President Bush inspects a Predator drone / Getty
The events detailed here occurred 2004 and the first days of 2009. These have been reported by US or Pakistani government, military and intelligence officials, and by credible media, academic and other sources, including on occasion Bureau researchers. Below is a summary of CIA drone strikes and casualty estimates for the Bush presidency. Please note that our data changes according to our current understanding of particular strikes. Below represents our present best estimate.
The Bush Years
|Total CIA drone strikes||52|
|Total reported killed:||416-599|
|Civilians reported killed:||170-292|
|Children reported killed:||106-123|
|Total reported injured:||211-284|
For the most recent CIA drone strikes in Pakistan click here for the 2013 database. For the 2012 database click here and for the 2011 data click here. For the Pakistan 2010 drone strike database click here. For a database incorporating all 2009 drone strikes in Pakistan after President Obama’s inauguration, go here.
June 2004 – December 2005
B1 – June 17 2004
♦ 6-8 total killed
♦ 2 children reported killed
♦ 1+ injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed witnesses (Dawn), unnamed sources identify the child casualties by age (Daily Times).
The first known fatal US drone strike inside Pakistan also killed two children – a fact rarely reported. The target, local Taliban commander Nek Mohammad (who had been linked to an assassination plot against General Musharraf) died days after Pakistan lifted a short-lived amnesty with him. Also killed were up to four other alleged Taliban, including (possibly) two unknown Uzbeks. Others killed were named either as Fakhar Zaman and Azmat Khan; or as Marez Khan, Shahrukh Khan and Leetak (The News). House owner Sher Zaman Ashrafkhel, alleged by some to be a militant, was also killed along with his two sons aged 10 and 16. One report claimed that two of those who died were Nek Mohammad’s brothers. However in October 2012 brother Wali Mohammad told the BBC he was only injured in the strike, saying that ‘I’m not afraid of the drones – but I also don’t want to die in a drone attack.’
Wary of revealing the CIA’s involvement, Pakistan’s Army initially claimed the attack as its own work. A military spokesman said at the time:
Nek Mohammad was suspected to be present in a hideout with his associates and our security forces acted swiftly on the information and that is how he was killed.
In April 2013, the New York Times reported that Mohammad was killed as part of a deal which granted the CIA access to Pakistan’s airspace for drone strikes: ‘In a secret deal, the C.I.A. had agreed to kill him in exchange for access to airspace it had long sought so it could use drones to hunt down its own enemies… The deal, a month after a blistering internal report about abuses in the C.I.A.’s network of secret prisons, paved the way for the C.I.A. to change its focus from capturing terrorists to killing them, and helped transform an agency that began as a cold war espionage service into a paramilitary organization.’ For the first time journalist Mark Mazetti described in some detail the secret arrangement reached between Washington and Islamabad:
In secret negotiations, the terms of the bargain were set. Pakistani intelligence officials insisted that they be allowed to approve each drone strike, giving them tight control over the list of targets. And they insisted that drones fly only in narrow parts of the tribal areas — ensuring that they would not venture where Islamabad did not want the Americans going: Pakistan’s nuclear facilities, and the mountain camps where Kashmiri militants were trained for attacks in India. The ISI and the C.I.A. agreed that all drone flights in Pakistan would operate under the C.I.A.’s covert action authority — meaning that the United States would never acknowledge the missile strikes and that Pakistan would either take credit for the individual killings or remain silent. Mr. Musharraf did not think that it would be difficult to keep up the ruse. As he told one C.I.A. officer: “In Pakistan, things fall out of the sky all the time.”
Location: Wana, South Waziristan.
References: Asia Times, Dawn, Daily Times, Daily Times, South Asia Analysis, CNN, The News, Foreign Policy, New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, The News, New York Times
B2 – May 8 2005
♦ 2 total killed
Target Haitham al-Yemeni (an al Qaeda explosives expert) and his car passenger Samiullah Khan, described by MSNBC as ‘a local warlord’ were killed in a Predator strike which reportedly targeted the former’s mobile phone. Yemeni had been under US surveillance for more than a week, according to the Washington Post, and it is unclear why attempts were not made to capture him.
Amnesty International later accused the US of carrying out ‘an extrajudicial execution, in violation of international law.’
Location: Toorikhel, near Mir Ali, North Waziristan.
References: Washington Post, Long War Journal, Amnesty International, MSNBC, UN Special Rapporteur, The News
B3 – November 5 2005
♦ 8 total killed
♦ 3-8 civilians, including 2-3 children, reported killed
♦ 1 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed locals (Dawn), unnamed Pakistan Army officials (Associated Press), Reports of family’s death (Family Security Matters) UN Special Rapporteur (US Department of State cable), named witness (Globe & Mail).
A failed strike against Abu Hamza Rabia (‘al Qaeda’s Number 3′) destroyed his house and killed eight people, including Rabia’s wife. As many as three children were also reported killed, all girls, at least one of them Rabia’s daughter. Rabia himself was reported wounded in the leg.
Once again the Pakistan Army initially claimed responsibility for the attack, blaming it on a blast caused whilst militants prepared bombs. TV reporter Nasir Dawar, who lived next door to the attack site, later said:
I grabbed my Kalashnikov, because I thought somebody fired a rocket at my house… There was nothing left but body parts, and a kid lying under some bricks.
B4 – December 1 2005
♦ 5 total killed
♦ 2 civilians, children, reported killed
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Named relative of victims (Dawn, al Jazeera), UN Special Rapporteur (US Department of State cable)
Target Abu Hamza Rabia, a Syrian al Qaeda operative, was killed along with four others, including two other foreign militants, Suleiman al-Moghrabi and Amer Azizi – both linked to the Madrid train bombings. Also killed were two children – an 8-year old, Noor Aziz and a 17-year old, Abdul Wasit, nephew and son respectively of house-owner Mohammad Siddiq, who survived. Media speculation suggested that multiple Predator drones took part in the attack. Then-US National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, when asked whether the US had killed Rabia, said:
We’ve obviously been supporting Pakistan. President Musharraf has been very aggressive in dealing with the Al Qaeda and Taliban presence in Pakistan. We have helped him in terms of providing intelligence and cooperating with his forces, and obviously this is something that would be an important thing for Pakistan, important thing for the United States.’
Photographer Hayatullah Khan recorded the remains of a US Hellfire missile at the site, providing the first substantial proof of US involvement. He was kidnapped on December 5 2005 and murdered by assailants unknown, although his widow (herself later assassinated in 2007) blamed Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI. Khan’s brother at one point also accused US forces of holding his brother prior to his death.
Location: Haisori, North Waziristan.
References:Christian Science Monitor, Dawn, Dawn, Dawn, CNN, Family Security Matters, The Atlantic, Al Jazeera, Fox News, Foreign Policy, UN Special Rapporteur, secret US diplomatic cable, The News, Daily Times, Campaign to Protect Journalists, Christian Science Monitor, BBC, Daily Times
Tributes to victims of 2004 Madrid bombings-Flickr/mockstar
B5 – January 6 2006
♦ 8 total killed
♦ 3-4 civilians, including 1-2 child, reported killed
♦ 9 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed Pakistani officials (Dawn), unnamed witnesses (New York Times).
An attack on an unnamed ‘Al Qaeda official’ was reported and a guest house owned by Maulvi Noor Mohammad was destroyed. Eight people were reported killed including two women and one or two children. Three ‘suspected Islamists’ were also said to be among the dead. It was claimed that ‘US soldiers’ took away two tribesmen by helicopter in a related operation.
A Maulvi Noor Mohammed – identified as a senior Taliban figure – was reportedly killed in both March and August 2010. In March 2012 the Washington Post reported that in 2006, ‘At times [in Pakistan], the agency had only three working Predator drones.’
Location: Saidgai, North Waziristan.
References:Reuters, Dawn, New York Times, Daily Times, Global Jihad, Washington Post
B6 – January 13 2006
♦ 13-22 total killed
♦ 10-18 civilians, including 5-6 children, reported killed
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed Pakistani officials (Daily Telegraph, New York Times, Independent), named eyewitness (Express Tribune), reports (Congressional Research Service), reports (McClatchy),
The Pakistani government publicly protested a strike which killed up to 18 civilians. Main target Ayman al-Zawahiri was absent from a possible al Qaeda and Taliban commanders’ meeting. Despite initial reports that all the victims were al Qaeda or Taliban figures, including six leading fighters, later reports by local officials suggested that most or all of the dead were civilians, including 14 from one family, with up to six children killed. Pakistan’s foreign ministry summoned the US Ambassador Ryan Crocker to deliver an official protest. The US Congressional Research Service later described the attack:
A missile attack on a residential compound in northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border killed up to 18 people, reportedly including numerous women and children. Some reports said the death toll was higher and included up to one dozen Islamic militants. Pakistani officials and local witnesses blamed the attack on U.S. air forces, possibly Predator drones that were targeting top Al Qaeda leader Ayman al- Zawahri, who was not at the scene. U.S. officials would not confirm U.S. involvement. The incident led to major public anti-U.S. demonstrations.’
Two weeks later, Zawahiri issued a video mocking the US for failing to kill him: ‘In seeking to kill my humble self and four of my brothers, the whole world has discovered the extent of America’s lies and failures and the extent of its savagery in fighting Islam and Muslims.’
Abu Khabab al-Masri (WMD committee head) – false, see B19
Abd Rahman al-Masri al-Maghribi (al-Zawahiri’s son-in-law, al Qaeda commander) – unlikely
Abu Ubeidah al-Masri (Kunar operations chief) – false – died of natural causes 2008
Marwan al-Suri (Waziristan operations chief) – false
Khalid Habib (southeastern Afghanistan commander) – false
Abdul Hadi al-Iraqi (southwestern Afghanistan commander) – false – captured entering Iraq late 2006
Journalist Pir Zubair Shah visited the scene shortly afterwards and reported:
The families of the victims took me to see their newly dug graves. “All those killed, including women and children, are from this village,” a villager told me as he showed me the burial site. “There were no foreigners here.” Then I noticed something odd: Although I counted 13 graves, the locals would only tell me the names of seven women and children who had been killed. When it came to the men, they were silent. Later, a Pakistani official told me foreigners had indeed been present, including Zawahiri, though he had left some time before the missile hit.’
Location: Damadola, Bajaur Agency.
References: Washington Post, Express Tribune, Family Security Matters, ABC News, Long War Journal, Telegraph, Sunday Times, The Independent, US Congressional Research Service, Associated Press, Foreign Policy, UN Special Rapporteur, New York Times, New York Times, McClatchy
B7 – October 30 2006
♦ 81-83 total killed
♦ 80-82 civilians, including 68-70 children, reported killed
♦ 3 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: List of the dead compiled for National Assembly member (The News), named Pakistani military spokesman (Dawn, Family Security Matters, New York Times), eyewitnesses (Inter Press Service).
An attack on a madrassa – allegedly a Taliban training camp according to some Pakistan army officials – resulted in one of the highest recorded death tallies of the drones campaign. The school, run by Maulvi Liaqat (killed, possibly along with his three sons), was destroyed, resulting in more than 80 deaths. Ayman al-Zawahiri was reported by some to be the intended target, though he appears not to have been present. As many as 70 of those killed were identified by local media as children – all individually named by The News. Three tribal elders may also have died, and there were just three survivors, two named as Usman aged 15 0r 16, and 22-year old Abu Bakr. Additionally a local farmer, Jan Mohammad, was reported murdered shortly after the attack, with a note on his body claiming he had been killed for spying for the US and Pakistan.
The attack led to uproar in Bajaur and across Pakistan, on a day that local militants were expected to sign a peace agreement with Islamabad. Although the Pakistan Army initially claimed it was responsible, blame was soon laid at the CIA’s door. A senior aide to Pakistan’s then-leader General Musharraf said:
We thought it would be less damaging if we said we did it rather than the US. But there was a lot of collateral damage and we’ve requested the Americans not to do it again.
In August 2011 former ISI director General Asad Durrani confirmed to IPS that the attack was the work of the US, stating that the drone attack ‘effectively sabotaged the chances for an agreement‘ in Bajaur and that it was ‘a very clear message‘ from the CIA not to enter into any more such peace agreements. However, Pervez Musharraf in June 2012 denied that a large number of children died, telling the New Statesman’s Jemima Khan that ‘It’s all bullshit – sorry for the word – that it was a madrassa and seminary and children were studying Quran. They used this as cover.’ He added confusingly when asked about reports of children killed:
I don’t remember. In the media, they said it was all children. They were absolutely wrong. There may have been some collateral damage of some children but they were not children at all, they were all militants doing training inside.’
In March 2012, the Washington Post ran a profile of the long-serving head of the CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center [CTC], ‘Roger’, noting that the CIA had planned for months an expansion of its Pakistan drones campaign:
When Michael V. Hayden became CIA director in May 2006, Roger began laying the groundwork for an escalation of the drone campaign. Over a period of months, the CTC chief used regular meetings with the director to make the case that intermittent strikes were allowing al-Qaeda to recover and would never destroy the threat. “He was relentless,” said a participant in the meetings. Roger argued that the CIA needed to mount an air campaign against al-Qaeda “at a pace they could not absorb” and warned that “after the next attack, there would be no explaining our inaction.”
The dead students were later named by The News as follows (ages in brackets):
|Mohammad Tahir (16)
Azizul Wahab (15)
Fazal Wahab (16)
Mohammad Yunus (16)
Fazal Hakim (19)
Noor Mohammad (08)
Razi Mohammad (16)
Mashooq Jan (15)
Sultanat Khan (16)
|Mohammad Yaas Khan (16)
Qari Alamzeb (14)
Ghulam Nabi (21)
Ziaur Rahman (17)
Inayatur Rahman (16)
and Shahbuddin (15) brothers
Yahya Khan (16)
Mohammad Salim (11)
Gul Sher Khan (15)
Bakht Muneer (14)
Mashooq Khan (16)
Taseel Khan (18)
Qari Ishaq (19)
Jamshed Khan (14)
Alam Nabi (11), brothers
Qari Abdul Karim (19)
Abdus Samad (17)
Abdul Waris (16)
Ameer Said (15)
Inayatur Rahman (17)
Ziaur Rahman (13)
Noor Mohammad (15)
Kitab Gul (12)
Wilayat Khan (11)
Shehzad Gul (11)
Qari Sharifullah (17)
Fazal Wahab (18)
Location: Chenegai, Bajaur Agency.
References: The News, Dawn, CNN, BBC, Washington Post, ABC News (archived), NBC News, Family Security Matters, Sunday Times (paywall), The News, Economist, The News, uruknet.com, Long War Journal, New York Times (AP), Sunday Times (paywall), The News, New York Times, The Bureau, Inter Press Service, Washington Post, New Statesman, The News, The News, Asia Times, The News, The News, Asian Human Rights Commission report 2006,
January 2007 – December 2007
B8 – January 16 2007
♦ 8 total killed
♦ 8 civilians reported killed, including one child
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Named relative and witness (Reuters, Associated Press), unnamed tribesmen and named local politician (The News)
A strike took place on a ‘Taliban facility’. Initial claims of 30 Taliban killed were lowered to eight deaths, who villagers insist were all innocent woodcutters. The nephew and son of local Awaz (or Hawas) Khan were among the dead. ‘No foreigner or Afghan was killed in this attack. Only labourers from the Mehsud and Salmanzai tribes were killed,’ Khan told Reuters. The News quoted local councillor Said Anwar who named some of those killed:
“I spoke to people in our village and was told that Katoor Khan, son of Chaghan Khan, Taj Alam son of Hawas Khan, and Taj Alam’s 10-year old cousin, all hailing from Kot Killay village were killed along with five unidentified Afghan nomads, known as powindahs. Some of the bodies were badly burnt and dismembered,” he explained. He said there were only six houses in the place that was attacked but women and children in one of the houses had a miraculous escape. He claimed the locals who were killed and wounded in the attack were small contractors who logged timber from the forests and made charcoal from wood with the help of the Afghan labourers.
One unexploded missile at the site (of a type not known to be used by Predators) carried the markings AM York 0873, indicating it was an old ‘dumb’ missile made in the United States. There were also reports that the Pakistan military played a role in the attack.
Location: Zamazola, South Waziristan.
References: Dawn, Associated Press, Reuters, UXO Info, The News
Weapons cache seized from the Haqqani network – Flickr/isafmedia
B9 – April 27 2007
♦ 3-4 total killed
♦ 3-4 civilians reported killed
♦ 3-9 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Named eyewitness (The News), unnamed locals identify civilian casualties by name (Times of India, Dawn), named eyewitness (Associated Press).
A 3.30am attack in the vicinity of the Darul Uloom Hassania madrassa run by Maulvi Noor Mohammad (see B5) killed up to four people and injured at least three. Mohammad Habib Khan, whose home was also severely damaged in the attack, told AP that the roof had collapsed, killing four ‘guests.’ He added: ’I don’t know whether these missiles were fired from some plane or not, but those killed in the attack were not terrorists.’ Locals named the dead as ‘Jan Muhammad, belonging to the Ahmadzai Wazir tribe from a village near Wana in South Waziristan, Zahid [or Zahidullah] son of Gul Sabir Khan from Esokhel village near Miranshsh, and Afghan refugee Dilawar, son of Rahmatullah, from Khost.’ Dawn also named Abdul Ghafoor as being killed, noting:
Their funeral near Miramshah was attended by a large number of tribesmen. Three bodies were buried in Miramshah and one sent to South Waziristan.
A Washington Post profile of long-serving CIA Counter Terrorism Center [CTC] head ‘Roger’ reported that this period saw the introduction of the Agency’s so-called ‘signature strikes‘:
The CTC chief proposed launching what came to be known as “signature strikes,” meaning attacks on militants based solely on their patterns of behavior. Previously, the agency had needed confirmation of the presence of an approved al-Qaeda target before it could shoot. With permission from the White House, it would begin hitting militant gatherings even when it wasn’t clear that a specific operative was in the drone’s crosshairs.
B9a – May 22 2007
♦ 3-4 killed
♦ 3 injured
♦ 0-1 child reported killed
A CIA drone strike was only reported on this date in April 2013, with the leaking of secret US intelligence documents to news agency McClatchy. The target was an alleged militant training camp in North Waziristan, with the strike said to have been carried out at the request of Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service. According to McClatchy, the ISI made the request after a Pakistan army assault was driven off. A source told McClatchy that Pakistan had requested the strike despite an agreement that ‘drones wouldn’t be used to support Pakistani troops in combat’.
Only one attack in Waziristan was noted at the time. According to The News, the status and identities of those killed was disputed. Although some news agencies reported the men to be Uzbek militants, villagers insisted those killed were locals:
The bodies of the four men were flown in a helicopter to Miranshah. Those who saw the bodies said they were young men aged 15 to 20 years. Tribesmen who identified them said three of them were from Paryat village, sited close to Zargarkhel where the military operation was conducted, while the fourth was from Dattakhel. The bodies were later taken to Paryat and Dattakhel for burial. Subsequently, another report said three of the dead were from Khyber Agency and the fourth was from Bajaur Agency. None of these reports were confirmed by any independent source.
In news reports at the time the Pakistan military claimed that the attack was its own work. Such ‘cover’ had previously been thought to have ended in 2006. Military spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad told reporters that ‘Four miscreants were killed when security forces launched an operation to bust a terrorist training camp at Zargarkhel. Helicopters were also there.’ The attack also led to the resignation of 15 tribal elders overseeing a peace deal between Pakistan’s government and ‘good’ Taliban factions. Malik Nasrullah Khan, head of the tribal council, told Reuters:
The government sent us for negotiations with the mujahideen (militants) but they launched an attack before we returned and submitted our repor. Under the agreement, the government had to take us into confidence before conducting any operation. They didn’t do so and that’s why we’re resigning.’
B10 – June 19 2007
♦ 20-34 total killed
♦ 0-34 civilians reported killed, including possibly children
♦ 10-15 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed villagers and Pakistani intelligence officials (The News).
An attack killed up to 34 people with 18 ‘foreigners’ (Chechen, Uzbek and Arab) reportedly among the dead. While some reports described the attack as being on a small camp, others said that a religious seminary was hit, with claims that children present at the school were killed. A government official told Reuters the missiles had hit ‘three houses and a tent’. Residents told the Washington Post they had seen a drone fire at least two missiles, although Pakistani officials claimed the explosions were from a bomb-making accident.
ABC News reported that the camp at Mami Rhoga had recently held a ‘graduation ceremony’ for suicide bombers heading for ‘ the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Germany.’ It added:
The tape shows Taliban military commander Mansoor Dadullah, whose brother was killed by the US last month, introducing and congratulating each team as they stood. “These Americans, Canadians, British and Germans come here to Afghanistan from faraway places,” Dadullah says on the tape. “Why shouldn’t we go after them?” The leader of the team assigned to attack Great Britain spoke in English. “So let me say something about why we are going, along with my team, for a suicide attack in Britain,” he said. “Whether my colleagues, companions and Muslim brothers die today or tonight, every drop of our blood will invigorate the Muslim (unintelligible).”
However the Washington Post cited respected local journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai as saying that local residents had told him missiles from a drone had actually destroyed ‘a religious school and several adjacent houses.’ In a piece also authored by Yusufzai, The News reported that ‘Quoting villagers in Mami Noma Manzarkhel, the remote village that was attacked with missiles, tribal and militants sources in Miranshah said 50 students and their teachers were present in the Binori Madrassa when it was hit and all of them were killed or injured… Most of those killed in the Madrassa in North Waziristan Tuesday were also stated to be young religious students.’ The following day, The News carried eyewitness reports from the scene which challenged whether a madrassa had been hit.
B11 – November 2 2007
♦ 5-10 total killed
♦ 6-12 injured
In one of the first CIA strikes on the Haqqani Network (a militant group involved in attacks on US forces in Afghanistan) this strike on a housing compound killed at least five alleged militants and wounded up to a dozen. The injured included caretaker Noor Khan Mehsud.
Location: Danda Darpakhel, near Miram Shah, North Waziristan.
References:New York Times, Dawn, South Asian Outlook, Pakistan Body Count
B12 – December 3 2007
♦ total killed unknown
♦ 1 injured
A strike outside the FATA area reportedly injured Egyptian al Qaeda leader and ideologue Shaykh Issa al-Masri. Any secret agreement between the US and Pakistan allowing for drone strikes is believed only to cover the tribal areas – making this a particularly sensitive attack. Details only later emerged via a leaked US intelligence document.
Location: Jani Khel, Bannu.
References:Dawn, Long War Journal, Asia Times
January 2008 – June 2008
B13 – January 29 2008
♦ 12-15 total killed
♦ 4-6 civilians, including 2-3 children, reported killed
♦ At least one injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed local officials and residents (Washington Post), unnamed sources (SATP), unnamed local residents (AFP).
Abu Laith al-Libi, a senior al Qaeda figure was killed along with 12-15 others including Abu Obeida Tawari al-Obeidi, Abu Adel al-Kuwaiti, and Abdel Ghaffar al-Darnawi in a 1.15am drone strike at an ‘Al Qaeda summit’. Qari Hussain Mehsud, also reported killed, later emerged alive. US-born militant Adam Gadahn was also rumoured by some sources to be the intended target of the attack. Two women and two or three children – the family of house owner Madad Khan (or Abdul Sattar) – were also reported killed. Maulana Mahmood Hasan, a cleric in Mir Ali, told the Washington Post that he was friends with cab driver Abdul Sattar, whose house was hit:
Having ties with the Taliban is not a sin, and if somebody is accusing Sattar of any ties with the Taliban, then we are all culprits.’
Researchers from Stanford/NYU interviewed an eyewitness who had been disabled in the attack, under the pseudonym Waleed Shiraz. At the time of the strike he was a student at the National University of Modern Languages in Islamabad and had travelled home for the holidays. His unnamed father was killed in the attack. He told the researchers:
My father was asleep in the hujra as usual after a normal day, and I was studying nearby. . . . I had liked studying in the hujra, because it is peaceful and quiet. There was nothing different about our routine in the prior week… [When we got hit], [m]y father’s body was scattered in pieces and he died immediately, but I was unconscious for three to four days. . . . [Since then], I am disabled. My legs have become so weak and skinny that I am not able to walk anymore. . . . It has also affected my back. I used to like playing cricket, but I cannot do it anymore because I cannot run.
It was later claimed that this was the first CIA drone strike in which the US did not seek permission from Pakistan beforehand to attack. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, appeared to acknowledge the covert campaign when he told reporters:
While this particular strike was very successful and we were very pleased with the outcome, there is still a great deal more work to do.
Location: Khushali or Salam Kot, Mir Ali, North Waziristan.
References: Long War Journal, (PDF) International Centre for Political Violence & Terrorism Research, Washington Post, Dawn, Wikipedia, The Economist, Adnkronos, Asia Times, Asia Times, AFP, Associated Press, Financial Times, SATP, Info Wars, South Asia Analysis (archived), South Asia Analysis (archived), ABC News, Stanford/NYU – Living Under Drones, The News, CNN, Associated Press, The News
B14 – February 28 2008
♦ 8-13 total killed
♦ Possible civilian deaths
♦ 16 injured
A 2am attack on a madrassa killed up to thirteen people, at least eight of whom were reported to be militants linked to Maulvi Nazir. Four were described as ‘Arabs’ and two as ‘Chechen’. with other reports suggesting that Afghan and Punjabi militants were among the dead. The News reported that ‘villagers in Kaloosha said soon after the incident, a large number of armed militants came out of their hideouts and cordoned off the area. The militants didn’t allow government officials to enter the village for collecting information about the incident.’ However the Pakistan Tribune reported villagers as saying that some or most of those killed were students.
The US later secretly claimed the dead were ‘foreign Al Qaeda trainees’. According to the Washington Post, this strike and others at this time were part of a ‘shake the tree’ strategy:
The goal was partly to jar loose information on senior al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants, by forcing them to move in ways that U.S. intelligence analysts can detect.’
An AFP report indicated that Pakistan’s military may still have been covering for some of the CIA’s drone strikes. ‘Chief military spokesman Maj-Gen Athar Abbas told AFP that information from the area indicated the deaths were caused by explosive material stored in the house. “As per our information it was an explosion caused by explosive material in a house,” he said, adding that the blast reportedly killed 10 to 12 people. Their nationalities were not known, he said.’
Presidents Bush and Musharraf- Flickr/Marion Doss
B15 – March 16 2008
♦ 12-20 total killed
♦ 0-4 civilians reported killed
♦ 5-9 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Field researchers identified four civilian casualties by name (Bureau).
An attack on the home of tribal elder Noorullah Wazir killed at least twelve alleged militants. Dr Arshad Waheed, who ran a local health clinic, was among those who died. A leaked US intelligence document simply noted that ‘more Al Qaeda trainees were killed’. Although some claimed at the time that Waheed was a humble doctor, al Qaeda later issued a video showing the armed medic at one of its training facilities. The Bureau’s field researchers reported four civilians among those killed, named as Bakhan, Noorullah Jan (likely the homeowner), Ilyas and Jamil. All of them belonged to the Ahmadzai Wazir tribe.
Head of the Pakistan army General Kayani later secretly complained to Centcom that:
Certain U.S. actions, such as the Predator strike in the Wazir area on March 16, only serve to “upset the balance” in that area and illustrated U.S. misunderstanding of the “complexity” in the FATA.
Location: Dhook Pir Bagh, South Waziristan.
References: Geo TV, Long War Journal, Global Jihad monitoring service, AFP, Long War Journal, SATP, US secret memo, YouTube (jihadist video), US diplomatic cable, The News
Dr Arshad Waheed seen firing weapons in a militant propaganda video
B16 – May 14 2008
♦ 12-20 total killed
♦ 4-6 civilians, including 1-4 children
♦ 9 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed sources (Uruknet, Dawn), named Taliban spokesman (Long War Journal, Dawn, Geo TV), reports (Guardian).
A rare strike outside Waziristan on a house and adjoining mosque was initially reported to have killed Abu Sulayman al-Jazairi, an al Qaeda weapons expert (he actually died in a drone strike on April 29 2009, Ob14). Up to 20 people died including at least 11 militants. The brother of local militant commander Abdul Wali Raghib was among those killed, named as Shah Wali. There were also reports that women and children died. The News reported that the attacked housing compound was ‘owned by Maulana Ubaidullah and Maulana Taj Muhammad, maternal uncles of militants’ chief commander in Bajaur Maulana Faqir Muhammad.’ A Taliban spokesman confirmed that at least 11 militants had died, along with a grandson of Taj Muhammad. Also named as killed were three ‘adolescents’, Zaheer, Najibullah and Shahkir. However there were conflicting reports as to whether the spokesman confirmed or denied that women had died in the attack.
Angry villagers turned away government officials trying to visit the site, and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Gilani later condemned the attack, the first since he took office, stating: ‘I strongly condemn this. It’s absolutely wrong. It’s unfair. They should not have done this action. Several innocent people have been killed. We condemn it.’ The attack took place on the day of a prisoner exchange between the Pakistan Army and the Taliban. At the funeral of locals killed in the strike militant Faqir Mohammed told the crowds:
The missile strike was aimed at subverting the peace process between the government and the Pakistani Taliban but we will not allow this conspiracy to succeed. We want peace and do not want further bloodshed in Pakistan. We are defenders of the frontiers of Pakistan and our basic aim is to defend its sovereignty.’
B17 – June 14 2008
♦ 1 total killed
An attack was aimed at a possible hideout of Pakistan Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud. One alleged militant was reported killed. This was the first known strike against the leader of Pakistan’s home-grown Taliban, the Tehreek-e-Taliban or TTP. In his book Intel Wars Matthew Aid reports:
The CIA thought they had found the hideout of the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, and told the Pakistanis they were going to hit the location with a drone strike. According to the CIA official, Mehsud mysteriously disappeared from the house shortly before three Hellfire missiles leveled it.
Aid does not explain why Pakistani officials might assist Mehsud’s TTP, by then wreaking terrorist havoc across Pakistan.
Location: Makeen, South Waziristan.
References: Geo TV, AFP, Daily Times, Intel Wars/ Aid pp108-109
July 2008 – September 2008
B18 – July 28 2008
♦ 6-12 total killed
♦ 1-5 civilians, including 0-3 children, reportedly killed
♦ 3 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: CIA secretly apologises for causing ‘colateral damage’ (Washington Post), unnamed residents (Los Angeles Times), unnamed security officials (AFP).
A strike on a seminary killed al Qaeda’s ‘chemical weapons team’: leader Abu Khabab al Masri; Abu Mohammad Ibrahim bin Abi al Faraj al Masri, a religious leader; Abdul Wahhab al Masri and Abu Islam al Masri all died. A US counter terrorism official told the Los Angeles Times shortly after the attack:
There is indeed a sense that he’s gone. This guy [Abu Khabab] not only had knowledge that was dangerous but did dangerous things with it.
Up to three young boys and a woman were listed by some as as killed, the family of Abu Khabab. Al Qaeda also reported that ‘several of their children’ died. However AFP reported that while Khabab’s 18 year old son was killed, his second wife, a Pakistani, and another son ‘were being treated at a hospital in Wana.’ Local militant commander Maulvi Nazir said that the head of the seminary and an unspecified number of students also died. The CIA secretly apologised the next day for ‘collateral damage’ during a meeting with Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Yousef Raza Gilani, according to the Washington Post.
In May 2013, Asia Times identified a man with the false name ‘Sher Khan’ as having supplied intelligence to the US which had resulted in the attack. The Taliban later attempted to capture him:
One evening in 2008, on the seventh of Ramadan [September 8th], Sher Khan was traveling home on his motorcycle from a neighboring village when a group of Taliban asked him to stop. He asked them to let him park his bike but instead took off and managed to escape, eventually reaching Peshawar. After spending a week in there, Khan left for Islamabad and applied for a visa to Abu Dhabi to work as a light vehicle driver. He left for Abu Dhabi later that year, and he still works there as a pickup truck driver. Khan has been forbidden by the Taliban from entering his hometown, and if they even find out he is somewhere else in Pakistan they have vowed to kill him.
Location: Zeralita, South Waziristan
References: Long War Journal, Nefa Foundation Al Qaeda announcement PDF, Dawn, Long War Journal, Geo TV, Long War Journal, Los Angeles Times, AFP, The News, The News, Asia Times Online
B19 – August 12 2008
♦ 13-25 total killed
♦ 0-5 civilians reported killed
♦ 4 possibly injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Field researchers identified civilian casualties by name (Bureau).
A rare apparent attack on Hezb-i-Islami killed ‘good’ Taliban commanders Abdul Rehman, Islam Wazir and between 11-23 other suspected militants. Rehman’s militant brother Mohammad Islam also reportedly died. According to the Bureau’s researchers in Waziristan five civilians were killed in the attack, named by them as Farman, Imran, Latif, Sardar and Najid. All belonged to the Ahmadzai Wazir tribe. The News reported that injured women and children were treated at the local hospital.
A leaked US intelligence report said of the attack:
Predator killed foreign fighters and militants associated with HVT Usama Al-Kini and commander Nazir.
B20 – August 20 2008
♦ 8-12 total killed
♦ 5 injured
Up to a dozen people were killed in an attack possibly targeting militant Haji Yaqub Wazir, who had played a key role in peace agreements with Pakistan’s military. Local residents described seeing an injured Yaqub pulled from the wreckage of his home. Some reports described ‘missiles’ as having come from the Afghan side of the border. However a secret US intelligence report leaked in February 2010 later confirmed that the attack was by a CIA drone:
A drone killed and injured multiple foreign Al Qaeda members and local associates, including some Haqqani Network associates. An Al Qaeda facilitator (house owner) Haji Yacoub was injured.
B21 – August 27 2008
♦ 0 total killed
♦ 4 injured
A secret US document identifies a previously unknown (and failed) attack:
A Predator attempted to target an Al Qaeda-associated meeting but missed target. It did not cause collateral damage.
In fact the missile reportedly hit the house of Sardali Khan wounding a woman, two boys and a girl.
B22 – August 30 2008
♦ 4-5 total killed
♦ 4 injured
Up to five people were killed, including two Arab-Canadians – the first known westerners to be killed in a drone strike in Pakistan. The attack reportedly took place on the house of Noor Khan Wazir, in territory associated with ‘good’ Taliban leader Maulvi Nazir. While making no reference to the Canadians, secretly the US claimed:
[The] strike killed Al Qaeda paramilitary operatives subordinate to Al Qaeda commander and East Africa Embassy bomber Usama Al Kini.
B23 – August 30 2008
♦ 6-8 total killed
♦ 2 civilians reported killed, including 1 child
♦ 8 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed residents and officials (AFP), foreign agency report and unnamed officials (Geo TV)
Six people were killed including alleged Arab and Uzbek (or Punjabi) militants. AFP and others reported that a woman and a little girl nearby were killed by shrapnel, the wife and daughter of village schoolteacher Raees Khan. Eight local people were also said to have been injured. Dawn reported that the house of Nasir Dawar was damaged in the attack. The News reported:
Residents said some guests, a term generally used for foreign nationals affiliated with al-Qaeda operatives, were staying in the village but they did not know about their nationality and rank in the terror network.
The US secretly claimed that ‘two [unnamed] prominent al Qaeda paramilitary commanders’ died, with no mention of the civilian casualties. Some reports listed this strike for August 31.
Location: Tappi or Ghundi village near Miranshah, North Waziristan.
References: Geo TV, Dawn, Daily Times, SATP, Long War Journal, AFP (archived), US secret intelligence report, Associated Press, The News
Related article: ‘You cannot call me lucky’ – over 1,100 people injured by drones
B24 – September 2 2008
♦ 4-10 total killed
No details are known of the location of this strike, though it almost certainly occurred in North Waziristan, where two days later the target Abu Wafa al Saudi was killed. According to a leaked secret US intelligence report:
A Predator killed four to 10 persons associated with Al Qaeda commander and logistician Abu Wafa Al Saudi.
B25 – September 4 2008
♦ 5-7 total killed
♦ 3-4 injured
Drones killed al Qaeda logistician Abu Wafa al Saudi along with up to six others (all reported as Arabs) in an attack on the house of Farman Dawar (also killed). Villagers took part in the rescue operation.
B26 – September 5 2008
♦ 5-12 total killed
♦ 5-7 civilians, including 3-4 children, reported killed
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed witnesses (Geo TV), unnamed intelligence official (Reuters), named source (New York Times), unnamed officials (Dawn), unnamed officials and residents (AFP),
Up to seven civilians, all of them women and children, were reported killed in a US drone strike on the Pakistan-Afghan border. Although most sources reported that the attack took place in Pakistan, the New York Times claimed that the attack was on Al Must, just inside Afghanistan. The strike destroyed two houses, with some sources reporting that alleged militants may also have died. The New York Times, for example, noted that along with five civilians killed up to seven men of ‘Arab descent’ died.
B27 – September 8 2008
♦ 17-23 total killed
♦ 11-14 civilians, including 8 children, reported killed
♦ 14-25 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed Taliban source (CNN), unnamed sources (Dawn), unnamed intelligence officials (New York Times), unnamed Pakistani officials (al Jazeera), eyewitness (Reuters), reports (McClatchy),
A major strike on the home of the Haqqani Network’s leader killed many of his family along with Abu Haris, Al Qaeda’s chief in Pakistan; Saudis Abdullah and Abu Hamza, an explosives expert and al Qaeda commander in Pewshawar; Zain Ul Abu Qasim aka Hakaimi, an Egyptian Al Qaeda chief; and 19 others. Dawn reported that ‘the family home, a guesthouse and a seminary owned by Maulvi Jalaluddin were destroyed.’
Among the dead were many family members of Taliban leader Jalaluddin Haqqani including eight grandchildren (mostly girls), a wife, his elder sister, his sister-in-law, two nieces, possibly a son and other relatives. Girls from the village may also have been killed. And al Jazeera noted that ‘Doctors reported that more than 20 wounded - mostly women and children - were taken to Miranshah’s main hospital.’
The US secretly admitted that it had caused civilian deaths:
A Predator killed several Haqqani sub-commanders and a number of Arabs. Members of the extended Haqqani family were killed.
In a rare outburst, France’s foreign ministry spokesman condemned as ‘counterproductive’ the ‘bombings that took place in Pakistan and left civilian casualties, in particular in the Pakistani tribal areas on Monday.’
Location: Danda Darpakhel, Miram Shah, North Waziristan
References: CNN, Dawn, AllVoices, New York Times, Al Jazeera, SATP, The News, Reuters, US secret intelligence report, Long War Journal, The News, The News, Guardian, McClatchy
B28 – September 12 2008
♦ 10-15 total killed
♦ 14 injured
An early morning attack on a former school killed between 10 and 15 people. The alleged militants killed were reported to be members of a Kashmiri group known as al-Badr. Fourteen people were also reported wounded. The US secretly claimed:
A Predator killed 10 to 15 militants associated with Al Qaeda facilitator Qari Imran’s training camp.
The destroyed building reportedly belonged to local Shah Adam, who had rented it out.
B29 – September 17 2008
♦ 4-7 total killed
♦ 3 injured
Up to seven alleged militants were reported killed (three of them ‘Arabs’) and three injured in an attack on a house said to belong to supporters of militant leader Maulvi Nazir. The last dated entry for the secret US intelligence report notes:
A Predator killed 4-6 militants delivering rockets to a militant camp near the Afghan border and probably HVT Abu Ubaydh Al Tunisi.
There are no known records of al Tunisi being active following this strike.
B30 – September 30 2008
♦ 4-8 total killed
♦ 5-9 injured
After tribesmen fired on three drones circling their village, a Predator killed up to eight people in an 11.30pm strike on a house said to be owned by a man named as Dossel. Those killed were reported as ‘mostly Middle eastern and Central Asian’, with up to nine injured. Geo TV reported a local security official as stating:
After the drones came under fire a missile hit a house in the village. We have four dead now and another nine people were injured.’
October 2008 – December 2008
B31 – October 3 2008
♦ 3 total killed
♦ 3 civilians, including one child, reported killed
♦ 5 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed intelligence officials (SATP, Reuters), reports (Long War Journal), unnamed Pakistani officials (Daily Telegraph)
Two women and a child were killed in a 5.30am strike on two houses which also injured five men. Some reports claimed this was a NATO airstrike rather than a drone attack.
B32 – October 3 2008
♦ 21 total killed
♦ 7-14 civilians, including 3 children, reported killed
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Field researchers identified civilian casualties by name (Bureau), unnamed local people (Dawn), funeral report (Dawn), unnamed intelligence official (ANI),
Twenty one people including 7-8 alleged ‘foreign militants’, reported as either Arabs or from the al Badr group, were killed. Villager Bakht Ali later told news agencies:
We found body parts scattered all over the place in the ruins, someone’s hand, someone’s leg.’
Dawn reported that 14 local people were publicly buried: ‘Seven members of a family were killed in the attack on the house of Abdur Rehman, an Afghan national from Afghanistan’s Khost province. The dead were Abdur Rehman himself, his three sons, a son-of-law and two other relatives. Some reports alternatively named Afghan national Wanar Jan, who also died, as the house’s owner.
The Bureau’s Waziristan researchers later named an additional five adults they said were among the other villagers killed in the attack as Kamran, Siddiq, Noorul Haq, Zarmali Khan and Muhammad. They belonged to the Dawar tribe.
B33 – October 9 2008
♦ 4-9 total killed
♦ 4-9 civilians, including 1-4 children, reported killed
♦ 2 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Law suit (Reprieve), unnamed residents (AFP).
An attack allegedly aimed at a meeting of al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed up to nine people, including 4-6 ‘Arabs’. There were claims that Pakistani intelligence had compromised the strike. Many senior militants were said by some to have departed the meeting shortly before the attack: ‘There was a meeting of around 30 foreign Al-Qaeda and local Taliban commanders in the house of Hafiz Sahar Gul but the majority of them left the building ten minutes before the missile struck,’ a security official told AFP. AFP and The News also reported that the wife and three children of local Taliban commander Hafiz Sahar Gul, and another unknown woman were killed.
However lawyer Mirza Shahzad Akbar, representing Mohammad Yusuf, a surviving member of a family, challenged this version of events in a case placed before the UN Human Rights Council in February 2012:
Mohammad Yusuf is a resident of Dawar Tapi, Miranshah, North Waziristan, Pakistan. On Wednesday, October 9, 2008, he was in Ghundi Kala, at the house of his uncle Sultan Jan for a family gathering. In addition to Sultan Jan, others present at the house included: his cousin and son of Sultan Jan, Bukhtoor Gul; his uncle Aman Ullah Jan, and his cousin, and son of Aman Ullah Jan, Imran Khan. Imran was aged 14 and half years of age. No members of his family were involved with any terrorist organizations or activities, and there were no foreign nationals living at the house.
At approximately 10 PM that evening Mohammad Yusuf left the compound surrounding the house to defecate in a nearby field. From the field he saw a missile strike his uncle’s house, destroying part of the house and killing his two uncles and his two cousins. The missile was launched from a drone, which had been flying around the area.
B34 – October 11 2008
♦ 4-5 total killed
♦ 2 injured
The reputed house of Rahmat Jahan, situated in an abandoned Afghan refugee camp, was attacked killing up to five. While most reports only to ‘people’ killed, Dawn cited residents and local intelligence officials as saying that those killed were militants:
An intelligence official said five militants were killed in the attack on a house in a shanty neighbourhood known as Machis Colony. There were foreigners also among those killed and their number and nationality had not yet been ascertained, he said. ”The mud-walled house has long been used by the guests as their abode,” he said, referring to the term used for the militants in the tribal areas.
A day earlier, Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman accused the US of ‘helping the terrorists’ by destabilising Pakistan’s tribal areas.
B35 – October 16 2008
♦ 5-9 total killed
♦ 4 civilians reported killed
♦ 7 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed Pakistani intelligence official and eyewitnesses (CNN).
Egyptian Khalid Habib, al Qaeda’s chief of external operations, was reported killed in his parked vehicle along with up to four ‘militants’. But a local Pakistani intelligence source and eyewitnesses told CNN that four civilians were also killed and seven injured when three nearby houses were damaged in the attack. One house was owned by local tribesman Ghazi Khan Mehsud.
Habib reportedly moved to Tapargai to escape drone strikes, the New York Times said:
Mr. Habib had relocated to Taparghai expressly to avoid missile strikes, [a] former militant said. The area around Taparghai is near Makin, a base of Baitullah Mehsud, the chief of the Pakistani Taliban. Mr. Habib was in a parked Toyota station wagon, a favored vehicle of the militants in the tribal area, when he was hit by the missile, the former member of the militant group said. A resident of the village said in a telephone interview that the man killed in the attack seemed to be “important.” He was known in the village as Zalfay, the resident said. The name means “long hair” in Pashto, the language spoken in the area.
Related article: Analysis: the covert drone war
B36 – October 23 2008
♦ 7-11 total killed
♦ 7-10 civilians, mostly children, reported killed
♦ 11 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Named source (Deutsche Presse Agentur), reports (BBC).
An attack on a seminary allegedly linked to the Haqqani Network killed up to eleven people. Some reports stated that those killed were militants, naming some as ‘Mirza Ali Khan; Eid Muhammad from Wana in South Waziristan; Qadir Khan and Gul Wali Shah, residents of Azam Warsak, a town near Wana; and Salim Gul and Abdul Wali hailing from the Dawar tribe in North Waziristan’ (The News).
However the BBC said that seven students were killed, while German agency DPA said that 10 students ‘aged 12 to 18′ had died. A named local, Zardad Khan, told the New York Times that ‘They were all local people’. And Dawn reported that eleven people were wounded – with three named as Sangeen, Bekhtullah and Rehmatullah.
B37 – October 26 2008
♦ 15-20 total killed
♦ 4-9 civilians, including 0-3 children, reported killed
♦ 2 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Field researchers identified civilian casualties, three by name (Bureau), unnamed source (Dawn).
An attack on Maulvi Nazir‘s network killed ‘twenty militants’, it was initially claimed. Haji Omar aka Mohammed Omar was falsely reported killed (he appears to have died in Ob53 on December 31 2009). Two of his brothers, Elda Jan and Shakum, and three nephews (unknown age) reportedly died; nearby homes were also damaged.
The Bureau’s Waziristan researchers identified four civilians killed as ‘Nasrullah from the Dawar tribe, Umar from the Ahmadzai Wazir tribe and Naeem from the Utmanzai Wazir tribe. The name of the fourth slain person isn’t known.’ Prime Minister Gillani subsequently issued a formal protest to the US Ambassador, Anne Patterson, who was told:
It was emphasized that such attacks were a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and should be stopped immediately.’
Pakistan’s Senate also passed a unanimous motion condemning the strike.
B38 – October 31 2008
♦ 4-25 total killed
♦ Civilians possibly killed
An attack allegedly killed al Qaeda’s propaganda boss (or ‘low level militant’) Egyptian Abu Jihad al Masri (aka Mohammad Hasan Khalil al Hakim) and leader Abu Kasha or Akash. The latter appeared to be alive as of August 2011, though as Dawn reported ‘A son of Abu Akash was killed with Al Qaeda leader Abu Hamza Rabia in a missile attack in the same village on Nov 30, 2005.’ The reputed house of Amanullah was set on fire in the attack, which also destroyed a vehicle. A local intelligence official told agencies:
The house was demolished and caught fire. People were trying to pull out the dead and the injured from the rubble but the fire was hampered their efforts.
The Nation also reported: ‘The first missile hit a four-wheel drive vehicle carrying Akash and his comrades just as it was entering the compound, which was targeted by another strike seconds later. It was not immediately clear whether the house or the vehicle, a pick-up truck, was blown up first, officials said.’ Civilians may have died in the strike – though some reports, including Taliban sources, contested the high casualty numbers.
B39 – October 31 2008
♦ 4-12 total killed
♦ 0-1 civilian killed
♦ 2-30 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed sources (The News).
There was wide variation in the numbers of casualties reported. Between four and twelve people were killed, including up to six ‘foreigners’, and 2-30 injured in a strike against local Taliban leader Maulvi Nazir who was himself wounded. One of Nazir’s comrades later told The News: ‘It was our good luck that the drones fired two missiles on the room next to him and razed it to the ground.’ The house of Mohammad Haroon Wazir was destroyed in the attack and Haroon – a relative of Nazir – was reported killed. The strike almost ended Pakistan’s peace deal with Nazir’s faction. A senior commander told The News shortly after the attack:
Maulvi Nazeer Sahib has asked me to convey his message and this is our last ultimatum to the government. Then we will pick up arms and will fight against our own government and security forces instead of crossing the border for Jihad against the US-led forces in Afghanistan.’
Waziristan mountains 2007 – Flickr/Maverick bashoo
B40 – November 7 2008
♦ 11-16 total killed
♦ 0-6 civilians reported killed
♦ 17 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Field researchers identified civilian casualties by name (Bureau).
An attack on a ‘training facility of Hafiz Gul Bahadar’ (in a peace deal with Pakistan’s military) killed up to sixteen militants. However Geo TV described the target as a house owned by local Ghani Gul, in an attack which killed ‘five foreigners.’ The New York Times said that eight locals and five foreigners had been reported killed.
Pakistan’s president and prime minister both condemned the attack. However the CIA later told Pakistan’s President Zardari that ‘many Westerners, including some US passport holders’ died in this strike – details the CIA continues to keep secret (Obama’s Wars by Bob Woodward). According to Woodward
The CIA would not reveal the particulars due to the implications under American law. A top secret CIA map detailing the attacks had been given to the Pakistanis. Missing from it was the alarming fact about the American deaths … The CIA was not going to elaborate.’
Although no civilians were reported killed at the time, the Bureau’s Waziristan researchers later identified six they said had been killed, named as Dil Nawaz, Yousaf, Ashraf, Naimatullah, Taj Mohammad and Musa, all of the Utmanzai Wazir tribe.
B41 – November 14 2008
♦ 11-13 total killed
♦ 3-12 civilians reported killed
♦ 2 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed sources (Dawn), unnamed intelligence officials (Daily Times), unnamed local tribesmen (The News).
Up to thirteen people were killed in a strike on a house on the border between North and South Waziristan. The home owner was possibly killed – he was named variously as local tribesman Amir Khan (whose father reportedly died in a clash with Nato forces in Afghanistan in 2007) Ameer Gul and Mir Gul. Up to nine ‘Arabs’ also reportedly died in the attack, along with at least three people later identified as Khan’s relatives. A single report claimed that eleven members of one family died, while The News stated:
Three of the dead were identified as close family members of Amir Gul, who was not present in his house at the time of the strike. Tribesmen claimed that all the dead were local people and that nine bodies were mutilated beyond recognition. Authorities, however, insisted that at least nine of the dead were militants but did not confirm if there was any foreigner in the house.
B42 – November 19 2008
♦ 4-6 total killed
♦ Possible civilians killed
♦ 7 injured
This second strike outside FATA (although the first publicly known, with the first on December 3 2007), was probably aimed at the Quetta Shura, the ruling council of militant groups in the region. The attack killed al Qaeda’s Abdullah Azzam al Saudi and ‘at least’ five others, ‘one Arab and two Turkmen’ according to the US embassy, and an alleged local fighter named as Rafiullah. The strike hit the house of a ‘Taliban militant’ named as Dilber or Darpand. However local policeman Mohammad Alam insisted all those killed were locals.
The attack provoked Pakistani outrage. In a secret cable the US Ambassador wrote back to Washington:
The first strike within ‘Pakistan proper’ is seen as a watershed event, and the media is suggesting this could herald the spread of attacks to Peshawar or Islamabad. Even politicians who have no love lost for a dead terrorist are concerned by strikes within what is considered mainland Pakistan.
Pakistani politicians of all stripes, including those from the most ardently anti-terrorist parties, are facing growing political pressure to condemn U.S. attacks. As the gap between private GOP acquiescence and public condemnation for U.S. action grows, Pakistani leaders who feel they look increasingly weak to their constituents could begin considering stronger action against the U.S., even though the response to date has focused largely on ritual denunciation.’
Local militants also reported that they would carry out attacks in Pakistan-proper as a result of Islamabad’s alleged complicity in the CIA strikes.
Location: Jani Khel, Bannu, Northwest Frontier Province.
References: Fox News, CNN, IANS, Dawn, Pakistan Body Count, Dawn, The Nation, Express (Urdu), BBC, ANI, Dawn, Geo TV, The Nation, Al Jazeera, Geo TV, BBC, Sky News, US diplomatic cable, The News
Pakistani tribesmen offer funeral prayers for the victims of missile strike attack in the main town of Miran Shah on February 15, 2009 / Getty
B43 – November 22 2008
♦ 4-6 total killed
♦ 6 injured
Rashid Rauf, a British al Qaeda-linked operative and a suspect in a 2006 plane-bombing plot, was reportedly killed alongside Egyptian explosives expert Abu Zubair al-Masri and three others. The reputed house of Khaliq Noor was destroyed.
Some commentators have questioned whether Rauf died in the attack, with reports claiming in April 2009 that he was still alive. In 2012 Rauf’s family announced plans to sue the UK government for allegedly sharing intelligence with the US that may have led to his death in a drone strike. A relative told a local reporter: ‘The Americans could not have found and killed him without help from British intelligence officers who shared information. The family want answers. They want to see the evidence that Rashid was a dangerous terrorist.’ While some took this as confirmation from the family that Rauf had died in November 2008, anonymous US intelligence operatives told the Long War Journal that although it initially appeared Rauf had been killed in 2008, he was likely to have survived and to have been killed in a different strike. One official involved in the drone campaign told LWJ:
It is often difficult to determine when an al Qaeda leader or operative was killed or if they survived targeting. We don’t have a body, we can’t go there to investigate. The fact is, that despite our persistent targeting [with drones], the FATA [Pakistan's tribal areas] remains a no-go area. This is Taliban territory.
Location: Ali Khel, Miranshah, North Waziristan.
References: CNN, The Times (paywall), BBC, The Nation, PTV, The Telegraph, Dawn, Long War Journal, Geo TV, Independent, The Times (paywall), Daily Mail, Westpoint Counter Terrorism Center, Financial Times, The Guardian, New York Times, Birmingham Mail, Long War Journal, The News, The News
B44 – November 27 2008
♦ 5 total killed
Five alleged members of the Pakistan Taliban (TTP) were killed in an attack on a moving vehicle attributed either to an improvised explosive device (a roadside bomb) or to a drone.
B45 – November 29 2008
♦ 2-3 total killed
♦ 0-3 civilians, possibly including children, reported killed
♦ 2-3 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed locals (Dawn), unnamed sources (Frontier Post).
An attack took place on a house adjacent to the bazaar, listed either as that of Professor Taj Mohammad or of a man called Ihsan Daur. Two or three people were killed, reported either as ‘tribesmen’ or by one source as civilians, possibly including children. Two of the injured were listed as ‘Adnan and his wife’, who were reportedly taken to a hospital in Miramshah.
B46 – December 5 2008
♦ 3-4 total killed
♦ 2 injured
Three or four alleged militants, possibly Turkomen, were killed and two people were injured in an attack on a house. One missile missed its target, landing in a nearby field.
B47 – December 11 2008
♦ 6-7 total killed
♦ 0-7 civilians reported killed
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Named local cleric (The News).
Seven people were killed including, some reported, three ‘foreigners’ and possibly Punjabi militants. But according to villagers the attack on a house – which also damaged a next-door madrassa – only killed civilians.
At a funeral attended by hundreds, local religious scholar Maulana Sheikh Hakim Khan also insisted that those killed were civilians and called on Ban Ki-Moon of the United Nations to stop the CIA’s attacks. The News reported that Hakim:
Complained that these planes had deprived the innocent tribesmen of their mental peace and badly affected their routine life. [People were] disappointed with their own government, as despite their repeated appeals it had failed to stop the attacks on the civilian areas.’
B48 – December 15 2008
♦ 2-3 total killed
♦ 0-3 civilians
♦ 3 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed local villager (Deutsche Presse Agentur).
A night-time strike killed two unknown people and injured three. Local resident Ajab Khan reported that the attack had set a house on fire, telling AP:
He said he saw two bodies brought out and three wounded people taken away in a vehicle. Suspected Taliban militants surrounded the house, Khan said – a common occurrence after such strikes.
It was reported that the house was owned by Ghuncha Gul Wazir – though it is not clear if this is the militant leader of the same name. All agencies referred to those killed only as ‘people’ raising the possibility of civilian casualties.
B49 – December 22 2008
♦ 3 total killed
♦ 5 injured
At least three people were killed and five wounded in a strike on a truck rigged with an anti-aircraft gun. The attack, one of a pair, ’caused huge fires in both villages, sending panicked residents running into the streets,’ a security official told AFP. According to reports the trucks had been brought into Waziristan by ‘Punjabi Taliban’ to defend against drone strikes. See B50.
B50 – December 22 2008
♦ 2-4 total killed
♦ 4 injured
Between two and four people were killed and four injured in a further strike on an anti-aircraft truck in a second village. Dawn reported locals as saying that
Six Taliban speaking Urdu had come to Azam Warsak bazaar in a vehicle. Four of them disembarked and went to a grocery shop. At that time a big explosion took place and the vehicle was destroyed. The locals retrieved the two bodies from the vehicle and handed them over to their other colleagues. Resident said a fort-like house was also destroyed in the attack.
See also B49.
B51 – January 1 2009
♦ 3-5 total killed
♦ 1-2 injured, reportedly civilian(s)
A strike on a vehicle killed up to five people, described by Dawn as ‘suspected militants from Turkmenistan.’ One or two nearby civilians were also reportedly wounded. Some reports incorrectly claimed that Usama al-Kini was killed in this attack (see B52).
B52 – January 2 2009
♦ 3-4 total killed
♦ 3-5 injured
In the final strike of George W. Bush’s presidency, an attack on an abandoned girls’ school (reportedly a TTP base) killed al Qaeda operational chief Usama al-Kini and his lieutenant Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan, both linked to the 1998 US African embassy bombings. Two other unknown people also died. Then-CIA Director General Michael Hayden personally ordered the attack, demanding that the drone’s operators use a bunker-busting bomb to ensure a kill.
At the command, the Predator’s flight crew… switched on a far larger weapon hidden inside the bomb cavity, a 500lb laser-guided GBU-12 Paveway (Joby Warrick’s The Triple Agent).
Three to five people – allegedly ‘Punjabi militants’ – were reported injured and taken for local treatment..
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