A Yemeni man is suing the German government after two of his relatives were killed by a US drone strike in 2012. He says Germany is liable as they allowed Washington to use the Ramstein airbase, believed to be the nerve center of the operation.
Faisal bin Ali Jaber, who is a brother in law and uncle respectively to the two men killed in the attack, submitted the 43-page law suit against the German Ministry of Defense at the Cologne administrative court on Wednesday.
Imam Salim bin Ali Jaber, and his cousin, who was a policeman, were killed after missiles launched from drones exploded. The US believed the two had connections with Al-Qaeda. However, these claims proved to be unfounded as the local Imam had called on residents to stand-up to the militant group and had no connections with them.
“Were it not for the help of Germany and Ramstein [airbase], men like my brother-in-law and nephew might still be alive today,” Ali Jaber said in a statement, which was reported by The Local.
“I am here to ask that the German people and Parliament be told the full extent of what is happening in their country, and that the German government stops Ramstein being used to help the US’ illegal and devastating drone war,” he added.
Ali Jaber is now looking to prevent the German government from transferring data through the country, which is used to carry out the drone strikes.
A testimony by a former US Air Force drone pilot revealed that the US is using the Ramstein base as its nerve center to wage highly controversial drone warfare in Africa, Yemen, and Pakistan.
“The entire drone war of the US military wouldn’t be possible without Germany,” Brandon Bryant, who resigned in 2011, told NDR television and the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, in April.
Data from the remote controlled drones is transmitted via satellite to Germany. It is then sent back to America via fiber optic cables. Live pictures are analyzed and classified by teams of US intelligence officers in Germany. Bryant said that Ramstein was always “the first port of call” during any strike.
Ali Jaber is being supported in his action against the German government by the human rights organizations, Reprieve and the European Center for Constitutional Human Rights. The Yemeni national believes the drones are a constant threat and are infringing his right to life, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung added.
Kat Craig, Legal Director at Reprieve, said: “The US’ covert drone war has killed thousands of civilians, including hundreds of children, in countries with which we are not at war. Without the help of the British and German governments these deaths would never have been possible.”
Polls have shown that the majority of Germans are against drone strikes, saying that they lack legality, as they do not follow a legal process, and they often kill innocent people. However, the United States has denied that Ramstein is directly involved in the drone strikes.
“The US government has confirmed that such armed and remote aircrafts are not flown or controlled from US bases in Germany,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert stated in April.
According to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, over 900 people might have been killed between 2002 and 2014. The US is said to have conducted just under 200 strikes during this period.
The organization has confirmed that between 54 and 79 people have been killed this year by drone attacks, of which up to nine could have been civilians.
After the revelations surfaced, foreign policy spokesperson for the Green Party, Omid Nouripour, urged Angela Merkel’s government to take action. “It is shameful that the German government simply closes its eyes to violations of international law on German territory,” Nouripour told the DPA news agency.
This is not the first time that the German government has been sued over the use of its territory in order to carry out drone attacks. In 2013, prosecutors found that the death of Patrick Klaus, who was a 27 year-old convert to Islam, was legal, as he was a member of a militant group.