Late Sunday, U.S. Central Command revealed several casualties were incurred during the first counter-terrorism military operation approved by President Donald Trump. One of these was the first U.S. service member to die during Trump’s presidency, who was later identified by the Los Angeles Times and other news outlets as Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens of Peoria, Illinois. Yet as additional reports have come in, it appears the Yemen raid carried out by the Navy’s elite SEAL Team 6 didn’t necessarily go as planned.
According to NBC News, a senior U.S. official claimed “almost everything went wrong” with the operation:
The raid in southern Yemen, conducted by the supersecret Joint Special Operations Command, was intended to capture valuable intelligence, specifically computer equipment, according to a senior U.S. military official. Three al Qaeda leaders were killed, according to U.S. officials.
What’s more, the anonymous official told NBC News that “contrary to earlier reporting… the raid was Trump’s first clandestine strike” and “not a holdover mission approved by President Barack Obama.” This particular mission was what the source called a “boots on the ground” operation, as opposed to a covert airstrike.
Aside from Owens’ death, the senior official said several SEAL team members were injured when their aircraft “experienced a hard landing near the site,” necessitating its destruction. To make matters worse, several noncombatants were killed during the firefight between American and Al Qaeda forces — including an 8-year-old American girl named Nawar al-Awlaki, the daughter of the New Mexico-born Anwar al-Awlaki who was killed in an airstrike in 2011.
The official release noted that several of the female noncombatants killed were actually Al Qaeda fighters. However, former Yemeni agricultural minister Nasser al-Awlaki — father to Anwar and grandfather to Nawar — told NBC News said “Nora” was among the dead:
“My granddaughter was staying for a while with her mother, so when the attack came, they were sitting in the house, and a bullet struck her in her neck at 2:30 past midnight. Other children in the same house were killed.”
Whether or not Nasser was telling the truth remains to be seen, especially since no one has officially commented on the matter. However, per what the anonymous senior official told NBC News, it seems Trump’s first international counterterror raid didn’t go as planned regardless.