Archive for drones

US Drone Hits Mosque in Pakistan: 10 Killed

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2012 by loonwatch

Why_do_they_hate_us_Muslims

According to Obama logic we should not care about the fact that the elected Parliament of Pakistan has called for a cessation to all drone activity.

And people wonder why America is hated? It’s because you’re killing people on their way to offering prayers. For every murdered “insurgent”, or “militant”, or “terrorist” (whatever you want to call it) 10s of 100s of more innocent civilians are being murdered.:

US drone strike hits mosque; 10 killed

PESHAWAR –At least 10 people were killed and several others sustained injuries when unmanned US predator drone targeted a mosque in Mir Ali area of North Waziristan Agency on Thursday.

Sources said that earlier the death toll was put at six which later rose to 10 with several others were still in critical condition. The mosque was completely destroyed as two missiles were fired on it. Identities of the victims in the strike are not known immediately as North Waziristan is a far-flung mountainous tribal area bordering Afghanistan.

This was the fourth strike since Parliament in March demanded an end to the drone hits and first attack after the Chicago Summit.

Forty-five US missile strikes were reported in Pakistan’s tribal belt in 2009, 101 in 2010 and 64 in 2011.

Agencies add: The attack, in the Khassokhel village near Mir Ali in the North Waziristan, was the second to take place in less than 24 hours.

Aimed at a suspected militant hideout, Uzbek insurgents made up the majority of the fatalities from the strike, which will surely work to further the growing governmental tensions between the United States and Pakistan.

Local tribesmen said 10 bodies were pulled from the debris and that efforts were underway to retrieve others.

“The drone fired two missiles and hit the village mosque where a number of people were offering Fajr (morning) prayers,” local tribal elder Roashan Din told NBC News.

Read the Rest…

Reuters Figures it Out: Yemenis “Deeply Resentful” of Drone Attacks which “Often” Kill Civilians

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2012 by loonwatch

Why_do_they_hate_us_Muslims

It’s not rocket science, if you are going to employ tactics in which you kill 10s or 100s of more civilians for each terrorist then you are not going to be liked.

Reuters seems to have figured this out:

But many say U.S. drone attacks, which have often killed civilians and are deeply resented by Yemenis, may do more harm than good, potentially discrediting Hadi as a lackey of Washington and turning the wider population against him.

Now if we could only get the policy-makers and military strategists to realize this.

The Drone and the Cross

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2012 by loonwatch

Drones for Jesus

“What Would Jesus Do?” (WWJD?) is a phrase popularized in the US during the 1990s, serving as a reminder to Christians to demonstrate the moral example of Jesus Christ.

Though it is difficult to imagine what Jesus might do in the modern world, it seems quite certain unleashing Hellfire missiles on helpless civilians would not be an option, which begs a question: Why are millions of contemporary Christians fervent cheerleaders for endless war in faraway lands?

This Holy Week, Brian Terrell considers Christ’s moral imperative in the context of current events.

The Drone and the Cross

by Brian Terrell, Counterpunch

A Good Friday Meditation

Over Holy Week, the days before celebrating the resurrection of Jesus on Easter, Christians are called to meditate on Jesus’ last days. On Good Friday, in churches and often in city streets, it is customary to retrace the “Way of the Cross,” symbolically following Jesus from his trial before the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate to his torture, crucifixion, death and burial. For American Christians in Holy Week, 2012, news headlines of wars in far-away places must not be seen as distractions from our meditations and liturgical observances but rather as a necessary means to realize the implications of Christ’s passion for us here and now.

The Roman Empire employed crucifixion as its preferred method of executing suspects deemed threatening to its imperial power and to the “Pax Romana” it imposed on the known world. The history of empires is banal and predicable even in its cruelty and the United States is more clearly than ever the successor of this imperial tradition. Empire will always be on the technological cutting edge, from bronze swords to nuclear missiles, with each advance extending the reach and the catastrophic potential of successive imperial powers, but the history of empires is really one single tragic story told over and over again with incidental variations.

Today those deemed threats to the U.S. Empire and its “Pax Americana” are increasingly targeted by Predator and Reaper drones armed with missiles and bombs. Just as Rome considered Jesus a “high value target” for execution, it is unlikely that today’s world empire would view Jesus’ life and teaching with any less suspicion. Were Jesus to preach today as he preached in Jerusalem two millennia ago, instead of a cross of wood the instrument of his passion might be a hellfire missile fired from a predator drone.

While the revolution Jesus preached was nonviolent, this did not matter to Rome and such distinctions are equally lost on the U.S. Empire, whose military, Homeland Security and FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force are at least as zealous in persecuting unarmed advocates for economic and political justice as they are in pursuing terrorists. Jesus called for a jubilee abolition of debt, for redistribution of wealth and for freedom to those in prison. His nonviolent stance did not keep him from meeting in dialogue with the zealots who advocated violent revolution. This would be all the evidence the U.S. Empire needs to detain an “enemy combatant” indefinitely at Guantanamo or indeed, to put him on a CIA hit list.

Mouthpieces for the present empire defend assassination by drone citing the fact that arresting some suspected threats would be difficult to impossible- they travel the desolate reaches of the empire, passing in and out of porous borders. When they do enter populated areas, they are surrounded by crowds of supporters, which translates in U.S. parlance as despicably using civilians as human shields.

The military and law enforcement authorities of Rome and its colonial client states were likewise frustrated in their attempts to track and arrest Jesus. When things got hot in Judea, Jesus and his disciples were known to slip out of the Roman Province of Judea into Herod’s Tetrarchy of Galilee and from there, hop a boat to the jurisdiction of the Decapolis. The mightiest military force on the planet in the year 33 of the current era could not arrest Jesus in Jerusalem “for fear of the crowds,” the Gospels tell us.

In order to bring him to “justice,” Rome needed to recruit and bribe one of Jesus’ inner circle for inside information and then wait to find him alone in a dark garden. That empire required a sham trial before their governor could sentence Jesus to die. Today’s mightiest empire uses unmanned drones to find and kill threats to its power with no trial and from long distances. Victims are named by the military or the CIA on evidence that is kept secret from any court. Rather than being hounded by spies and dragged to a cross by mercenary boots on the ground, threats to the U.S. Empire are now hunted by drones high in the sky, scanning the cities and the wilderness, sending high-resolution video feed to their “pilots” thousands of miles away in Nevada, California or New York and it is from that safe distance that the trigger is pulled to launch the fatal missile.

While drones are touted as weapons of precision, their Hellfire missiles and 500 pound bombs are not surgical instruments. Weddings and funerals, when attended by “high value targets” are fair game and hundreds of celebrants and mourners have been killed by drone strikes on these events in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Villages and urban neighborhoods where such “targets” are suspected to be residing or visiting are devastated along with their inhabitants. War is hell, it is admitted in moments of candor and an empire cannot allow itself to be deterred by fear of “collateral damage” from pursuing its objectives.

With the flexibility that drones offer the present empire, Rome would not have needed to wait for Jesus to surface in Jerusalem at Passover, but could have killed him at its leisure along, incidentally, with anyone in his vicinity. If they had drones, the Romans might have taken out Jesus at Cana along with the other wedding guests. A hellfire missile might have found him welcoming the children or at the funeral of his friend, Lazarus. The hit might have come as a 500 pound bomb dropped on the upper room, interrupting the last supper.

U.S. drones, it is reported, hover over the aftermath of an attack and target rescue workers and those who attempt to give the dead dignified burial. Had Rome the technical capability and lack of compunction of the U.S., Joseph of Arimathaea might have paid with his life for his work of mercy, laying the tortured corpse of Jesus in his own tomb. Mary and the women who later brought ointments to bathe and anoint Jesus’ body might never had made it to the tomb; or they might have been burned beyond recognition themselves before they could deliver the good news that the tomb was empty.

Of course this meditation is the result of wild and perhaps irresponsible speculation. I wonder, though, if it is so far off as it seems even to me. More than this I wonder what it means for me as a privileged citizen of an empire, to venerate the holy cross and to worship the tortured messiah who died on it while my government unleashes hellish droves of machines into the sky to spy and to torture and kill in my name.

Brian Terrell lives in Maloy, Iowa and is a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. He spent Good Fridays of 2009 and 2011 in jails in Nevada and New York after protesting at U.S. Air Force drone operation centers.

Could The Use Of Flying Death Robots Be Hurting America’s Reputation Worldwide?

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on March 16, 2012 by loonwatch

 

Could The Use Of Flying Death Robots Be Hurting America’s Reputation Worldwide?

President Obama: Judge, Jury and Executioner for Anwar al-Awlaki

Posted in Feature, Loon People, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2011 by loonwatch

The title may offend some, but here at Loonwatch we do not believe in any sacred cows. By now we have all heard reports about the killing of accused terrorist and mastermind behind the “underwear bomber” and “Fort Hood shootings,” US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki. The fact that he was on a “hit list” that included other US citizens was reported back in January:

It was first reported in January of last year that the Obama administration had compiled a hit list of American citizens whom the President had ordered assassinated without any due process, and one of those Americans was Anwar al-Awlaki.

After several unsuccessful attempts by the US government Anwar al-Awlaki is finally dead. The indefatigable Glenn Greenwald spells out the tendentious nature of the hunt for Awlaki and all the resultant shadiness:

No effort was made to indict him for any crimes (despite a report last October that the Obama administration was “considering” indicting him).  Despite substantial doubt among Yemen experts about whether he even has any operational role in Al Qaeda, no evidence (as opposed to unverified government accusations) was presented of his guilt.  When Awlaki’s father sought a court order barring Obama from killing his son, the DOJ argued, among other things, that such decisions were “state secrets” and thus beyond the scrutiny of the courts.  He was simply ordered killed by the President: his judge, jury and executioner.  When Awlaki’s inclusion on President Obama’s hit list was confirmed, The New York Times noted that “it is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing.”

Awlaki once was a marginal figure, on the run in the mountains of Yemen, his operational role in AlQaeda was nill, now he has been transformed into a martyr with a little help from our brutal friend, the President of Yemen:

After several unsuccessful efforts to assassinate its own citizen, the U.S. succeeded today (and it was the U.S.).  It almost certainly was able to find and kill Awlaki with the help of its long-time close friend President Saleh, who took a little time off from murdering his own citizens to help the U.S. murder its.  The U.S. thus transformed someone who was, at best, a marginal figure into a martyr, and again showed its true face to the world.  The government and media search for The Next bin Laden has undoubtedly already commenced.

The implications for our civil liberties and checks and balances on the power of the Executive are clear:

What’s most striking about this is not that the U.S. Government has seized and exercised exactly the power the Fifth Amendment was designed to bar (“No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law”), and did so in a way that almost certainly violates core First Amendment protections (questions that will now never be decided in a court of law). What’s most amazing is that its citizens will not merely refrain from objecting, but will stand and cheer the U.S. Government’s new power to assassinate their fellow citizens, far from any battlefield, literally without a shred of due process from the U.S. Government.  Many will celebrate the strong, decisive, Tough President’s ability to eradicate the life of Anwar al-Awlaki — including many who just so righteously condemned those Republican audience members as so terribly barbaric and crass for cheering Governor Perry’s execution of scores of serial murderers and rapists — criminals who were at least given a trial and appeals and the other trappings of due process before being killed.

From an authoritarian perspective, that’s the genius of America’s political culture.  It not only finds way to obliterate the most basic individual liberties designed to safeguard citizens from consummate abuses of power (such as extinguishing the lives of citizens without due process).  It actually gets its citizens to stand up and clap and even celebrate the destruction of those safeguards.

Greenwald’s evaluation is dark because of the uncomfortable truth he relates: we are cheering the destruction of the very liberties that safeguard us from the abuses of power.

This is all being done under the guise of defending our “freedom” and “security.” In reality, as terror expert Professor Charles Kurzman points out, very few Muslims were interested in Awlaki’s message:

Given that Awlaki’s messages is sitting on the internet, easily accessible to millions of English speaking Muslims, it’s very interesting how few have taken him up on his demand that Muslims join the revolutionary movement.

It is time that US citizens stand up for their rights and say we will not allow the government to take the life of our citizens without due process. We are not going to buy the line that our civil liberties and freedoms must be bargained in the interest of “security,” especially from a threat that is overblown in the first place.

Pakistani belief about drones: perceptive or paranoid?

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2011 by loonwatch

By: Glenn Greenwald

Two weeks ago, President Obama’s former Director of National Intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair, excoriated the White House for its reliance on drones in multiple Muslim nations, pointing out, as Politico put it, that those attacks “are fueling anti-American sentiment and undercutting reform efforts in those countries.”  Blair said: ”we’re alienating the countries concerned, because we’re treating countries just as places where we go attack groups that threaten us.”  Blair has an Op-Ed today in The New York Times making a similar argument with a focus on Pakistan, though he uses a conspicuously strange point to make his case:

Qaeda officials who are killed by drones will be replaced. The group’s structure will survive and it will still be able to inspire, finance and train individuals and teams to kill Americans. Drone strikes hinder Qaeda fighters while they move and hide, but they can endure the attacks and continue to function.Moreover, as the drone campaign wears on, hatred of America is increasing in Pakistan. American officials may praise the precision of the drone attacks. But in Pakistan, news media accounts of heavy civilian casualties are widely believed. Our reliance on high-tech strikes that pose no risk to our soldiers is bitterly resented in a country that cannot duplicate such feats of warfare without cost to its own troops.

Though he obviously knows the answer, Blair does not say whether this widespread Pakistani perception about civilian casualties is based in fact; if anything, he insinuates that this “belief” is grounded in the much-discussed affection which Pakistanis allegedly harbor for fabricated anti-American conspiracy theories.  While the Pakistani perception is significant unto itself regardless of whether it’s accurate — the belief about drones is what fuels anti-American hatred — it’s nonetheless bizarre to mount an anti-drone argument while relegating the impact of civilian deaths to mere “belief,” all while avoiding informing readers what the actual reality is.  Discussions of the innocent victims of American military violence is one of the great taboos in establishment circles; that Blair goes so far out of his way to avoid discussing it highlights how potent that taboo is.

Last month, I interviewed Chris Woods of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which had just published a report conclusively documenting the falsity of John Brennan’s public claim that “in the last year, ‘there hasn’t been a single collateral death‘” from U.S. drone attacks.  Last week, the Bureau published an even more detailed report focusing on the number of Pakistani children killed by American drone attacks:

The Bureau has identified credible reports of 168 children killed in seven years of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas. These children would account for 44% of the minimum figure of 385 civilians reported killed by the attacks. . . .The highest number of child deaths occurred during the Bush presidency, with 112 children reportedly killed. More than a third of all Bush drone strikes appear to have resulted in the deaths of children. . . . President Obama, too, has been as Commander-in-Chief responsible for many child deaths in Pakistan. The Bureau has identified 56 children reported killed in drone strikes during his presidency . . . .

The report indicates that the number of Pakistani children dying from drone attacks has decreased substantially over the past several months — since September, 2010, when one man’s son, two daughters and nephew were all killed by a single U.S. strike — but such deaths nonetheless continue (including one in April of this year, in which a 12-year-old boy, Atif, was killed).  These facts make John Brennan’s blatant lie particularly disgusting: it’s one thing to kill children using remote-controlled weaponized air robots in a country in which we’re not formally at war, but it’s another thing entirely to stand up in public and deny that it is happening.

In several ways, the Bureau’s study significantly understates the extent of U.S.-caused civilian deaths in the region.  As Woods told me, the Bureau uses such a rigorous methodology — counting civilian deaths only when they can be definitively confirmed up to and including the victims’ names — that some deaths almost certainly go uncounted in the notoriously inaccessible Waziristan region.  Other credible reports provide an even starker assessment of the number of innocents killed.  Moreover, this latest report from the Bureau counts only child deaths, not those of innocent adult men and women in Pakistan, nor does it discuss the large number of civilian deaths from drones outside of Pakistan (Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq), nor the U.S.-caused deaths of civilians from means other than drones (such as the “amazing number” of innocents killed at checkpoints in Afghanistan).

Adm. Blair’s Op-Ed may have had a much greater impact had it included a discussion of these facts, rather than implying that the problem with American drone attacks is Pakistani paranoia.  That’s precisely why the Op-Ed — like most discussions in establishment venues of this topic — didn’t include those facts.

U.S. Bombs and Kills 168 Pakistani Children, Why Are the Pakistanis Such Ungrateful and Cruddy Allies?

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2011 by loonwatch

Many Americans wonder why Pakistan is such an ungrateful and cruddy ally.  Do any of them stop to think that perhaps the U.S. is an even cruddier ally?  At least Pakistan doesn’t kill our children.  File this away under Why They Hate Us:

Study: CIA drones strikes have killed 168 children

The Obama administration says a year of drone strikes in Pakistan killed zero civilians; outside experts disagree

By: Justin Elliot

Based on international and Pakistani news reports and research on the ground, the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism has issued a new study on civilians killed by American drones, concluding that at least 385 civilians have been killed in the past seven years, including at least 168 children.

Here’s a taste of the report, which can be read in full here (warning: graphic images):

Pakistani father Din Mohammad had the misfortune to live next door to militants in Danda Darpakhel, North Waziristan. His neighbours were reportedly part of the Haqqani Network, a group fighting US forces in nearby Afghanistan.

On September 8 2010, the CIA’s Reaper drones paid a visit. Hellfire missiles tore into the compound killing six alleged militants.

One of the Hellfires missed its target, and Din Mohammad’s house was hit. He survived. But his son, his two daughters and his nephew all died. His eldest boy had been a student at a Waziristan military cadet college. The other three children were all below school age.

An Obama administration official told ABC that these numbers are “way off the mark” — but, tellingly, did so on the condition of anonymity, meaning he or she will be protected from any accountability.

Meanwhile, the New York Times’ Scott Shane has an important articlereviewing the same issue and in particular Obama counterterrorism adviser John Brennan’s claim in June that for the previous year CIA drone strikes hadn’t caused “a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities we’ve been able to develop.” Shane finds that basically every outside observer — including those of all ideological stripes — finds this claim to be preposterous:

Others who question the C.I.A. claim include strong supporters of the drone program like Bill Roggio, editor of The Long War Journal, who closely tracks the strikes.

“The Taliban don’t go to a military base to build bombs or do training,” Mr. Roggio said. “There are families and neighbors around. I believe the people conducting the strikes work hard to reduce civilian casualties. They could be 20 percent. They could be 5 percent. But I think the C.I.A.’s claim of zero civilian casualties in a year is absurd.”

Brennan issued a new statement to the Times suggesting that the CIA has merely “not found credible evidence of collateral deaths” from the drone strikes:

“Fortunately, for more than a year, due to our discretion and precision, the U.S. government has not found credible evidence of collateral deaths resulting from U.S. counterterrorism operations outside of Afghanistan or Iraq, and we will continue to do our best to keep it that way,” Mr. Brennan said.

Given that the drones are operated remotely, it’s far from clear how the CIA even knows who is being killed in many of these strikes.

U.S. avenges Times Square bombing by killing more Pakistani civilians

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 12, 2010 by loonwatch
U.S. predator droneU.S. predator drone

Some days ago, a man of Pakistani descent by the name of Faisal Shahzad tried to detonate a bomb in Times Square.  Shahzad was arrested, and confessed to the crime, saying that he did it in retaliation for U.S. drone attacks against Pakistan.  These U.S. led drone attacks are illegal under international law and constitute an act of war against Pakistan.  In fact, they have killed hundreds of Pakistani civilians and have created widespread anti-American sentiment in the country.

I analyzed the Times Square bombing here, and explained how the only way to truly stop the recruitment of terrorists against the U.S. is for us to stop bombing them over there.  Unfortunately, the U.S. government decided to take another route…

Shahzad’s plot failed.  Nobody was hurt; nobody was killed.  But the United States decided to react in an Israeli manner, and sought to avenge the zero dead by dropping more bombs on Pakistani heads, killing civilians in the process.  There’s nothing bombs can’t solve, right?  Sounds like we’ve taken a page out of the terrorists’ playbook.

Here is BBC News’ heavily biased report:

US drone ‘kills 24 suspected militants’ in Pakistan

At least six unmanned drone aircraft, believed to be operated by the CIA, were in the air when the missile strikes took place early on Tuesday, a local official told the BBC.

In the first attack, they fired at least 11 missiles – two hit a vehicle, killing four, while nine landed on a compound located in a ravine, he said…

Some days ago, a drone strike on a compound in the same area killed five people and injured four.

The US has stepped up pressure on Pakistan’s government since linking a failed car bombing in New York to the Pakistani Taliban.

Drone attacks have focused on North and South Waziristan, where US officials believe many al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters find shelter.

Pakistan publicly criticises drone attacks, saying they fuel support for militants…

It is not known how many civilians have also been killed.

Is it not interesting that we know exactly how many militants died–twenty-four (not twenty or twenty-five)–but are somehow dumbstruck when it comes to how many civilians have been killed?  Why can’t we report at least a roundabout number of how many civilians were killed?

By leaving out a number, the government and the mainstream media attempt to dehumanize the victims; they are a faceless, even numberless lot…not worthy of more than one line dug deep in the text of the article. Had civilians died in the Times Square bombing, the mainstream media would tell us their names, their life stories, and the families they left behind.  Meanwhile, the victims of the U.S. drone attacks not only don’t get faces, they don’t even get numbers. This is truly a Herculean achievement!  It used to be that they would be reported as faceless numbers; now they are both faceless and numberless.  Effectively, it’s as if they never existed, effaced from the pages of time.

It may interest you to know that–as a matter of policy–the United States does not count how many civilians have been killed by the U.S. military–neither in Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Iraq.  General Tommy Franks declared: “We don’t do body counts.”  That’s strange.  If you invaded these countries to liberate its people, wouldn’t you want to know how many of them you have killed, so you can evaluate whether or not your “liberation” is really benefiting them?

If we use previous estimates, at least one-third of those killed in these recent drone attacks were civilians, meaning at least eight people.  Can you imagine the rage in American eyes if the Times Square bomber had successfully killed eight New Yorkers?  We’d have bombed Pakistan “back to the Stone Ages.”  But when our drones slaughter Pakistani civilians in these illegal drone attacks, we somehow expect the Pakistanis to thank us for it.  And by the way, eight is based on conservativeestimates.  According to Pakistani sources, the number of civilians killed by U.S. drones far outnumbers the number of militants.

We must stop this back-and-forth, this tit-for-tat.  We can’t retaliate by killing civilians.  We simply can’t, not only if we want to stop the recruitment of terrorists, but also if we want to live up to the very ideals that this country was founded upon.

Most importantly, the question is: how many drone attacks on militants and civilians alike will quench our thirst for blood, our desire for revenge?

 

Times Square bombing in retaliation for U.S. drone attacks, No connection to Islam

Posted in Feature with tags , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2010 by loonwatch
The U.S.'s drones attack Pakistan; The Taliban sent their own drone to Times SquareThe U.S.’s drones attack Pakistan; The Taliban sent their own drone to Times Square

The evidence that the Times Square bombing was in retaliation for illegal U.S. predator drone attacks–and not because “they hate our freedoms” or because of some silly South Park affair–is very strong.

Hakimullah Mahsud, chief of the Pakistani Taliban (the same group that claimed responsibility for the failed Times Square bombing), had long ago promised to retaliate against the United States for the drone attacks; The Daily Mail reads:

Meanwhile the Pakistan Taliban’s new leader [Hakimullah Mahsud] has met with reporters for the first time since winning control of the militants and has vowed to retaliate against the U.S. and Pakistan for drone attacks along the Afghan border…

Mehsud said his group would avenge the killing of Baitullah Mehsud and strike back at Pakistan and the U.S. for the increasing number of drone attacks in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.

Unmanned drones have carried out more than 70 missile strikes in northwestern Pakistan over the last year in a covert program, killing several top militant commanders along with sympathisers and civilians.

I discussed the drone attacks in a previous article, but I’ll reproduce the most salient part below:

U.S. drone attacks on Pakistani soil have killed hundreds of Pakistani civilians.  According to Pakistani sources, upwards of 687 Pakistani civilians have died at the hands of U.S. drone attacks.  CNN’s national security analyst Peter Bergen placed the number a bit lower:

Since 2006, our analysis indicates, 83 U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan have killed between 760 and 1,050 people. Among them were about 20 leaders of al Qaeda, the Taliban and allied groups, all of whom have been killed since January 2008…The real total of civilian deaths since 2006 appears to be in the range of 260 to 320, or one-third of those killed.

Regardless of whether the number is closer to 260 or 687, the point is: the U.S. is killing Pakistani civilians–men, women, and children.  At least one-third of those killed are civilians.

UN human rights investigator Philip Alston has said that the drone attacks may “violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law”, and demanded the United States to prove otherwise.  The ACLU declared that this drone policy “violates international law” and is “unconstitutional”, and has converted “the entire world” into a “war zone.”  In a strongly worded letter to the President of the United States, the ACLU wrote:

The program you have reportedly endorsed is not simply illegal but also unwise, because how our country responds to the threat of terrorism will in large measure determine the rules that govern every nation’s conduct in similar contexts. If the United States claims the authority to use lethal force against suspected enemies of the U.S. anywhere in the world – using unmanned drones or other means – then other countries will regard that conduct as justified. The prospect of foreign governments hunting and killing their enemies within our borders or those of our allies is abhorrent.

Only 9% of Pakistanis support the U.S. led drone attacks–and only 6% amongst the Pashto speaking people who live in the NWFP (the area being bombed).  Pakistani officials have declared the drone attacks on Pakistani soil to constitute an “act of war,” a feeling shared by the vast majority of the country’s citizenry.

In January of this year, it was thought that Hakimullah Mahsud was taken out in one such drone attack.  However, Mahsud appeared in a TTP (Pakistani Taliban) propaganda video (allegedly taped on April 4th), declaring that he was in fact still alive.  As you can well imagine, Mr. Mahsud was not too happy with us after that, so naturally he promised revenge on America in the typical over-the-top “Jihadist” rhetoric.  He declared that his fighters had already infiltrated the United States, and would strike within one month.  That month elapsed yesterday (May 4th), meaning the attack on Saturday (May 1st) conformed to his promised deadline.  Furthermore, the video allegedly made on April 4th was released after the car bombing, indicating that it was the fulfillment of the threat.  The Telegraphreports:

Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud threatens US months after ‘death’

Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud has vowed to attack major US cities in two new videos released months after his reported killing in a US missile strike.

The videos emerged after an attempted car bombing in New York City, for which his faction claimed responsibility in a third video, and provided the most substantial evidence so far that he survived a barrage of US missiles.

Mehsud threatened to retaliate against the United States within a month for the killing of Islamist militant leaders, appearing in a nine-minute video allegedly made on April 4, after his supposed death in January.

“The time is very near when our fedayeen will attack the American states in the major cities,” said Mehsud…

The video is the first showing Mehsud since January and was issued on the heels of a claim by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan that it was behind the attempted bombing in New York’s Time Square on Saturday…

“Inshallah (God willing) very soon in some days or a month’s time, the Muslim ummah (world) will see the fruits of most successful attacks of our fedayeen in USA,” Mehsud said.

He made similar remarks in an audio message in another TTP video Monday that was apparently recorded on April 19 and features Mehsud’s face next to a map of the United States showing multiple explosions across the country.

IntelCenter, a US-based group that monitors Islamist websites, said it believed all the TTP videos issued since the New York car bomb scare were credible.

“It is our assessment that this threat is credible and that there is a high threat of further attacks like the NYC attack during the coming days and weeks ahead,” it said.

The authorities have not confirmed that it was the Pakistani Taliban who did it, and we cannot ignore the possibility that the TTP is wrongfully seeking “credit” for this dastardly deed.  However, at this time, it seems that it is indeed the Pakistani Taliban who masterminded the failed Times Square bombing.  If they are in fact responsible, then the connection between the illegal U.S. drone attacks and the Times Square bombing is a very strong one, especially since:

Mehsud said his group would avenge the killing of Baitullah Mehsud and strike back at Pakistan and the U.S. for the increasing number of drone attacks in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.

So these Islamic extremists did not try to bomb Times Square because “they hate our freedoms” or because of an Islamic prohibition on depicting the Prophet Muhammad, or because the religion of Islam is diabolically evil and commands them to do so.  The motivations are largely political, not religious, in nature. Our country has attacked theirs and killed their countrymen.

The bewilderment of some Americans–”why are there so many Muslim terrorists!?”–is mostly a reflection of a deep ignorance of what our government does abroad.  It’s not really that hard to understand the simple fact that if we kill hundreds of civilians in another country, some people from that country are going to try to retaliate and kill some of us.  As Representative Ron Paul put it: “They don’t come here to attack us because we are rich and we’re free. They come and they attack us because we’re over there [attacking them].”

I could care less about Hakimullah Mahsud and his Taliban cronies.  But I certainly don’t want my taxes to fund the drones that kill hundreds of civilians…something that is not only morally atrocious but which also helps the Pakistani Taliban recruit avengers.  But if you’re OK with that, at least stop acting so bewildered when they keep attacking us.  If we attack them, they will attack us.  If we kill them, they will try to kill us.  It’s not rocket science.

Related Posts: Attempted Times Square Car Bombing; Is it Forbidden to Ask “Why”? and South Park angle unlikely; Marriott Hotel, not Viacom, probable target

UPDATE:

The Telegraph reports:

Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan’s foreign minister, said yesterday that the failed attack could be retaliation for US drone attacks on the Taliban.

“This is retaliation. And you could expect that… let’s not be naive,” he told CBS. “They’re not going to sort of sit and welcome you to sort of eliminate them. They’re going to fight back.”

According to the New York Post, Mr Shahzad witnessed the drone attacks during eight months he recently spent in Pakistan and has told prosecutors that his bomb attempt was supposed to be revenge for the drones’ killing of Taliban leaders.

Of course, there will be a concerted effort to downplay the fact that hundreds of Pakistani civilians have been killed in these drone attacks, or that the drone attacks are illegal under international law.  Notice how the Telegraph says “drones’ killing of Taliban leaders,” even though far more civilians have been killed than Taliban leaders (a ratio of 50:1 according to Pakistani sources, and 16:1 according to CNN’s national security analyst Peter Bergen).