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US Drones Taliban Leader; His Troops Vow Bloody Revenge; Pakistan Government Furious At America | Zero Hedge

US Drones Taliban Leader; His Troops Vow Bloody Revenge; Pakistan Government Furious At America | Zero Hedge. (source)

Having done a bang up job in Syria, where Obama nearly started world war III so Qatar could send its natgas to Europe at a lower price than  Gazprom’s, while alienating America’s legacy allies in the region, Saudi Arabia and Israel, and ensuring its enemies see it even weaker in the international arena following Obama’s schooling by Putin, the US president continues to win friends abroad (while spying there, here and everywhere, namely the Pope) with the latest snafu coming from Pakistan, another former ally, where America just droned the leader of the Taliban fighters on Saturday, leaving his body “damaged but recognizable”. 

In response the Taliban – once upon a time another close ally of the CIA and especially their one time leader, Osama bin Laden – quickly moved to replace him while vowing a wave of revenge suicide bombings: because what the US needed right now is even more potential terrorism. But not before the outraged Pakistani government, insulted that the US continues to take whatever liberties on its territory it chooses, summoned the US ambassador, although not for another instance of NSA spying, but due to America’s penchant for delivering not so targeted mass executions around the world by remote control.

From Reuters:

The Pakistani government denounced the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud as a U.S. bid to derail planned peace talks and summoned the U.S. ambassador to protest. Some lawmakers demanded the blocking of U.S. supply lines into Afghanistan in retaliation.

The murder of Hakimullah is the murder of all efforts at peace,” said Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar. “Americans said they support our efforts at peace. Is this support?”

Not really, although if Pakistan had read the Xinhua oped from Friday it would know that already.

Mehsud, who had a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head, and three others were killed on Friday in the militant stronghold of Miranshah in northwest Pakistan.

Mehsud’s vehicle was hit after he attended a meeting of Taliban leaders, a Pakistani Taliban fighter said, adding that Mehsud’s body was “damaged but recognizable“. His bodyguard and driver were also killed.

He was secretly buried under cover of darkness in the early hours by a few companions amid fears that his funeral might be attacked by U.S. drones, militants and security sources said.

And here is why the US globocop policy of droning anyone it chooses abroad always backfires.

Every drop of Hakimullah’s blood will turn into a suicide bomber,” said Azam Tariq, a Pakistani Taliban spokesman. “America and their friends shouldn’t be happy because we will take revenge for our martyr’s blood.”

Maybe not America, but its leaders who thrive on a culture of constant fear from “terrorism”, even when it is openly provoked, should. Especially when the target is Al Qaeda which is a strategic friend in some cases (Syria), and the worst foe when a Bogeyman is needed:

Mehsud took over as leader of the al Qaeda-linked Pakistani Taliban in 2009. The group’s two previous leaders were killed in attacks by U.S. missile-firing drones. Taliban commanders said they wanted to replace him with the movement’s number two, Khan Said, who is also known as Sajna.

Said is believed to have masterminded an attack on a jail in northwest Pakistan that freed nearly 400 prisoners in 2012 and a big attack on a Pakistani naval base.

But some commanders were unhappy with the choice and wanted more talks, several militants said, indicating divisions within the Pakistani Taliban, an umbrella group of factions allied with the Afghan Taliban and battling the Pakistani state in the hope of imposing Islamist rule.

The Pakistani Taliban killed an army general in September, has beheaded Pakistani soldiers and killed thousands of civilians in suicide bombings. The group also directed a failed attempt to bomb Times Square in New York.

Hopefully all futures attempts to bomb Times Square will likewise be “failed” courtesy of the NSA’s undying vigilance.

And since every US action abroad has an immediate reaction, the Pakistani government has already clarified it will make US strategic intervention in the region that much more difficult:

The Pakistani foreign office said in a statement on Saturday Mehsud’s death was “counter-productive to Pakistan’s efforts to bring peace and stability to Pakistan and the region”.

Shah Farman, a spokesman for the government of the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said provincial lawmakers would pass a resolution on Monday to cut NATO supply lines into landlocked Afghanistan. A major one passes through the nearby Khyber Pass.

The supply lines through U.S. ally Pakistan have been crucial since the latest Afghan war began in 2001 and remain vital as the United States and other Western forces prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of next year.

Finally, for those wondering just how big the US drone presence in the region is, the answer is: very.

Residents of Miranshah, the capital of the North Waziristan region on the Afghan border, said Pakistani Taliban fighters were converging on the town and firing furiously at drones buzzing high in the sky.

About eight drones were seen overhead as well as a larger aircraft that seemed to be an aeroplane or a type of drone that residents said they had not seen before.

“We thought it was a C-130 aircraft but it was a special spy plane, bigger in size,” resident Farhad Khan said by telephone from Miranshah. “The militants fired from their anti-aircraft guns to hit it but couldn’t.”

The good news: for now the US is focusing its droning powers abroad. Hopefully that, too, doesn’t change any time soon. 

 

Pakistan criticised over drone victim numbers – Central & South Asia – Al Jazeera English

Pakistan criticised over drone victim numbers – Central & South Asia – Al Jazeera English. (source)

Washington-based New America Foundation says 185 civilians killed in US drone attacks since 2008 [AP]
The Pakistani government has been criticised for lowering civilian casualty numbers of US drone strikes, contradicting its past calculations and estimates by independent organisations.

The defence ministry said on Wednesday that only 67 of 2,227 people killed during the 317 attacks since 2008 were civilians, insisting there have been no civilian casualties since 2011.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, based in London, has estimated that drones have killed at least 300 civilians in Pakistan since 2008, while the Washington-based New America Foundation puts the figure at 185.

The US rarely speaks publicly about the CIA-run drone programme in Pakistan, because it is classified. But some American officials have insisted that the strikes have killed very few civilians and that estimates from the Pakistani government and independent organisations are exaggerated.

‘Apparent discrepancy’

Ben Emmerson, a UN expert investigating drone strikes, said earlier this month that the Pakistani foreign ministry told him that at least 400 civilians had been killed by the attacks in the country since they started in 2004.

“If the true figures for civilian deaths are significantly lower, then it is important that this should now be made clear, and the apparent discrepancy explained,” Emmerson said in an email to the Associated Press news agency.

The attacks, which mainly target suspected rebels near the northwestern border with Afghanistan, are widely unpopular in Pakistan, because they are violating the country’s sovereignty and killing civilians.

The Pakistani government regularly criticises the drone programme in public, even though it is known to have secretly supported at least some of the strikes in the past.

Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistani prime minister, pressed US President Barack Obama to end the attacks in a visit to the White House last week, but the US considers the attacks vital to its battle against al-Qaeda and the Taliban and gave no indication it was willing to abandon them.

 

‘Wounds of Waziristan’: The Story of Drones As Told By the People Who Live Under Them | Motherboard

‘Wounds of Waziristan’: The Story of Drones As Told By the People Who Live Under Them | Motherboard. (source/link)

A MOTHERBOARD PREMIERE: A NEW DOCUMENTARY BY MADIHA TAHIR

The drone war is obscure by design. Operated by armchair pilots from clandestine bases across the American west, the Predators and Reapers fly over Afghanistan, Yemen, and Pakistan’s Tribal Areas at invisible heights, where they are on orders from the CIA to kill “high value” targets with laser-guided “surgical” precision thousands of feet below. But because of where the Hellfire missiles land, and because the program is operated in secret, verifying their precision and their lasting effects isn’t easy.

For years, US officials have downplayed the number of civilian deaths in particular, even as a chorus of independent reports have offered their own grim estimates. The latest, according to new research by the United Nations and Amnesty International: 58 civilians killed in Yemen, and up to nine hundred in Pakistan. In a speech in May, President Obama finally broke his silence on drones, acknowledging that civilians had been killed—he didn’t say how many—and promising more transparency for the program. “Those deaths,” added the President, “will haunt us for as long as we live.”

For journalist Madiha Tahir, the numbers are important, but they’re not the whole story. Her documentary “Wounds of Waziristan,” which premieres above, features interviews with the people who live in the southern part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, bordering Afghanistan, under the eyes of the drones, and in the wake of their destruction. The film switches up the typical calculus that drives the drone debate at home. Tahir, who grew up between Pakistan and the U.S., points out that drone strikes aren’t just about the numbers of casualties, or the kinds of ethical arguments that arise around “just war” concepts like proportionality. The effects of the drone war have as much to do with the way those casualties rip apart communities and haunt the living, in distant places that ​exist on the fringes of law and order.

“Because drones are at a certain remove, there is a sense of uncertainty, a sense that you can’t control this,” Tahir says, describing the attitude among the people who live in Waziristan. Already haunted by the legacy of British colonialism and the laws it left behind, this part of the Tribal Areas is now ruled with a brutal fist by the Pakistani military and various insurgent groups. But the buzz of the drones, sometimes seven or eight overhead a day, signals another kind of indeterminate power. “Whether its true or not, people feel that with militants there is some degree of control. You can negotiate. There is some cause and effect. But there is no cause and effect with drones. It’s an acute kind of trauma that is not limited to the actual attack.”

For the operators of the drone program, who have launched more than 300 missile attacks in Pakistan since 2008, the semi-governed Tribal Areas are subject to their own kind of war-on-terror calculus. As the New York Times reported last year, the American government has been counting all military-age males in a strike zone as “militants,” which leads to skewed figures about who exactly has been killed. The Obama administration has executed “signature strikes,” drone attacks based on a so-called “pattern of life” analysis in which simply suspicious behavior is enough to qualify for an attack. And in a so-called “double tap” maneuver, a second attack follows an initial strike, killing those who have come to recover bodies from the scene.

“When an attack happens, the media claims to know how many militants were killed,” says Noor Behram, a journalist in the Tribal Areas who has been photographing the casualties of drone strikes for years. “Actually, you only find body parts on the scene, so people can’t tell how many have died.”

In one interview, Tahir speaks with a man from South Waziristan named Karim Khan, whose brother and son were killed in a drone strike. “What is the definition of terrorism?” he asks her, and she returns the question to him. His tired eyes light up.

“I think there is no bigger terrorist than Obama or Bush,” he says. “Those who have weaponry like drones, who drop bombs on us while we are in our own homes, there are no greater terrorists than them.”

Despite the secrecy, independent reports by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, combined with a set of leaked cables detailing secret dealings between Islamabad and Washington and published in the Washington Post, have shed new light on the still-secret program. On October 29, a family injured in a strike that Amnesty International mentioned in its report is scheduled to testify before Congress (though their lawyer, Shahzad Akbar, who also appears in the film, has been denied a visa.)

In a separate report last week to the UN, which is due to be discussed before the General Assembly in New York on Friday, the special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson called for the US to declassify the program, which he said may be in violation of international laws—a claim that many officials and rights groups have echoed.

“By hiding behind arguments of secrecy and exploiting the difficulty in confirming details of specific strikes due to the lawlessness, remoteness and insecurity of Pakistan’s Tribal Areas,” Emmerson writes, “the USA is contributing to the litany of violations and abuses endured by a population that has been both neglected and assaulted by their own state and victimized by al-Qa’ida, the Taliban and other armed groups.”

Reports like these are an important start to making the drone debate more public, Tahir says, and pressuring the administration to change course. But there are deeper wounds to consider too, ones that are harder to calculate. “There need to be ways we can talk about drones beyond the legal discourse,” she says. “What are the ways we can think about what it means to experience life under drones, and about exactly what it means to be, as the President said, ‘haunted’ by the loss of life.”

For more, see the film’s websiteMadiha’s website, and find her on Twitter.

Also see

Vice News: Pakistan After Bin Laden

Motherboard TV: Drone On: The Rise of American Drones

US Drones Have Killed Up to 900 Civilians in Pakistan

Despite a New Drone Playbook, CIA Drones Have Free Reign in Pakistan for the Next Year

 

US drone strikes condemned in rights reports – Americas – Al Jazeera English

US drone strikes condemned in rights reports – Americas – Al Jazeera English. (source)

Rights groups have demanded that the US launch an impartial investigation into its use of drone warfare and that the country publicly disclose any evidence of civilian casualties.

In independent reports published on Tuesday, both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said that the US must hold to account those responsible for civilian deaths and be more transparent about its drone programme.

“As evidence emerges of civilian casualties in these strikes, it’s time for the US to stop covering its ears and starting taking action to ensure the programme is legal,” Letta Taylor, senior counterterrorism researcher at HRW told Al Jazeera.

Two recently published UN reports are to be presented to the General Assembly on Friday. Taylor said that the release of the four reports in a brief period “underscores the mounting questions about the legality” of drones.

All four reports demand that the US should provide a full legal rationale for targeted killings.

Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s deputy Asia-Pacific director, said that while its report focuses on Pakistan, and HRW’s on Yemen, the drones programme “raises the same questions about human rights violations all over the world”.

“Both organisations are calling on the US Congress to fully investigate the cases the we have documented in our reports and other potentially unlawful deaths,” she told Al Jazeera, adding that the group hoped that the US would act immediately on their recommendations.

HRW said that the Yemeni government, which is engaged in a conflict with al-Qaeda, had been “almost as silent” as the US on the death toll caused by air raids.

Caitlin Hayden, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, said that President Barack Obama had outlined the US rational for drone strikes in a May 23 speech.

“The president spoke at length about the policy and legal rationale for how the US takes action against al-Qaeda and its associated forces. As the president emphasised, the use of lethal force, including from remotely piloted aircraft, commands the highest level of attention and care.

“Of particular note, before we take any counterterrorism strike, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured – the highest standard we can set.”

She said the US was aware that this report had been released and were reviewing it carefully.

‘Dangerous precedent’

Through personal testimonies from eye-witnesses and relatives of drone-strike victims in Pakistan’s North Waziristan, Amnesty International’s 74-page report titled Will I be next? US drone strikes in Pakistan reviewed 45 known drone strikes in the region between January 2012 and August this year.

It found that nine of the strikes could amount to war crimes or extrajudicial executions – some of which were unjustified and some of which were cases of “rescuer” or follow-up attacks on residents who had gone to the scene after an initial strike.

The bodies were charred like coal – I could not recognize the faces

Ahmad al-Sabooli, Yemeni Farmer,

In July 2012, 18 labourers, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed in multiple strikes on a village close to the Afghan border. The report indicates that the victims of the strike were not involved in fighting and did not pose a threat.

The London-based rights group added that such strikes were caused locals to live in fear, and set “a dangerous precedent that other states may seek to exploit to avoid responsibility for their own unlawful killings”.

HRW’s 97-page reportBetween a Drone and al-Qaeda’: The Civilian Cost of US Targeted Killings in Yemen, examined six US targeted killings in the country – one from 2009, and the rest between 2012 and 2013.

The strikes killed 82 people, at least 57 of them civilians.

None met US policy guidelines for targeted killings set out in US President Barack Obama’s speech in May, said the New York-based rights group.

“Two of the attacks killed civilians indiscriminately in clear violation of the laws of war; the others may have targeted people who were not legitimate military objectives or caused disproportionate civilian deaths,” said HRW.

A witness quoted in the report described the aftermath of one strike targeting an alleged al-Qaeda leader, but instead struck a passenger van killing 12 civilians.

“The bodies were charred like coal – I could not recognise the faces,” Ahmad al-Sabooli, a 23 year-old Yemeni farmer, said.

International law prohibits arbitrary killings and limits intentional lethal force to exceptional situations wherein in an armed conflict, only combatants and those participating in hostilities may be targeted.

Intentional lethal force is lawful only when there is, with certainty, an imminent threat to life.

 

Snowden files reveal NSA, CIA teamed up on targeted killings – World – CBC News

Snowden files reveal NSA, CIA teamed up on targeted killings – World – CBC News. (source)

Related Stories

The National Security Agency has been extensively involved in the U.S. government’s targeted killing program, collaborating closely with the CIA in the use of drone strikes against terrorists abroad, The Washington Post reported after a review of documents provided by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden.

In one instance, an email sent by the wife of an Osama bin Laden associate contained clues as to her husband’s whereabouts and led to a CIA drone strike that killed him in Pakistan in October 2012, the Post reported in its online edition Wednesday night.

While citing documents provided by Snowden — the American is hiding out in Russia after being granted asylum there — the Post reported that it was withholding many details about the drone-strike missions at the request of U.S. intelligence officials. They cited potential damage to ongoing operations and national security for their request, the paper reported.

The documents make clear that the CIA-operated drone campaign relies heavily on the NSA’s ability to vacuum up enormous quantities of e-mail, phone calls and other fragments of signals intelligence, or SIGINT, the newspaper said.

hi-snowden-04699556Edward Snowden is hiding out in Russia after being granted asylum there.

The NSA created a secret unit known as the Counter-Terrorism Mission Aligned Cell, or CT MAC, to concentrate the agency’s vast resources on hard-to-find terrorism targets, the Post reported.

The documents provided by Snowden don’t explain how the bin Laden associate’s email was obtained or whether it was obtained through the controversial NSA programs recently made public, including its metadata collection of numbers dialed by nearly every person in the United States.

Instead, the Post said its review of the documents indicates that the agency depends heavily on highly targeted network penetrations to gather information that wouldn’t otherwise be trapped in surveillance nets that the NSA has set at key Internet gateways.

The U.S. has never publicly acknowledged killing bin Laden associate Hassan Ghul, according to the Post. The al-Qaida operative had been captured in 2004 and helped expose bin Laden’s courier network, a key development in the effort to locate bin Laden. Ghul then spent two years in a secret CIA prison and returned to al-Qaida after the U.S. sent him to his native Pakistan in 2006.

U.S. forces killed bin Laden at his Pakistan hideout in 2011. That same year, the Treasury Department named Ghul a target of U.S. counterterrorism sanctions after he had helped al-Qaeda re-establish logistics networks, enabling al-Qaida to move people and money in and out of the country. The Post said an NSA document described Ghul as al-Qaida chief of military operations and detailed a broad surveillance effort to find him.

Obtained during a monthslong effort to find Ghul, the email from his wife erased doubts U.S. forces had found him, the Post said.

 

Pakistani minister killed in suicide bombing – Central & South Asia – Al Jazeera English

Pakistani minister killed in suicide bombing – Central & South Asia – Al Jazeera English. (source)

Police say a suicide bomber has killed at least eight people in northwestern Pakistan, including a provincial government minister, as the country marked the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.

Israullah Gandapur, the minister of law for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, was killed on Wednesday in his home near the city of Dera Ismail Khan as he greeted residents of his home village who had come to celebrate the first day of Eid.

More than 30 people were wounded in the attack, including the minister’s elder brother, said Irfan Mahsud, the assistant commissioner, Dera Ismail Khan, located nearly 300km southwest of the capital, Islamabad.

“I saw so many dead people and injured people crying for help,” said eyewitness Haseeb Khan, whose new white holiday clothes were drenched in blood. “There were arms, legs and heads everywhere.”

The attacker first killed the guard at the house and then blew himself up inside the guest room of the minister’s residence, another police official said.

The minister was rushed to the hospital in critical condition but died along the way.

The suicide bomber had managed to break into the area despite “very tight security”, the Provincial Health Minister Shaukat Yousafzai told AFP news agency.

Wednesday’s attack involved 8-10 kilograms of locally made explosive, Inayat Ullah, a bomb disposal expert, told AFP.

Group claims responsibility

Ansar al Mujahideen, a group allied to but not part of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The group’s spokesman, Abu Baseer, said it was in retaliation for the deaths of men killed during a July jailbreak in the same city.

He was referring to a major operation by fighters from the al-Qaeda-linked Pakistani Taliban who disguised themselves as police and broke 250 prisoners out of a jail.

The province is ruled by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), a party led by former cricketer Imran Khan, which favours peace talks with the Taliban.

Gandapur is now the third lawmaker from the province to have been killed following the general elections on May 11.

Farid Khan and Imran Khan Mohmand, killed in separate attacks in June, were also members of the PTI party.

The main Pakistani political parties including PTI last month backed a government proposal to formally seek negotiations with the militants, who have been waging a war against the state since 2007.

The Taliban have said they are open to talks, but they also say they will not disarm, do not recognise the Pakistani constitution, and will not talk to the government until the army pulls back from their strongholds and all their prisoners are released.

 

Testosterone Pit – Home – Mostly Cloudy With Occasional Drones In The Afternoon

Testosterone Pit – Home – Mostly Cloudy With Occasional Drones In The Afternoon.

 

The Truth About Drones | A Lightning War for Liberty

The Truth About Drones | A Lightning War for Liberty.

 

Report says US Bin Laden raid ‘an act of war’ – Central & South Asia – Al Jazeera English

Report says US Bin Laden raid ‘an act of war’ – Central & South Asia – Al Jazeera English.

 

Pakistan’s former leader Musharraf named as suspect in Benazir Bhutto assassination | Toronto Star

Pakistan’s former leader Musharraf named as suspect in Benazir Bhutto assassination | Toronto Star.

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