The Obama administration says it killed one civilian and 431-441 combatants in counterterrorism strikes last year – contrasting slightly with the Bureau’s estimate of four to six civilians and 358-501 combatants.
President Obama visits the Pentagon, 2012 (Photo: White House)
The events detailed here occurred in 2012. 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 2012. Please note that our data changes according to our current understanding of particular strikes. Below represents our present best estimate.
CIA strikes – Obama 2012
|Total CIA drone strikes||50|
|Total reported killed:||212-410|
|Civilians reported killed:||13-63|
|Children reported killed:||1-2|
|Total reported injured:||100-212|
c. January 4th 2012
♦ 0 total killed
The first hoped-for US strike of 2012 did not happen, according to the Washington Post, following a veto by Pakistan, with the two countries still locked in negotiations over new terms for CIA drone attacks:
In a rare display of deference early this month, the CIA informed the Pakistani government that it planned a drone strike against a terrorist target in the North Waziristan tribal region and asked Islamabad’s permission. When Pakistan declined, the strike was canceled, officials said.
Ob256 – January 10 2012
♦ 1-4 total killed
♦ 2 injured (woman and child)
The longest pause of the Obama drone war in Pakistan (55 days) came to an abrupt end when in a late evening attack two missiles destroyed a mudbrick house just outside Miranshah. Up to four alleged militants were reported killed, with Reuters initially citing Pakistani officials as saying the victims were ‘foreign fighters of Arab and possibly also Uzbek extraction‘. Qasim Noor, a student who witnessed the attack, told Associated Press: ‘It was an unusually big bang. Since it was extremely cold I didn’t leave the house, but could see a house on fire. In the morning, we saw a modest mud house had been destroyed‘. Ten days after the strike Reuters reported that the attack killed Aslam Awan, 25, (aka Abdullah Khorasani), who it described as a Pakistan-born senior external operations operative for al Qaeda. Pakistan’s The News reported that a Saudi national may also have died. According to a local tribesman:
A guest from the holy land (Saudi Arabia) living in a ramshackle house was killed on the spot but his wife and a son staying in the same room survived’.
Awan moved in his late-20s to the UK on a student visa in 2002. He worked in a clothing store and joined a group of young militants in Manchester before returning to Pakistan, the New York Times reported. He sent a letter to a friend Abdul Rahman, 25, urging him and his friends to join him. He wrote: ‘We have to do this work even with our last drop of blood. Please do migrate and encourage others to migrate too. Please invite everybody towards this cause.’ A US official said Awan was ‘a senior al Qaeda external operations planner who was working on attacks against the West’. He added: ‘His death reduces al Qaeda’s thinning bench of another operative devoted to plotting the death of innocent civilians.’
The attack led to a number of protests in Pakistan. On February 22 Reuters reported that US Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all spoke with senior Pakistani officials just prior to the attack to let them know the campaign would be resuming. The News later claimed that according to its sources in the security establishment this strike – and one on February 9 2012 – ‘was carried out on a tip off provided by the Pakistani intelligence community’. A Pakistani security source told Reuters they were joint operations. This strike ‘ made use of Pakistani “spotters” on the ground’, the agency reported.
Location: Miran Shah, North Waziristan
References: Associated Press, Express Tribune, Xinhua, Daily Telegraph, MSNBC, CNN, BBC, The Bureau, Reuters, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Voice of America, Dawn, The News, McClatchy, Reuters, Express Tribune, New York Times, Reuters, The News, The News, Reuters, The Scotsman, New York Times
Ob257 – January 12 2012
♦ 5-9 total killed
♦ 2-3 injured
Up to nine militants, mostly Turkmeni, were killed in a US strike on two vehicles in Dogga, 18 miles west of Miranshah. Reuters reported a Pakistani intelligence source as saying: ”The missiles hit two cars that were heading towards the border. Several foreigners were in the cars, but we have no information on their nationalities yet.’ The News reported those killed
Were sitting in their vehicles after performing their Maghrib prayers when they came under attack. They said the double cabin pick-up vehicle caught fire and four men were killed on the spot. Their badly mutilated bodies were pulled out of the destroyed vehicle later. Another person, villagers said, was killed in the car. His body was mutilated and beyond recognition. There was no way to ascertain the identity of the slain men.’
Reports for a while claimed that Pakistan Taliban (TTP) leader Hakimullah Mehsud may have been killed in the attack, based on radio intercepts. The TTP denied the claim. This and the previous strike were joint US-Pakistani operations, Reuters reported. Pakistani operatives coordinated the strike from the ground, despite the tense relations between the two allies. ‘Our working relationship is a bit different from our political relationship,’ the agency’s anonymous source remarked. He said ‘Al Qaeda is our top priority’, and said cooperation with the UK intelligence services was extensive. He outlined how cooperation between the US and Pakistan worked:
We run a network of human intelligence sources…Separately, we monitor their cell and satellite phones…Thirdly, we run joint monitoring operations with our US and UK friends.
Location: Doga Mada Khel, Datta Khel Tehsil, North Waziristan
References: Dawn, IRNA, BBC, Pakistan Today, Reuters, Voice of America, The Nation, CNN, AFP, Express Tribune, The News, Fox News, The Nation, Press Trust of India, McClatchy, The News, ABC News Radio, Dawn, Asia Times, The News, Bureau
Ob258 – January 23 2012
♦ 2-5 total killed
♦ 1-3 injured
Up to five people, four of them alleged Turkmeni militants possibly allied to al Qaeda, according to Reuters, were reported killed in a morning strike on a vehicle in North Waziristan. The vehicle was en route from Degan to Datta Khel and according to the BBC ‘was engulfed by fire after the missile strike. A nearby house was also damaged.’ A related attack on a house may have taken place in the nearby village of Mohammad Khel.
The local Pakistani authorities record drone attacks in an internal strike assessment. The Bureau published this document in January 2014 – it said two non-locals were killed in this attack.
Ob259 – January 23 2012
♦ 0-2 total killed
Two missiles may also have struck a house in Mohammad Khel. CNN reported local intelligence officials as saying that nobody was killed in the attack, although The News reported local tribesmen as saying that two people died. This attack may be confused with Ob258.
Ob259ci – February 1 2012
♦ 13-20 total killed
There were clashing reports as to the source of an early morning attack on four Pakistan Taliban (TTP) compounds in Orukzai Agency. Dawn reported that the strike was carried out by the Pakistan Air Force – and that a TTP commander may have been killed. Earlier there had been some speculation as to whether US drones were involved.
Ob260 – February 8 2012
♦ 9-10 total killed
♦ 2-12 injured
Ten alleged militants were killed in an early morning attack on a house near Miranshah, North Waziristan. One anonymous Pakistani official reported: ‘The locals have pulled out nine bodies and around a dozen injured from the rubble of demolished house’. ‘There was wide speculation about the victims. One source claimed that those killed were part of a group run by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a local militant commander. A second reported that the Haqqani Network may have been targeted. Other Pakistan intelligence sources suggested that some of the targets were ‘from central Asia’, or from the Punjab. It was the first confirmed CIA drone strike in more than two weeks. In January 2014, the Bureau published an internal assessment of drone strikes collected by the Pakistani political authorities. It said three locals and seven non-locals were killed in this attack. Of the non-locals, four were reportedly Punjabis and three were foreigners.
Ob261 – February 9 2012
♦ 3-8 total killed
♦ 0-3 civilians reported killed, including one child
♦ 3 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Pakistan Taliban sources (Reuters, Dawn, Central Asia Online, The News, Al Qaeda PR), Pakistani security officials (NBC, Express Tribune)
Badar Mansoor, the commander of a Pakistan Taliban faction with strong links to al Qaeda, was among up to eight people killed in a 4am attack by the CIA in Miranshah, North Waziristan, the second US strike in 24 hours. AFP named the other dead as Qari Fayaz, Maulvi Faisal Khurasani, Qari Mushtaq and Yasir Khurasani. However an unnamed Taliban militant said three of the dead were called Qari Imran, Qari Mushtaq and Qari Khurasani while the fourth was unidentified. He told The News:
Badar and others had gathered at the house of Qari Imran at Zafar Colony market in Miramshah when a drone fired missiles at the house.
However Central Asian Online reported Badr Mansoor’s real name was Qari Imran. There was confusion about whether civilians had also died or were only injured in the strike. Reuters cited a Pakistan Taliban commander saying Mansoor’s family died alongside him.
He was living in a small rented house with his wife and children in Miranshah. He, his wife and two other members of his family died on the spot.
Other sources stated either that one wife was killed, one wife and one child, or that one or both wives were injured in the attack, ‘possibly the wife and daughter of Mansoor’. An unverified al Qaeda press release announced Mansoor’s ‘martyrdom’ and claimed Mansoor’s wife or possibly his sister-in-law was wounded; it did not mention further casualties. Badar Mansoor (aka Fakher Zaman) took over the local leadership of al Qaeda after the death in a drone strike of Ilyas Kashmiri in summer 2011; according to analysts he was responsible for recruiting militants to al Qaeda from within Pakistan. AFP reported Pakistani intelligence officials as saying ‘Mansoor was responsible for attacks in Karachi and on the minority Ahmadi community that killed nearly 100 people in the eastern city of Lahore in May 2010.’ Officials told Reuters that ‘the death toll could rise because of damage to buildings next to the one targeted by the drone.’ Three policemen were murdered in Peshawar on February 24 by militants calling themselves the Sheikh Abdullah Azaam Brigade. Six other officers were wounded in the triple suicide bombing of a police station, which the Brigade said ‘was to avenge the killing of Badr Munir in a drone attack. The group warned that there would be more such attacks,’ according to The Nation. On March 8 al Qaeda’s media wing released a nine-minute eulogy for Mansoor, claiming:
America is now more eagerly attacking the Pakistani government’s targets. The drone program is being run with the full consent, permission and cooperation of the Pakistani government.
The News later claimed that according to its sources in the security establishment this strike – and one on January 10 2012 – ‘was carried out on a tip off provided by the Pakistani intelligence community.’
Location: Miran Shah, North Waziristan
References: AFP, Reuters, Associated Press, Reuters, Fox News, Associated Press, CNN, BBC, New York Times, MSNBC, McClatchy, AFP, The Nation, The News (Pakistan), Central Asia Online, Dawn (AP), The News, The News, al Qaeda press release, Long War Journal, Geneva Centre for Terrorism Analysis and Training, The News, Central Asian Online, Bureau
Ob262 – February 16 2012
♦ 5-6 total killed
♦ 4-7 injured
An early morning strike on a house in Spalga, near Miranshah, killed up to six alleged militants. Four were seriously injured. At least three Pakistani security officials in the area confirmed the attack, which a number of reports claimed was against the Haqqani Network.
In January 2014 the Bureau published an internal assessment of drone strikes collected by the local political authorities. It listed five ‘non-locals’ as killed in this attack, saying ‘reportedly the killed militants were [from] Punjabi Province.’
The strike came five days after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told Al Jazeera:
I want to inform you that we did not allow or give permission to fly drones from Pakistan. Drones are counter productive and we have discussed it thoroughly with the US administration.
Location: Spalaga, North Waziristan
References:Express Tribune, AFP, Press Trust of India, Radio Free Europe, The Nation (Pakistan), Associated Press, Al Jazeera, CNN, PTI, Washington Post, AAP, Voice of America, BBC, Time, Dawn, Express Tribune, Daily Times, The News, Frontier Post, Bureau
Ob263 – February 16 2012
♦ 8-15 total killed
♦ 3 people reported injured
In the second drone strike of the day up to 15 alleged militants died in an attack on a pick-up truck in Mir Ali. A number of reports referred to the dead as ‘Uzbek Islamists’. In January 2014, German media reported a German national died in the strike with alleged Uzbek militants. Patrick K, a 27-year-old from Hesse in western Germany, died in the attack according to a joint report by newspaper Sud-Deutsche Zeitung and broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk. The German domestic security service had reportedly tried to recruit Patrick K as an informant before he left the country, moving to Pakistan with his Pakistani wife.
An internal assessment of drone strikes, published by the Bureau in January 2014, listed eight people killed in this attack. Contradictorily, the entry in the document listed eight dead in this strike, describing them as ‘locals’ – meaning from the Pakistani tribal agencies. However the document also said: ‘Unconfirmed reports suggest that most of the killed were foreign nationals.’
According to a Pakistani security official ‘the vehicle caught fire and the dead bodies are badly mutilated.’ Four drones were reported to take taken part, according to villagers. One told The News: ‘No one could risk his life to get close to the destroyed vehicle and retrieve bodies of the slain people due to fear of the drones which were still flying over the area even after the attack.’
Location: Khaisoori, Mir Ali, North Waziristan
References: CNN, PTI, Washington Post, AAP, Voice of America, BBC, Dawn, The News, Express Tribune, Daily Times, Frontier Post, Sud-Deutsche Zeitung/NDR (Ger), Associated Press, Bureau
Ob263a – February 25 2012
♦ 0 killed
The News reported that Pakistani troops searching for the wreckage of a crashed US drone narrowly missed injury when a missile was fired from a circling drone. A senior local official told the paper:
We were looking for the wreckage of the drone in Machikhel village, Mir Ali, and were almost close to the debris of the destroyed aircraft when one of the drones flying over the area fired a missile and hit two missiles lying on the ground. It would have caused heavy losses to security forces and others engaged in the search operation. They were lucky to survive.
The US drone had crashed earlier that day, with the Taliban claiming it had shot the UAV down. Militants allied to Hafiz Gul Bahadur told Reuters: ‘The drone today in Machikhel was flying at low altitude and our fighters fired at and shot it down. We have trained people for such type of job. We got hold of half of the wreckage and were looking for the remaining parts when the Pakistan army troops arrived there and then we decided to leave. The troops fired heavy search lights and are looking for wreckage of the drone.’ A US official denied that the drone had been shot down.
Ob264 – March 9 2012
♦ 4-15 total killed
♦ 0-3 injured
A rare CIA drone strike just inside South Waziristan killed up to 15 alleged militants. The attack, the first in more than three weeks, struck a vehicle (see also below) in the Mandao borderlands area. A senior Pakistani security official told AFP:
A drone fired two missiles on a vehicle. At least eight militants were killed. It is not immediately clear if some important target was hit in the missile strike.’
The News reported that those killed were allied to the Pakistan Taliban (TTP) and as well as ‘local Mehsud’ may have included ‘some foreign militants’. Der Spiegel later reported that the morning strike killed Samir H, 29, a German citizen. The Islamist Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) later released a martyrdom video giving his full name as Samir Hatour or Abu Laith. In the video, IMU spokesman Yassin Chouka, also a German citizen, said:
After a 40-day deployment in South Waziristan, on the morning of 9 March 2012, which was a Friday, Abu Laith [Hatour] went to his family, and on the way, the car in which he was along with three other mujahideen was fired upon by an American drone and the brothers died as martyrs.”
According to the Der Spiegel article, a least one of three missiles hit the vehicle, a pick-up truck, killing Samir and 11 others. The attack that killed Samir occurred on the same day that Islamabad announced the imminent replacement of controversial spy chief General Ahmad Shuja Pasha. Pasha, who had run the ISI for four years, was to be replaced by Lt. General Zaheerul Islam the following week.
Born in west German city of Aachen to a German convert mother and a Tunisian father, Samir left Germany for Pakistan in October 2009. He travelled first to Iran then Pakistan, accompanied by his wife, a German of Tunisian descent, his son Hamsa and his daughter Shaima. Der Spiegel reported German investigators believed Samir to be one of the most dangerous Islamists in the country. His sister Soumaia left for Waziristan in 2010 where she is believed to remain. Der Spiegel reported this strike had the potential to reignite the debate in Germany on the legality of the drones by the US and could increase diplomatic tensions between the two countries.
Ob265 – March 9 2012
♦ 6 killed
Three sources reported a second strike. The first reportedly hit a vehicle, killing up to 15 militants. The second strike was said to have hit a house 12 kilometres away, killing ‘six Uzbeks’.
Ob266 – March 13 2012
♦ 6-8 reported killed
♦ 2-4 injured
Two senior commanders of a Taliban faction were among up to eight people killed in a CIA strike on South Waziristan. The men – part of a group commanded by Maulvi Nazir – died in an attack on their vehicle. An eyewitness identified one of the commanders as Amir Hamza Toji Khel – described as ‘a prominent member of the newly established council of the militants namely Shura Muraqiba’. The shura was reportedly formed in late December 2011 ‘to sort out differences among militant groups and stop killing of local tribesmen by terming them “spies”.’ The other commander was named as Shamsullah, reported to be an assistant to Maulvi Nazir himself. Two other deceased militants were named as Wajahat and Abdullah. Although Nazir’s group fights in the insurgency in Afghanistan, it has maintained a six year ceasefire with Pakistan’s forces inside Waziristan, making it highly unlikely that Islamabad would have endorsed the strike.
Ob267 – March 13 2012
♦ 6-7 reported killed
♦ 3 injured
A strike was reported on another vehicle ‘some hours later‘ in the borderlands of North and South Waziristan, killing up to seven people. According to the Frontier Post ‘locals of the area said that a double cabin pick up was hit by missiles from drone planes which killed seven people burning down the pick-up to ashes. It was not known who were the killed ones.’ The News reported that the men were also part of Maulvi Nazir’s Taliban group.
Ob268 – March 30 2012
♦ 3-4 reported killed
♦ 1-3 injured
A house in the market area of Miranshah town was destroyed in a 3am attack, killing up to four alleged militants. According to AFP, the CIA strike also sparked a fire in the moneychangers’ market. The blast reportedly destroyed five shops including a bakery, three grocery shops and a telephone kiosk. Eyewitness Yousuf Khan described the attack and aftermath: ‘I was sleeping in my home when a deafening sound woke me up. Fearing that my house has been attacked, I peeped out of my window and saw flames raging from the building facing my house. Two men holding Kalashnikov rifles warned me to go inside. I shut the window and went to sleep.” There were competing claims as to the identity of the victims. AP cited intelligence officials saying that those killed and injured were Uzbeks; Reuters reported that they were local Taliban; and agency AGI claimed they were ‘Arabs.’ MSNBC later aired footage of the aftermath of the attack, showing that it took place in a built-up market area of the town.
MSNBC airs footage of the strike
The drone strike came at a highly sensitive time, with a recent Parliamentary Committee on National Security report to Islamabad’s parliament calling for an end to all US drone strikes in Pakistan, and during high-level negotiations between the US and Pakistan on possible new rules, said to include limiting the type of strikes, and informing Pakistan in advance. A senior unnamed US official voiced rare internal criticisms of the US programme telling CNN that the White House was making a serious mistake by putting the options on the table for the Pakistanis to seize.
The big mistake was the administration – I did try to warn them – that once you put it on the table, it will only get worse. Sure enough, once they put it on the table, (Pakistan) grabbed it, and they’ve run with it and now it’s the centerpiece of their negotiations.”
The senior official also voiced criticisms of CIA Director David Petraeus: ‘The director and I have had serious go-rounds about this particular issue before he did it, and he did it anyway. And now I think we’re paying the price.”
Ob269 – April 29 2012
♦ 3-6 reported killed
♦ 1-3 injured
Despite ongoing negotiations between the US and Pakistan – and a unanimous vote by Pakistan’s parliament to end the drone strikes – the CIA ended a 29-day pause by bombing an ex-girls’ school in Miranshah and killing up to six alleged militants – among them the leader of an Uzbek militant group. The school was reportedly engulfed in flames. Locals described four drones flying over the town prior to the attack. Pakistan strongly condemned the strike, describing it as ‘in total contravention of international law and established norms of interstate relations.’ At the same time US counter-terrorism chief John Brennan went on American TV to claim that ‘Sometimes you have to take life to save lives.’ Local resident Haji Niamat Khan told Reuters that more than two dozen militants were living in the school when it was attacked. The location was in the town’s market area – scene of the previous strike in March. Reuters also quoted a Pakistani security official:
We intercepted internal conversation of the militants asking for arranging four coffins for the slain men in the drone attack. We don’t know about their identity and nationality but those living in the girls’ school were mostly Arabs.
However Associated Press reported another official as saying the victims may have been ‘Uzbek or Tajik militants.’ Dawn reported that the target was ‘Punjab Taliban. And an anonymous US official later said that the school was a “staging and planning area for Al Qaeda, the Haqqanis and other terrorists.’ In August 2012 the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan reported on its Furqon website that its leader, Uthman/Usman Atil, had died in the attack. Atil had replaced previous IMU leader Tahir Yuldashev, also killed by a drone.
Location: Miran Shah, North Waziristan
References: Reuters, Associated Press, Al Jazeera, AFP, Punjab News, MSNBC, Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Los Angeles Times,New York Times, Express Tribune, Wall Street Journal, AP, NPR, Dawn, New York Times, Furqon (Uzbek), Long War Journal, The News, The News, Washington Post, Bureau
Ob270 – May 5 2012
♦ 8-10 reported killed
♦ 1-3 injured
The CIA carried out its third drone strike during sensitive negotiations with Pakistan. Missiles hit an alleged militant training camp in the forested Shawal area, killing up to ten people. CNN reported the dead as members of the Pakistan Taliban according to Muhammad Amin, a senior government official in the region. The Frontier Post reported locals were afraid to assist in rescue work as up to four drones remained in the area after the attack. The Pakistan Observer identified those killed as ‘local tribesmen’. Pakistan’s government once again condemned the strike in strong terms, calling the attack ‘illegal’ and stating:
It is our considered view that the strategic disadvantages of such attacks far outweigh their tactical advantages, and are therefore, totally counter productive.
The attack came just days after chief US counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan said that the US would seek to respect other nations’ sovereignty in its drone strikes. Leon Panetta, US defence secretary, also confirmed ‘the United States is going to defend itself under any circumstances.’
In February 2013 it emerged an alleged senior al Qaeda militant Abd el Kader Mahmoud Mohamed el Sayed and his son Saleh were killed in a drone strike in Spring 2012. It is not clear where or when they died. El Sayed was reportedly a ‘longtime senior jihadist leader and military commander’ who had led a militant cell in Milan, Italy.
Location: Darnashtra, North Waziristan
References: AFP, MSNBC, Reuters, Associated Press, BBC, PTI, Frontier Post, The News, The Nation (Pakistan), SANA, McClatchy, Dawn, Express Tribune, CNN, Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pakistan Observer, Long War Journal, Bureau
Ob271 – May 23 2012
♦ 1-5 reported killed
♦ 2 injured
In the first recorded US drone strike in Pakistan in 18 days, up to five alleged militants were killed in a 2.40am strike on a house in Datta Khel, with ‘several’ injured. As many as five drones were reported over Miranshah at the time of the attack, suggesting a possible High Value Target may have been present. AFP reported residents as saying that the bodies of those killed had been charred badly, and that militants had cordoned off the area and were sifting through the rubble. The strike came despite continuing Pakistani protests at the attacks, and an ongoing dispute with the United States about the resumption of the delivery of NATO supplies to Afghanistan through the country. At the NATO summit in Chicago, two days before the strike, President Obama told reporters: ‘I don’t want to paper over real challenges there. There’s no doubt that there have been tensions between [the NATO military coalition] and Pakistan, the United States and Pakistan over the last several months.’
Ob272 – May 24 2012
♦ 5-12 reported killed
♦ 0-8 civilians reported killed
♦ 3-4 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Pakistani security officials on damage to mosque and casualties (KUNA, Pakistan Today, BBC, Channel 4 News, SANA, The News), Taliban sources (Channel 4 News), a named eyewitness (The News).
The CIA’s drones returned to the attack for the second time in 24 hours, killing at least eight people. A house and a nearby mosque were hit as villagers attended morning prayers. It is not clear which building was the primary target although a 2013 Amnesty International report said the mosque was destroyed and some houses nearby were damaged. Amnesty’s field investigation found eight were killed in the attack – four Taliban and four foreign fighters. Of the Taliban, two were named in the report: Abdul Samad Dawar and Hakimullah Dawar. Associated Press’ sources said that ‘most of those killed were Uzbek insurgents‘ and said the attack targeted a ‘militant hideout’. Researchers at Stanford University and New York University noted that an Associated Press report filed four days later referred to the strike but still did not mention multiple reports that a mosque had been hit.
A Bureau field investigation found this was a follow-up or ‘double-tap’ strike. A number of people had gathered in a small makeshift mosque, more were sitting outside because ‘the high temperatures in the summer mean early morning Fajr prayers are often held in fields’. Drones attacked the gathering, firing two missiles and hitting the mosque. Four people, thought to be Arabs and Turkmen, were killed in the first strike. Ten or 20 minutes later, six or seven people including local Dawar tribesmen arrived to rescue the wounded. As they were pulling bodies from the rubble the drones returned and fired four more missiles. Six perished in the second strike and 12 more were seriously injured. Two died of their injuries in a Mir Ali medical facility. The Bureau’s researchers did not find any evidence civilians were killed in this strike.
However AFP reported at least three civilians died when the mosque was struck during morning prayers. A security official told the news agency that three worshipers, believed to be Central Asians, ‘were seriously wounded and died later in the hospital.’ Channel 4 News said that most of the dead were local villagers, with four of 12 killed being ‘foreign fighters, believed to be Turkmen’. KUNA reported tribal elders as saying that all of those killed were ‘innocent local tribesmen’. Villager Mohammad Roshan Dawar later told The News:
Some of the people had offered the prayers and were leaving the mosque. Others were still praying and some were reciting the Holy Quran, when the drone fired two missiles and struck the mosque. The small structure of the mosque was demolished in the attack and those present inside were buried under the debris of the building.
The wounded were reportedly taken to Miranshah Agency Headquarters Hospital, where an anonymous doctor complained that the injured ‘were brought to us in a serious condition and had suffered multiple injuries. Also, we do not have any facility here in the hospital to save lives of seriously injured patients. Let alone other facilities, the only X-ray machine at the hospital is also out of order’.
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporter: ‘We strongly condemn the drone attacks. We regard them a violation of our territorial integrity. They are in contravention of international law. They are illegal, counter-productive and totally unacceptable.’ He added that ‘matters related to NATO supply [and] drone attacks are under discussion with the US, and that ‘Pakistan wants to solve the matter of drones with the US through negotiation rather to move UN Security Council or the International Court of Justice.’ The strike occurred on the same day that Amnesty International issued its annual report, in which it again raised concerns that US covert drone strikes ‘appear to have amounted to extrajudicial executions.’
Location: Hisokhel, North Waziristan
References: Dawn, Reuters, KUNA, Pakistan Today, Associated Press, Associated Press, AFP, BBC, CBS, The Nation (Pakistan), MSNBC, Channel 4 News, Amnesty International, SANA, The News (Pakistan), Dawn, Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Living Under Drones, Bureau, Amnesty International, Bureau
Ob273 – May 26 2012
♦ 1-4 reported killed
♦ 2 injured
Drone strikes returned to levels not seen in Pakistan since autumn 2011, as the CIA attacked for the third time in a week. Four alleged militants died in a 4.30am attack when the Madina Bakery was struck in Miranshah bazaar, North Waziristan. According to Associated Press the victims – all ‘foreigners’ or ‘Arabs’ – were buying bread when the shop was bombed, marking a rare deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure. Other agencies reported that a house was struck, or that the target was an apartment above the bakery. All reported that the building was destroyed. BBC reporter Ahmed Wali Majeeb was staying just 500m from the attack site when the missiles struck. He later wrote:
It’s 04:15 in the morning when the blast wakes me. Just as someone next to me says it’s the sound of a missile being fired there is an angry whizzing noise overhead and then an explosion. The gap between the missile being launched and hitting its target is just a few seconds. People run out of their homes into the street in fear. Some are rushing to the spot to see who has been hit. A room on top of a bakery in the centre of the market has been destroyed. Some local people and Taliban are clearing the rubble. They say three people have been killed. A few minutes later, the Taliban and locals are able to sift through the rubble and dig up the dead and injured. These are quickly taken away from the site of the attack and no-one is willing to say who they are. When I try to speak to people and militants later, everybody gives a different answer. It seems that no-one is sure who has been killed, but before long I hear on the radio that a senior al-Qaeda leader – Abu Hafs al Misri – is among the dead. In the aftermath of this attack, I speak to local shopkeepers. One is very angry. He says the attacks have destroyed the lives and livelihood of the local population.
Al Misri had previously been reported killed in autumn 2010.
Location: Miran Shah, North Waziristan
References: BBC, Associated Press, AFP, CNN, Xinhua, MSNBC, Pakistan Observer, Frontier Post, The News, Express Tribune, BBC, Viewpoint Online, Amnesty International, Bureau
Ob274 – May 28 2012
♦ 4-10 reported killed
♦ 4 civilians reported injured, including 3 children
CIA drones returned to attack in North Waziristan for the fourth time in six days, with two strikes in the village of Hasukhel, 4km south of Mir Ali. It appeared at the time that this strike could have marked a return to the deliberate targeting of rescuers at the scene, a tactic first uncovered by the Bureau. However a Bureau field investigation published in August 2013 found it was two discrete strikes. The first attack targeted but missed a truck at 4am. The second attack, 10 minutes later, hit the pickup and killed seven passengers – alleged militants – as it passed near a house on the Khaisura road. CBS News later reported that Al Qaeda commander Yahya al Libi was the target of the attack, but that he had escaped with injuries. Al Libi was killed June 4.
Initial reports said up to ten people were killed in the bombing of a house under construction, reportedly owned by Balbal Khan. Bureau investigators found a house near the pickup truck was also slightly damaged and four people were injured, three children and a woman. All were taken to the public Tehsil Hospital in Mir Ali where they were given treatment and survived. The house was located close to the same mosque where drones struck on May 24 2012 (Ob270). Some local media reporting that five drones were hovering over the target area and Officials claimed that most of those killed were foreigners, but could not confirm their nationality. A Pakistani security official said the area ‘was known for harbouring Uzbek, Arab and other foreign militants.’
Location: Khushali, North Waziristan
References:Xinhua, BBC, AFP, Express Tribune, Sky News (Australia), The Nation (Pakistan), Associated Press, Khaama Press, Voice of Russia Radio, RTT News, ANI, IANS, Dawn, Express Tribune, Washington Post, Pakistan Observer, CBS News, The News, The News, Bureau, Bureau
Ob275 – May 28 2012
♦ 2-5 reported killed
A second missile attack destroyed a vehicle in Datta Khel, 30km west of Miranshah. Up to five alleged militants died. A security official told AFP that ‘The drone fired two missiles on a vehicle. The vehicle caught fire and the bodies of the people inside were badly burnt.’ Another official reported that the deceased were ‘two foreigners and their local driver.’ The News reported a villager as saying that ‘a nearby house was also damaged in the attack, but its inmates remained safe.’
Ob276 – June 2 2012
♦ 2-4 reported killed
In the first reported CIA action in South Waziristan since March 13, up to four people were reported killed in a strike targeting a motorbike in Khawashi Khel, 5km to the east of Wana. Security officials told AFP that alleged militants had been moving from one area to another near the Afghan border, and that ‘the US drone fired two missiles which completely destroyed the vehicle.’ Two members of Maulvi Nazir’s Taliban-aligned faction. The men were identified as local Taliban commander Khalil Yargul Khail (aka Jalil) and Rehmanullah Gangi Khail (aka Amanullah). According to a Bureau field investigation published in August 2013, the two men were on their way to the Rustam bazaar in Wana. A CIA drone fired two missiles at the pair – the first missed but second hit, killing both men. They were buried in the Gangikhel tribal graveyard – Rehmanullah was a member 0f the Gangikhel sub-tribe of the Ahmadzai Wazir. According to Bureau researchers he was a senior Taliban commander and was the brother of Commander Malang, a senior figure in Mullah Nazir’s fighting group.
Location: Kari Kot, South Waziristan
References: The Nation (Pakistan), CNN, Radio Free Europe, AFP, GeoTV, Dawn, The News (Pakistan), Associated Press, IRNA, Express Tribune, The News (Pakistan), Bureau, Bureau
Ob276c – June 2 2012
♦ 3-4 reported killed
One agency reported a second drone attack of the day, on a house in the Ghowa Khowa area close to Wana. Four people were reported killed.
Ob277 – June 3 2012
♦ 0-10 reported killed
♦ 4-10 injured
Initial reports said drones attacked funeral prayers held with the family of a Taliban commander killed the day before killed up to 10 people. US drones reportedly struck a house in Mana Raghzai as people gathered for funeral prayers for Khalil Yargul Khail and Rehmanullah Gangi Khail, the brother of senior Taliban commander Malang. There were reports that both commanders had died, the New York Times later quoted a Wana government official as saying that both men lived and were ‘stable’. Bureau field researchers investigated this attack as a part of the Bureau’s investigation into follow-up strikes, published in August 2013.
The investigators found Commander Malang had traveled to Gangikhel village where his brother was buried, to offer fateha or condolence for his brother. Tribal elders and well-wishers advised Malang not to stay in the village as the risk of drone attack made it dangerous to both him and other mourners. Malang moved to the nearby village of Wocha Dana. Some of his close friends, including fellow commander Ghulam Khan, still wished to see him and offer fateha to him. Just as Khan and Malang met on the bank of a dry stream, a drone fired two missiles at them.
A car and a double-cab pickup were hit. Malang and Khan leapt into a pool in the stream bead, each suffering injuries to their legs and faces. Four other alleged militants were also seriously injured. Two were Ahmadzai Wazir tribesmen and two from the Mehsud tribe. Three were called Dawa Khan Wazir, Nek Amal Khan Wazir and Said Rasool Wazir. They were taken to the Agency Headquarters Hospital in Wana. Malang and Ghulam Khan were taken to a private health facility in the same town due to security concerns, according to a prominent tribal elder of the Ahmadzai Wazir, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Location: Barmal, South Waziristan
References: Kuna, Daily Mail, Express Tribune, CNN, Reuters, The News (Pakistan), The Nation (Pakistan), The Guardian, AFP, Al Jazeera, Associated Press, Dawn, Sky News, New York Times, The News (Pakistan), Bureau, Bureau
Ob278 – June 4 2012
♦ 14-18 reported killed
♦ 0-6 civilians reported killed
♦ 3-6 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: field investigation (Amnesty International)
Al Qaeda’s effective number two, Abu Yahya al Libi (aka Mohammed Hasan Qaed), was killed as the CIA continued with a tempo of strikes not seen in Pakistan for over a year. The Islamabad government once again condemned the attacks as ‘illegal’ and urged the US to stop. Drones struck at 5am in North Waziristan, killing up to 18 people as a house and some vehicles were hit. US and Taliban figures confirmed the following day that al Libi had died in the attack. Some reports claimed that al Qaeda was now so degraded in Pakistan that there was no natural successor to succeed al Libi. White House spokesman Jay Carney said of his death:
His death is part of the degradation that has been taking place to core al Qaeda during the past several years and that degradation has depleted the ranks to such an extent that there’s no clear successor.
One anonymous US official claimed that only five people died in the strike, another that only al-Libi died. However most sources reported between 14 and 18 deaths, including al-Libi’s driver and bodyguard. According to the BBC, the CIA attacked militants attending the scene of an initial strike. This was born out by a Bureau field investigation into follow-up or ‘double-tap’ strikes. The Bureau’s researchers in Pakistan found five people were killed and four more injured in the first attack which damaged a car and two motorbikes parked inside the house compound were also damaged. Twelve people arrived to start rescue work about 10 minutes alter. There were Arabs, Turkmen and local tribesmen among the first responders. Twenty minutes later a drone fired two more missiles killing 10 more people. Al Libi was observing the rescue operation when he was killed.
A 2013 report by Amnesty International produced similar results to the Bureau’s investigation. Amnesty researchers compiled data from multiple interviews with witnesses and survivors, finding between four and six people were killed in the first strike and 10 to 12 in the second. However Amnesty reported four to six of the dead were civilians, as yet the only source to report civilian casualties
In September 2012, Associated Press reported two US intelligence officials as saying that a Saudi man named Najam had lost both legs in a drone strike ‘at about the same time as al Libi died.’ According to the anonymous officials:
Najam, who came from an affluent family, was able to reach an agreement with the Saudi government to return to his wife and children. Intelligence suggests that Najam’s treatment has encouraged other militants to seek similar deals, switch to other battlefields or seek leniency from their governments.
The intensity of the US campaign led to claims by some that the US was carrying out punitive strikes. Islamabad called in the US charge d’affaires Richard Hoagland to formally complain about the strikes. He was told that ‘drone strikes represented a clear red-line for Pakistan.’ The Islamabad-based Conflict Monitoring Center, in its monthly report, accused the US of going on a ‘rampage’ in ‘a bid to punish Pakistan for the conviction of Dr. Afridi as well as its reluctance to reopen NATO supply routes.’ The CMC noted that prior to the NATO summit and Afridi’s conviction, only one US strike had taken place in May. Afterwards there were five, mainly aimed at ‘Taliban groups who are in a peace agreement with Pakistani authorities.’ An anonymous senior US official rejected this, claiming that the jump in CIA strikes was simply down to the weather. He told the New York Times that ‘Until now the area was socked in by a long stationary front with cloud cover.’ Less than a week after the strike messages were posted on al Qaeda websites suggesting that al-Libi remained alive. The terrorist group also posted a video of al-Libi discussing recent events in Libya, with no references to his reported killing. However on the anniversary of 9/11 al Qaeda’s leader Ayman al Zawahiri finally confirmed al Libi’s death.
Location: Hisokhel, North Waziristan
References: The News (Pakistan), The Nation (Pakistan), Reuters, AGI, PTI, New York Times, Conflict Monitoring Center, Associated Press, MSNBC, IRNA, CNN, The Guardian, Reuters, BBC, ABC News, Reuters, Washington Post, Reuters, The Guardian, CNN, CBS, Al Arabiya, New York Times, Washington Post, AFP, AFP, Los Angeles Times, The News, Associated Press, AFP, The News, Bureau, Amnesty International, Bureau
Ob279 – June 13 2012
♦ 2-4 killed
Up to four alleged militants were killed in the first strike for nine days. Initial estimates put the casualty figure at three but AFP reported this was subsequently updated by an anonymous Pakistani official. The men were traveling in a vehicle in the evening when multiple missiles were fired from a US drone. The strike hit 10km east of Mirahshah in the village of Isha. Witnesses said the vehicle immediately caught fire when finally hit, adding that several drones had been seen circling the area that day.
The strike came amid continued strained relations between Islamabad and Washington. Two days previously the US announced it was withdrawing its negotiators who had spent six weeks trying to reach a deal with Pakistan to reopen supply routes through the country. Closing the border to NATO supplies bound for Afghanistan had forced the US to reroute the convoys through central Asia. This was costing the US $100 million a month, reported the Washington Post. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar also urged a visiting delegation of US Congressmen to end the drone strikes.
Location: Isha Check Point, North Waziristan
References: AFP, Trend.AZ (DPA), ABC, NewsPakistan, INP, The Express Tribune, Xinhua, The News, The Hindu, Xinhua, Outlook India, The News Tribe, Radio Free Europe, Reuters, Washington Post, Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Associated Press, Bureau
Ob280 – June 14 2012
♦ 1-4 killed
♦ 2-3 reported injured
Initial reports declared up to four alleged militants were killed in an early morning CIA drone strike in Miranshah bazaar. An official told Express Tribune four Punjabis were killed when two missiles were reportedly fired on a building, hitting an upper floor. The official added: ‘The building, which comprised of two rooms, was razed to the ground as a result of the attack.’ And a local tribesman said six nearby shops were partially damaged when he went to look at the scene. For the third time in recent weeks there were claims that the CIA had used a ‘follow-up strike’ tactic first exposed by the Bureau in February 2012. As many as five drones reportedly remained over the area following the strike, indicating the possible presence of a High Value Target.
However a second Bureau field investigation into follow-up strikes showed this was not the case. The report, published in August 2013, found no evidence of a follow-up attack and revealed only one person died: a senior Arab commander, commonly known as the Sheikh. The Bureau’s field researcher said:
Despite claims by others of multiple deaths and a destroyed building, I am adamant of my findings. I went back to my sources among the Taliban, tribesmen and security officials. All are unanimous that only one person, believed to be an Arab national, was killed in the attack. The building remains intact.
The Sheikh was killed while sleeping on the roof of a building he and his men had rented from a local tribal elder. The elder told the Bureau: ‘It was one of the strangest attacks so far carried out by drones here. The entire building remained safe and it didn’t even cause damage to the rooftop where he was sleeping.’ Militants told the Bureau body parts of the slain man were later recovered from adjoining buildings.
Location: Miran Shah, North Waziristan
References: AFP, Xinhua, Outlook India, The News Tribe, Radio Free Europe, ABC Australia Network News, CNN, Express Tribune, Associated Press, al Jazeera, Dawn, Bureau, Bureau
Ob281 – June 26 2012
♦ 4-7 killed
♦ 2-7 injured
CIA attacks resumed after a 12 day pause, when missiles struck a house in Shawal in North Waziristan late in the evening, killing up to seven people. Local officials told AFP that the target was militants linked to Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a leader involved in the Afghan insurgency but with a peace agreement with Pakistan.The attack came the day before Pakistan’s top military commander, General Kayani, was due to hold talks with General John Allen, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, to discuss ways to improve relations. As Pakistan’s The News noted: ‘This was the first attack by the CIA-operated pilotless planes in North Waziristan after the local Taliban, led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, banned the anti-polio immunisation campaign in the tribal region as a mark of protest against the US drone strikes.’
In August 2012 Taliban sources erroneously claimed Shahbaz Taseer died in a strike on the Shawal in 2012. The source said he was buried in the area that day and a jirga (council) assembled to negotiate his release had disbanded and gone home ‘in sheer disappointment’. But in September 2013 this report was contradicted by ‘sources close to the abductors‘. Taseer, son of Salman Taseer the murdered governor of Punjab province, was snatched from a Lahore street as he drove to work in August 2011. The captors had demanded the release of 24 prisoners and 4bn rupees (£24.5m) ransom. And the captors had reportedly sent a number of audio and video messages to Taseer’s family in 2013. In 2016, Taseer was freed from captivity by Pakistani security forces. He was being held in Baluchistan – in Kuchlak, a town near the provincial capital Quetta.
Location: Darnashtra, North Waziristan
References: Dawn, Radio Free Europe, CNN, AFP, The News, Dawn, Los Angeles Times, Xenhua, Associated Press, PTI, The Express Tribune, Al Jazeera, Frontier Post. Frontier Post, Bureau, New York Times
Ob282 – July 1 2012
♦ 6-9 killed
♦ 2-3 injured
US drones struck a house in the Shawal area at around 7am, killing up to eight people. A local security official told agency AFP: ‘Two missiles targeted the compound, killing six militants.’ A second official reported that ‘the strike destroyed the house and triggered a fire. It was difficult to identify the bodies immediately as some of them were charred.’ It was reported that some of those killed were linked to Hafiz Gul Bahadur, the target of other recent CIA strikes, with others from the Turkmenistan Islamic Movement.
Ob283 – July 6 2012
♦ 13-24 killed
♦ 3-18 civilians reported killed, including 1 child
♦ 2-22 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Local unnamed sources (Dawn), field investigation into follow-up strikes (Reprieve), field investigation (Amnesty International)
As many as 24 people were killed in a triple evening strike on a house in Datta Khel. The dead were said to include ‘foreigners’, with Al Jazeera reporting at the time of the attack:
The initial strike on a house killed nine, three others were killed in a second attack when they drove to the site to recover dead bodies, and a third drone killed another three five minutes later, a senior security official in Peshawar told the AFP news agency’.
Dawn also reported that three rescuers were killed, whom it described as ‘tribesmen’, adding: ‘Other sources said most of the dead were militants.’ Some reported that those killed were linked to local militant leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur. The New York Times reported a local resident as saying that ‘the compound was owned by a Taliban commander named Rahimullah.’ However in August 2012 Time magazine quoted a US official as saying the strike was actually on ‘a truck packed with explosives heading across the border.’
It was a clear shot. We had to take it.
The official also said that the number killed was less than 20. But a field investigation by the Bureau in August 2013 showed the strike hit a house and killed a group of men eating dinner at about 7.40pm. A group of men saying evening prayers near by were not targeted, according to the Bureau’s field researchers reported. After 30 minutes men went to search for survivors. A follow-up strike hit 20 after the rescuers began their work. Twelve more people, including two Arabs, four Wazir tribesmen and six Dawar tribesmen were killed. Five others sustained serious injuries – a senior doctor managing the casualty department in Miranshah said the wounded suffered multiple burn injuries and required specialised treatment and plastic surgery.
Independently of the Bureau, legal charity Reprieve also carried out a field investigation into the two reported strikes on rescuers in July 2012 (see Ob282). Based on eyewitness reports, Reprieve named eight civilians it said were killed in this strike: Salay Khan; Mir Jahan Gul; Allah Mir Khan; Noor Bhadshah Khan; Mir Gull Jan; Batkai Jan; Gallop Haji Jan; and Gull Saeed Khan.
Amnesty International also independently investigated the strike. Through detailed interviews, the rights organisation uncovered the identities and, in most cases, occupations and ages of 18 civilians killed in this attack:
Gul Dad Khan, 21-22, married with two children, chromite miner
Kashmir Khan, 30, married with three children, chromite miner
Wolayet Khan, 25, day labourer
Saleh Khan, 14, wood seller
Shamroxz Khan, approximately 24, wood seller
Fazel Rehman, 18, chromite seller
Waliullah, 18-19, vegetable seller
Sahibdin, 18-19, vegetable seller
Mir Ajab Khan, 22, vegetable seller
Min Gul, day labourer
Bangal Khan, 28, married with four children
Dil Gir Khan, age and occupation unknown
Sahid Din, age and occupation unknown
Mir Ajat, age and occupation unknown
Haq Nawaz, 23, occupation unknown, died of his injuries on the way to a local medical dispensary that was also a makeshift clinic for the area
Hatiqullah, 18, occupation unknown, received serious shrapnel wounds to the head and died shortly after the strike
Akram, age and occupation unknown
Shoaib, age and occupation unknown
This was the first CIA strike after Pakistan re-opened its border to Nato supply convoys, ending a seven month diplomatic stand-off. The standoff ended after US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton apologised on July 3 for US forces killing 23 Pakistani soldiers in November 2011. Negotiations over the future of the drone programme continued after Clinton’s apology. Pakistan’s leaders reportedly were pushing for more control of drone strike targeting. But on July 5 the Foreign Office repeated Pakistan’s view that drone strikes are counter-productive and a violation of the country’s sovereignty. Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, Islamabad’s former High Commissioner to London, told Al Jazeera:
It can’t go against the will of the people and Pakistan is quite unanimous in rejecting the drone strikes on its territory. All the political parties, parliament and military have categorically condemned the strikes. We know that in the past there were all kinds of backdoor dealings – we are told we don’t know for sure – between Pakistan and the US which sort of winked and nudged and looked the other way while drone strikes would be conducted. Now those days have gone because the relationship between the two country is so brittle and tense. And anything smacking of backdoor dealings would really risk a reaction in the public against the government in Pakistan.’
Location: Maizer, North Waziristan
References: Express Tribune, The News Tribe, Saach, Associated Press, US State Department, Express Tribune, PTI, Associated Press, AFP. Xinhua, Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, MSNBC, Voice of America, PTI, Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, The Nation (Pakistan), Guardian, Reuters, New York Times, CNN, ABC News, The News, Deutsche Welle, Dawn, Dawn, Time, The News, Bureau, Reprieve, Amnesty International, Bureau
Ob284 – July 23 2012
♦ 11-14 killed
♦ 6-14 civilians reported killed
♦ 2-11 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Local unnamed sources (The News), field investigation (Amnesty International)
Up to 14 people were killed in the first known US drone strike in 17 days. An unknown number of CIA drones struck at 9.20pm, firing up to eight missiles into a housing compound alleged to belong to Sadiq Noor, a militant commander and ally of Hafiz Gul Bahadur. It was not clear if Noor was among the dead although Abdur Rauf, son of Abdul Karim who was described as a militant, was later buried in Dhoda village. After the attack ‘more than five US drones kept flying over the area, hampering the rescue work.’ This was the second strike of the month to hit the village of Dre Nishter. The News was the only initial report to report that civilians may have been among those killed – and that rescuers may have died in a follow-up strike:
Some reports said the drones first fired two missiles and hit a house in the valley and when other people gathered for rescue efforts almost half-an-hour later, the drones started firing missiles on them, killing most the rescuers. There was, however, no independent confirmation of this piece of information. About the victims, there were conflicting reports with some saying they included militants while tribal sources insisted all of them were local residents.
In August 2013 the Bureau conducted field research into reported follow-up strikes. Investigators reported a drone targeted a small house killing five militants from Punjab and injuring three. About 20 minutes later other Punjabis to rescue the wounded. A Taliban commander in the Shawal valley told the Bureau’s investigator: ‘Some of them said they should not go there for the rescue work because drones were still flying over the area, but others told them if they had to wait for the drones to disappear it would take hours and the injured would die of their injuries.’ Drones then fired two more missiles killing seven more people and injuring eight others. ‘Instead of saving the injured of the first attack, they lost their own lives. All of them belonged to the Punjab but were laid to rest the next day in Shawal. One of the rescuers left behind a widow and four children – three daughters and a son,’ the Taliban commander said.
An October 2013 field investigation by Amnesty International also found this was a follow-up strike. However Amnesty’s data, compiled by multiple interviews with survivors and witnesses, shows slightly different casualty data. The report says five Taliban from the Maulvi Ihsanullah group, part of the Afghan Taliban-allied Haqqani Network, were killed in the first strike and six civilian rescuers died in the second attack.
Location: Darnashtra, North Waziristan
References: Xinhua, AFP, Associated Press, Xinhua, Geo.TV, PTI, The News Tribe, Voice of America, Dawn, The Star, CNN, Reuters, IANS, Long War Journal, The Express Tribune, BBC, The News, CNN, BNO News, The Nation (Pakistan), Dawn, PakTribune, Big News Network, RIA Novosti, The News, Bureau, Amnesty International
Ob285 – July 29 2012
♦ 4-7 killed
♦ 0-3 civilians reported killed
♦ 4 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Local correspondent (The News).
The CIA’s drones returned to the attack in a Sunday strike on the village of Khushhali Turikhel in North Waziristan. Between four and seven people died, with six missiles fired at a house, according to AFP. One or two vehicles were also reported destroyed. However another source reported that ‘Uzbek militants’ were killed ‘visiting a spring for leisure‘. A large number of drones were said to have taken part, with SANA reporting that ‘six drones continued their flights in the area which created panic in the local residents.’
It was later reported that all of those killed were not Uzbeks but local people from Janikhel in Bannu, where they were buried, raising the possibility of civilian casualties. The News named three of the four killed as Ahmadullah, Asadullah and Hidayat Khan. Its reporters told the Bureau that they were unsure of the status of the deceased. NBC News reported five had died but also reported the identities of the dead were unknown.
The attack took place hours after Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Sherry Rehman, again called for the US to halt drone strikes, saying that ‘We will seek an end to drone strikes and there will be no compromise on that… I am not saying drones have not assisted in the war against terror, but they have diminishing rate of returns’.
Location: Khushhali, North Waziristan
References: AFP, Associated Press, Express Tribune, AFP, AAP, Associated Press, NBC News, SANA, PTI, The Nation, Dawn, The News, IANS, Xinhua, The News, The Nation, Bureau
Ob286 – August 18 2012
♦ 5-12 killed
♦ 1 civilian reported killed
♦ 2-6 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Family members (Hindustan Times, Daily Times, The News).
A 20-day pause in the CIA’s campaign ended with a drone strike just after noon on Shuweda in North Waziristan. A house and car were reported damaged or destroyed and up to a dozen people, possibly ‘alleged militants’ – were killed. As AFP noted:
The attack came as people in the deeply religious region were celebrating the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, residents said. It was the third drone attack since the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
AP reported that those killed were allies of local Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a regular target of CIA drone strikes in connection with the insurgency in Afghanistan. ‘Uzbeks’ were said to be among the dead. Eid was declared early in Waziristan, and people appear to have been gathering for the festival. The News reported that ‘the CIA-operated drone fired four missiles. Two of them hit a house located in the forest-covered mountainous Shawal Valley while two others hit vehicles parked outside a residence where a group of men had gathered for lunch in connection with Eid’. The News was the only source to report 12 deaths, with most other sources reporting five to seven killed. Pajhwok and al Jazeera reported the dead as five ‘people’ rather than referring to them as ‘militants’.
Among those killed were 43-year-old Kashmiri militant ‘Engineer’ Ahsan Aziz and his wife (the daughter of Jamaat e Islami Azad Kashmir leader Aleefud Din Turabi), according to Aziz’s father. The News reported he was ‘among the known figures of the Afghan Taliban’.
The attack was almost immediately condemned by Islamabad. A statement from the Foreign Ministry said: Pakistan strongly protests the drone attacks in North Waziristan this morning. Pakistan has consistently maintained that these attacks are a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and are in contravention of international law.’
Location: Shawal NWA, North Waziristan
References: AFP, Associated Press, Frontier Post, CNN, AGI, Voice of America, Express Tribune, Long War Journal, News Tribe, Xinhua, Pajhwok, Al Akhbar, Dawn, The Hindu, The Examiner, The News, Pakistan Foreign Ministry, Al Jazeera, SANA, Reuters, PTI, International News Network, PTI, Long War Journal, The News, Daily Times
Ob287 – August 19 2012
♦ 4-7 killed
♦ 2-3 injured
Drones returned to the attack for the second time in 12 hours in the Shawal valley area, with a reported early morning strike on two vehicles near the Afghan border. The Express Tribune said that the vehicles were en route from Miranshah. AFP reported a Pakistani security official as saying: ‘US drones fired four missiles on two militant vehicles in the early hours of Sunday, killing four militants.’ However a second official told the agency that the identities of those killed was unknown. Other speculated that those killed were supporters of militant leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur.
Location: Shawal NWA, North Waziristan
References: AFP, The News, AFP, Associated Press, AAP, Long War Journal, Dawn, The News, The Nation, Reuters, Associated Press, PakTribune, Pajhwok, Voice of America, Geo TV, Express Tribune, PTI, Bureau
Ob288 – August 19 2012
♦ 2-3 killed
♦ 2 injured
It was reported that a further two or three people were killed when CIA drones returned to the attack at Mana. News agency AFP reported a Pakistani security official as saying:
At least two militants were killed and two others wounded when a US drone fired two missiles at the site of this morning’s attack where militants were removing the wreckage of their two destroyed vehicles.
However The News and AP reported that the strike was on a house.
Ob289 – August 21 2012
♦ 4-25 killed
♦ 1-3 or more civilians reported killed, including one child
♦ 2 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Pakistani intelligence and security officials (Reuters, Express Tribune, Guardian) named Taliban commander (Reuters, Express Tribune).
In the fourth US drone attack in as many days, the CIA bombed a house and a vehicle in Shana Kora village, 10km from Miranshah. Between four and 25 people were killed in the 7pm attack, reportedly including Badruddin Haqqani, son of the Haqqani leader and the network’s military commander. The group confirmed his death in September 2013 in a video message that included a statement acknowledging his death from Mullah Muhammed Omar, leader of the Afghan Taliban . In May 2011 the UN Security Council had listed Haqqani as a supporter of al Qaeda, stating:
Badruddin is assumed to be one of the most important military leaders and planners of suicide attacks within the Haqqani Network which commands about 1000 fighters. The Haqqani Network is responsible for a large number of the attacks that have occurred in eastern Afghanistan and in Kabul. Badruddin is deemed to be directly involved in attacks against foreign and Afghan forces as well as against civilians; he cooperates closely with other terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaida and the IMU.
A ‘senior Taliban commander’ said Haqqani had died in the strike and Afghanistan’s intelligence agency also reported him dead. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid initially denied Haqqani’s death, saying he was alive in Afghanistan. However US officials told the Washington Post on August 29: ‘We now believe he is dead’. And Taliban officials later confirmed to local journalists that Badruddin had indeed died, the Bureau was told. An unnamed US official suggested to the New York Times that the attack had been a signature strike – targeting suspicious patterns of behaviour – rather than expressly targeting Haqqani. Additional reports said that other members of Haqqani’s family had died in the attack. 13-year-old Osama Haqqani, described by Reuters as a ‘distant relative’, was reported by a number of sources to have been killed. A further report claimed:
There are three fresh graves in the family graveyard of Haqqanis. However, the family is reluctant to arrange any death ceremonies amid persistent US drone flights in the area.’
Reuters among others reported that far more civilians had died in the strike, quoting a source: ‘The drone fired two missiles on the house last Tuesday and killed 25 people, most of them members of the Haqqani family.’ Two days after the strike, Pakistan’s government again protested the strikes. An official release stated:
The US Embassy was today démarched on recent drone strikes in North Waziristan. A senior US diplomat was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and informed that the drone strikes were unlawful, against international law and a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. It was emphatically stated that such attacks were unacceptable.
Concern was later expressed that the death of such a senior member of the Haqqani family might impact upon negotiations for the release of a US Prisoner of War. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, captured on June 30 2009, was thought to be held captive by the Haqqani network. AP also noted Badruddin’s personal involvement with the kidnapping of US Journalist David Rohde.
Location: Hamzoni, North Waziristan
References: Express Tribune, Associated Press, The News, Xinhua, The Nation (Pakistan), PTI, International Herald Tribune, Voice of Russia, Express Tribune, Dawn, Pakistan Foreign Ministry, Dawn, Xinhua, Reuters, PTI, New York Times, Dawn, Reuters, Associated Press, The Guardian, Pak Tribune, Express Tribune, Al Jazeera English, The Nation (Pakistan), Dawn (AP), Reuters, Washington Post, WTOP FM, The News, Foreign Policy, BBC, Associated Press, UN Security Council, The Economist, Long War Journal, Bureau
Ob290 – August 24 2012
♦ Overall killed in three strikes 13-22 killed
♦ 4-14 injured
♦ Reported killed Makai only: 6
The CIA brought to seven the number of attacks carried out in a week when it bombarded three villages in the Shawal valley with coordinated drone strikes that left up to 22 dead and wounded up to 14 more. Five drones reportedly took part in the coordinated attacks, launching six missiles and ‘continued hovering over the area after the attacks’. The strikes hit villages ‘several kilometers‘ from each other with strikes that came ‘minutes apart‘.
The Long War Journal cited a US intelligence official as saying that repeated CIA strikes on the Shawal valley area had been targeting an ‘important jihadi leader.’ Across the border in Afghanistan on the same day, an airstrike also killed TTP commander Mullah Dadullah, commander of the Pakistan Taliban in Bajaur Agency.
At least six were killed in the village of Makai of Maki Ghar in a strike around 11am or noon local time. Pakistani officials said the compounds were used by militants when crossing into Afghanistan. Tribal sourcessaid the compounds belonged to local tribesmen and the dead included Punjabis and foreigners of Arab origin. AFP said the area hit ‘is an area used by militants belonging to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, the Afghan Taliban allied Haqqani network and the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group.’ A Bureau researcher, citing Pakistan intelligence and Taliban sources, named those killed in the first strike as:
Four Turkistanis named as Emeti Yakuf, aka Abdul Jabar; 35-36 year old Yaku Emeti aka Saleh; Tuersun Toheti aka Zabeh ullah; and Mukhtar. Additionally two Pakistan Taliban (TTP) militants died named as Karim and Matee ullah.
Dawn also reported that Emeti Yakuf had died, naming him as ‘Emir’ of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) While the Long War Journal also said Yakuf was the group’s leader, the New York Times said he was only “a senior leader”. This distinction appeared to be more than spurious when in 2015 the Long War Journal reported that Abdul Haq al Turkistani, the previous leader of ETIM, seemed to have survived a 2010 drone strike. Abdul Haq was thought dead after the February 2010 strike but it seems he was “heavily injured in 2010” and was “unable to serve [as leader] until 2014,” according to SITE, as quoted by the Long War Journal. If reports of Abdul Haq’s 2010 death prove to have been exaggerated, Yakuf may have stepped into the role in Abdul Haq’s absence.
In 2008 China issued a press release detailing the charges against several alleged terrorists. Yakuf and Tuersun were included among them. The charge sheet said Yakuf was was born on March 14, 1965, and accused of being a key member of ETIM. He was wanted for crimes including inciting followers to attack the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Tuersun was also described as a key member of the East Turkestan Movement. Born in 1975, he was wanted for terrorism offenses including ‘conspiring to attack Chinese targets during the Beijing Olympics’.
Location: Shawal, North Waziristan
References: Dawn, Express Tribune, Xinhua, CNN, AFP, The News, Associated Press, Xinhua, Reuters, Xinhua, The News Tribe, Associated Press, Reuters, PTI, KUNA, PakTribune, PTI, BBC, ANI, Xinhua, Radio Liberty, The News, Al Jazeera, AFP, The Nation (Pakistan), PTI, Voice Of America, AAP, UK Press Association, Long War Journal, New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, CBS News, Dawn, The Nation (Pakistan), Dawn, Pakistan Today, The News, Xinhua, Bureau
Ob291 – August 24 2012
♦ Reported killed Dara only: 4-6
In a second strike CIA drones hit another walled compound, killing at least four. A Bureau researcher, citing Pakistan intelligence and Taliban sources, said that ‘six militants’ were killed in this strike including local TTP commander Gil Aman. The Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Ahmad Khan was giving a press conference as news of the strikes broke. ‘We regard these strikes as illegal and unproductive,’ he said, adding: ‘These attacks also violate our sovereignty, territorial integrity and are in contravention of international laws.’
Location: Darnashtra, North Waziristan
References: Dawn, Express Tribune, Xinhua, CNN, AFP, The News, Associated Press, Xinhua, Reuters, Xinhua, The News Tribe, Associated Press, Reuters, PTI, KUNA, PakTribune, PTI, BBC, ANI, Xinhua, Radio Liberty, The News, Al Jazeera, AFP, The Nation (Pakistan), PTI, Voice Of America, AAP, UK Press Association, Long War Journal, New York Times, SANA, The News, Christian Science Monitor, CBS News, The Nation (Pakistan), Bureau
Ob292 – August 24 2012
♦ Reported killed Dre Nishter only: 3-8
In the third coordinated strike at least three people were reported killed when drones targeted two vehicles in Dre Nisther. The drones reportedly fired five missiles at the vehicles in this strike.
Location: Darnashtra, North Waziristan
References: Dawn, Express Tribune, Xinhua, CNN, AFP, The News, Associated Press, Xinhua, Reuters, Xinhua, The News Tribe, Associated Press, Reuters, PTI, KUNA, PakTribune, PTI, BBC, ANI, Xinhua, Radio Liberty, The News, Al Jazeera, AFP, The Nation (Pakistan), PTI, Voice Of America, AAP, UK Press Association, Long War Journal, New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, CBS News, The Nation (Pakistan), Bureau
Ob293 – September 1 2012
♦ 4-6 reported killed
♦ 2-3 injured
After a week’s pause the CIA’s offensive in Waziristan continued. Attacks at 9am on a housing compound and a vehicle in Degan reportedly killed up to six people. The News noted:
Unconfirmed reports suggested that most of the militants slain in the attack were aligned with the group of Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who is head of the local Taliban in North Waziristan. There were also reports attributed to unnamed government officials that two out of the five men killed in the strike were foreigners. The remaining three were stated to be local militants.
Ob294 – September 21 2012
♦ 3-4 killed
♦ 2-3 reported injured
CIA drones reportedly returned to the attack in North Waziristan. A car was destroyed near Datta Khel by two to three missiles and three or four alleged militants, possibly linked to Hafiz Gul Bahadur, were killed. The News reported that ‘Witnesses said that drones continued hovering over the area even after the strike that triggered fear among the residents.’ While security sources said militants were killed, local residents told Pakistan Observer the dead were ‘ordinary tribesmen’ and ‘nothing to do with the militancy’. A single source, PakObserver, reported that a second vehicle was damaged in the strike as it passed the target car. The attack came at a precipitous time in Pakistan. It was launched after a 20 day pause, possibly driven by global Islamic unrest over a blasphemous video produced in the United States. Up to 17 Pakistanis had died in protests against the film the previous day. AP noted: ‘The latest attack comes despite Pakistani demands to halt the missile strikes. It also comes at a time when Pakistani foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar is visiting Washington to discuss a range of issues, including how to resolve differences over US drone attacks in Pakistan.’ The strike hit North Waziristan Agency as the Pakistani military and civilian politicians debated an assault on militant positions in the tribal agency.
Location: Mohammad Khel, North Waziristan
References: AFP, IANS, AGI, The News, Express Tribune, Deutsche Welle, Radio Free Europe, Al Jazeera, PTI, The Express (UK), CNN, Associated Press, Daily Times, Pakistan Observer, Dawn, Sana, Nation (Pakistan), Associated Press, DPA, Express Tribune, Bureau
Ob295 – September 24 2012
♦ 3-8 killed
♦ 2 injured
At least three people were killed in a 9pm strike on a building south of Mir Ali. A single CIA drone reportedly fired two missiles. Some sources had it hitting a ‘mud compound‘ said to be ‘known as a bastion of the Taliban and al Qaeda‘. However an internal Pakistani record of drone strikes, published by the Bureau in January 2014, said this strike hit a dispensary.
The strike was said to have killed Abu Kasha al Iraqi, ‘reported to be a liaison between al Qaeda and the Taliban’ and a second ‘al Qaeda operative’ named as Saleh Al-Turki. Dawn reported local sources as saying that both men were buried that night. Al Iraqi was first reported killed in October 2008 (B38). The others killed were said to be ‘foreigners’. However the bodies ‘were burnt in the attack and were beyond recognition’.
Local tribesmen said that four drones had been flying over the area since the afternoon. A Pakistani security official told the New York Times al Turki was a field operative, saying: ‘He was not on the FBI’s bounty list, but was a mid-level AQ guy.’ Al Iraqi was said to be ‘long a target of Western counterterrorism agencies’. He had been living in Pakistan’s border regions for 15 years and had married a local tribal cleric’s daughter. US intelligence officials told the Long War Journal they were aware of the reports of the deaths but would not confirm if the two men had died in the strike. They would not confirm or deny if the two had been the target of the strike. But one did say al Iraqi ‘has been on our list for quite some time.’
Location: Mosaki, North Waziristan
References: DPA, Associated Press, The News, Dawn, Xinhua, The News Tribe, AFP, KUNA, PTI, Express Tribune, CNN, Dawn, Radio Free Europe, New York Times, Long War Journal, The News, Bureau
Ob296 – October 1 2012
♦ 2-4 reported killed
A 6am drone strike reportedly targeted a motorbike (or possibly car) near Mir Ali in North Waziristan, killing at least two alleged militants. A security official told AFP that ‘US drones fired four missiles on a militant vehicle, killing three rebels.’ AP cited officials as saying that ‘the men appeared to be foreigners, but that their identities are not known’. An Arab was killed, PakObserver suggested, targeted a motorcycle with a couple of projectiles with one missile landing closed to the bike and the other hitting the directly the bike eliminating both the vehicle and the rider who was an Arab militant adding that according to some accounts the attack ‘targeted a motorcycle with a couple of projectiles with one missile landing closed [sic] to the bike and the other hitting the directly the bike eliminating both the vehicle and the rider who was an Arab militant’. The News also cited locals people who reported that a motorbike carrying two men was struck as it drove through a dry stream bed.
The villagers said the bodies were disfigured and were beyond recognition. The identity of the slain men wasn’t known, but official sources said they were militants.
Locals had reported seeing several drones flying over the area prior to the attack. The previous US strike on September 24 which killed two named al Qaeda militants had also targeted the village.
In October 2013 the Washington Post reported that the strike targeted and killed Hassan Ghul aka Mustafa Haji Muhammad Khan, an al Qaeda member who had been tracked down by the CIA using surveillance information provided by the NSA. An email sent by his wife had unwittingly given the clues to his location away, documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed. The Washington Post described Ghul as ‘an al Qaeda operative with a knack for surfacing at dramatic moments in the post-September 11 storyline’: he was detained in 2004, and during interrogation he let slip details about Osama bin Laden’s courier that eventually led to bin Laden’s death. He was held in a secret CIA prison until 2006, when he was handed over to the Pakistani authorities, who later released him.
An NSA counter-terrorism unit ‘spent a year tracking Ghul and his courier network, tunneling into an array of systems and devices, before he was killed,’ the Washington Post revealed.
A January 2013 article by Vocativ suggested that Ghul had been deliberately released by the Pakistani authorities so that he could re-infiltrate al Qaeda networks in Pakistan as an informant for either the ISI, Pakistan’s security services, or the CIA, but that he had later turned ‘triple agent’ and was killed by the CIA.
Location: Haider Khel, North Waziristan
References: AFP, PTI, Voice of America, Associated Press, Xinhua, Long War Journal, AAP, PakObserver, The News, Express Tribune, SANA, Washington Post, Vocativ, Bureau
Ob297 – October 10 2012
♦ 3-6 reported killed
♦ 3-6 reported injured
A pre-dawn attack destroyed a house reportedly belonging to Maulvi Abdullah, described as a local cleric or tribesman, killing up to six alleged militants and injuring up to six more, according to reports. ‘Several US drones flew into the area before dawn and fired four missiles on a compound, killing five militants,’ an unnamed security official told AFP. A second official confirmed the casualties to the BBC. ‘The whole house has been damaged in an attack but two rooms of the house have completely collapsed. Six bodies has been recovered from debris,’ a local told The Times. ‘The death toll may increase as all injured are in a very critical condition,’ an official said. Militants had arrived at the compound the previous night, tribesmen told PTI; locals reported seeing five drones flying at low altitude prior to the attack. This was the first strike since a mass rally led by Imran Khan attempted to march into South Waziristan in protest at drone strikes on October 7. Although the march was blocked from entering Waziristan, it garnered significant media attention.
On October 15 a jihadi website announced the death of Moezeddine Garsallaoui, leader of militant group Jund al Khilafah, reporting that he had been killed in a ‘cowardly, treacherous raid’ in North Waziristan that may have been a drone strike. However there were few further details with the Long War Journal reporting it was not known when or how he was killed ‘but it appears he was killed in a drone strike in Miramshah” Garsallaoui, who is variously reported as being Swiss or Belgian-Tunisian, was the second husband of Belgian-Moroccan Malika El Aroud, convicted of running terrorist websites in 2007. She was reportedly widow of the man who assassinated Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud on September 7 2001, on Osama bin Laden’s orders. In June 2013 it was revealed the US National Security Agency had intercepted several e-mails sent by Garsallaoui in Pakistan to El Aroud in Belgium in 2008. This information prevented a potential al Qaeda plot targeting Belgium, anonymous intelligence officials said. Jund al Khilafa claimed responsibility for the Toulouse, France shootings in March 2012 that killed a rabbi and three children. And in April 2013, the IMU announced the death of a German man known as ‘Ahmad B‘, who had just completed his explosives training when killed with two others. Die Welt described him as a young German-Moroccan from the town of Setterich born in 1988. Announcing his death, an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan spokesman said ‘Dear brothers and sisters, the King of Setterich is now a martyr,’
Location: Hurmuz, Mir Ali, North Waziristan
References: Telegraph, PTI, BBC, AFP, Associated Press, Long War Journal, The Times, Voice of Russia, Xinhua, Long War Journal, SITE intelligence, Newsweek Pakistan, Long War Journal, Die Welt (German), Die Welt (German), CNN, Bureau
Eulogy of Ahmad B, the ‘King of Setterich’ (YouTube)
Ob298 – October 11 2012
♦ 16-26 reported killed
♦ 0-2+ civilians reported killed
♦ 5-15 reported injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: a named Taliban spokesman (The News).
In one of the deadliest CIA strikes of 2012, four missiles were reportedly fired at a madrassa belonging to Maulvi Shakirullah, killing at least 16 and wounding many more. Shakirullah is connected to the Haqqani network, Geo TV reported, while the dead included fighters for militant commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur, Associated Press said. ‘US drones fired four missiles on a militant compound, and initial reports say 11 militants have died,’ local official Khushal Khan told AFP, adding that several Afghans were among the dead. Khan’s deputy later raised the number of those killed to 18, with SANA noting that three other buildings were also damaged in the attack.
The News named five of the injured and two of those killed: ‘Some of the injured militants included Mehmood, Khitab, Hafiz Saadi, Khalil Khan, Siddique and Muhammad Irfan while two of the dead were identified as Muhammad Zahir and Younas. The injured were taken to the Civil Hospital in Thall tehsil in Hangu district.’ Eight of the wounded later died of their injuries, the News reported a couple of days after the strike, adding that 16 of the dead were buried in Bulandkhel, four in Miranshah and four elsewhere in the region. Abdullah Khurasani, Tehreek-i-Taliban spokesman, told the paper the strike had killed ‘innocent seminary students’ and refuted reports that Maulvi Shakirullah and alleged bombmaker Umar Haqqani had died.
Most media reported the attack took place in Orakzai province, which would make this only the second drone strike recorded by the Bureau in the province, with the previous being an attack targeting Hakimullah Mehsud in April 2009 (Ob10). Dawn reported the building was exactly on the border with North Waziristan, while some local officials insisted it had taken place in North Waziristan itself. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry once again protested the strike and that of October 10, with an official government note stating:
A protest has been lodged by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the US Embassy Islamabad on drone strikes inside Pakistani territory on 10 and 11 October 2012. The Embassy was informed that drone strikes on Pakistani territory were a clear violation of International Law and Pakistan’s sovereignty. These attacks were unacceptable to Pakistan.
Location: Khadezai, Orakzai
References: Xinhua, Geo TV, Associated Press, Dawn, News Track India, AFP, CNN, AAP, BBC, AFP, Associated Press, SANA, Voice of America, The Nation, Express Tribune, Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The News, New York Times, News Pakistan, FARS, Dawn, The News, Express Tribune, The News, Express Tribune, Bureau
Ob299 – October 24 2012
♦ 1 reported killed
♦ 1 civilian reported killed
♦ 6-9 reported injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: named eyewitnesses (BBC Panorama, Express Tribune, London Times), a named relative (Pakistan Today), anonymous intelligence sources (Dawn), an anonymous government official (CNN, The Nation Pakistan, The News), unnamed villagers (The News, The News), field investigation (Amnesty International). Unnamed sources also refer to the dead as ‘people’ rather than ‘militants’ (The Nation Pakistan, The News).
Bibi Mamana, the wife of retired 72-year-old headmaster Reshmeen Khan (aka Warshameen Jaan Haji or Dasreshmeen Jan), was the only confirmed death of up to five people reported killed in a village 13 km east of Miranshah. Mamana, a 65 or 67-year-old midwife, was killed and at least six of her grandchildren were left burned and with shrapnel injuries in an apparent ‘double-tap’ strike by CIA drones. Villagers claimed the drones targeted the woman and children as they walked from a field to the house.
Initial reports of the strike were confused. Up to five alleged militants were said to have perished. A house and vehicle were reportedly destroyed. But the death toll was reduced to one after detailed examination of the strike by Amnesty International for their 2013 report. In January 2014 the Bureau published an internal Pakistani record of CIA drone strikes. It listed this strike as killing one person – though it did not specify if a civilian was killed or not. The assessment of the attack said: ‘At about 1440 hours, US Drone fired two missiles at agriculture land situated in between the two houses.’
The injured children were later named by The News as ’18-year old Kaleemur Rahman (aka Kalemullah) son of Siddiqur Rahman; Shahidur Rahman, 12, son of Rasool Badshah, a student of 7th class; Zubair Khan, 11, son of Rafiqur Rahman, 6th class; Samad Rahman, 9, son of Siddiqur Rahman, 5th class; and two girls, a four-year old Asma daughter of Rafiur Rahman and five-year old Saira daughter of Atiqur Rahman.’ A later report in Allvoices reported that eight children were wounded; in addition to Kaleemur, Samad, Shahidur (who it said was 12), Zubair and Asma, it named Nabeela (aka Mabeela or Nabila), aged eight; Naima, aged seven and Rehman, 15.
The children were gathering wood for Eid al Adha with their grandmother when the missile hit, Allvoices reported, and the children were later moved to Peshawar for treatment. Possibly also killed was ‘a foreigner’ although his identity could not be confirmed. Military officers said civilians as well as militants were in the house. However a security official said: ‘It was a militant compound used to store arms and ammunition.’ He added: ‘Three militants were killed. The casualties were not high because there [are] not many militants inside.’ Intelligence officials told Associated Press that two men were also injured.
Amnesty International provided the Bureau with photographs of letters letters from the Political Agent, the Islamabad-appointed administrator responsible for all North Waziristan, confirming their investigation concluded a drone strike killed Bibi Mamana.
The letters, dated in early 2013, also confirm the agent received the family’s application for compensation.
Drones remained over the area after the attack, reportedly hampering rescue efforts, and an anonymous foreign ministry official condemned the strike. Local residents said three cows or a buffalo and two goats also died. Apparently the livestock were to be sacrificed at the Muslim festival of Eid al Adha on October 26.
Both BBC’s Panorama and The London Times subsequently reported that the attack was a ‘double-tap’ strike. One drone fired two missiles ‘five to seven‘ minutes before a second volley was released. The drones attacked at around 2.45pm according to Mamana’s family who spoke to The Times while receiving treatment in a Peshawar clinic. Nabeela told the BBC’s Jane Corbin that her grandmother and she were returning to the house when the first missile struck. ‘It hit the ground behind us. We ran towards the house. Granny was in front and was hit by another missile.’ The first strike hit a field near the family’s house, Nabeela told The Times. The paper reported she was sat 20m from the impact and was injured in the arm by shrapnel. She said she saw the two missiles head towards her: ‘They were following each other with fire at the back. When they hit the ground, there was a loud noise.’ Atiq and Rafiq, Manama’s sons, said militants had passed through the village before but said none were there when the strike hit.
In December 2012 another of Manama’s sons Ishqur Rehman protested outside the Miranshah Press Club. He was demonstrating against relatives of drone strike victims not being considered for compensation alongside families of the civilian casualties of Pakistan Army operations. In 2013 Rafiq told al Jazeera a Pakistani official wrote to the family agreeing the attack was a tragedy, Mamana and her grandchildren were innocent, and the strike was launched by a US drone.
Bibi Mamana’s family travelled to Washington in October 2013 to speak before US lawmakers (Al Jazeera).
Location: Tabbi, North Waziristan
References: Express Tribune, News Tribe, The Nation (Pakistan), The News, Dawn, Frontier Post, AFP, Xinhua, CNN, Associated Press, The News, Radio Free Europe, AGI, PTI, AFP, Voice of America, Voice of Russia Radio, Gulf Times, CNN, The Nation (Pakistan), The News, The News, SANA, Allvoices, Reuters, The Times (£), Pakistan Today, BBC News, BBC Panorama, Express Tribune, Amnesty International, Al Jazeera, Bureau
Ob300 – November 29 2012
♦ 1-4 killed
♦ 3-4 injured
Up to four people were killed in the first drone strike in Pakistan for 36 days. Reports said one or more CIA drones fired on a vehicle or house in the Shin Warsak area near Wana, capital of South Waziristan. Sheikh Abdul Bari, described as a Yemen-born al Qaeda-linked militant, was among the dead. The drone missed its target with its first attempt but hit with its second and third, according to local sources. The lengthy pause between strikes was not because of a lack of targets, according to a US intelligence official. He told the Long War Journal:
Pakistan is a target-rich environment…We’re only scratching at the surface, hitting them in the tribal areas, while the country remains infested with al Qaeda and their allies.
There was initially some confusion over the number and identity of casualties with one report saying no one was killed or injured in the strike. A security official said: ‘Two or three militants were walking in a cultivated field. A US drone fired two missiles but no one was hurt.’ But other reports said up to four were killed. Some alleged foreign militants were killed in the strike. The attack came a few hours after a suicide bomber injured South Waziristan Taliban commander Mullah Maulvi Nazir and killed seven others. The Pakistan Taliban (TTP) and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) are reportedly leading suspects for that blast.
Location: Shin Warsak, South Waziristan
Reference: The News, Xinhua, The News Tribe, Associated Press, Xinhua, Express Tribune, AFP, The Nation (Pakistan), Pakistan Today, Outlook India, IANS, Dawn, Geo TV, Long War Journal, News Pakistan, The Nation (Pakistan), The Nation (Pakistan), PTI, Daily Times, Voice of America, The News, SANA, DPA, Frontier Post, Bureau
Ob301 – December 1 2012
♦ 1-4 reported killed
♦ 3 reported injured
The second strike in three days on the Shin Warsak area of South Waziristan again killed a Yemeni militant. Abdul Rehman al-Zaman Yemeni was a ‘mid-level al Qaeda commander, equivalent to a colonel’, according to an anonymous intelligence official in the Long War Journal. The Express Tribune described Yemeni as a ‘senior al Qaeda leader’.
Two missiles were variously reported to have hit a vehicle or a house belonging to al-Zaman; AFP reported the strike hit an alleged militant ‘praying in an open field outside his home’. But the Express Tribune contradicted this, reporting ‘foreign fighter Abdur Rahman Yamani was in his house when a US drone fired two missiles and killed him’, citing an unnamed security official. The report added that missiles also hit a vehicle close to the house. Two or three additional alleged militants also reportedly died, with three injured, Geo added. The attack in Ghwa Khwa village, which took place in the afternoon, was ‘very close’ to the site of the previous strike.
Location: Ghwa Khwa, South Waziristan
Reference: Associated Press, Xinhua, Dawn, Standard-Examiner, Geo TV, The Express Tribune, Long War Journal, AFP, The News, Frontier Post, Voice of America, The Nation (Pakistan), Reuters, PTI, The Nation (Pakistan), DPA, Daily Times, ANI, The News Tribe, The News, Bureau, Bureau
Ob302 – December 6 2012
♦ 2-11 reported killed
♦ 1 civilian reported killed
♦ 1-6 reported injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: named reporters (New York Times, Telegraph)
Senior al Qaeda figure Sheikh Khalid Bin Abdul Rehman al-Hussainan, aka Abu-Zaid al Kuwaiti, was killed when CIA drones attacked a house. He was reportedly ‘a top member of al Qaeda’s religious committee‘. While some reports referred to a pre-dawn raid, al Qaeda later claimed that al Hussainan died ‘while having dinner after a day of fasting.’ Reports said that up to eleven people died, ‘mostly Arab nationals.’ A Taliban commander in the area said that the family of Yahya al-Libi was also living at the location. Al Libi was killed in a drone strike on June 4 2012 – al Hussainan reportedly replaced him. Speaking to the New York Times, a senior Pakistani intelligence official ‘played down speculation that [al Hussainan]…had been viewed as a likely successor to al Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahri.’ A militant by the name of Abdur Rehman al Maghbiri was most likely to be the next leader of al Qaeda, the official added. Al Hussainan’s wife was also killed and between one and six of his daughters were also injured. The News reported that one seriously injured girl was taken to hospital in Mir Ali:
It was a terrible scene. The minor girl was seriously injured but she was telling people that her father has been martyred in the attack.’
The house – allegedly a ‘militant hideout‘ belonging to local tribesman Shaheedullah Dawar – was reportedly destroyed by two missiles in the pre-dawn attack. Parts of the compound were ‘razed to the ground’ and caught fire, reportedly delaying rescue work. Alleged militants in the area moved the dead and injured to an unknown location. This was the first known strike on North Waziristan for 43 days, with US drones seen flying ‘before and even after the attack’, according to local tribal elder Malik Mumtaz. Al Qaeda quickly acknowledged al Husssainan’s death, stating:
We celebrate to you the news of the martyrdom of the working scholar Shaykh Khalid al-Hussainan (Abu Zaid al-Kuwaiti) while eating his Suhoor (dawn time) meal, and we ask Allah to accept him in paradise.’
Richard Olson, Washington’s newly installed ambassador in Islamabad, met Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf after this latest strike. Ashraf expressed ‘his concern over the drone attacks‘. He told the ambassador ‘[the strikes] are counterproductive and we need to find alternative means to eliminate terrorists’. Olson said he would convey Pakistan’s concerns to Washington.
Location: Murbarak Shahi, North Waziristan
Reference: Dawn, Voice of America, The News, The News Pakistan, The News Tribe, Al Jazeera, Associated Press, Express Tribune, Xinhua, AFP, Pakistan Today, SANA, Pakistan Today, The News, The News, NBC News, Reuters, Voice of America, Global Post, Long War Journal, Flashpoint Intel (background PDF), New York Times, Khaama Press, Pakistan Today, IANS, Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, PTI, International Institute for Counter Terrorism, Long War Journal, Bureau
Ob303 – December 9 2012
♦ 2-4 reported killed
♦ 0-3 civilians reported killed
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: local and tribal sources (Reuters/Express Tribune, Express Tribune).
A fresh strike in North Waziristan killed up to four people, reportedly including Mohammad Ahmed Almansoor, described by Reuters and others as a senior al Qaeda commander. The CIA strike hit the village of Tabbi, north of Miran Shah on the Gulan Khan road. US intelligence sources told the Long War Journal he was a ‘midlevel commander’, and ‘one of many Pakistanis who are filling out leadership positions in al Qaeda’, while Associated Press reported he was a close associate of Sheikh Khalid Bin Abdul Rehman al-Hussainan, who died in Ob301 days before.
Most agencies identified the others killed only as ‘people.’ The Express Tribune cited local sources as saying that ‘that the three other people killed were Almansoor’s family members.’ ‘The drone fired missiles at a house with Almansoor inside, destroying two rooms and a car,’ Reuters reported, adding that four drones were seen above the area according to locals and officials. Xinhua reported locals as saying that ‘fire erupted after the strike completely destroyed the house’.
Location: Tapi Tool, North Waziristan
Reference: AAP, Al Jazeera, AFP, Xinhua, Long War Journal, Express Tribune, LA Times, PTI, Associated Press, Dawn, Voice of America, Reuters, Los Angeles Times, Express Tribune, The News, Frontier Post, The Nation (Pakistan), Bureau
Ob304 – December 21 2012
♦ 3-6 reported killed
♦ At least 2 reported injured
At least three alleged militants were reported killed in an attack on a house in the Mir Ali area, after a pause of 12 days. A CIA drone reportedly fired two missiles, destroying the house. One source noted that unidentified ‘foreigners’ may have been among the dead, and local people were reported to have taken part in rescue work. Another source suggested the reported foreigners were of ‘Uzbek origin’. The CIA drones reportedly stayed over the area after the strike. On the same day in South Waziristan, a US or Pakistani drone reportedly crashed and a bombing killed up to five, including senior militant Maulvi Abbas Zalikhel.
Ob305 – December 28 2012
♦ 4-5 reported killed
♦ Possible civilian deaths
♦ 2 injured
Up to five people were reported killed in a drone strike in the Shawal valley area on the borders of North and South Waziristan. Dawn reported intelligence officials as saying that a house in Gurbaz was bombed. AFP reported that while one official claimed those killed were in ‘a house believed to be a militant centre,’ another official said that ‘we have no information about the identity of those killed in the missile strike’. The Nation reported four were killed ‘on the spot’, and added:
Soon after the attack, a large number of local tribesmen gathered at the site to retrieve the dead bodies from the debris… [the] Identity of the dead could not be ascertained.’
The same report described the dead as ‘people’ rather than ‘militants’, but cited agency speculation that the dead could include ‘high-profile militants’. The News International also referred to the dead as ‘people’ and quoted official and tribal sources as saying this was the first drone strike to take place in cloudy weather. ‘There was heavy snowfall in Shawal valley when the drone fired missiles and targeted a house,’ an unnamed official told the paper.
The Obama administration says it killed one civilian and 431-441 combatants in counterterrorism strikes last year – contrasting slightly with the Bureau’s estimate of four to six civilians and 358-501 combatants.
Obama embraced the US drone programme, overseeing more strikes in his first year than Bush carried out during his entire presidency. The use of drones aligned with Obama’s ambition to keep up the war against al Qaeda while extricating the US military from intractable ground wars, but the targeted killing programme has drawn much criticism.
Dataset: The US aerial campaign continues in Yemen in its fifteenth year.