President Obama meets with his Cabinet, 2009 (Photo: White House/ Pete Souza)
The events detailed here occurred in the first year of the Obama presidency. 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 2009, post President Obama’s inauguration. Please note that our data changes according to our current understanding of particular strikes. Below represents our present best estimate.
CIA strikes – Obama 2009
|Total CIA drone strikes||52|
|Total reported killed:||465-744|
|Civilians reported killed:||100-210|
|Children reported killed:||36-39|
|Total reported injured:||262-397|
Ob0 – January 22 2009
Two days after Barack Obama’s inauguration, US drones supported the Pakistani Army in what may have been a unique joint operation. An unnamed Pakistani intelligence officer told the Wall Street Journal that a combination of US surveillance, Pakistani human intelligence and informants were used to track alleged al Qaeda operative Zabu ul Taifi, a Saudi national, to a safe house in Khyber Agency, where he was captured alongside six others. The report added:
Once authorities were confident Mr. Taifi was in the walled, mud compound, Pakistani paramilitary forces backed by helicopters grabbed him, the officer said. Throughout, Predator drones hovered overhead and would have attacked if Mr. Taifi or other suspects had tried to escape, the officer said.’
But an unnamed Pakistani military officer who claimed to have participated in the raid told The News that Taifi was tracked by the CIA through his ‘frequent use of Internet and cell phone’ and was actually seized by CIA operatives who were on the ground during the mission. ‘The Americans seemed quite excited after capturing the Saudi national and immediately bundled him into their vehicle’. Eight agents were present, in ‘technologically-equipped cars’ that were connected to the drone overhead, the report added. The Pakistanis were told by the CIA that Taifi was among the planners of the July 7 bombings in London, the officer added.
Ob1 – January 23 2009
♦ 7-15 total killed
♦ 9-11 civilians reported killed, including 1 child
♦ 1 child injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Law suit (Reprieve), field researchers (Bureau), testimony of injured survivor (Der Spiegel, Stanford/NYU Living Under Drones), internal Pakistan casualty estimate (Bureau).
The first fatal Obama strike killed between seven and fifteen people, reported initially as ‘foreign militants’. In a later report personally given to Obama by his then-CIA chief General Hayden, the Agency admitted missing its high value target and killing ‘five al Qaeda militants’, but made no mention of civilian deaths (Bob Woodward). However Newsweek reported in May 2012 that the President was made aware that civilians had died almost immediately:
Obama was understandably disturbed. How could this have happened? The president had vowed to change America’s message to the Muslim world, and to forge a “new partnership based on mutual respect and mutual interest.” Yet here he was, during his first week in the White House, presiding over the accidental killing of innocent Muslims. As Obama briskly walked into the Situation Room the following day, his advisers could feel the tension rise. “You could tell from his body language that he was not a happy man,” recalled one participant.
Islamabad was also aware of civilian casualties: internal data kept by the Federally Administered Tribal Agency authorities and released by the Bureau in July 2013 recorded nine civilians killed in this attack. The house of Khalil Khan Dawar was destroyed, and up to 15 people died. Up to eleven civilians, mostly of one family and including one child, reportedly died. Another boy survived with terrible injuries, as Der Spiegel reported at the time: ’14-year-old Fahim Qureshi, lost his left eye, suffered a fractured skull and was hit by several shards in the stomach.’ In February 2012 Pakistan lawyer Mirza Shahzad Akbar filed a case with the UN Human Rights Council citing this attack amongst others:
Ejaz Ahmad is a resident of Hasu Khel, North Wazir Ali, North Waziristan, Pakistan. On Friday, January 23, 2009, he was in the village of Hasu Khel. 3-4 kilometers away, in the village of Zeraki, his cousin, Faheem Qureshi, and a number of his other relatives were gathered at the house of Mohammad Khaleel [Khan Dawar], a retired school teacher. Also present were Khaleel’s son and Qureshi’s 8th grade classmate [14-year old] Azaz-ur-Rehman; Mansoor-ur-Rehman, a teacher at the boys’ school in Zeraki; and Kushdil Khan, Ahmad’s maternal uncle who owned a hardware store in Meer Ali. In addition, Ubaid Ullah, Rafiq Ullah, and Safat Ullah were also present [described elsewhere as farmers].
At around 5 PM that day, a missile struck the house, reducing it to rubble and killing everyone inside except Faheem Qureshi. Qureshi suffered the loss of an eye, and was struck in the stomach by shrapnel, requiring a major operation. He also suffered a skull fracture and damage to his ear drum, resulting in the loss of hearing in one ear. Upon hearing the blast from his nearby village Hasu Khel, Ahmad immediately went to the scene of the strike. He found only the bodies of those listed above. There were no foreign nationals at the house and none of his relatives had any connection to terrorism or terrorist activity; they were innocent villagers.
Fahim Qureshi spoke about the attack four years later (Vocativ/YouTube).
In 2012, researchers from Stanford/NYU interviewed Faheem Qureshi and his cousin Ejaz Ahmad, who saw the strike the next day. They described Khalil as a father of nine, Mansoor-ur-Rehman was a father of five and ‘a former driver who had worked in the United Arab Emirates’. Ubaid Ullah, Rafiq Ullan and Safat Ullah were Khalil’s neighbours, they added, and Azaz-ur-Rehman was 21 years old. Women and children were also in ‘a nearby space, separate from the men’, Ejaz said.
The Bureau’s researchers added a further four named people identified as civilians and reportedly killed in the strike: ‘Shams, Noor, Majid, and Siraj. They belonged to the Dawar tribe. Siraj was the nephew of former Member of Parliament, Maulana Muhammad Deendar, from North Waziristan. He belonged to the religious party, JUI-F.’
Many hundreds later attended the funerals of those killed.
Location: Zeraki, Mir Ali, North Waziristan.
References: Washington Post, Dawn, Dawn, Der Spiegel, Dawn, Geo TV, Long War Journal, Jang (Urdu), Reprieve, Newsweek, Daily Times, BBC, Guardian, Salon, The News, The News, Newsweek, International Reporting Fellows, Stanford/NYU Living Under Drones, Bureau, Vocativ, The Guardian
Ob2 – January 23 2009
♦ 5-10 total killed
♦ 5-10 civilians including 3-4 children reported killed
♦ 2 reported injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Three unnamed Pakistani intelligence officials (Dawn), unnamed local people (Dawn), unnamed local people (The Times), testimony of named survivor and named relative of victims (CIVIC), two unnamed Taliban, victim’s brother and nephew, two unnamed ISI officers (Foreign Policy), unnamed officials (BBC), unnamed sources (Salon), unnamed official and tribal sources (The News), senior unnamed White House officials (Newsweek/Daily Beast)
An attack on what was reportedly the wrong house killed eight members of Malik Gulistan Khan‘s family, including Khan, three of his sons (the youngest aged three), and a nephew. Son Adnan survived the attack. A single report claimed seven ‘foreigners’ and three children had died, whilst journalist Pir Zubair Shah alternatively reported those killed as ‘a local elder, along with his son, two nephews, and a guest.’ Khan’s brother later met with researchers from CIVIC to describe his family’s plight:
We did nothing, have no connection to militants at all. Our family supported the government… no one has accepted responsibility for this incident so far.’
In a later report on strikes Ob1 and Ob2 personally given to President Obama by his CIA chief, the Agency admitted missing its high value target but gave no details of civilian deaths, according to Bob Woodward. This was contradicted by a 2012 report in Newsweek stating that Obama was informed almost immediately of the civilian deaths.
Location: Ganki Khel, Wana, South Waziristan.
References: Dawn, Dawn, The Times, Civic (pdf), Foreign Policy, Daily Times, Washington Post, Geo TV, Long War Journal, BBC, Guardian, Salon, The News, The News, Newsweek, Bureau
Letter obtained by Civic revealing that local authorities knew of January 23 civilian deaths
Ob3 – February 14 2009
♦ 25-35 total killed
♦ 1-9 civilians including 1 child reported killed
♦ 11-15 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Law suit (Reprieve), eyewitness testimony and photograph of victim’s funeral (Noor Behram), field researchers (Bureau).
This first Obama strike against the Pakistan Taliban (TTP) and its leader Baitullah Mehsud, struck the house of Malik Rosan, a madrassa and also a vehicle. Between 25 and 35 people were reported killed – the Taliban said 25 Uzbek militants alone were killed – and at least 11 people were injured. The New York Times reported ‘it was unclear if any civilians where killed in Saturday’s strikes, which residents say also hit a madrassa’. One confirmed civilian death was that of 8-year old boy Noor Syed, the son of Maezol Khan who died after being hit by flying shrapnel. Local photographer Noor Behram, who visited the attack site and attended Noor’s funeral (see below), later wrote:
The strike was apparently intended for a car that was near the house and the child was killed by a missile part flying into the house.’
In video testimony the dead child’s grandfather later asked: ‘How can the US invade our homes while we are sleeping, and target our children?’ A case laid before the UN Human Rights Council in February 2012 stated:
Maezol Khan is a resident of Makeen in South Waziristan, Pakistan. In the early morning of February 14, 2009, he and his son were sleeping in the courtyard of their home when a missile from a drone struck a nearby car. As a result of the explosion, a missile part flew into the courtyard, killing Maezol’s eight-year-old son. In addition, there were approximately 30 people killed or injured in the attack
The Bureau’s Waziristan researchers also identified eight further civilians they say were among those killed, named as ‘Masal, Mehboob, Waris, Wasim, Ihsan, Javed and Tahir. They were all from the Ahmadzai Wazir tribe. The name of the 8th person who was killed couldn’t be confirmed.’
Location: Narsi Khel, Zangari, South Waziristan.
References: The Nation, New York Times, Geo TV, Reuters, Geo TV, Dawn, Long War Journal, Jang (Urdu), Reprieve, The News, Bureau (rescuers investigation), Bureau (rescuers data), Xinhua, Bureau
Noor Syed, aged 8 (Photo Noor Behram)
Ob4 – February 16 2009
♦ 18-31 total killed
♦ Civilian deaths possible
♦ 3-7 injured
In the first reported CIA attack on Kurram Agency, a 9am strike killed at least 18 people. Local resident Rehman Ullah said he saw 30 bodies pulled from the rubble of a building destroyed in the strike. Anonymous informants said the Taliban ordered 30 coffins from the local bazaar. However the Taliban themselves said only 12 people were killed in the attack. The local political administration confirmed 18 deaths – internal FATA secretariat records showed 18 people were killed and six injured in a strike on ‘a residential compound in a deserted refugee camp’.
The target was reportedly a camp run by Afghan Taliban commander Bahram Khan Kochi. However, tribal elders reported that civilians also died, claiming at a jirga that ’innocent people had been killed in the strike.’
Ob5 – March 1 2009
♦ 3-12 total killed
♦ 1-3 injured
A strike on an alleged TTP compound (complete with underground bunkers) killed at least three. The buildings were reportedly owned by tribesman Asghar Shamankhel, described as having ‘militant links’ (Dawn). Four ‘foreigners from Central Asian states’ were reported to be among the dead. However an internal FATA administration document recorded three locals were killed and one injured ‘according to information so far received’. Two missiles hit the house. Questioned about the attack that day by Fox News, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen told the channel:
I’m not going to talk a lot about our operations specifically. There is a continuing concern with the existence of the safe haven in the FATA in Pakistan, and that has to be addressed, has been addressed, and needs to continue to be addressed. We’ve brought pressure on both sides of the border, Pakistani military as well as coalition forces and Afghan forces, and we did towards the end of 2008, and that will continue to happen, and we need to continue to bring that pressure on both sides and continue to coordinate that — those operations.
Ob6 – March 12 2009
♦ 14-26 total killed
♦ Civilians deaths claimed, numbers unknown
♦ 9-50 injured
For the second time in a month the CIA’s drones struck Kurram Agency. Multiple strikes on a ‘TTP compound’ killed at least 14 people. Four or five missiles were fired in the strike according to a record of drone strikes collected by the local political administration. The compound was reportedly run by local commander Fazal Saeed Haqqani, who survived. The entire complex caught fire according to one report.
A mosque’s loudspeakers were used to warn local residents off approaching the compound for fear of more drone attacks. The BBC reported that ‘Taleban guards said that some of those in the camp were hostages the Taleban were holding’ and the house of tribal elder Malik Jamil was also reported damaged. The CIA later briefed senior Pakistani officials on this attack, according to Bob Woodward in Obama’s Wars.
In October 2013 the Bureau obtained a document identifying 20 people killed in the strike. It was a record of most of those killed in the strike, created by Pakistani local government officials. Many of those who died in the strike have been described as militants, but eye witness reports gathered by the Bureau also suggest that children died.
The document named the dead as: Zaitullah, Qadim Khan, Mohammed, Syed Amin, Ahmad Saeed, Zahid ur Rehman, Zia Uddin, Mohammed Saleh, Lal Mat, Ajab Khan, Abdul Hafeez, Orakzai Khan, Sabir, Sheekamil, Zahid Khan, Israfeel, Abdul, Dilawar Khan and Sadiq Ullah
Two eyewitnesses independently identified several men whose names matched those on the document. They identified Ahmed Said, 22-23 years old, a student at Peshawar University. The witnesses also identified Zahid Rehman, aged 21 or 24-25, ‘a student at FSA government degree college Sadda’. They also identified two children: Munawa, 15, and Shahidullah, 16, though one witness also identified a Shahid – which could be a shortened version of Shahidullah – who was ‘about 20′.
Location: Barjo, Kurram Agency.
References: BBC News, Dawn, Geo TV, Associated Press, Reuters, The News, New York Times, Long War Journal, Two CIrcles, Express Tribune, Pakistan Tribune, Long War Journal, Woodward/ Obama’s Wars, Bureau, Bureau
Ob7 – March 15 2009
♦ 2-6 total killed
♦ 3 people injured
Up to six people were killed including one or two ‘Arabs’ in an attack on ‘the compound of local militant commander Taj Ali Khan’ or ‘the house of Haji Awais’. The News reported that Ali Khan was killed along with a ‘foreigner’. The attack was the latest in a number outside the FATA tribal areas.
In July 2013 it emerged the political administration in the tribal agencies had been recording drone strikes and casualties. These internal files recorded this strike hit on March 16 and two missiles killed six people, injuring three more.
Ob8 – March 25 2009
♦ 6-8 total killed
♦ 5 injured
Up to eight people were killed (six reportedly ‘Arabs and Uzbeks’), and five wounded in an attack on alleged militants in two cars as they were about to cross a bridge. The house of Haji Dost Muhammad aka Noor Mohammad was also reported destroyed. He and Maulvi Shafiq, both playing host to those killed, may have been killed or injured in the attack.
Journalist David Rohde, being held captive by the Taliban at the time, was caught up in the strike and later wrote a powerful first-hand account:
The missiles had struck two cars, killing a total of seven Arab militants and local Taliban fighters. I felt a small measure of relief that no civilians had been killed… Several days after the drone strike near our house in Makeen, we heard that foreign militants had arrested a local man. He confessed to being a spy after they disemboweled him and chopped off his leg. Then they decapitated him and hung his body in the local bazaar as a warning.
Ob9 – March 26 2009
♦ 4-5 total killed
♦ 0-5 civilians deaths possible
♦ 5 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: a local security official said ‘residents’ killed (AFP), reports say ‘people’ rather than militants killed (Long War Journal, Geo TV).
Up to five were killed, described only as ‘people’, and five wounded in an explosion at a house of ‘pro-militant’ tribal elder Malik Gulab Khan. AFP reported that ‘residents’ were killed. The intended targets were reportedly Abu Kasha-linked militants. Although reported as a drone strike some Pakistani officials disputed whether one had taken place, however.
Ob10 – April 1 2009
♦ 10-14 total killed
♦ 5 civilians reported killed, including 3 children
♦ 4-16 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed sources (SATP, Dawn, The News)
The home compound of ‘militant TTP commander’ Maulvi Gul Nazeer was attacked in Orakzai Agency (the first known strike there). Gul Nazeer’s wife; daughter-in-law; two sons (Abdullah and Abdul Latif) and a nephew (Mohammad Shoaib) were all reported killed. Also slain were four or five alleged militants, including Kaka, an al Qaeda operative, and three other ‘Arabs’. Hakimuulah Mehsud, who went on to lead the TTP, may have been the target of the strike. He later told Reuters that six of his fighters had died in the attack. The CIA also briefed senior Pakistani officials on the strike, according to Bob Woodward in Obama’s Wars.
The TTP later reported that it had executed a man called Muhammad Qasim aka Kashif in connection with the attack: ‘Qasim had accepted all charges against him in the Taliban court, including spying to facilitate the first-ever drone attack in Orakzai Agency on the house of a militant commander Maulvi Gul Nazeer.’ On April 4 the TTP also launched a wave of suicide attacks across Pakistan, which according to a leaked US diplomatic cable were
In retaliation for an alleged drone attack in Orakzai agency on April 1. Hakimullah [Mehsud, TTP leader] announced the Pakistani Taliban planned to carry out two attacks each week within Pakistan in what he called “revenge” against Pakistan for the missile strikes.
Location: Khadezai, Orakzai Agency.
References: SATP, Express Tribune, Reuters, Voice of America, Al Jazeera English, Dawn, PakTribune, Foreign Policy, Geo TV, ANI, The Nation, Pajhwok, BBC, Los Angeles Times, Daily Times, Critical Threats, The News, The News, US diplomatic cable, Bureau
Ob11 – April 4 2009
♦ 13-15 total killed
♦ 8-13 civilians reported killed, including 3-5 children
♦ ‘Several’ injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed sources (Geo TV, The Nation), unnamed local officials (BBC, SATP), ‘close relative’ of owner of the targeted house (Dawn), reports (All Voices).
Up to five children and five women were reported to be among 13 civilians killed after a strike hit an ammunition store at a Taliban camp, damaging nearby houses. ‘Teacher’ or ‘militant sympathiser’ Tariq Dawar Khan was also reported possibly killed, along with ‘a number of foreign militants’. However the Taliban said all of the dead were civilians. And The News reported that those killed were not foreigners but house owner Mohammad Hussain, his nephew Shafiq and relative Qadir, along with five women and five children from their immediate families. Other reports placed the number of women and children killed between five and seven. Dawn reported that:
A tribesman said the place was littered with body parts and it was difficult to recognise the victims. He said that villagers collected body parts from rubble and put them into sacks for burial.
Reuters reported that ‘hours later, Pakistani Taliban militant leader Baitullah Mehsud claimed responsibility for a shooting at a US immigration center in New York in which a gunman killed 13 people, saying it was revenge for U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan.’ However the perpetrator of that attack appeared to have no links whatsoever with any militant group.
Related article: Drones: Untangling the data
Ob12 – April 8 2009
♦ 3-4 total killed
♦ 2-5 civilians reported injured
An attack on a truck rigged as an anti-aircraft vehicle killed at least three alleged militants after its occupants had earlier fired on a drone. The strike also destroyed two of the nearby shops, wounding up to five civilians, two critically. A Pakistani security official told Dawn:
Drones returned after some time and targeted a vehicle, which was parked near some shops. Three people were killed in the attack. Four others were wounded — they were either shopkeepers or local residents.’
Three of those killed were reported to be ‘Punjabi militants’, with the fourth allied to local leader Maulvi Nazir.
Ob13 – April 19 2009
♦ 0-8 total killed
♦ 0-8 civilian deaths reported, possibly including children
♦ 3-5 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed sources (SATP), unnamed locals (Online News Pakistan), reports (The Nation).
Explosives-filled vehicles, reportedly being prepared as truck bombs, created ‘an enormous secondary explosion’ when they were struck by drones. The New York Times, citing anonymous US and Pakistani intelligence officials, wrote:
A truck parked inside a Qaeda compound in South Waziristan, in Pakistan’s tribal areas, erupted in a fireball when it was struck by a C.I.A. missile. American intelligence officials say that the truck had been loaded with high explosives, apparently to be used as a bomb, and that while its ultimate target remains unclear, the bomb would have been more devastating than the suicide bombing that killed more than 50 people at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad in September.
The attack was also said to have flattened a compound reputedly owned by brothers Dayam and Waken Khan. Reuters claimed that nobody was killed in the attack, and that the compound was empty. However The News reported that civilians had died, with The Nation saying that women and children were among those killed.
The attack came one day after the negotiation of a local ceasefire.
Ob14 – April 29 2009
♦ 1-10 total killed
♦ 0-4 civilians reported killed
♦ 4 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed tribesmen (SATP), unnamed local elders (The News)
A late evening attack on a car killed al Qaeda planner Abu Sulayman al-Jazairi (previously reported killed in B16 in 2008) and up to nine others. Though according to internal documents collected by the local political administration, only a local was killed in the attack. A nearby house was badly damaged, with some ambiguity about those killed. A number of news agencies reported casualties simply as ‘people’, whilst AFP cited an official as saying that the deceased were ‘mostly Taliban militants.’ The News reported:
There were conflicting reports about the identity of those killed in the attack. The local elders claimed that those killed and injured in the attack were local people but some independent sources said the victims were suspected militants associated with a local extremist group.
Ob15 – May 9 2009
♦ 6-25 total killed
♦ 0-4 civilians killed
♦ 7-10 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed Pakistani intelligence spokesman said ‘people’ killed, distinct from ‘militants’ (Sky News).
Multiple missile strikes, including an attack on an ex-school and a vehicle, killed at least six people. The Pakistan Taliban (TTP) claimed that only five of its militants died in the strike, and Sky News reported that ‘nine people – five of them militants – have reportedly been killed in a suspected US missile attack in northwestern Pakistan.’ Reflecting the initial confusion often associated with strikes, the Daily Times reported:
Officials claimed ten Taliban had been killed, a deputy Taliban commander said five were killed, the political administration claimed nine Taliban were killed, while tribesmen claimed they had counted 25 bodies.’
Four missiles were fired in the attack, according to records kept by Pakistani officials in the region. The dead were said to be Uzbeks and Arab nationals.
Ob16 – May 12 2009
♦ 5-9 total killed
♦ 4 injured
At least five people were killed (including ‘Taliban and foreign fighters’) in an attack on a housing compound. CNN reported a Taliban source as saying that it was used a training centre linked to Baitullah Mehsud’s TTP. Although most reports claimed that eight were killed, local resident Yar Mohammad told Associated Press ‘that he had seen Taliban militants removing nine bodies from the building and taking them away in vehicles.’
Taliban rally in Swat 2009 (Photo: asadalip/ Flickr)
Ob17 – May 16 2009
♦ 25-40 total killed
♦ 9 civilian rescuers reported killed
♦ 2 reported injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Field researchers named civilian victims (Bureau), an unnamed villager said ‘most of the dead were Pakistani militants’ (New York Times), an unnamed Pakistani security official described some of the dead as ‘people’, as distinct form militants (Geo TV), unnamed sources said ‘most’ of the dead were militants (The News).
In the first confirmed deliberate CIA attack on rescuers, up to 40 people, mostly Pakistani militants, were reported killed in a double strike on a vehicle and the reputed house of Hikmat Roshan. A nearby madrassa was also reported damaged. Two Arabs were reported among the dead, including Asad al-Misri, as well as a number of unnamed local commanders. Both the New York Times and The News cited locals as saying that those killed were ‘mostly militants.’
After a short pause returning drones then attacked rescuers as they tried to retrieve the dead and injured. Four Taliban rescuers died, according to the Bureau’s researchers in Waziristan, along with nine rescuers they identified as civilians and named as ‘Sabir, Ikram, Mohib, Zahid, Mashal and Syed Noor. All hailed from the Utmanzai Wazir tribe of North Waziristan . Names of three slain men couldn’t be obtained.’ The News quoted a local militant commander:
They were recovering bodies of the slain militants when the drone fired two more missiles, almost 12 minutes after the first attack. It was terrible as almost all the Taliban involved in rescue work were targeted… We lost very trained and sincere friends. Some of them were very senior Taliban commanders and had taken part in successful actions in Afghanistan. Bodies of most of them were beyond recognition.’
Location: Khaisoori, Miram Shah, North Waziristan.
References: New York Times, Associated Press of Pakistan (archived), Dawn, Al Jazeera English, Geo TV, Frontier Star, The Nation, The News, Dawn, Jang (Urdu), The Bureau, The Bureau/ Sunday Times, Bureau
Ob18 – June 14 2009
♦ 3-5 total killed
♦ 0-3 civilians reported killed
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Law suit (Reprieve), field researchers (Bureau), testimony of injured survivor (Der Spiegel, Stanford/NYU Living Under Drones), internal Pakistan casualty estimate (Bureau).
After a pause in bombing of almost a month, up to five militants, reported as Pakistani and ‘foreign’, were reported killed in a strike on a double-cabin truck (with two other vehicles possibly damaged), according to the Taliban. However internal records collected by the FATA administration reported a civilian pick-up was targeted in this attack and three people were killed.
Two alleged ‘US spies’, named as Sher Nawab and Anwar Khan, were later killed by the TTP in apparent retaliation for attacks in the area.
Ob19 – June 18 2009
♦ 12-18 total killed
♦ 4 civilians reported killed
♦ 10 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Named by field investigators (Bureau), unnamed local officials (BBC), elders and officials (The News) described dead as ‘people’ not ‘militants’.
At least 12 people were killed and several wounded in a double strike near midnight on a housing compound reportedly used by Taliban commander Wali Mohammed aka Malang Wazir. Three died in the first attack, then seven rescuers were killed when a drone returned, including a nephew of Mohammed. The Bureau’s researchers identified the rescuers as comprising three Taliban and four civilians. the latter named as Jehanzeb, Liaqat, Daraz and Sabil. According to records collected by the local government in the FATA, 18 were killed in the strike – eight were locals. Of the rest, two were Afghans, four were Arabs, three were Turkmen and one was ‘non-local’.
Later ‘hundreds of Wazir tribesmen Friday took to the streets’ in protest at the attack, and ‘all the markets and shopping malls were closed to mourn the killing of 14 people.’
Ob19c – June 18 2009
♦ Unknown total killed
A strike was reported by ‘local security sources’ on an alleged militant training centre. The impact is unknown. This strike is sometimes merged with Ob19.
Location: Raghzai area, near Wana, South Waziristan.
References: Times of India
Ob20 – June 23 2009
♦ 5-6 total killed
♦ 7 injured
An attack against an alleged Baitullah Mehsud camp killed at least five militants, three locals and two non-locals according to data collected by the local political administration. Local TTP commander Niaz or Khwaz Wali Mehsud. was reportedly among the dead. A further seven were wounded. Wali Mehsud was reportedly killed as bait for a bigger fish. According to Washington Post national security correspondent Joby Warrick (The Triple Agent):
A [CIA] plan was quickly hatched to strike Baitullah Mehsud when he attended the man’s funeral. True… Wali Mehsud happened to be very much alive as the plan took shape. But he would not be for long.’
The News – citing ‘statistics compiled by the [Pakistani] Ministry of Interior’ – reported that Mullah Sangeen was killed in strike Ob21 or Ob22. But in August 2011 the US State Department added the alleged senior Haqqani Network militant to a ‘list of specially designated global terrorists‘.
Ob21 – June 23 2009
♦ 60-83 total killed
♦ 18-50 civilians reported killed, including 10 children
♦ 27 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed local residents (Dawn), named Taliban source (al Jazeera), named local resident (The Times), unnamed ‘sources close to the militants’ (SATP), unnamed sources (The News).
Drones returned during the funeral of Niaz Wali Mehsud, at which as many as 5,000 people were present. According to Joby Warrick (The Triple Agent)
Agency officials in Khost [a secret CIA drone base in Afghanistan] and Langley watched on flat-screen TVs.’
As people dispersed, up to three missiles were fired at suspected militant targets believed to include TTP leader Baitullah Mehsud, who either escaped or was never present. The missiles killed at least 60 people, including 18-50 civilians (among them reportedly ten children and four tribal leaders.) The dead were buried in a mass grave. Taliban leaders Maulvi Bilal, Khushdel and Shabir Khan were among those killed. Qari Hussain was also named among the dead. Also known as Ustad i Fidayeen (‘teacher of suicide bombers’), he was reported dead in several subsequent drone strikes (including Ob65, Ob137, Ob142 and Ob147) and in January 2011 was added to the State Department’s list of wanted terrorists. However in December 2013 the Taliban released a eulogy video confirming his death though it did not specify a date.
Pakistan later condemned the attack, with Prime Minister Gilani raising the issue with the visiting US National Security Adviser, and a Foreign Ministry spokesman stating: ‘We have conveyed our serious concerns over the continued drone attacks to the United States. These are not acceptable and must be stopped.’ See also previous strike.
Location: Makeen, South Waziristan.
References: Express Tribune, AFP, Dawn, Daily Telegraph, Al Jazeera English, New York Times, The Times (paywall), Uruknet, SATP, Geo TV, Long War Journal, The Triple Agent, The Bureau, The News, The Bureau/ Sunday Times, Xinhua, US State Department, Bureau, Long War Journal
Ob22 – July 3 2009
♦ 0-5 total killed
♦ 0-5 civilians killed
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed Pakistani security official labels dead as ‘people’, contradicting separate unnamed sources’ use of ‘militants’ (The Nation, AFP).
An attack on a closed madrassa ‘occasionally used by the TTP’ killed either three, five or no people. The News, for example, reported that:
Three missiles were fired at a Madrassa, completely destroying the building. However, no loss of life was reported in the attack.’
In contrast AFP said that ‘One official had said initially that five people were killed when a missile slammed into a madrassa occasionally used as a training centre by Mehsud’s militia in Mantoi, but other officials could only confirm the first attack.’
Ob23 – July 3 2009
♦ 10-17 total killed
♦ 27-35 injured
An attack on a suspected training facility (or offices) run by TTP commander Noor Wali Mehsud killed at least 10 alleged militants and injured as many as 35 people. The News reported the following:
Tribal sources said a US drone fired three missiles at the office of Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud in Serwakai Tehsil at 9 am, killing 13 persons present in the office and injuring seven others.It was reported that Mufti Noor Wali had left the office 15 minutes prior to the attack to attend a Jirga. The injured were admitted to a private clinic, where four of them were stated to be in critical condition. The militants surrounded the area after the attack and nobody was allowed to approach the site.
Ob24 – July 7 2009
♦ 14-18 total killed
♦ 10 injured
Attacks against the TTP continued, with a lunchtime strike on an alleged training camp killing at least 14 people (among them five ‘foreigners’) and injuring a further ten. SATP reported sources as saying ‘that a local commander of Baitullah [Mehsud] was among the dead.’ Geo TV named him as Kifayatullah Anikhel, a close relative of TTP leader Baitullah Mehsud.
Ob25 – July 8 2009
♦ 8-10 total killed
♦ 5-12 injured
For the second time in 24 hours an alleged TTP training camp was attacked. The strike in a forested area killed up to ten people, (including three ‘Punjabi Taliban’) with a dozen injured. The BBC reported:
Missiles hit the thickly-forested and mountainous Karwan Manza area, some 10km (six miles) south-east of Ladha. Officials say six missiles were fired, completely destroying a Taliban hideout, a day after another camp was hit in a similar attack nearby
A local Bureau source reported that the attack may have been on the funeral of a man named as Laiq Marjan, possibly killed the day before. On the same day Islamabad’s High Court dismissed a petition calling on Pakistan’s military to defend the nation’s airspace from drone attacks.
Video of the Karwan Manza training camp obtained by AfPax Insider
Ob26 – July 8 2009
♦ 35-40 total killed
♦ ‘Some’ injured
A five- or six- vehicle convoy was destroyed and up to forty alleged ‘TTP and Punjabi militants’ were killed. Four Arabs and seven Uzbeks were reported among the dead by one source. A Pakistani security official reported that:
Almost 90 per cent of the militants traveling in the convoy were killed in the drone attack.’
Ob27 – July 10 2009
♦ 3-5 total killed
♦ 3 injured
A reputed TTP communications centre was attacked, killing up to five people and injuring three. Reuters reported the same day that US drones:
have [separately] resumed tracking militants in Pakistan to support Pakistani operations in South Waziristan. The US military began surveillance flights over Pakistani territory in mid-March but ceased a month later when Pakistan abruptly stopped requesting the intelligence.
Ob27c – July 10 2009
♦ 0-5 total killed
♦ 0-3 injured
Two media sources reported a possible drone strike that killed five – this may be part of Ob28.
Ob28 – July 17 2009
♦ 5-6 total killed
♦ 4-6 injured
An attack on a house allegedly linked to the TTP and owned by local cleric Maulana Abdul Majeed was destroyed, killing up to six people and wounding four or more. AP reported that ‘One resident said he heard a loud bang and that Taliban in the area are saying five colleagues are dead.’ Others reported that those killed had come from South Waziristan, and were being entertained at lunch by local Taliban when killed.
Shortly after this strike, it emerged CIA drones had killed Saad Bin Laden, the eldest son of Osama Bin Laden. The exact date of his death was not clear and his death is not counted in the casualty estimate for this strike. A senior US counter-terrorism official told NPR US spy agencies were “80 to 85 percent” sure Saad was dead. The official said Saad was not senior enough to be targeted specifically but had been “in the wrong place at the wrong time”. A Pakistani military intelligence official confirmed the reports, telling the Telegraph: “We have the same information but it has not yet been independently confirmed.”
Osama Bin Laden’s son Omar and his wife Zaina poured cold water on the reports of Saad’s death. She told the New York Times in December 2009 that Saad had been in a compound with her in Tehran, Iran, when he was supposed to have been killed. Bin Laden’s family reportedly lived under house arrested in Iran for many years. Saad left Iran in 2008 for Pakistan. However Saad’s death was confirmed in a 2010 letter from Osama to his chief-of-staff Atiyah abd al Rahman, himself killed by drones in 2011. The letter was published by the US the year after the 2011 Abbottabad raid. Ayman al Zawahiri confirmed Saad’s death in a video in 2012.
Location: Garyom, North Waziristan.
References: BBC News, Reuters, CBC (Associated Press), Two Circles, Seattle Times, SATP, Dawn, The News, Long War Journal, Bureau, NPR, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, Die Welt
Ob29 – August 5 2009
♦ 2-12 total killed
♦ 1-4 civilians reported killed
♦ 5 injured, including 4 children
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed sources (New Yorker), unnamed Pakistani counterterrorism official (New York Times), unnamed local residents and named alleged militant relative of a victim (The Nation), unnamed relative of target (Reuters), unnamed intelligence sources and relatives (CNN), Pakistan’s then-interior minister Rehman Malik (Washington Post), unnamed locals and relatives of the target (BBC), The Triple Agent (Empty Wheel), unnamed senior Pakistani government official based in Peshawar (