Episode 25 of the Bureau’s podcast Drone News.
The remains of a house destroyed in a CIA drone strike in Waziristan, April 2009 (Noor Behram)
As part of its ongoing investigation into the US covert war the Bureau has examined thousands of credible media reports relating to more than 310 Central Intelligence Agency drone strikes in Pakistan.
These incidents were reported by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, CNN, ABC News, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, the BBC, Al Jazeera, and reputable Pakistani media (see bottom table).
CIA drone strikes tend to be reported on a case-by-case basis. Yet it became clear to the Bureau that a number of specific tactics were being deployed. These included multiple attacks by drones on rescuers attempting to aid victims of previous strikes. There were also a number of credible reports of funerals and mourners being attacked by CIA drones.
With the aid of Pakistani journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai in Peshawar, the Bureau has spent four months working with independent researchers in Waziristan seeking to validate the reports. Villagers, militants and local officials have been questioned, and attempts made to identify those killed in the strikes.
The results provide independent verification of the tactics reported. Of the 18 attacks on rescuers and mourners reported at the time by credible media, twelve cases have been independently confirmed by our researchers. In each case civilians are reported killed, and where possible we have named them.
|Strike Date||Location||Bureau’s Summary Findings|
|16/5/09||Khesoor North Waziristan||Attack confirmed. Nine civilian rescuers reported killed – six named as Sabir, Ikram, Mohib, Zahid, Mashal and Syed Noor, all from the Utmanzai Wazir tribe. Four Taliban rescuers also died.|
|18/6/09||Wana, South Waziristan||Attack confirmed. Four civilian rescuers reported killed, named as Jehanzeb, Liaqat, Daraz and Sabil. Three Taliban rescuers also died.|
|23/6/09||Miram Shah, North Waziristan||Attack confirmed. Supportive evidence. Between 18 and 45 civilians reported killed among up to 83 fatalities in strike on funeral.|
|17/12/09||Degan, North Waziristan||Attack confirmed. Eyewitness testimony. Six civilian rescuers reported killed, five named as Bashirullah, Amir Khan, Shairullah, Abidullah and Fazle Rabbi, all of the Dawar tribe.|
|18/12/09||Degan, North Waziristan||Attack confirmed. Five civilian funeral prayer-goers reported killed, four named as Syed Noor, Shakirullah, Banaras and Fayyaz.|
|6/1/10||Datta Khel North Waziristan||Attack confirmed. Five civilian rescuers reported killed, four named as Khalid, Matiullah, Kashif, Zaman and Waqar, all of the Utmanzai Wazir tribe. No Taliban rescuers were reported killed.|
|2/2/10||Pai Khel North Waziristan||Attack confirmed. Five civilian rescuers killed, named as Noor Janan, Farhad, Samad, Salam and Baseer. Four Taliban rescuers also died.|
|10/3/10||Datta Khel||Attack confirmed. Four civilian rescuers killed, named as Gulzar, Shamim, Majan and Sarwar. Two Taliban rescuers reported to have died.|
|16/4/10||Toor Khel North Waziristan||No confirmation. According to researchers no rescuers were killed.|
|15/9/10||Danda Darpakhel, North Waziristan||Attack confirmed. Eyewitness testimony. Five civilian rescuers of the Dawar tribe reported killed, named as Yahya, Samin, Niamatullah, Shahzad and Ilyas. Three Taliban rescuers also reported killed.|
|20/9/10||Darazinda North Waziristan||No confirmation – researchers could find no evidence of rescuers killed.|
|22/9/10||Azam Warsak, South Waziristan||Unconfirmed.|
|13/10/10||Datta Khel||Attack confirmed. Three civilian rescuers killed – named as Bashir, Wajid and Laiq – along with five Taliban rescuers.|
|28/12/10||Ghulam Khan, North Waziristan||Attack confirmed. Two civilian rescuers reported killed, named as Jamil and Mustafa. No Taliban rescuers were reported among the dead.|
|28/12/10||Ghulam Khan||Eyewitness testimony. Not an attack on rescuers or civilians, according to researchers. Only militants died.|
|1/1/11||Mandi Khel North Waziristan||No rescuers killed, according to researchers.|
|11/3/11||Khesoor||Attack confirmed. Five civilian rescuers reported killed, named as Noor Gul, Jaffar, Faraz, Musa and Kamal. Five Taliban rescuers also reported killed.|
|20/6/11||Khardand, Kurram Agency||Although all of those killed were reportedly civilians, no rescuers were targeted in the attack.|
|12/7/11||Dray Nashtar, North Waziristan||Although not reported at the time by media, researchers claim that four civilian rescuers – named as Shabbir, Kalam, Waqas and Bashir died in the attack.|
In six of the original cases the Bureau cannot confirm that rescuers and funeral-goers have been killed. So while, for example, all of those killed on June 20 this year were reported to be civilians, no evidence was found in the field that rescuers were involved. On other occasions, according to our researchers, only militants died and no rescuers were involved.
The Bureau’s researchers also identified one attack on rescuers, which had not been reported. They were told it took place on July 7, 2011 – which would make it the last known CIA attack on rescuers.
According to villagers in Waziristan, rescuers were also attacked on nine further occasions beginning on March 15 2008. The Bureau is continuing to work with its researchers to obtain further information and validation relating to these additional drone strikes, which are not included in the present data.
Original claims of attacks on rescuers and funeral-goers as reported by leading media.
|Strike Date||Location||Alleged Target||Reported by|
|16/5/09||Khesoor, North Waziristan||Rescuers at housing compound||The News|
|18/6/09||Wana, South Waziristan||Rescuers at alleged Taliban compound||New York Times, AFP|
|23/6/09||Miram Shah, North Waziristan||Funeral-goers||AFP, New York Times, London Times (paywall)|
|17/12/09||Degan, North Waziristan||Rescuers at a house||CNN|
|18/12/09||Degan, North Waziristan||Funeral prayers for victims of previous strike||Daily Times|
|6/1/10||Datta Khel North Waziristan||Rescuers at alleged militant compound||AFP, CNN, Al Jazeera, Pajhwok (Afghan news agency)|
|2/2/10||Pai Khel North Waziristan||Possible rescuers in two vehicles||New York Times|
|10/3/10||Datta Khel||Rescuers at alleged militant compound||The News, Al Jazeera|
|16/4/10||Toor Khel North Waziristan||Rescuers at car||AFP|
|15/9/10||Darga Mandi North Waziristan||Rescuers at housing compounds||Pakistan Tribune|
|20/9/10||Darazinda North Waziristan||Rescuers at motorbike||AFP|
|22/9/10||Azam Warsak, South Waziristan||Funeral prayers for victims of previous strike (confused reports)||Al Jazeera|
|13/10/10||Datta Khel||Rescuers at house and car||Associated Press|
|28/12/10||Ghulam Khan, North Waziristan||Rescuers at compound after they waited three hours||CNN, ABC News, Al Jazeera|
|28/12/10||Ghulam Khan||Vehicle with wounded||Dawn|
|1/1/11||Mandi Khel North Waziristan||Rescuers at compound after they waited two hours||Associated Press, Al Jazeera|
|11/3/11||Khesoor||Rescuers at vehicle||AFP, Dawn, Pakistan Observer|
|20/6/11||Khardand, Kurram Agency||Rescuers at car||Associated Press|
Episode 25 of the Bureau’s podcast Drone News.
Drones have hit targets in Afghanistan since 2001 yet almost nothing is known about where those attacks took place, or who they killed.
A UK drone operator speaks exclusively to the Bureau.