“You’ve thrown the worst fear that can ever be hurled”.
Bob Dylan, Masters of War.
The use of unmanned drones by the U.S. to attack civilian population with Hellfire missiles is a form of state terrorism. It is designed not to assassinate individuals (extrajudicial killing), but to instil fear and terrorise the entire population.
We all know the U.S.-led war on Afghanistan is an illegal act of aggression, and there are no legal or legitimate grounds to justify the ongoing aggression. According to countless international law experts, the war on Afghanistan is an unlawful act of aggression. It “violates[s] international law and the express words of the United Nations Charter”, writes Michael Mandel, a professor of law at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto . Article 51 only “gives a state the right to repel an attack that is ongoing or imminent as a temporary measure until the UN Security Council can take steps necessary for international peace and security”, he added. . Indeed, all current U.S.-led wars on Muslim nations are acts of illegal aggression against sovereign nations. The use of armed drones, also known as pilotless planes or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), to attack defenceless people and assassinate individuals is criminal.
According to a new report by The Fellowship for Reconciliation, “Armed drones have been used by the U.S. military in Afghanistan (since 2001), Iraq (since 2002), and Yemen (since 2002), by the CIA in Pakistan (since 2004), by the UK military in Afghanistan (since 2007) and by Israel in Gaza (since 2008). It is estimated that drones are being used or developed by over forty countries”. The majority of armed drones are produced and used by the U.S. and Israel, the inventors of terrorism. .
While Afghanistan and Pakistan bear the brunt of U.S. violence, U.S. drone attacks have also taken place in Yemen, Libya, Iraq and Somalia. In all cases, the violent attacks are illegal and in flagrant violation of international law. Terrorism is the illegitimate use of violent aggression against innocent people to achieve political objectives. With complete media complicity, drone terrorism is shrouded in secrecy and is leading to “boundless war without end”.
In its decade-long war on Afghanistan and now Pakistan, the U.S. has amassed the largest and most technologically advanced war machine in history against an entirely defenceless population. More than forty countries are participating in the bloodbath, although many of them are there just by name.
Recent U.S. media reports reveal that the U.S. has established a new drone base in the Arabian Peninsula, possibly in Qatar or Bahrain, where the U.S. has large military bases. Moreover, the U.S. has just hastily completed a “secret” drone base in Yemen. The locations will provide safe routes for U.S. drones to attack targets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, and soon Iran.
In addition to using drones for surveillance and intelligence purposes, increasingly the U.S. military and the C.I.A. are using drones controlled via satellite communication to launch missiles and bombs on population centres indiscriminately, often at distances of many thousands of miles. The outcomes of these terror strikes are countless massacres of innocent civilians. These atrocities are ignored by the capitalist media and major Western “humanitarian” organisations that provide a formidable cover-up for U.S. crimes.
On July 06, 2011, a U.S. airstrike in Khost Province in eastern Afghanistan killed eight children and two women. That attack ignited outrage among the population in neighbouring villages. The attack forced the puppet government to acknowledge U.S. crimes of terrorising the entire population were premeditated and “have to stop”. However, U.S.-led NATO’s response to “president” Hamid Karzai’s “warning” has been to increase the airstrikes to 12 per a day.
On August 01, 2011, the German Press Agency (DPA) reported that U.S. drones fired missiles at a vehicle in the Barmal area in South Waziristan, Afghanistan, along the Pakistani border killing at least four civilians and injuring scores others. The identities of those killed are still unknown.
In Afghanistan, “U.S. drones, attack planes and gunships have killed innocent Afghan civilians in homes and wedding parties. They have killed civilians trying to flee dangerous areas, men collecting scrap metal for sale, and boys gathering firewood for their families. In Nangarhar province in 2008, a U.S. plane bombed a bridal procession three times, killing the bride and 46 other people. Hajj Khan, an elderly man who survived, had been holding his grandson's hand as they walked toward the groom's village. According to a British paper, the Guardian, a bomb strike threw Mr. Khan to the ground. When he opened his eyes, he said, ‘I was still holding my grandson's hand but the rest of him was gone. I looked around and saw pieces of bodies everywhere’”. (Mary Meehan, Baltimoresun.com). These are not mistakes; they are deliberate acts of terrorism aimed at terrorising the population.
The ongoing U.S. terror war on Afghanistan has inflicted great suffering on the Afghan people. Refugees International reports (Report) recently that more than 250,000 Afghans have been forced to flee their towns and villages in the last two years. “Since January 1 , more than 91,000 Afghans have fled their villages – compared with 42,000 over the same time period last year ... Not only have NATO-led troops and Afghan forces failed to protect Afghans, but U.S.-led airstrikes and night raids by U.S. Special Forces were destroying homes, crops and infrastructure, traumatising civilians and displacing tens of thousands of people. In the north alone, nearly 30,000 individuals have been displaced, a more than seven-fold increase compared to last year”. According to the UN High Commission for Refugees, 3.5 million Afghan refugees have fled their homes because of U.S. war. The overwhelming majority of them took shelter in neighbouring Pakistan.
According to a new study by Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann, the Obama Administration has dramatically escalated drone attacks on Pakistan. In his first year in office, Obama authorised at least forty-one drone attacks, killing between 326 and 538 civilians, many of them women and children. There are multiple drones flying over Pakistan scouting for targets, i.e., people to kill. .
Drone attacks are act of terrorism. Scores of innocent civilians are killed every time a drone fires a missile to assassinate a targeted individual. For example, the assassination of Baitullah Mehsud in August 2009, the alleged leader of the Taliban Resistance in Pakistan, caused the death of between 250 and 300 innocent civilians over a 14-month operation . Assassination is illegal, under both international and national law.
In 2010, the C.I.A. carried out 132 drone attacks in Pakistan. ”It was the deadliest year in terms of strikes and resultant fatalities since launching of the drone attack campaign in 2004”, according to Conflict Monitoring Centre, an independent research centre based in Islamabad, Pakistan. At least 938 people have been assassinated in these attacks. There have been 9 drone attacks during the month of May 2011, resulting in at least 62 innocent deaths and 17 injured. .
Since June 18, 2004, the start of C.I.A. drone attacks on Pakistan, at least 2,500 innocent civilians have been killed in more than 250 drone attacks. The C.I.A. admits that only 35 of those were resistance fighters. While Pakistan has always protested the attacks, it has recently asked the U.S. to stop drone attacks.
On July 11, 2011, multiple strikes by U.S. drones on villages in northwest Pakistan killed at least 45 people. It was the second-largest death toll in a single day since the U.S. drone terror attacks began on Pakistan in 2004. According to Western capitalist media, the criminal attacks came just a day after the Obama Administration cancelled $800 million in military “aid” to Pakistan in order to put pressure on the Pakistani military to participate in U.S. terror.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) in London analysed 116 drone strikes on Pakistan between August 2010 and June 29, 2011. In its ‘conservative estimate’, TBIJ reveals that in 10 drone strikes at least 45 civilians have been killed, including six named children. At least 15 additional strikes are likely to have killed at least 65 more civilians. While the investigation is a rare glimpse into a big atrocity, it might have underestimated civilian deaths. The atrocity is being replicated in Yemen and Libya, the “Pakistanisation” of Yemen and Libya.
On Monday August 01, 2011, the Yemen Post reported that two U.S. drone attacks in the village of Al-Khamila outside Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan Province in southern Yemen, killed 15 people and more than a dozen people were injured in the attacks. It alleges that the attacks were coordinated with the Yemeni dictatorship regime (propped-up by the U.S.) which is facing mounting pressure from the anti-imperialist opposition. “At least 35 U.S drone attacks were reported in Yemen over the last two months”, added the Yemen Post.
On June 15, 2011, The National (United Arab Emirates) reported on the escalation of U.S. drone attacks in Yemen. According to The National, an official with the Yemeni Ministry of Defence claims that the U.S. had launched over 15 drone strikes in the country in the first two weeks of June. The newspaper also quoted the deputy governor of Abyan province, Abdullah Luqman, condemning the attacks and stating: “These are the lives of innocent people being killed. At least 130 people have been killed in the last two weeks by U.S. drones”, Mr Luqman said.
The use of armed drones by the U.S. to attack defenceless civilians and assassinate individuals is a form of terrorism designed to terrorise the population to achieve political objectives. It is the worst terrorism ever hurled on defenceless population and must be condemned.
. Michael Mandel, “This War is Illegal,” CounterPunch, 09 October 2001.
. Cole, C., Dobbing, M. & Hailwood, A. (2011). Convenient Killing: Armed Drones and the ‘Playstation’ Mentality: The Fellowship of Reconciliation, England.
. Bergen, P. & Tiedemann K. (2010). The year of the Drone. New America Foundation.
. Mayer, J. (2009). The Predator war. The New Yorker, 26 October 2009.
. Conflict Monitoring Centre (2010, January). 2010, The Year of Assassination by Drones. Islamabad, Pakistan.
*Ghali Hassan is an independent political analyst living in Australia.