Two US Drone Strikes Kill Up to 21 People in Pakistan

The program of extra-judicial executions ends up killing many civilians and fomenting more anti-American terrorism

by John Glaser, February 16, 2012

Two U.S. drones strikes in north-west Pakistan have killed up 21 people on Thursday and wounded several others, according  to Pakistani officials. 

Pakistani officials said that the first attack launched two missiles and killed at least five “militants,” and wounded several others. A second attack in the same area in North Waziristan, killed 15 Uzbek fighters, the officials said.

An exact body count is not known, in part because journalists are prohibited by the authorities to enter the targeted areas and investigate. The identities – as with the majority of drone victims – are also unknown, as the U.S. government refuses to release information on its casualties.

These latest attacks come one week after back-to-back drone strikes killed up to 11 people, wounding several others. One of those attacks reportedly killed Badar Mansoor, a senior Pakistani in al Qaeda. Mansoor allegedly ran a training camp in North Waziristan and sent fighters to attack occupation forces in Afghanistan.

While the Obama administration claims drone strikes kill senior terrorists, some have argued the killings are extra-judicial executions, murdering people who have not been charged with a crime or been offered a trial against unquestioned government claims of terrorism.

Naz Modirzadeh, Associate Director of the Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research (HPCR) at Harvard University said “if it is not in a situation of armed conflict, unless it falls into the very narrow area of imminent threat then it is an extra-judicial execution.” She added: “Each death is a murder in that case.”

In addition, running a drone war in Pakistan’s tribal regions is a poor example of actually thwarting terrorism. If anything, the drone war’s deadly effects on civilians has great potential to create more anti-American terrorism, as President Obama’s former director of national intelligence Dennis Blair has himself admitted.

Last 5 posts by John Glaser