The US has killed more than 168 children in Pakistan
Drone War Exposed – the complete picture of CIA strikes in Pakistan. The Obama administration has come to rely heavily on CIA drone strikes to attack alleged militants in the country’s western tribal areas. To date, at least 236 drone attacks have been ordered in Obama’s name.
CIA drone strikes have led to far more deaths in Pakistan than previously understood, according to extensive new research published by the Bureau. More than 160 children are among at least 2,292 people reported killed in US attacks since 2004. There are credible reports of at least 385 civilians among the dead.
In a surprise move, a counter-terrorism official has also released US government estimates of the numbers killed. These state that an estimated 2,050 people have been killed in drone strikes – of whom all but an estimated 50 are combatants.
The Bureau’s fundamental reassessment of the covert US campaign involved a complete re-examination of all that is known about each US drone strike.
|‘The Obama administration must explain the |
legal basis for drone strikes in Pakistan to
avoid the perception that it acts with impunity.
The Pakistan government must also ensure
accountability for indiscriminate killing, in vio-
lation of international law, that occurs inside
Pakistan,’ Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International
The study is based on close analysis of credible materials: some 2,000 media reports; witness testimonies; field reports of NGOs and lawyers; secret US government cables; leaked intelligence documents, and relevant accounts by journalists, politicians and former intelligence officers.
The Bureau’s findings are published in a 22,000-word database which covers each individual strike in Pakistan in detail. A powerful search engine, an extensive timeline and searchable maps accompany the data.
The result is the clearest public understanding so far of the CIA’s covert drone war against the militants. Yet US intelligence officials are understood to be briefing against the Bureau’s work, claiming ‘significant problems with its numbers and methodologies.’
Iain Overton, the Bureau’s editor said: ‘It comes as no surprise that the US intelligence services would attack our findings in this way. But to claim our methodology is problematic before we had even published reveals how they really operate. A revelation that is reinforced by the fact that they cannot bring themselves to refer to non-combatants as what they really are: civilians and, all too often, children’.
Many more strikes
The Bureau’s data reveals many more CIA attacks on alleged militant targets than previously reported. At least 291 US drone strikes are now known to have taken place since 2004.
The intended targets – militants in the tribal areas – appear to make up the majority of those killed. There are 126 named militants among the dead since 2004, though hundreds are unknown, low-ranking fighters. But as many as 168 children have also been reported killed among at least 385 civilians.
More than 1,100 people are also revealed to have been injured in the US drone attacks – the first time this number has been collated.
In the wake of the Bureau’s findings Amnesty International has called for more CIA transparency. ‘The Obama administration must explain the legal basis for drone strikes in Pakistan to avoid the perception that it acts with impunity. The Pakistan government must also ensure accountability for indiscriminate killing, in violation of international law, that occurs inside Pakistan,’ said Amnesty’s Director of Asia Pacific Sam Zarifi.
The Bureau’s key findings
With the US military unable to operate overtly inside Pakistan, the Obama administration has come to rely heavily on CIA drone strikes to attack alleged militants in the country’s western tribal areas. To date, at least 236 drone attacks have been ordered in Obama’s name, the Bureau’s research shows.
At least 1,842 people have been reported killed in the Obama strikes, most of them militants.
Recently, Obama’s chief counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan stated that the president has ‘insisted’ that Pakistan drone strikes ‘do not put… innocent men, women and children in danger’. Yet at least 218 of those killed in drone attacks in Obama’s time in office may have been civilians.
|More than 160 children are among at least |
2,292 people reported killed in US attacks
since 2004. There are credible reports of at
least 385 civilians among the dead.
Civilian casualties do seem to have declined in the past year. Yet the Bureau still found credible evidence of at least 45 civilians killed in some ten strikes in this time. The US continues to insist that it ‘can’t confirm any noncombatant casualties’ in the past year.
The most recently reported civilian fatality was on July 12. Abdul Jalil, a migrant worker home on leave from Dubai, was ‘collateral damage’ when the CIA attacked a car carrying eight alleged militants, the Bureau’s researchers in Waziristan report.
Internal US figures
The US government’s own internal estimates of those killed in the drone strikes total about 2,050, the Bureau has learnt. All but 50 of these are militants, and that no ‘non-combatants’ have died in the past year, a US counter-terrorism official noted. The Bureau’s own minimum suggested casualty figure is 2,292.
Yet a US counter-terrorism official told the Bureau that its numbers were ‘way off the mark’. The Washington-based official said: ‘These actions target militants planning actively to kill Afghans, Pakistanis, Europeans, and Americans among others, and most often the operations occur when they’re training or on the move, getting ready to attack. Over 4,000 Pakistani civilians have been killed by terrorists since 2009—the threat is clear and real.’
Reprieve, the legal action charity which campaigns on human rights issues said: ’With the Bureau’s findings, at last we have a hard and comprehensive look at the facts. It is a great start. From now on, Reprieve hopes people will read official propaganda about drone warfare with a grain of salt—and ask themselves whether drones are radicalizing as many young men as Guantánamo did.’
Published here: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism