A former Green Beret revealed to Buzzfeed News that he engaged in conspiracies to assassinate various figures in Yemen as directed by the United Arab Emirates government. A botched assassination of Anssaf Ali Mayo, the leader of the Islamist political party Al-Islah, considered by the UAE to be a terrorist organization, exposed the use of mercenaries.

The UAE says Al-Islah is  a terrorist organization, but this designation is disputed, and members of its party have won Nobel Peace prizes. The party has been especially critical of the UAE’s questionable intentions in the country.

At the time of the attack on Mayo, it was not yet known that American mercenaries were involved in the assassination attempt or that the mercs were hired by the UAE to perform targeted assassination attempts inside of the country. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are allied in Yemen along with nine other countries, fighting a proxy war against Iran with plenty of help from the United States.

According to earlier reports from Black Youth Project, the disappearance of a Saudi journalist in Turkey refocused attention to the war in Yemen. The Saudi government is reportedly considering admitting that the death of the journalist was the result of an interrogation gone wrong. CNN reported that a high ranking Saudi official with ties to the crown prince in Saudi Arabia oversaw the killing, in a similar manner to the way the UAE government oversaw the hiring of Spear Operations Group to carry out targeted assassinations of figures it decided needed to be eliminated.

Abraham Golem, who was in charge of the attack on Mayo, told Buzzfeed News all about his operation, which was funded by the United Arab Emirates government. The group carries out for-profit operations on behalf of the UAE, including targeted assassinations, which are now becoming a standard practice in warfare according to Golem’s account to Buzzfeed.

Officials admit concern that governments are using mercenaries to carry out state-sanctioned hits on private citizens with little to no vetting on whether or not they constitute any real danger to the larger population. A former CIA official who worked in the UAE initially told Buzzfeed that he doubted Golem’s story, but later called back to confirm “there were guys that were basically doing what you said… What vetting procedures are there to make sure the guy you just smoked is really a bad guy? (The mercenaries were) almost like a murder squad.” Spear is comprised of some members of SEAL Team 6, the group famously associated with the assassination of Osama Bin Laden. SEAL Team 6 has been described by the New York Times as a “global manhunting machine with limited outside oversight.”

But though political assassinations are widely considered unethical, the U.S. has took part in them for some time. The CIA has often participated in killing those who appeared to threaten American interests such as the charismatic leader of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Patrice Lumumba, Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, and Ngo Dinh Diem in South Vietnam.