Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism – U.S. military officials are walking back claims that a recent strike in Syria killed an influential al-Qaeda figure, following assertions by the dead man’s family that he had no ties to terrorists but was a father of 10 tending to his sheep when he was slain by an American missile.
Lotfi Hassan Misto, 56, whose family identified him as the victim of a Hellfire missile attack on May 3, was a former bricklayer who lived quietly in this town in northwest Syria, according to interviews with his brother, son and six others who knew him. They described a kind, hard-working man whose “whole life was spent poor.”
The operation was overseen by U.S. Central Command, which claimed hours after the strike, without citing evidence or naming a suspect, that the Predator drone strike had targeted a “senior Al Qaeda leader.” But now there is doubt inside the Pentagon about who was killed, two U.S. defense officials told The Washington Post.
“We are no longer confident we killed a senior AQ official,” one official said. The other, offering a slightly different view, said “though we believe the strike did not kill the original target, we believe the person to be al-Qaeda.” Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss preliminary determinations of an ongoing investigation into the incident.