The move came almost a week after Mehsud was killed in the drone attack in North Waziristan on Friday.
Mullah Fazlullah, the militant commander who ordered the assassination of teenage activist Malala Yusufzai, was on Thursday named by the Pakistani Taliban as its new chief to replace Hakimullah Mehsud, killed in a U.S. drone strike last week.
The outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan elected Fazlullah as its new chief, commander Asmatullah Shaheen was quoted as saying by Pakistani news channels. The move came almost a week after Mehsud was killed in the drone attack in North Waziristan on Friday.
Fazlullah, nicknamed “Mullah Radio” for his fiery sermons on an illegal FM station, led a parallel administration in the northwestern Swat Vally till the Pakistan Army sent troops into the region to flush out militants in early 2009.
He fled with hundreds of his fighters to Afghanistan, from where he ordered the attempt on the life of Malala Yusufzai.
The teenager survived despite being shot in the head by a Taliban fighter and was taken to Britain for treatment.
Fazlullah came to prominence as a leader of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariah-e-Mohammadi and later became the head of the Taliban in Swat Valley, located 160 km from Islamabad.
He led a brutal rule in the region during 2007-09 and was accused of personally ordering the killing of scores of people, including women. He often announced his fatwas and orders for executing people on his radio broadcasts.
The Taliban Shura or council had initially agreed on Khan Syed alias Sajna as the new chief during a meeting in South Waziristan but later withheld the decision due to opposition from commanders belonging to Nuristan.
The Taliban then named Shehryar Mehsud and Asmatullah Shaheen as caretaker chiefs before Fazlullah was named the new head of the TTP.
KABUL (Reuters) - The man said to be responsible for bringing al Qaeda to Afghanistan announced he was running for president on Thursday, a move likely to be greeted with apprehension by the international community. President Hamid Karzai is barred from running by the constitution, and the new government is seen as an opportunity to push the country away from years of damaging allegations of corruption and maladministration
Indian national Sushmita Banerjee, whose memoir about her dramatic escape from the Taliban was turned into a Bollywoodfilm, was shot dead in Afghanistan by militants, police said today.
Banerjee, 49, was killed outside her home in Paktika province. She was married to Afghan businessman Jaanbaz Khan and recently moved back to Afghanistan to live with him.
Taliban militants arrived at her home in the provincial capital of Kharana, tied up her husband and other members of the family, took Banerjee out and shot her, police were quoted as saying by BBC.
The militants dumped Banerjee’s body near a religious school, police said.
A senior police official said Banerjee, also known as Sayed Kamala, was working as ahealth worker in Paktika and had been filming the lives of local women as part of her work.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack. Banerjee’s book “Kabuliwalar Bangali Bou” (A Kabuliwala’s Bengali Wife), about her escape from the Taliban in 1995, became a bestseller in India and was made into the Bollywood film “Escape From Taliban” in 2003.
The memoir focussed on her life in Afghanistan with her husband and her escape from the militants. The film based on the book starred actress Manisha Koirala and was billed as a “story of a woman who dares (the) Taliban”.
Banerjee also wrote about her experiences in Afghanistan for Outlook magazine. She went to Afghanistan in 1989 after marrying Khan, whom she met in Kolkata.
She wrote that “life was tolerable until the Taliban crackdown in 1993”, when militants ordered her to close a dispensary she was running from her house, and “branded me a woman of poor morals”.
She wrote that she escaped “sometime in early 1994” but her brothers-in-law tracked her down to the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, where she went to seek help from the Indian High Commission. They took her back to Afghanistan.
"They promised to send me back to India. But they did not keep their promise. Instead, they kept me under house arrest and branded me an immoral woman. The Taliban threatened to teach me a lesson. I knew I had to escape," she wrote.
Shortly after that, she tried to escape from her husband’s home, three hours from Kabul.
"One night, I made a tunnel through the mud walls of the house and fled. Close to Kabul, I was arrested. A 15-member group of the Taliban interrogated me. Many of them said that since I had fled my husband’s home I should be executed. However, I was able to convince them that since I was an Indian I had every right to go back to my country," Banerjee wrote.
"The interrogation continued through the night. The next morning I was taken to the Indian embassy from where I was given a safe passage. Back in Calcutta, I was re-united with my husband.”
No Home For Afghan Sikhs
Outsiders may have trouble distinguishing between the turbans worn by Afghan Sikhs, with their tighter folds, varied colours and tucked-in edges, and those worn by Afghan Muslims, usually black or white with the end hanging down the wearer’s back.
The subtle differences, however, and what they represent, have fuelled widespread discrimination against Afghan Sikhs, members of the community say, prompting many to move away amid concern that the once-vibrant group could disappear.
“For anyone who understands the differences in turbans, we really stand out,” said Daya Singh Anjaan, 49, an Afghan Sikh who fled the capital, Kabul, for India after seeing his Sikh neighbours slain. “I’m sure the remaining Afghan Sikhs will vanish soon. Survival’s becoming impossible.”
There are no exact records on when Sikhs, a 500-year-old monotheistic people from western India and modern-day Pakistan, arrived in Afghanistan, although most accounts place it around 200 years ago. Mostly traders, they prospered and numbered about 50,000 by the early 1990s, concentrated in Jalalabad, Kabul, Kandahar and Ghazni.
But decades of war, instability and intolerance have fuelled waves of emigration, reducing the community to just 372 families nationwide, said Awtar Singh Khalsa, association president of the Karte Parwan gurdwara, or temple. This is the last of eight gurdwaras that once operated in Kabul, he said.
During the Afghan civil war of the mid-1990s, most of Kabul’s solidly constructed gurdwaras were appropriated by battling warlords who shelled one another, destroying seven of them along with a Sikh school that once taught 1,000 students. Under Taliban rule, Sikhs had to wear yellow patches, reminiscent of the Jews under Nazi rule, and fly yellow flags over their homes and shops.
Among the goals laid out by the United States and its allies after toppling the Taliban government in 2001 was religious tolerance for minorities, who account for about 1 per cent of Afghanistan’s population.
In practice, Sikhs say, Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s weak and embattled government rarely counters prejudice by the majority population, which emboldens attackers. Hooligans rob, insult and spit at them on the street, they say, order them to remove their turbans and try to steal their land.
Particularly dispiriting, Afghan Sikhs say, are charges by the Muslim majority that they should “go home,” even though they have lived in Afghanistan for generations and are protected, at least theoretically, by freedom-of-religion safeguards in the Afghan Constitution.
Another disturbing example of the indignities they face is the treatment of their dead, many said. Cremation, a tenet of the Sikh faith, has been quietly practised in Kabul’s eastern district of Qalacha for more than a century.
In recent years, however, some Sikhs who have tried to carry out cremations have been beaten up, stoned and otherwise blocked from doing so, at times decried as statue-worshipping infidels whose ceremonies “smell”. Islam considers cremation a sacrilege.
Many Sikhs said they have complained repeatedly to the government to little avail. “In the last decade, the Kabul government has specified ten different places for Sikh burials and cremations, but villagers keep giving Sikhs problems,” said Anarkali Honaryar, a senator representing the community. “Even when President Karzai issued a decree, nothing changed.”
While in New Delhi in May, Karzai said that Sikhs are a valued part of Afghanistan and that he was sorry so many had left. “We’ll do our best to bring the Sikh community and Hindus back to Afghanistan,” he said.
Sikhs, Jews and other minorities enjoyed tolerance and relative prosperity until the late 1970s when decades of war, oppression and infighting set in. Although many Muslim families have also suffered hugely, Sikhs say they have faced worse pressures as a minority subject to forced religious conversions and frequent kidnapping, given their limited political protection and reputation for being prosperous.
Pritpal Singh, an Afghan-born Sikh living in England who has documented the plight of Afghan Sikhs, said his brother was kidnapped shortly before the family left in 1992.
“I really looked up to him; it was such a shock,” he said. “They asked for crazy money and we couldn’t pay, so they killed him.”
As conditions worsened, Sikhs turned increasingly inwards, building a high wall around the last gurdwara to prevent passers-by from stoning the building, and cremating their dead inside, normally unthinkable, to stem angry mobs.
Khalsa said he has met repeatedly with Karzai but nothing changes, and meetings with bureaucrats and politicians often end with demands for money.
“Corruption is unbelievable,” Khalsa said. “The Taliban were far better than this government.”
For those emigrating, India and Pakistan visas are much easier to secure than those to Europe, so some stop there first, then travel illegally to the West.
Although securing a short-term visitor visa to India is relatively easy, obtaining citizenship is a “nightmare” given India’s bureaucracy and general indifference, said Paramjit Singh Sarna, an Indian community leader in New Delhi assisting Afghan Sikhs. It does not help that Sikhism originated in India and that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is a Sikh.
Sarna said many Afghan Sikhs live in limbo in India. As “outsiders”, they are unable to buy land or work, their travel is restricted, their children born stateless.
Dhyan Singh, a 62-year-old Afghan Sikh who has lived in New Delhi since 1989, said he misses Afghanistan despite the problems.
“Just last night, I dreamt I visited the Kabul gurdwara,” Singh said. “It’s only fear that keeps me away.”
–Los Angeles Times
With the U.S. and its allies planning to scale down their military efforts significantly in Afghanistan in 2014, a dangerous neighborhoodâfilled with nuclear weapons, disputed borders, as well as ethnic and tribal divisionsâhas the potential to become even more threatening. Historian William Dalrymple examines one ominous scenario, which could be disastrous for both the region and the world: the contest between India and Pakistan in Afghanistan becoming even more deadly.
Click the link to read the entire story.
KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban announced on Tuesday that they were prepared to take the first step toward peace negotiations with the Afghan government after 12 years of war, and American officials said that they would meet with Taliban representatives in Qatar within the week to start the process.
If talks begin, it will be the first time that the antagonists in the Afghanistan war have undertaken negotiations to end the conflict, begun in 2001 when American forces entered the country to rout Al Qaeda. Efforts to get such talks started have long been stalled, hijacked by conflicting demands from the main parties with long-term goals in Afghanistan: the Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai, the exiled Taliban leadership, the United States and Pakistan.
In a televised speech announcing the opening of a Taliban political office in Doha, the capital of Qatar, Mohammed Naim, a Taliban spokesman, said that their political and military goals “are limited to Afghanistan” and that they did not wish to “harm other countries.”
Senior Obama administration officials in Washington said the Taliban statement contained two crucial pledges: that the insurgents believed that Afghan soil should not be used to threaten other countries — an indirect reference to Al Qaeda’s sheltering in Afghanistan with the Taliban regime’s blessing before the Sept. 11 attacks — and that they were committed to finding a peaceful solution to the war.
“Together, they fulfill the requirement for the Taliban to open a political office in Doha for the purposes of negotiation with the Afghan government,” a senior administration official said.
American officials had long insisted that the Taliban make both pledges before talks start. The first element, in particular, is vital — it represents the beginning of what is hoped will be the Taliban’s eventual public break with Al Qaeda, the officials said. The ultimate goal of such talks, from a Western and Afghan government point of view, would be to persuade the Taliban to disarm and accept the Afghan Constitution. But officials warned that many hurdles remained in what was sure to be a long process.
President Obama called the Taliban’s announcement “an important first step towards reconciliation.”
But “it is a very early step,” Mr. Obama said at a meeting with President François Hollande of France at a Group of 8 summit meeting in Northern Ireland. “We anticipate there will be a lot of bumps in the road.”
In the next step, United States officials said, American envoys will meet later this week with Taliban representatives in Qatar. Members of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, which is to represent the government in talks, will then sit down with the insurgents.
But the first meetings will probably feature little more than an exchange of agendas, another senior administration official said, cautioning against expectations for the talks to yield substantive results any time soon. Indeed, one major obstacle for the peace process has been the outright refusal of Taliban negotiators to talk directly with Mr. Karzai’s administration.
“There is no guarantee that this will happen quickly, if at all,” the official said.
President Karzai referred to the impending opening of the office earlier in comments at a ceremony celebrating the transfer of all security responsibilities to Afghan forces from the American-led multinational forces in Afghanistan.
While he signaled his acceptance of the office’s opening, Mr. Karzai has repeatedly said that the talks must be Afghan-led, implying that the neither the United States nor the Pakistanis should be interlocutors. And he wants the talks held in Afghanistan.
Both demands are difficult to meet. Realistically both Pakistan and the United States have to be guarantors of any peace effort. Ultimately it is the United States that has bargaining chips — the Taliban prisoners that it holds at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — that might help bring the Taliban to the table. And Pakistan, as the home of most of the Taliban leadership and as the place where they have been able to receive funding and training for the fight, would have to play a role in encouraging the Taliban and backing their participation in a peace plan.
As for relocating the peace talks in Kabul, the Taliban are opposed to that because they feel they would be at an immediate disadvantage on the turf of their opponents, the Afghan government.
“The president should not use the term ‘immediately’ or ‘as soon as possible’ in talking about moving the peace negotiations to Afghanistan,” said Sayed Agha Akbar, a onetime Taliban commander now living in Kabul.
“Using such inflammatory words would be a serious blow to the peace talks at the moment when they are about to start.”
The Taliban statement on Monday said that in addition to initial negotiations, the Doha office would be used to explain the group’s views to other countries, and to meet with representatives of the United Nations and with regional, international and nongovernmental organizations. The Taliban also said they planned to give media statements about the current political situation.
Mr. Karzai’s concern is that the Taliban will use the office as a forum to try to re-establish their political legitimacy, especially in international circles, rather than confining the office to peace talks.
“Peace is the desire of the people of Afghanistan,” Mr. Karzai said at a Kabul news conference after the transfer ceremony. “Peace is a hope that the people of Afghanistan make sacrifices for every day.”
Talks between the United States and the Taliban “can help advance the process, but the core of it is going to be negotiations among Afghans and the level of trust on both sides is extremely low, as one would expect,” the second senior Obama administration official said. “So it is going to be a long, hard process if indeed it advances significantly at all.”
A decade-and-a-half ago, his legendary uncle had stood like a rock against the waves of Taliban fundamentalism sweeping through his motherland. On Friday, Ahmad Zubair Massoud, nephew of Ahmad Shah Massoud, earned his first formal military qualification — and vowed to put it to use in a manner that the Lion of Panjshir himself would have applauded.
Soon after Zubair graduated from the National Defence Academy (NDA), his sister Nilofar tweeted Friday, “Congrats to the youngest member of our family @ZubairMassoud to graduate from the military academy!” Zubair’s bio on his own Twitter profile reads, “Currently studying in the National Defence Academy, India. Soon to be an Officer in the ANA Afghan National Army”.
As the US pulls combat troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, Zubair will be ready to be commissioned into the country’s national army as second lieutenant, carrying forward a hallowed family legacy. Between now and then, he will take advanced lessons in military training from a finishing academy either in India or in Afghanistan.
In many ways, Zubair’s destiny as a military man was pre-decided at birth in the Massoud-Rabbani family in 1989. “Though I was very small, I grew up hearing stories of the bravery of my uncle Ahmad Shah Massoud. His armed opposition to the Taliban has been my inspiration to take up the profession of arms,” Zubair said.
Zubair’s father Ahmad Zia Massoud, who was vice-president of Afghanistan in the first government of President Hamid Karzai, added, “My brother was a national hero. His life has been the main inspiration for my son.”
Ahmad Shah Massoud was a central figure in the Afghan resistance against Soviet occupation, and later became the political and military commander of the Northern Alliance which fought against the Taliban in the late nineties. He was assassinated by al-Qaeda suicide bombers two days before the 9/11 attacks on the US.
Kabul: Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai will be on a two-day visit to India starting Monday. He will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on enhancing strategic ties, security and developmental work in the run-up to next year’s withdrawal of western troops. As Afghanistan braces for 2014, we travelled extensively in the AfPak region to find out whether the proposed end of war would impact India.
Braving for 2014, whether the exit of western troops will end the war in Afghanistan or start a fresh round of violence is a million dollar question, an important one for India’s security concerns as well.
After the Soviet war in Afghanistan, Pakistan pushed the trained jihadis to fight the insurgency in India. Kashmir saw its bloodiest decade. 9/11 made Pakistan, America’s ally on the war against terror and gave birth to Pakistan Taliban - a group attacking Pakistan itself. Pakistan’s attention shifted to the western border and some experts believe Pakistan’s internal worries led to relative peace on its eastern front, one it shares with India.
Will Pakistan push the trained militants again in our direction?
Over the last decade India has earned immense good will in Afghanistan. At a certain point, the timing of soap opera ‘sans bhi kabhi bahu thi’, popularly known as ‘Tulsi’ here, coincided with the time of the prayers. This was taken up in the parliament of Afghanistan, so the shows timing could be adjusted. India has made friends across the ethnic groups through cultural connections and developmental work.
None of this pleases Pakistan. Rawalpindi has always thought of Afghanistan as a no go area for India, a strategic base for themselves in event of war against India. In the past Kashmir insurgents have received training in mountainous areas of Afghanistan.
Retired Lieutenant-General Hamid Gul of Pakistan’s army once headed the ISI. Credited in Pakistan for pushing hard line policies against India, he played a pivotal role in the insurgency that began in Kashmir.
He warns India of tomorrow’s reality. “Tomorrow’s reality is, if Afghan freedom fighters come out freely then they will give a fillip to the idea. It is going to kindle a new spirit, because yet another superpower has been defeated. They will think why we can’t do it, the Kashmiris will do it.”
In Afghanistan, the governor of Nuristan tells us, “Many border areas are full of anti-India groups. LeT is here, they are more powerful than Al Qaeda. If Afghanistan is a trouble area, if there is a war here, I think India will never feel safe. The war is going to come to their borders.”
Sources in the United States government have told NDTV, for months now the US has been trying to convey to India of a change of heart in Pakistan’s deep establishment, though most Afghan leaders like Amarullah Saleh, Afghanistan’s former chief of intelligence do not buy into that.
"They define Pakistan as a vulnerable country, which if truly put under pressure, may collapse. We don’t buy the argument. We see it as a calculative strategy. India should strengthen Afghanistan. Every spectacular attack in Afghanistan one way or another is linked to Rawal Pindi and every spectacular attack in India is linked to LeT. So why is the root of terrorism not drying up in our region? One primary reason is the ambiguity of the Western policy vis-a-vis Pakistan," said Amarullah Saleh.
India’s decision-makers acknowledge that India’s own internal security would be at risk especially if the drawdown of international troops from Afghanistan leaves behind a security vacuum that is filled by militant groups backed by Pakistan. India is aware of Pakistan’s sensitivities but is not shying away for defining it as a long-term relationship with Afghanistan. India’s former ambassador to Afghanistan confirms “In terms of being able to contribute more to Afghanistan security, to regional security through co-operative activities, yes that is possible. But as always it is something that has to be decided and we have to take into account their requirements, we have to take into account our capacities, and we have to take into account regional stability. So whatever we try to do, we would do in a responsible way in a responsible direction.”
The Afghans want India to play a bigger role, not only in developmental work and investments but also security cooperation. While president Karzai’s visit is unlikely to bring any major surprises, sources have told NDTV, India has not yet revealed its entire plan for Afghanistan. Policy they say is work in progress.
Pakistan’s new Prime Minister says Afghanistan would be left to Afghans and has made all the right noises on relationship with India. The big question, will his words become reality?
What I’m about to write is grisly but it’s based on reality and on war. And the word needs to get out. It’s about how wars distort the truth and how gender becomes a fancy topic to throw in when convenient.
Imagine. You are in Gardez, Afghanistan. You are celebrating the joyous arrival of a newborn - a little baby - in your house. You all speak Dari, one of the most beautiful languages spoken in Asia. There is music, there is dancing; All to welcome the birth of a child. You are happy. At midnight, a raid is carried out by US forces in your house because their (flawed) intelligence agencies claim there’s a meeting going on to prepare a suicide bomber. They don’t double check, they don’t verify but they carry weapons that can put holes in your bones so they go on anyway. They carry out a massacre in your house. Five people are killed. Three are women. One of them is pregnant. One of them is a senior Afghan police officer. One of the men is zip-cuffed up and watches in horror how US soldiers dig bullets out of his dead wife. They cover the entire incident up. It never reaches the news. When it does, it’s a quick flash. Most of us don’t even remember.
After the US soldiers - the Joints Special Operations Command members - raided that house, they take the remaining men into custody and interrogate them through barbaric means trying to get them to indicate that the family had a connection with the Taliban. Men who had nothing to do with the Taliban. In international press, the report is presented as: “US Forces stumble upon the aftermath of what looks like a Taliban honor killing.”
Honor killing. Feminists in the world roar. Liberal feminists want justice for these dead women. “Religion is oppressive! Those men killed these women for dancing, didn’t they? Those monsters!” Little do they know, the same saviors that were in the region to “rescue” women were the killers. But we see no link between dogma and gender when we look at the US Military; We are taught to see them as saviors, as warriors of justice. And so the leader of the JSOC, Vice Admiral William McRaven enters that village post-raid with scores of Afghan soldiers and American soldiers and offers a sheep to sacrifice - a tradition in Afghanistan and Pakistan that is done to gain one’s forgiveness after misconduct - in front of the family. A photographer snaps a photo of the reconciliation that is offered to the grieving family. All is well, all is good. At least according to selective media reports.
But it is never found out whether those soldiers were disciplined for killing innocent people. Whether they were held accountable for murder. Yes, murder. Call it what it is. And it goes on. A journalist who tries to present this brutal incident in public is instantly demonized and hushed. Similar to the case of the Yemeni journalist who was jailed - at Obama’s order - for exposing a US missile strike in Yemen that killed civilians.
The truth is obscured and distorted during war. It is presented in bits and pieces understated and overstated at will. But what is horrifying is how easily it is fed into a consumer’s mind. Imagine how many massacres have been hidden from us to keep a war going on and on and on.
Click the link.
President Obama, my understanding from sources, within the intelligence and military world, has really sort of micromanaged this process [of war]. John Brennan is basically the hit man of this administration, except he never has to go out and do the hitting himself. He orders, you know, planes and missile strikes and AC-130 strikes to, you know, hit in Somalia, in Yemen, in Pakistan. You know, we’re looking right now at a reality that President Obama has essentially extended the very policies that many of his supporters once opposed under President Bush. And I think it says something about the bankrupt nature of partisan politics in this country that the way we feel about life-or-death policies around the world is determined by who happens to be in office. That, to me, is a very sobering reality.
Recommended Reads of 2012 on US Drone Strikes:
The year is coming to an end but the atrocities and havoc inflicted by US drone strikes and cruise missiles in the Middle East and South Asia seem like they will, unfortunately, continue in the coming year. In order to understand the gravity of the situation and the repercussions these drone strikes are causing in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and beyond, it is important to gain a comprehension of the nature of the policy and the laws that its implementation is continuously violating. Given below is a list of questions, arguments and statistics involving the drone strikes and the casualties - of women, children and innocent bystanders - it’s caused. Furthermore, questions involving the demand to make Barack Obama responsible for these strikes, the lack of transparency and the infamous, inhumane definition of “military age males” is taken into serious consideration.
- “What is the difference — legally and morally — between a sticky bomb the Israelis place on the side of an Iranian scientist’s car and a Hellfire missile the United States launches at a car in Yemen from thirty thousand feet in the air? How is one an ‘assassination’ — condemned by the United States — and the other an ‘insurgent strike’? What is the difference between attacking a country’s weapon-making machinery through a laptop computer or through bunker-busters? What happens when other states catch up with American technology — some already have — and turn these weapons on targets inside the United States or American troops abroad, arguing that it was Washington that set the precedent for their use? These are all questions the Obama team discusses chiefly in classified briefings, not public debates.”
- A new study conducted by law professors at Stanford and New York University relies on some 130 interviews with civilians living in the regions of northern Pakistan where targeted drone strikes have been most frequent. Working with the activist group Reprieve, the team of professors have added to the growing body of literature that argues, contrary to Obama administration claims, that numerous civilians have been killed, and many more traumatized, by the drone strike program.
- U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan haven’t made America safer. The Stanford/NYU study notes: “Publicly available evidence that the strikes have made the US safer overall is ambiguous at best … The number of ‘high-level’ militants killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low — estimated at just 2%. Evidence suggests that US strikes have facilitated recruitment to violent non-state armed groups, and motivated further violent attacks.”
- Why has the administration fought the ACLU’s efforts to make America’s use of drones more transparent, and what justifies its opposition? The Obama administration has authorized hundreds of drone strikes in Pakistan alone, resulting in the deaths of numerous civilians. Why is it justifiable to kill such a large number of civilians in the name of protecting civilians from terrorism? Are so-called “double-tap” drone strikes morally justifiable, considering that the United States has criticized terrorist groups for using the tactic? [Full text here]
- Five Specific Questions Journalists Should Ask About the Drone Strike Policy.
- The Pentagon’s top lawyer has resigned and says he will return to private practice. Jeh (jay) Johnson is stepping down at the end of December after four years that included a number of controversial legal issues including the escalation in the use of drone strikes, the revamping of the use of military commissions rather than civilian trials for terrorism war-era detainees, and the repeal of the Pentagon’s ban on openly gay military service.
- How do you define “precise”, Mr. President?
- War Costs’ latest video (with accompanying report) brings attention to the children who have died as a result of drone strikes. The video names some of the children who perished in these strikes, and points out the obfuscation tactics of American officials who will not own up to the significant amount of civilian casualties that have occurred due to this legally- and morally-dubious policy.
- Drones Obliterate Shades of Gray Between Militants and Civilians.
- A soldier sets out to graduate at the top of his class. He succeeds, and he becomes a drone pilot working with a special unit of the United States Air Force in New Mexico. He kills dozens of people. But then, one day, he realizes that he can’t do it anymore.
- The drone war violates both domestic and international law, and the Obama administration’s vehement disdain for transparency in government is the only thing keeping it from public and legal scrutiny. Beyond the law, it’s terrorism.
- Obama has scarcely mentioned the drone programme and has said nothing about its killing of children. The only statement I can find is a brief and vague response during a video conference last January. The killings have been left to others to justify. In October the Democratic cheerleader Joe Klein claimed on MSNBC that “the bottom line in the end is whose four-year-old gets killed? What we’re doing is limiting the possibility that four-year-olds here will get killed by indiscriminate acts of terror”. As Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, killing four-year-olds is what terrorists do. It doesn’t prevent retaliatory murders, it encourages them, as grief and revenge are often accomplices. [Full text]
- Living Under Drones
- My article in Himal: The other part of the drones myth has to do with how ‘productive’ they are in ‘controlling extremism’. Mahmood Shah, a retired Pashtun brigadier from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in North West Pakistan where many of the drone strikes have been taking place, says that the families of drone victims go on to ‘seek revenge’, making them ideal recruits for the Pakistani Taliban. Baitullah Mehsud, a Pashtun Taliban commander until his own death in a US drone strike, liked to boast that each drone attack “brought [him] three or four suicide bombers.”
- ACLU’s report on drone strikes.
- Of the some 3000 persons killed by US drones, something like 600 have been innocent noncombatant bystanders, and of these 176 were children. In some instances the US drone operators have struck at a target, then waited for rescuers to come and struck again, which would be a war crime. Obviously, children may run in panic to the side of an injured parent, so they could get hit by the indiscriminate second strike. We don’t know the exact circumstances of the children’s deaths because the US government won’t talk about them, indeed, denies it all.
- Normalising death: The business of drones.
- Fighting back against the CIA drone war.
- The US government, and a pliant mainstream media, are making sure the public remain ignorant of civilian casualties.
The more you know.