US Military Accused of Committing War Crimes in Somalia

NAIROBI (Somaliguardian) –The world seems to have woken up now to growing US airstrikes intentionally targeting civilians in war-torn Somalia where US Africa Command and shaky government in Mogadishu smear their victims as “terrorists”.

In the past decade, US military conducted over 300 airstrikes in which hundreds of Somali civilians were killed, but no question was ever asked about their fate and why they were killed, however, to the dismay of their loved ones, they were branded as “terrorists”.

As the brutalities have crossed all ethical borders and hidden have come in plain sight, Amnesty International now reports horrendous violations of human rights violations perpetrated by the American military in Somalia.

“The evidence is stacking up and it’s pretty damning. Not only does AFRICOM utterly fail at its mission to report civilian casualties in Somalia, but it doesn’t seem to care about the fate of the numerous families it has completely torn apart,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.

After Manda Bay attack on January 5, they have stepped up drone operations in Somalia and in retaliation for American soldiers killed in the attack, dozens of Somali civilians have been deliberately killed in south Somalia –which have shown an appalling disregard for civilian deaths by the Trump administration.

Somali citizens eye the US government as a “silent killer” and a powerful “enemy” that ruthlessly kills unprotected people without fear of any revenge, whatsoever. This has been happening sometime and now, Amnesty International urges the US government to stop denial of civilians victimized by its attacks.

“We’ve documented case after case in the USA’s escalating air war on Somalia, where the AFRICOM thinks it can simply smear its civilian victims as ‘terrorists,’ no questions asked. This is unconscionable; the US military must change course and pursue truth and accountability in these cases, in line with its obligations under international humanitarian law (the laws of war).”

The US government asserts that its airstrikes help protect its troops in Somalia, the fragile government in Mogadishu and AMISOM who are in an endless war with Al-Shabaab – an Al-Qaeda affiliated group in the country.

“On 2 February, at around 8pm, a family of five was sitting down to dinner in the city of Jilib, in Somalia’s Middle Juba region, when an air-dropped weapon – likely a US GBU-69/B Small Glide Munition with a 16-kilogramme warhead – struck their home. Nurto Kusow Omar Abukar, an 18-year-old woman, was struck in the head by a heavy metal fragment from the munition and killed instantly. The strike also injured her two younger sisters, Fatuma and Adey, aged 12 and seven, and their grandmother, Khadija Mohamed Gedow, aged around 70.” Amnesty’s statement reads.

Kusow Omar Abukar, the father of Nurto whose daughter was killed in a merciless US airstrike speaking on how his family’s life changed forever that night without the slightest warning said: “There was a very loud sound and light. The ground shook and I was thrown in the air, I couldn’t see or hear anything after that.”

Although Kusow luckily survived from the missile attack, he still recalls the misery US military casted to his life and future. “My daughter was killed,” Kusow said speaking to Aljazeera, his voice trembling with anger. “What has she done to anyone to deserve that?”

“In the middle of the afternoon on 24 February 2020, a Hellfire missile from another US air strike hit the Masalanja farm near the village of Kumbareere, 10 kilometres north of Jilib, killing 53-year-old Mohamud Salad Mohamud. He was a banana farmer and Jilib office manager for Hormuud Telecom, and he left behind a wife and eight children.” said Amnesty International.

“Nothing can excuse flouting the laws of war. Any US or Somalia government response to Al-Shabaab attacks must distinguish between fighters and civilians and take all feasible precautions to avoid harm to civilians,” said Abdullahi Hassan, Amnesty International’s Somalia Researcher.

Amnesty says bereaved civilian families in the Middle Juba region join many more Somalia civilians who have lost loved ones to air strikes but have seen no accountability or reparation to date.

The US has so far publicly admitted that it killed only two civilians in Somalia in the two decade-long airstrikes its military has been conducting in the country. The strike had killed a woman and young child in El-Bur town north of Mogadishu in 2018, but the US has not yet reached to the family to offer reparation.

Although the Somali government which was represented for protecting Somali citizens denied any civilian casualty caused by US airstrikes, Mahad Dhore a Member of Parliament speaking to Aljazeera about recent strike that killed civilians near Janale town said:

“They killed civilians. They are not telling the truth when they say they killed terrorists. These people are my constituents,” said Mahad Dhore.

“The US military should not be allowed to continue to paint its civilian victims as ‘terrorists’ while leaving grieving families in the lurch. Much more must be done to reveal the truth and bring justice and accountability for US attacks which killed so many Somali civilians, some of which amount to apparent violations of international humanitarian law,” said Abdullahi Hassan.

Hours after Amnesty International’s report circulated around social media platforms and media across the world, AFRICOM has promised to issue a quarterly statement by the end of April on the status of allegations of civilian casualties and assessment.

Although the move has been hailed by Amnesty as a step toward acquiring justice for the families who were ripped apart by US airstrikes, still there’s no authority to bring the US to justice over thousands of civilians it has killed in Somalia since 1992 when it first entered Somalia under the pretext of restoration of hope and peace after the collapse of the country’s central government.

Kusow is smart enough and knows well that US will never stop atrocities it intentionally commits against civilians in his home town and other parts of Somalia despite reports and findings unearthing evident human rights violations.

“Only God can stop America. We pray to God, he stops them. We have no other powers but prayers.” Kusow, the father who lost his daughter, said.

In the first quarter of 2020 alone, more than 15 civilians were killed in US airstrikes on mainly three regions in south Somalia –the Middle Juba, Lower Shabelle and Bay regions and many more wounded who are still struggling to receive better health treatment.

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