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CIA Drones Killed Over 2,000, Mostly Civilians in Pakistan Since 2006

A Paper by 'Conflict Monitor Center

January 2011

2010, The Year of Assassination by Drones

Annual Report on CIA’s Target Killing Campaign in Pakistan’s Tribal Area

Executive Summary

The Conflict Monitoring Center (CMC), an independent research center focusing on anti-state militancy and related activities in South Asia, has prepared an annual report(2010) on drone attacks inside Pakistani territory. The report is based on the data collected from mainstream national and international media, e.g. CNN, NY Times, Al-Jazeera, Daily Dawn, The News, Daily Times, Geo News, Daily Express, Daily Ummat and other news organizations. The annual report shows an unprecedented increase in CIA’s assassination campaign against Al-Qaeda and Taliban. Initially it was aimed to decapitate Al-Qaeda and Taliban organizations by eliminating high value targets. Until start of 2008, the focus of the campaign remained the same but President Bush in his last year in office widened the campaign to hit the second and third tier of command structure of Al-Qaeda and Taliban. It was expected that President Barak Obama would review and change U.S. policy on drone attacks but he not only maintained it but also further intensified the assassination campaign and now CIA is killing even suspected militants. The agency relies on human intelligence and satellite images to ascertain the exact location of militants. It is unclear whether it counterchecks the human intelligence with other available means or not. The nature of the campaign is highly secretive and the agency has never admitted that it was carrying out drone attacks. It is because the agency wants to avoid legal consequences, as state sponsored assassination inside another sovereign country is illegal in international law.

The CIA carried out 132 drone attacks in the year 2010, exceeding the combined number of such attacks made in six years (from 2004 to 2009), i.e., 96. A total of 938 people were killed in 2010. The deadliest month was September in which 147 people were killed in 23 drone attacks. 17th December was the deadliest day of the year when 54 people were killed in Khyber Agency.

Civilian Casualties in drone attacks are a big concern for human right groups and peace activists. During the year 2010, only two incidents of civilian killings were reported by International media and one by a local newspaper. It shows control relay of body counts by the U.S and Pakistani Intelligence officials. None of the newspapers or TV Channels reported first hand information about casualties.

Most significant death from U.S. perspective was that of Al-Qaeda’s operational and financial chief Mustafa Abu Yazeed also known as Shaikh Saeed Al-Masri. He was Al-Qaeda’s No.3. From Pakistan’s perspective, most noteworthy death was that of Qari Hussain Mehsud who was believed to be mastermind of suicide attacks in Pakistan. Apart from few prominent commanders of Al-Qaeda and Taliban, most of the killed were ordinary suspected militants.

Although the drone attacks are highly controversial in Pakistan but there was no substantial reaction or protest in first ten months. In November, a tribesman from Waziristan served legal notices to CIA’s head Leon Panetta, U.S. defense Secretary Robert Gates and CIA’s Station Chief in Islamabad, Jonathan Banks. After registration of a case in a police station in Islamabad, CIA was forced to pull its local chief out of Islamabad. Pakistan’s leading political parties unanimously opposed drone attacks. Relatives of the victims of drone attacks staged two days protest in Islamabad in December. Protest is gaining momentum gradually. Anti-war activists also staged well-organized protest against Drone attacks outside CIA’s headquarters in Langley, United States.

CIA stepped up its assassination campaign at a crucial juncture of time when U.S. state department and Pentagon were trying to win hearts and minds of Pakistani people by participating in relief, rescue, and rehabilitation efforts in flood-affected areas. The intensification of drone attacks, sentencing of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and killing of Pakistani soldiers on a border posts were the three incidents occurred in September 2010, which collectively undermined winning of hearts and mind drive.

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