The Pentagon released video clips from 10-year-old Al Qaeda propaganda on Friday to justify the weekend raid by Navy SEAL Team 6 in Yemen in which “almost everything went wrong.”
US Central Command uploaded video it said was seized from a computer during the operation, which featured a masked man teaching “would-be terrorists” how to build bombs.
Shortly after this article was published, however, the videos were removed from the Pentagon’s image and video distribution site. According to CNN’s Jim Sciutto, CENTCOM said it mistakenly uploaded old videos that weren’t from the Yemen raid.
The Associated Press reported that the videos were made public about 10 years ago. A Pentagon spokesman said the video was indeed found in Yemen but told reporters it “does not matter” when the video was made.
It’s not yet clear whether CENTCOM would release newer videos found in the raid. A spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In an email release to reporters with the old video, CENTCOM said that “one of the videos demonstrates the process for making triacetone triperoxide, an explosive used in numerous terrorist attacks, including the attempted ‘shoebomber’ attack in 2001 and the attacks across the London transportation system in 2005.”
Not mentioned, however, is that the method to create TATP can be found within seconds on Google, along with how-tos for many other incendiary devices and other weapons. It’s also easy to find Al Qaeda and terrorist propaganda online, such as the fiery sermons of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Al Qaeda cleric, who despite being killed in 2011, has continued to inspire other militants to carry out attacks.
The release of the videos would be unusual – the Pentagon is usually tight-lipped about raids such as these, as they are often carried out in secret by elite special operations forces. Besides the videos, CENTCOM also said it believes Sultan al Dhahab and Abd-al-Ra’uf al-Dhahab – operational planners and weapons experts – were among the 14 militants killed.
The video release seemed to have been meant to put a positive spin on the operation, which was initially planned during the Obama administration and approved by President Donald Trump, that resulted in the death of a Navy SEAL and innocent civilians.
The operation in Yemen quickly went downhill after the SEALs, along with troops from the United Arab Emirates, moved closer to their target in Yakla. The approach was guarded by land mines, and the militants were somehow tipped off to the SEALs’ presence, resulting in a fierce firefight that lasted nearly an hour, according to The Washington Post.
- REUTERS/Carlos Barria
“They kind of knew they were screwed from the beginning,” a former SEAL Team 6 official told The New York Times.
One SEAL, Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens, was killed in the operation, and three other troops were injured. A Marine V-22 Osprey, called in to evacuate the commandos, made a “hard landing” and had to be deliberately destroyed in place because it was unable to take off.
Though the Pentagon initially denied there were any civilian casualties, local news reports revealed that numerous civilians were killed, including Nawar Anwar al-Awlaki, the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki.
His daughter’s death will likely be used in militant propaganda efforts, especially since she is the second of al-Awlaki’s children killed by the United States.
“The perception will be that it’s not enough to kill al-Awlaki – that the US had to kill the entire family,” Karen Greenberg, director of Fordham University’s Center on National Security, told NBC. According to the Middle East Monitor, the US was already being accused on social media of “assassinating children.”
This article was updated with additional information on February 3 at 10:58 a.m. PDT.