Humint Events Online: The Madness and Evil of Predator Drones

Monday, May 03, 2010

The Madness and Evil of Predator Drones

I really didn't know we used them to attack in packs, as described below. This is pure hell:
A young Peshawar journalist sits beside me, talking in a subdued but angry way, as if someone is listening to us, about the pilotless American aircraft which now slaughter by the score – or the four score – along the Afghanistan border. "I was in Damadola when the drones came. They killed more than 80 teenagers – all students – and, yes they were learning the Koran, and the madrasah, the Islamic school, was run by a Taliban commander. But 80! Many of them came from Bajaur, which would be attacked later. Their parents came afterwards, all their mothers were there, but the bodies were in pieces. There were so many children, some as young as 12. We didn't know how to fit them together."

The reporter – no name, of course, because he still has to work in Peshawar – was in part of the Bajaur tribal area, to cover negotiations between the government and the Taliban. "The drones stayed around for about half an hour, watching," he says. "Then two Pakistani helicopter gunships came over. Later, the government said the helicopters did the attack. But it was the drones." (snip)

But the drones dominate the tribal lands. They killed 14 men in just one night last month, at Datta Khel in north Waziristan. The drones come in flocks, and five of them settled over the village, firing a missile each at a pick-up truck, splitting it in two and dismembering six men aboard. When local residents as well as Taliban arrived to help the wounded, the drones attacked again, killing all eight of them. The drones usually return to shoot at the rescuers. It's a policy started by the Israeli air force over Beirut during the 1982 siege: bomb now, come back 12 minutes later for a second shot. Now Waziristan villagers wait up to half an hour – listening to the shrieks and howls of the dying – before they try to help the wounded.

The drones – Predators and Reapers, or "Shadows", as the Americans call them when they follow US troops into battle – have acquired mythical proportions in the minds of Pakistanis, a form of spaceship colonialism, imperialism from the sky, caught with literary brilliance by A H Khayal in the daily newspaper The Nation, when he asked where the drones come from: "The masses are piteously ignorant. They just don't know that the drones are not material creatures. Actually, they are spiritual beings. They don't need earthly runways for taking off... They live in outer space, beyond the international boundaries of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"When they feel hungry, they swoop down and kill innocent Afghani women and children. They eat the corpses and fly back to their spacial residences for a siesta. When they again feel hungry, they again swoop down and kill another lot of innocent women and children. Having devoured the dead bodies, they fly back to their bedrooms in space. It has been going on and on like this for years."

Indeed it has. But where do the drones come from?
(snip)
...what struck Pakistanis about Karzai's visit was ... his astonishing statement that the devastating missile attacks against Pakistan by pilotless US drone aircraft were not being launched from inside Afghanistan.

"We are not responsible for these attacks," he said. "They are being carried out by a powerful sovereign country, namely the United States, which is also a close ally of Pakistan. They [the drones] don't fly from our territory but in our airspace, and it is beyond our capacity to stop them." Karzai looked subdued, apologetic, meekly sympathising with Gilani over the growing number of civilian casualties.

Karzai was (for once) telling the truth. The drones launched from the Kandahar airbase are attacking the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban inside the international frontier. The drones attacking Pakistan come from – Pakistan.

In fact, the Americans launch them from a Pakistan Air Force base at Terbile, 50 miles west of Islamabad. US officers were also interested in using the Peshawar airfield – the same runways employed by the old U-2 spy planes, from which Gary Powers took off over the Soviet Union during the Cold War – and the Taliban spent weeks trying to discover the headquarters from which the Americans were directing the drones. They eventually decided that the US drone control centre was on the highest floor of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.
Lots of other interesting details in the piece, worth reading the whole thing.

Pakistan is really hopelessly fucked up. And no doubt, the US is making things much worse.

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