An eight-year-old girl and a SEAL Team Six member were killed on Jan. 29 in Yemen, during President Donald Trump's first military raid as commander-in-chief.
In a statement released by Defense Secretary James Mattis, the SEAL was identified as Chief Petty Officer William "Ryan" Owens, 36, and the girl is Nawar al-Awlaki, also known as Nora, reports the Daily Mail. Several Yemeni civilians were also killed in the raid.
"Ryan gave his full measure for our nation, and in performing his duty, he upheld the noblest standard of military service," said Mattis in the statement.
Nora was the daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, an al-Qaeda leader who was killed in a U.S. strike ordered by President Barack Obama in 2010. The assassination created much controversy because al-Awlaki was an American citizen. A separate drone strike two weeks later killed his 16-year-old American-born son, Nora's brother, notes The Intercept.
In the Jan. 29 raid, "almost everything went wrong," according to officials cited by NBC News. In addition to the death of Owens during the ensuing fire fight, several SEALs were severely injured when their MV-22 Osprey experienced a hard landing near the site. Thirty Yemini civilians were reportedly killed, including 10 women and children, The Intercept added.
Nora's grandfather, Nasser al-Awlaki, is Yemen's former agriculture minister. "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 the neck at 2:30 past midnight," he told NBC News. "Other children in the same house were killed. [The SEALS] entered another house and killed everybody in it, including all the women. They burned the house. There is an asumption there was a woman from Saudi Arabia who was with al Qaeda. All we know is that she was a children's teacher."
Karen Greenberg, director of Fordham University's Center on National Security, believes the civilian deaths will be used by al-Qaeda as a recruiting tool. "The perception will be that it's not enough to kill al-Awlaki -- that the U.S. had to kill the entire family," she said.