Waleed”) were killed in an August 29, 2012 drone strike in Yemen. Their estates, through a family representative, sued in the District Court of the District of Columbia claiming that the killings violated the TVPA and international law.
Salem was a moderate Islamic preacher in an isolated village called Khashamir. He had recently criticized al Qaeda; three young men visited the town on August 29 and asked to speak to him. Salem feared he might be in danger. His nephew, Waleed, a police officer, offered to accompany him. Salem, Waleed, and two of the men sat under a palm tree while a third watched from farther away. Subsequently members of the village heard the buzzing of a drone, two missiles struck the group under the tree, one the man standing further away, and one the vehicle they had arrived in, killing all five.
Plaintiffs allege that the strike was carried out by the US, which has engaged in covert drone strikes in Yemen since 2002. Plaintiff asserts that this was a “signature” strike, “in which an unidentified person is targeted based upon a pattern of suspicious behavior” and that the three men were unlikely to be high-level members of al Qaeda. Plaintiff also asserts that they posed no urgent threat to the village or the US, and, even if they did, they must have been tracked to the village, so the strike could have been made earlier without endangering civilians.