President Bush inspects a Predator drone / Getty
The events detailed here occurred 2004 and the first days of 2009. 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 the Bush presidency. Please note that our data changes according to our current understanding of particular strikes. Below represents our present best estimate.
The Bush Years
|Total CIA drone strikes||51|
|Total reported killed:||410-595|
|Civilians reported killed:||167-332|
|Children reported killed:||102-129|
|Total reported injured:||175-277|
B1 – June 17 2004
♦ 6-8 total killed
♦ 2 children reported killed
♦ 1+ injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed witnesses (Dawn), unnamed sources identify the child casualties by age (Daily Times), field investigation (Amnesty International).
The first known fatal US drone strike inside Pakistan also killed two children – a fact rarely reported. The target, local Taliban commander Nek Mohammad (who had been linked to an assassination plot against General Musharraf) died days after Pakistan lifted a short-lived amnesty with him. Also killed were up to four other alleged Taliban, including (possibly) two unknown Uzbeks. Others killed were named either as Fakhar Zaman and Azmat Khan; or as Marez Khan, Shahrukh Khan and Leetak (The News). House owner Sher Zaman Ashrafkhel, alleged by some to be a militant, was also killed along with his sons Irfan Wazir (aka Khan Zaman), 14 or 16 years old, and Zaman Wazir (aka Mohammed Zaman), eight or 10 years old. One report claimed that two of those who died were Nek Mohammad’s brothers. However in October 2012 brother Wali Mohammad told the BBC he was only injured in the strike, saying that ‘I’m not afraid of the drones – but I also don’t want to die in a drone attack.’
The strike was carried out with prior ISI approval, according to ‘a senior CIA official who served in the region’. The official told the New Yorker: ‘I would show them the Predator footage and I would say, “This is what is happening – massive training camps.” However, wary of revealing the CIA’s involvement, Pakistan’s Army initially claimed the attack as its own work. A military spokesman said at the time:
Nek Mohammad was suspected to be present in a hideout with his associates and our security forces acted swiftly on the information and that is how he was killed.
In April 2013, the New York Times reported that Mohammad was killed as part of a deal which granted the CIA access to Pakistan’s airspace for drone strikes: ‘In a secret deal, the CIA had agreed to kill him in exchange for access to airspace it had long sought so it could use drones to hunt down its own enemies… The deal, a month after a blistering internal report about abuses in the CIA’s network of secret prisons, paved the way for the CIA to change its focus from capturing terrorists to killing them, and helped transform an agency that began as a cold war espionage service into a paramilitary organization.’
For the first time journalist Mark Mazetti described in some detail the secret arrangement reached between Washington and Islamabad:
In secret negotiations, the terms of the bargain were set. Pakistani intelligence officials insisted that they be allowed to approve each drone strike, giving them tight control over the list of targets. And they insisted that drones fly only in narrow parts of the tribal areas — ensuring that they would not venture where Islamabad did not want the Americans going: Pakistan’s nuclear facilities, and the mountain camps where Kashmiri militants were trained for attacks in India. The ISI and the CIA agreed that all drone flights in Pakistan would operate under the CIA’s covert action authority — meaning that the United States would never acknowledge the missile strikes and that Pakistan would either take credit for the individual killings or remain silent. Mr. Musharraf did not think that it would be difficult to keep up the ruse. As he told one CIA officer: “In Pakistan, things fall out of the sky all the time.”
In November 2014 Steve Coll elaborated on this deal in an extensive article for the New Yorker. He wrote:
In 2004 the [Pakistan] Army intensified its operations [in South Waziristan], and, as violence spread, Musharraf allowed the CIA to fly drones to support Pakistani military action. In exchange, Musharraf told me, the Bush Administration “supplied us helicopters with precision weapons and night-operating capability.” He added: “The problem was intelligence collection and targeting… The Americans brought the drones to bear.”
Location: Kari Kot, Wana, South Waziristan.
References: Asia Times, Dawn, Daily Times, Daily Times, South Asia Analysis, CNN, The News, Foreign Policy, New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, The News, New York Times, Amnesty International, The New Yorker
B2 – May 8 2005
♦ 2 total killed
Target Haitham al-Yemeni (an al Qaeda explosives expert) and his car passenger Samiullah Khan, described by MSNBC as ‘a local warlord’ were killed in a Predator strike which reportedly targeted the former’s mobile phone. Yemeni had been under US surveillance for more than a week, according to the Washington Post, and it is unclear why attempts were not made to capture him.
Amnesty International later accused the US of carrying out ‘an extrajudicial execution, in violation of international law.’
This strike, like the preceding and two successive attacks, was carried out with prior approval from the ISI. They were shown the feed from predators circling over the targets by the CIA, according to a former US intelligence officer.
B3 – November 5 2005
♦ 8 total killed
♦ 3-8 civilians, including 2-3 children, reported killed
♦ 1 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed locals (Dawn), unnamed Pakistan Army officials (Associated Press), Reports of family’s death (Family Security Matters) UN Special Rapporteur (US Department of State cable), named witness (Globe & Mail).
A failed strike againstAbu Hamza Rabia(‘al Qaeda’s Number 3’) destroyed his house and killed eight people, including Rabia’s wife. As many as three children were also reported killed, all girls, at least one of them Rabia’s daughter. Rabia himself was reported wounded in the leg.
Once again the Pakistan Army initially claimed responsibility for the attack, blaming it on a blast caused whilst militants prepared bombs. TV reporter Nasir Dawar, who lived next door to the attack site, later said:
I grabbed my Kalashnikov, because I thought somebody fired a rocket at my house… There was nothing left but body parts, and a kid lying under some bricks.
This attack was carried out with prior approval from the ISI. Pakistani intelligence officers were shown the feed from predators circling over the targets by the CIA, according to a former US intelligence officer.
B4 – December 1 2005
♦ 6 total killed
♦ 2-3 civilians, children, reported killed
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Named relative of victims (Dawn, al Jazeera), UN Special Rapporteur (US Department of State cable)
Target Abu Hamza Rabiawas killed along with four others, including two other foreign militants, Suleiman al Moghrabi and Amer Azizi – both linked to the Madrid train bombings. Azizi’s Spanish wife Raquel Burgos Garcia was also reported killed. And two children were counted among the dead: an 8-year old, Noor Aziz and a 17-year old, Abdul Wasit, nephew and son respectively of house-owner Mohammad Siddiq, who survived.
Rabia was reportedly either a Syrian or Egyptian al Qaeda operative. His death was confirmed by then-Pakistan president Perves Musharaf who, when asked if Rabia was killed in a missile strike, said: ‘Yes indeed, 200 percent confirmed.’ He was killed in North Waziristan, Musharaf continued. ‘It is a place called Mirali, or little north of this town, that’s the place… I think he was killed the day before yesterday [December 2 2004], if I am not wrong.’ Then-Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao said: ‘[Rabia] was a very important al Qaeda commander,’ adding: ‘Five people were killed in the explosion and we have identified that one of them was Hamza Rabia. There were two other foreigners but we do not know their identities.’
This attack was carried out with prior approval from the ISI. Pakistani intelligence officers were shown the feed from predators circling over the targets by the CIA, according to a former US intelligence officer.
Media speculation suggested that multiple Predator drones took part in the attack. Then-US National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, when asked whether the US had killed Rabia, said:
We’ve obviously been supporting Pakistan. President Musharraf has been very aggressive in dealing with the Al Qaeda and Taliban presence in Pakistan. We have helped him in terms of providing intelligence and cooperating with his forces, and obviously this is something that would be an important thing for Pakistan, important thing for the United States.’
Photographer Hayatullah Khan recorded the remains of a US Hellfire missile at the site, providing the first substantial proof of US involvement. He was kidnapped on December 5 2005 and murdered by assailants unknown, although his widow (herself later assassinated in 2007) blamed Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI. Khan’s brother at one point also accused US forces of holding his brother prior to his death.
Location: Asori, North Waziristan.
References: Christian Science Monitor, Dawn, Dawn, Dawn, CNN, Family Security Matters, The Atlantic, Al Jazeera, Fox News, Foreign Policy, UN Special Rapporteur, secret US diplomatic cable, The News, Daily Times, Campaign to Protect Journalists, Christian Science Monitor, BBC, Daily Times, Interviu (Es), AFP/The Island, The New Yorker
Tributes to victims of 2004 Madrid bombings-Flickr/mockstar
B4c – January 6 2006
♦ 8 total killed
♦ 3-4 civilians, including 1-2 child, reported killed
♦ 9 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed Pakistani officials (Dawn), unnamed witnesses (New York Times).
An apparent US special forces raid on an unnamed ‘al Qaeda official’ was reported and a guest house owned by Maulvi Noor Mohammad was destroyed. Eight people were reported killed including two women and one or two children. Three ‘suspected Islamists’ were also said to be among the dead. It was claimed that ‘US soldiers’ took away two tribesmen by helicopter in a related operation.
A Maulvi Noor Mohammed – identified as a senior Taliban figure – was reportedly killed in both March and August 2010. In March 2012 the Washington Post reported that in 2006, ‘At times [in Pakistan], the agency had only three working Predator drones.’
B5 – January 13 2006
♦ 13-22 total killed
♦ 10-18 civilians, including 5-6 children, reported killed
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed Pakistani officials (Daily Telegraph, New York Times, Independent), named eyewitness (Express Tribune), reports (Congressional Research Service), reports (McClatchy), internal Pakistan casualty estimate (Bureau)
The Pakistani government publicly protested a strike which killed up to 18 civilians. Main target Ayman al-Zawahiri was absent from a possible al Qaeda and Taliban commanders’ meeting. Despite initial reports that all the victims were al Qaeda or Taliban figures, including six leading fighters, later reports by local officials suggested that most or all of the dead were civilians, including 14 from one family, with up to six children killed. And an internal government document reported that 16 people died, describing them instead as: ’05 children 05 women and 6 mens [sic] all civilians’.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry summoned the US Ambassador Ryan Crocker to deliver an official protest. The US Congressional Research Service later described the attack:
A missile attack on a residential compound in northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border killed up to 18 people, reportedly including numerous women and children. Some reports said the death toll was higher and included up to one dozen Islamic militants. Pakistani officials and local witnesses blamed the attack on U.S. air forces, possibly Predator drones that were targeting top Al Qaeda leader Ayman al- Zawahri, who was not at the scene. U.S. officials would not confirm U.S. involvement. The incident led to major public anti-U.S. demonstrations.’
Two weeks later, Zawahiri issued a video mocking the US for failing to kill him: ‘In seeking to kill my humble self and four of my brothers, the whole world has discovered the extent of America’s lies and failures and the extent of its savagery in fighting Islam and Muslims.’
Abu Khabab al Masri (WMD committee head) – false, see B17
Abd Rahman al Masri al Maghribi (al-Zawahiri’s son-in-law, al Qaeda commander) – unlikely
Abu Ubeidah al Masri (Kunar operations chief) – false – died of natural causes 2008
Marwan al Suri (Waziristan operations chief) – false – reportedly killed in a gunfight near Khaar near the Afghan border in April 2006
Khalid Habib (southeastern Afghanistan commander) – false – killed apparently by shelling in Afghanistan
Abdul Hadi al Iraqi (southwestern Afghanistan commander) – false – captured entering Iraq late 2006
Journalist Pir Zubair Shah visited the scene shortly afterwards and reported:
The families of the victims took me to see their newly dug graves. “All those killed, including women and children, are from this village,” a villager told me as he showed me the burial site. “There were no foreigners here.” Then I noticed something odd: Although I counted 13 graves, the locals would only tell me the names of seven women and children who had been killed. When it came to the men, they were silent. Later, a Pakistani official told me foreigners had indeed been present, including Zawahiri, though he had left some time before the missile hit.’
Location: Berkandi area of Damadola, Bajaur Agency.
References: Washington Post, Express Tribune, Family Security Matters, ABC News, Long War Journal, Telegraph, Sunday Times, The Independent, US Congressional Research Service, Associated Press, Foreign Policy, UN Special Rapporteur, New York Times, New York Times, McClatchy, Bureau, New York Times, al Qaeda eulogy
B5c – April 12 2006
♦ 7-14 total killed
♦ 2 children reported killed
An airstrike killed at least seven, including a ‘top ranking al Qaeda militant’ Mohsin Musa Matawalli Atwah. Atwah was an Egyptian bomb maker wanted in connection with US Embassy bombings in East Africa. The US had offered a $5m bounty for the man they accused of training the bombers who attacked US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya on August 7 1998 killing 12 Americans and over 200 Africans. One US intelligence official told NBC: ‘He is a significant player, an explosives expert, a bomb maker.’ A house was reportedly destroyed in the attack and at least seven bodies were removed from the rubble. At least five ‘non-Pakistani‘ alleged militants were killed. The strike also killed two young brothers who lived in the house, aged 2 years and 2 months.
NBC was the only source to carry allegations this was a drone strike, reported by some local residents. US officials refused to comment on these claims and Pakistani intelligence officials denied US involvement, saying a Pakistan Army helicopter gunship attacked the village. Village elder Khan Wazir said: ‘There was a huge explosion, which we think was a missile attack, before the helicopters came and bombed the house.’
B6 – October 30 2006
♦ 81-83 total killed
♦ 80-82 civilians, including 68-70 children, reported killed
♦ 3 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: List of the dead compiled for National Assembly member (The News), named Pakistani military spokesman (Dawn, Family Security Matters, New York Times), eyewitnesses (Inter Press Service), internal Pakistan casualty estimate (Bureau).
An attack on a madrassa – allegedly a Taliban training camp according to some Pakistan army officials – resulted in one of the highest recorded death tallies of the drones campaign. The school, run by Maulvi Liaqat (killed, possibly along with his three sons), was destroyed, resulting in more than 80 deaths. Ayman al-Zawahiri was reported by some to be the intended target, though he appears not to have been present. A report prepared by the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies (FATA) administration found that 81 died, stating: ’80 children 01 men all civilian’. Pakistani newspaper The News published the names and ages of 69 children, under the UN definition of a child as being under 18 years old. The discrepancy between the figures appears to be because the FATA Secretariat has also classified older students killed as ‘children’. Three tribal elders may also have died, and there were just three survivors, two named as Usman aged 15 or 16, and 22-year old Abu Bakr. Additionally a local farmer, Jan Mohammad, was reported murdered shortly after the attack, with a note on his body claiming he had been killed for spying for the US and Pakistan.
The attack led to uproar in Bajaur and across Pakistan, on a day that local militants were expected to sign a peace agreement with Islamabad. Although the Pakistan Army initially claimed it was responsible, blame was soon laid at the CIA’s door. A senior aide to Pakistan’s then-leader General Musharraf said:
We thought it would be less damaging if we said we did it rather than the US. But there was a lot of collateral damage and we’ve requested the Americans not to do it again.
In August 2011 former ISI director General Asad Durrani confirmed to IPS that the attack was the work of the US, stating that the drone attack ‘effectively sabotaged the chances for an agreement‘ in Bajaur and that it was ‘a very clear message‘ from the CIA not to enter into any more such peace agreements. However, Pervez Musharraf in June 2012 denied that a large number of children died, telling the New Statesman’s Jemima Khan that ‘It’s all bullshit – sorry for the word – that it was a madrassa and seminary and children were studying Quran. They used this as cover.’ He added confusingly when asked about reports of children killed:
I don’t remember. In the media, they said it was all children. They were absolutely wrong. There may have been some collateral damage of some children but they were not children at all, they were all militants doing training inside.’
In March 2012, the Washington Post ran a profile of the long-serving head of the CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center [CTC], ‘Roger’, noting that the CIA had planned for months an expansion of its Pakistan drones campaign:
When Michael V. Hayden became CIA director in May 2006, Roger began laying the groundwork for an escalation of the drone campaign. Over a period of months, the CTC chief used regular meetings with the director to make the case that intermittent strikes were allowing al-Qaeda to recover and would never destroy the threat. “He was relentless,” said a participant in the meetings. Roger argued that the CIA needed to mount an air campaign against al-Qaeda “at a pace they could not absorb” and warned that “after the next attack, there would be no explaining our inaction.”
The dead students were later named by The News as follows (ages in brackets):
|Mohammad Tahir (16)
Azizul Wahab (15)
Fazal Wahab (16)
Mohammad Yunus (16)
Fazal Hakim (19)
Noor Mohammad (08)
Razi Mohammad (16)
Mashooq Jan (15)
Sultanat Khan (16)
|Mohammad Yaas Khan (16)
Qari Alamzeb (14)
Ghulam Nabi (21)
Ziaur Rahman (17)
Inayatur Rahman (16)
and Shahbuddin (15) brothers
Yahya Khan (16)
Mohammad Salim (11)
Gul Sher Khan (15)
Bakht Muneer (14)
Mashooq Khan (16)
Taseel Khan (18)
Qari Ishaq (19)
Jamshed Khan (14)
Alam Nabi (11), brothers
Qari Abdul Karim (19)
Abdus Samad (17)
Abdul Waris (16)
Ameer Said (15)
Inayatur Rahman (17)
Ziaur Rahman (13)
Noor Mohammad (15)
Kitab Gul (12)
Wilayat Khan (11)
Shehzad Gul (11)
Qari Sharifullah (17)
Fazal Wahab (18)
For more on those killed in the drone strike see the Naming the Dead Project.
Location: Chenegai near Damadola, Bajaur Agency.
References: The News, Dawn, CNN, BBC, Washington Post, ABC News (archived), NBC News, Family Security Matters, Sunday Times (paywall), The News, Economist, The News, uruknet.com, Long War Journal, New York Times (AP), Sunday Times (paywall), The News, New York Times, The Bureau, Inter Press Service, Washington Post, New Statesman, The News, The News, Asia Times, The News, The News, Asian Human Rights Commission report 2006, Bureau
B7 – January 16 2007
♦ 8 total killed
♦ 8 civilians reported killed, including one child
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Named relative and witness (Reuters, Associated Press), unnamed tribesmen and named local politician (The News)
A strike took place on a ‘Taliban facility’. Initial claims of 30 Taliban killed were lowered to eight deaths, who villagers insist were all innocent woodcutters. The nephew and son of local Awaz (or Hawas) Khan were among the dead. ‘No foreigner or Afghan was killed in this attack. Only labourers from the Mehsud and Salmanzai tribes were killed,’ Khan told Reuters. The News quoted local councillor Said Anwar who named some of those killed:
“I spoke to people in our village and was told that Katoor Khan, son of Chaghan Khan, Taj Alam son of Hawas Khan, and Taj Alam’s 10-year old cousin, all hailing from Kot Killay village were killed along with five unidentified Afghan nomads, known as powindahs. Some of the bodies were badly burnt and dismembered,” he explained. He said there were only six houses in the place that was attacked but women and children in one of the houses had a miraculous escape. He claimed the locals who were killed and wounded in the attack were small contractors who logged timber from the forests and made charcoal from wood with the help of the Afghan labourers.
One unexploded missile at the site (of a type not known to be used by Predators) carried the markings AM York 0873, indicating it was an old ‘dumb’ missile made in the United States. There were also reports that the Pakistan military played a role in the attack.
Weapons cache seized from the Haqqani network – Flickr/isafmedia
B8 – April 27 2007
♦ 3-4 total killed
♦ 3-4 civilians reported killed
♦ 3-9 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Named eyewitness (The News), unnamed locals identify civilian casualties by name (Dawn), named eyewitness (Associated Press).
A 3.30am attack in the vicinity of the Darul Uloom Hassania madrassa run by Maulvi Noor Mohammad (see B5) killed up to four people and injured at least three. Mohammad Habib Khan, whose home was also severely damaged in the attack, told AP that the roof had collapsed, killing four ‘guests.’ He added: ‘I don’t know whether these missiles were fired from some plane or not, but those killed in the attack were not terrorists.’ Locals named the dead as ‘Jan Muhammad, belonging to the Ahmadzai Wazir tribe from a village near Wana in South Waziristan, Zahid [or Zahidullah] son of Gul Sabir Khan from Esokhel village near Miranshsh, and Afghan refugee Dilawar, son of Rahmatullah, from Khost.’ Dawn also named Abdul Ghafoor as being killed though it also quoted a local resident of the same name. The paper noted:
Their funeral near Miramshah was attended by a large number of tribesmen. Three bodies were buried in Miramshah and one sent to South Waziristan.
A Washington Post profile of long-serving CIA Counter Terrorism Center [CTC] head ‘Roger’ reported that this period saw the introduction of the Agency’s so-called ‘signature strikes‘:
The CTC chief proposed launching what came to be known as “signature strikes,” meaning attacks on militants based solely on their patterns of behavior. Previously, the agency had needed confirmation of the presence of an approved al-Qaeda target before it could shoot. With permission from the White House, it would begin hitting militant gatherings even when it wasn’t clear that a specific operative was in the drone’s crosshairs.
B8a – May 22 2007
♦ 3-4 killed
♦ 0-1 child reported killed
♦ 3 injured
A CIA drone strike was only reported on this date in April 2013, with the leaking of secret US intelligence documents to news agency McClatchy. The target was an alleged militant training camp in North Waziristan, with the strike said to have been carried out at the request of Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service. According to McClatchy, the ISI made the request after a Pakistan army assault was driven off. A source told McClatchy that Pakistan had requested the strike despite an agreement that ‘drones wouldn’t be used to support Pakistani troops in combat’.
Only one attack in Waziristan was noted at the time. According to The News, the status and identities of those killed was disputed. Although some news agencies reported the men to be Uzbek militants, villagers insisted those killed were locals:
The bodies of the four men were flown in a helicopter to Miranshah. Those who saw the bodies said they were young men aged 15 to 20 years. Tribesmen who identified them said three of them were from Paryat village, sited close to Zargarkhel where the military operation was conducted, while the fourth was from Dattakhel. The bodies were later taken to Paryat and Dattakhel for burial. Subsequently, another report said three of the dead were from Khyber Agency and the fourth was from Bajaur Agency. None of these reports were confirmed by any independent source.
In news reports at the time the Pakistan military claimed that the attack was its own work. Such ‘cover’ had previously been thought to have ended in 2006. Military spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad told reporters that ‘Four miscreants were killed when security forces launched an operation to bust a terrorist training camp at Zargarkhel. Helicopters were also there.’ The attack also led to the resignation of 15 tribal elders overseeing a peace deal between Pakistan’s government and ‘good’ Taliban factions. Malik Nasrullah Khan, head of the tribal council, told Reuters:
The government sent us for negotiations with the mujahideen (militants) but they launched an attack before we returned and submitted our repor. Under the agreement, the government had to take us into confidence before conducting any operation. They didn’t do so and that’s why we’re resigning.’
B9 – June 19 2007
♦ 20-34 total killed
♦ 0-34 civilians reported killed, including possibly children
♦ 10-15 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed villagers and Pakistani intelligence officials (The News).
An attack killed up to 34 people with 18 ‘foreigners’ (Chechen, Uzbek and Arab) reportedly among the dead. While some reports described the attack as being on a small camp, others said that a religious seminary was hit, with claims that children present at the school were killed. A government official told Reuters the missiles had hit ‘three houses and a tent’. Residents told the Washington Post they had seen a drone fire at least two missiles, although Pakistani officials claimed the explosions were from a bomb-making accident.
ABC News reported that the camp at Mami Rhoga had recently held a ‘graduation ceremony’ for suicide bombers heading for ‘ the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Germany.’ It added:
The tape shows Taliban military commander Mansoor Dadullah, whose brother was killed by the US last month, introducing and congratulating each team as they stood. “These Americans, Canadians, British and Germans come here to Afghanistan from faraway places,” Dadullah says on the tape. “Why shouldn’t we go after them?” The leader of the team assigned to attack Great Britain spoke in English. “So let me say something about why we are going, along with my team, for a suicide attack in Britain,” he said. “Whether my colleagues, companions and Muslim brothers die today or tonight, every drop of our blood will invigorate the Muslim (unintelligible).”
However the Washington Post cited respected local journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai as saying that local residents had told him missiles from a drone had actually destroyed ‘a religious school and several adjacent houses.’ In a piece also authored by Yusufzai, The News reported that ‘Quoting villagers in Mami Noma Manzarkhel, the remote village that was attacked with missiles, tribal and militants sources in Miranshah said 50 students and their teachers were present in the Binori Madrassa when it was hit and all of them were killed or injured… Most of those killed in the Madrassa in North Waziristan Tuesday were also stated to be young religious students.’ The following day, The News carried eyewitness reports from the scene which challenged whether a madrassa had been hit.
B10 – November 2 2007
♦ 5-10 total killed
♦ 6-12 injured
In one of the first CIA strikes on the Haqqani Network (a militant group involved in attacks on US forces in Afghanistan) this strike on a housing compound killed at least five alleged militants and wounded up to a dozen. The injured included caretaker Noor Khan Mehsud.
B11 – December 3 2007
♦ Total killed unknown
♦ 1 injured
A strike outside the FATA area reportedly injured Egyptian al Qaeda leader and ideologue Shaykh Issa al Masri. Any secret agreement between the US and Pakistan allowing for drone strikes is believed only to cover the tribal areas – making this a particularly sensitive attack. Details only later emerged via a leaked US intelligence document.
B12 – January 29 2008
♦ 12-15 total killed
♦ 4-6 civilians, including 2-3 children, reported killed
♦ 1-2 injured
The civilian casualty figures included in this summary are based on the following reports: Unnamed local officials and residents (Washington Post), unnamed sources (SATP), unnamed local residents (AFP), internal Pakistan casualty estimate (Bureau).
Abu Laith al-Libi, a senior al Qaeda figure was killed along with 11-14 others including Abu Obeida Tawari al-Obeidi, Abu Adel al-Kuwaiti, and Abdel Ghaffar al-Darnawi in a 1.15am drone strike at an ‘Al Qaeda summit’. Qari Hussain Mehsud, also reported killed, later emerged alive. US-born militant Adam Gadahn was also rumoured by some sources to be the intended target of the attack. Two women and two or three children – the family of house owner Madad Khan (or Abdul Sattar) – were also reported killed. An internal Pakistani government document put the death toll at 12, noting ‘civilian’ without specifying how many of the dead this might apply to. Maulana Mahmood Hasan, a cleric in Mir Ali, told the Washington Post that he was friends with cab driver Abdul Sattar, whose house was hit:
Having ties with the Taliban is not a sin, and if somebody is accusing Sattar of any ties with the Taliban, then we are all culprits.’
Researchers from Stanford/NYU interviewed an eyewitness who had been disabled in the attack, under the pseudonym Waleed Shiraz. At the time of the strike he was a student at the National University of Modern Languages in Islamabad and had travelled home for the holidays. His unnamed father was killed in the attack. He told the researchers:
My father was asleep in the hujra as usual after a normal day, and I was studying nearby. . . . I had liked studying in the hujra, because it is peaceful and quiet. There was nothing different about our routine in the prior week… [When we got hit], [m]y father’s body was scattered in pieces and he died immediately, but I was unconscious for three to four days. . . . [Since then], I am disabled. My legs have become so weak and skinny that I am not able to walk anymore. . . . It has also affected my back. I used to like playing cricket, but I cannot do it anymore because I cannot run.
It was later claimed that this was the first CIA drone strike in which the US did not seek permission from Pakistan beforehand to attack. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, appeared to acknowledge the covert campaign when he told reporters:
While this particular strike was very successful and we were very pleased with the outcome, there is still a great deal more work to do.
Location: Khushali near Mir Ali, North Waziristan.
References: Long War Journal, (PDF) International Centre for Political Violence & Terrorism Research, Washington Post, Dawn, Wikipedia,