18 US Drone Attacks Launched This Month:
North Waziristan Residents Live In Constant Fear
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
27 September, 2010
A rare interview of a close relative of a recent US drone attack victim in North Waziristan provides some insight into the havoc created by the widespread and indiscriminate attacks that have claimed hundreds of innocent lives. This year 72 drone attacks have been launched. The latest attack was launched on Saturday (Sept. 25) killing at least seven people.
Haider’s brother-in-law, Mohammed Asghar, a resident of Peshawar, was visiting his friends in Miranshah, North Waziristan, when he became victim of the US drone attack. Haider told Cageprisoners: “As he was a guest there - and as is the custom of the people - many of the locals gathered to welcome him into the area. He was sitting with a group of people from the community when everybody gathered for the evening prayer (‘Isha) together. The drone attack happened in the middle of the prayers and the entire congregation was martyred. In total, 31 people were killed.”
Haider said that all the people gathered were locals from the community who had come to welcome the new guest to the area. “The people are renowned for their hospitality and it is unthinkable for them that somebody would come to visit and they would not have a gathering to welcome them.”
He said that the people who had witnessed the attack had come to tell us and described what they saw of the remnants and damage in the aftermath. They said the attack was so severe that they could not even distinguish the bodies from one another- even the bones of the people were completely blown apart. The dead were completely unrecognizable. “My brother-in-law’s coffin was tightly sealed and we were not allowed to open it to view anything. We had the coffin with us for 30 minutes before it was taken away for burial.”
According to Haider, the civilians in all these regions are extremely frightened and fearful. “They can’t work in the day, nor can they sleep during the night. As soon as they hear the slightest sound of an aero-plane, they flee in panic from their homes and buildings trying to find a place for security. The whole community is in a state of fear and I just cannot explain to you how unbearable these calamities are for the people.”
Haider pointed out that every household has at least half of its people have been killed as a result of these attacks.
The region where the US attacks are being launched is a no go area since newsmen or human rights groups are not allowed by the mercenary Pakistan Army which is itself involved in killing its own people in the name of ‘war on terror’ since 2004.
Ironically, Pakistan’s nominally free media is not allowed to carry any independent report about the US drone attacks. Often names of the killed terrorists are announced but their bodies or injured are not shown. It is claimed after the attack that the militants cordoned off the area after the attack and took away all their dead and injured. All drone attack casualties reports are coming from un-named Pakistani intelligence officials since the US client government of President Zardari is complicit in helping the US kill his countrymen.
American journalist, Bob Woodward in his new book - Obama's Wars - reported about former CIA director General Michael Hayden’s meeting with president Asif Ali Zardari in November 2008, during which, Zardari reportedly gave the Bush administration the green light to carry out more drone strikes inside Pakistan. Tellingly, Zardari told Hayden, “Collateral damage (read civilian casualties) worries you Americans. It does not worry me.”
In the 18th strike this month, two US drone attacks were launched on Saturday (Sept. 25) in Miranshah, North Waziristan, killing at least seven people. In the first attack three missiles were fired at a vehicle traveling in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan killing four people. Another three people were killed in the second attack in the same area where the first strike was launched. During the second strike, five missiles were reportedly fired and six to seven U.S. drones were seen hovering over the area. On September 22, at least 28 people were killed in three US drone strikes in the remote areas of South and North Waziristan.
According to the statistics compiled by the New America Foundation, US drones have now launched more than 123 deadly strikes in Pakistan since President Barack Obama came to power. In other words, US drone attacks in Pakistan have almost tripled under Obama claiming hundreds of innocent lives. Under his predecessor, George W. Bush, 45 drone attacks were launched from June 2004 to January 3, 2009. Obama was inaugurated on January 20 and stepped up drone attacks.
Tellingly, according to the statistics compiled by Pakistani authorities, the US drones killed 708 people in 44 predator attacks targeting the tribal areas between January 1 and December 31, 2009. For each Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist killed by US drones, 140 innocent Pakistanis also had to die. Over 90 per cent of those killed in the deadly missile strikes were civilians, claim authorities. The success percentage for the drone hits during 2009 was hardly 11 per cent. On average, 58 civilians were killed in these attacks every month, 12 persons every week and almost two people every day. Most of the attacks were carried out on the basis of human intelligence, reportedly provided by the Pakistani and Afghan tribesmen, who are spying for the US-led allied forces in Afghanistan.
Intensified US drone attacks came amid shocking revelation that the US Central Intelligence Agency is running and paying for a secret 3,000-strong army of Afghan paramilitaries whose main aim is assassinating Taliban and al-Qa'ida operatives not just in Afghanistan but across the border in neighboring Pakistan's tribal areas.
Bob Woodward's new explosive book, Obama's Wars, describes these forces as elite, well-trained units that conduct highly sensitive covert operations into Pakistan as part of a stepped-up campaign against al-Qa'ida and Afghan Taliban havens there.
The secret army is split into "Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams", and is thought to be responsible for the deaths of many Pakistani Taliban fighters who have crossed the border into Afghanistan to fight Nato and Afghan government forces there.
The British newspaper Independent said that the details of the clandestine army have surprised no one in Kabul, the Afghan capital, although the fact that the information is now public is unprecedented. There have been multiple reports of the CIA running its own militias in southern Afghanistan along border with Pakistan.
Woodward says that Obama is seriously betting on his exit strategy - he wants by all means a progressive withdrawal from Afghanistan starting next summer. But "his" general, Petraeus - the Pentagon in fact - wants infinite war. Pepe Escobar asks why infinite war? He says what Woodward's book and the corporate media orchestrated narrative will never tell is "why" infinite war. Pepe Escobar argues that this infinite or long war is:
Because of the New Great Game in Eurasia.
Because of the need of military bases to spy on strategic competitors Russia and China.
Because of the US's obsession with Pipelineistan in Central Asia bypassing both Russia and Iran.
Because of the Pentagon's full spectrum dominance doctrine - which justifies infinitely ballooning military budgets.
Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Executive Editor of the online magazine American Muslim Perspective: www.amperspective.com Email: email@example.com