JISHM, Yemen – On Dec. 12, 2013, shortly before the sun dipped behind the mountains and left a handful of modest stone-built homes and grazing goats in a fading silhouette, the ground shook. Across the valley, black smoke billowed into the sky. In the moments it took for the repeated explosions to echo from beyond the dry riverbed, the lives of scores of men, women and children in the Yemeni village of Jishm were shattered.
Four missiles fired from a U.S. drone hit a wedding convoy near the town of Radda’ in the central province of al-Baydah, killing 12 men.
The line of 11 vehicles were en route to the village of al-Abusereema, carrying out the tradition of bringing the bride to the family home of the groom, Abdullah Mabkhut al-Amari.
But along the country’s remote highlands, broken up by dry riverbeds, the convoy had paused.
The terrain was so harsh that they crawled along at less than 10 mph, up stony hillsides and down into the gravel base of a dried out river. And at some point, further back along the winding, sandy trail, one of the cars had broken down. The party divided as some stopped to help, and then re-grouped in a dip, in the shadow of a ragged hillside. A few men in the procession then noticed something unusual. The humming stopped.