CIA ‘revives attacks on rescuers’ in Pakistan (Woods)

Chris Woods writes at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism:

CIA drones are reportedly reviving the use of highly-controversial tactics that target rescuers and funeral-goers.

On Monday US drones attacked rescuers in Waziristan in western Pakistan minutes after an initial strike, killing 16 people in total according to the BBC. On May 28, drones were also reported to have returned to the attack in Khassokhel near Mir Ali.

And on Sunday, a CIA drone strike targeted people gathered for funeral prayers of militant victims killed in an earlier attack. The intended Taliban targets appear to have survived, although up to ten people died. A mosque was also struck last week – possibly accidentally – killing at least three civilian worshippers.

The tactics may not be confined to Pakistan. In the Yemeni city of Jaar on May 15, a possible return US drone strike killed between 8 and 26 civilians, according to a USA Today report.

The deliberate targeting of rescuers and mourners by CIA drones was first exposed by the Bureau in February 2012, in a major joint investigation with the Sunday Times. On more than a dozen occasions between 2009 and June 2011, the CIA attacked rescuers as they tried to retrieve the dead and injured. Although Taliban members were killed on almost every occasion, so too were civilians – many of whom the Bureau’s field investigators were able to name. The investigation also reported that on at least three occasions the CIA had struck funeral-goers.

The UN Special Rapporteur called for an investigation into the Bureau’s findings at the time, with some international lawyers questioning the legality of the tactics.

Deteriorating relations
The last reported attack on rescuers in Pakistan was on July 12 2011. Their cessation coincided with the departure of CIA Director Leon Panetta.

The revival of the tactics – at a time of outspoken public attacks on the US drones campaign by the Pakistan government - appears to indicate a further deterioration of relations between the two countries.

The US had recently eased off on its drone strikes in Pakistan, as the two countries negotiated the possible resumption of NATO supply deliveries to Afghanistan via Pakistan territory.

However, the absence of a deal – and public US anger at a Pakistan court’s imprisonment of Shakil Afridi, a doctor who aided the CIA’s killing of Osama bin Laden – has seen a shift in strategy.

The Bureau’s data shows that since May 23 the US has launched eight CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, which have killed at least 48 people. Civilians have been reported killed in a number of those strikes.

The last occasion on which US strikes were at such an intensity was in June 2011, shortly after the death of bin Laden. At that time the CIA strikes were still thought to be with the tacit approval of Islamabad.

The Islamabad-based think tank the Conflict Monitoring Center has accused the United States of ‘a bid to punish Pakistan for its conviction of Dr. Afridi as well as its reluctance to reopen NATO supply routes.’

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Mirrored from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

15 Responses

  1. I cannot imagine surer way to motivate a would be suicidal terrorist into action than to kill one of his loved ones at a funeral.
    Still it’s just The Boss on the joy stick, just a computer game yeah? Family game?
    They’ve bin Droned, it’s not murder is it?
    Laws don’t apply; there are clever enough words so as to be sure not to be called to account.
    What a sad place the US is at and for sure going down further; not a saviour in sight.
    Bibi’s your man.

  2. Why the choice of a different word? Let’s call them what we call them here: First Responders. CIA targeting didn’t make a mistake; it has a policy of killing First Responders, the same people who are the subjects of American hero articles. The CIA (and who else with armed drones?) has a policy of killing heros. And to think some Americans are shocked and surprised that America is hated. As you sow (terrorism), so shall you……

  3. When the old Irish Republican Army began using the tactic of setting up unattended bombs which would explode, and be followed minutes later by a bigger bomb to get the first responders who rushed to the aid of the victims, the world was appalled.

    This is worse: interactively-guided and human-targeted bombing of individuals who come to the aid of the first set of victims. Sending in the robot vehicles to shoot up the mourners at the funerals is honestly beyond belief.

    The people who are doing this now are Democrats, therefore they are subject to the laws (unlike the previous administration). Don’t worry – they will be punished.

  4. Traditional warfare required a telling and refreshing degree of commitment and integrity. Beyond the adrenalin, it calls for commitment to the idea of you or the other guy coming out on tip, and that your cause will carry the day. Since your extinction, often horribly, is what is at stake, righteousness carries a premium if you want to prevail against a hopefully inferior motivation.

    Anybody who has gotten into a schoolyard confrontation knows how the pressure builds to back down before the first blow falls, and then to collapse once you the swinging starts. Strangely enough, I think this sort of clarification of commitment accounts for some of the attraction of warfare, at least traditionally.

    Once it becomes an arms-length exercise you loose all that. Years ago I got into paintball, and it was enlightening how the premium on passion and commitment held when we were using first-generation single shot “weapons” where you had to charge and twist, and to get up close and personal to put the other guy away.

    So, we perhaps have a resentment against how these and other technologies have taken away the chance for passion and the right vision to stand a chance. If the side with the better vision and righteousness stands no chance, the universe becomes out of whack; if technology defines what is “right” then we are on thin ice, if that.

    Technologies are being developed to anticipate future acts and resistance, not unlike that future-crime Tom Cruise scifi movie whose name I forget, which could be put in the same reference set as the Terminator series (whose drones may have served as the model for what we now see. And don’t think Star Trek didn’t have anything to do with your cell phone). Note how MRI’s can now be used to detect deception and even discern patterns being viewed: such things only stand to be improved and disseminated with increases in processing power and the dedication of engineering/programing energy.

    The conflict shaping up is between technology and humanity. Technology is not necessarily the same as modernity (that’s another topic). What I’m thinking is the scifi vision of practically self-awareness, if not a self-perpetuating increase of power to technology as an end and power in itself.

  5. I read that the Bush policy was to risk up to 35 civilian deaths in order to get a confirmed terrorist. Is this still the ratio?

  6. Remember the international outrage when gunfire broke out in 1980 at the El Salvador funeral of Archbishop Romero? It galvanized opinion against the ultraconservative death squads.

    Remember the Goldstone Commission report that told of the Israeli army firing artillery into a mosque during services on the pretext that it held war materiel? It brought worldwide revulsion?

    The CIA drones involvement in targeted assassnations at funerals and religious services is antithetical to U.S. interests. It will serve to aid in increasing sympathy for Al-Qaeda among local Muslims in taht region.

  7. Of course, you’re right to blame Prez Obama for this tactic. He has approved it personally, striking first responders.

    But there is plenty of blame to go around. I believe that the Pakistani Air Force has tacitly agreed to let these drone attacks continue. I do not know why.

    The PAF has a modern inventory of aircraft, including an AWACS capability that can see any of the drones that I suspect are being employed for these attacks, which I think are limited to predators and reapers.
    I suspect that they can even probably detect the supposedly “stealth” drones being used to monitor Pakistan’s nuke weapons and ballistic missiles, the Dark Star (I don’t believe it was ever canceled,) and the Sentinel.

    PAF has several advanced, high- and medium altitude air defense systems that definitely can knock down the predators and reapers, and maybe even the stealth recon airframes.

    And PAF has several squadrons of F-16′s and some Chinese built air combat aircraft that would make simple work of stopping these drone attacks.

    The one US drone that I don’t think the PAF could shoot down is the Global Hawk – a very fast mover at high altitude. To defeat one of those, they would have to know it was coming even before their AWACS detected it, and have a combat air patrol aloft ready to intercept it.
    The USAF reports that they have mothballed the Global Hawk in favor of returning to the U-2. I believe that to be another instance of “Strategic Communications” misdirection.

  8. can the pakistan military shoot down a drone?

    if yes, what’s stopping them, if they really object to these attacks?

    • Someone more knowledge can comment on how to stop drones, but I suspect a Cessna would be more effective than an F-16, since those things are so small and slow.

      Put unless I’m mistaken, the Paks tacitly allow drones to operate over their airspace and have even given them a degree of ground basing support. Its all part of the complex game they’re playing with public opinion along with everything else. Nothing is simple here.

  9. Why isn’t Pakistan shooting down a few drones, to get its point across? Time for the Pakistanis to stop letting themselves be used as American punching bags. Can the CIA be paying off EVERY Pakistani general and politician? I would think there might be one or two patriots there who object to being seen as helpless stooges for Uncle Sam’s wargames in South Asia.

    • Wikileaks State Dept. cables suggest that the Pakistani elite doth protest too much, and is actually happy enough to have al-Qaeda & Taliban droned.

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