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troung
05 May 09,, 18:03
Pak Taliban: ‘the Drones are Very Effective’
Pak Taliban: ‘The Drones are Very Effective’ | Danger Room (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/05/pak-taliban-the-drones-are-very-effective/)
* By Noah Shachtman Email Author
* May 5, 2009 |
* 9:29 am |
* Categories: Af/Pak, Drones

creech_reaper_cropped

The New York Times speaks today with a 28 year-old Pakistani logistics tactician for the Taliban. He’s utterly underwhelmed by America’s war plans for the region — well, except for one element.

The one thing that impressed him were the missile strikes by drones — virtually the only American military presence felt inside Pakistan. “The drones are very effective,” he said, acknowledging that they had thinned the top leadership of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the area.

In this year alone, the U.S. has launched at least 16 unmanned assaults on suspected guerrilla camps in Pakistan. Government officials in both Islamabad and Washington say the robotic strikes have decimated Al Qaeda’s ranks in Pakistan. But recent reports in the local press have portrayed the drones as wildly ineffective, killing only 14 militants while slaying 700 civilians. The Taliban tactician seemed to reinforce the official line, saying that “29 of his friends had been killed in the strikes.” Men no longer gathered in large groups in his home base of Wana, according to the tactician; they’re worried about being seen by the robot planes.

Instead, “the drone attacks simply prompted Taliban fighters to spend more time in Afghanistan, or to move deeper into Pakistan, straddling both theaters of a widening conflict. The recruits were prepared to fight where they were needed, in either country.” The Times story doesn’t say whether these drone-displaced militants are taking part in the latest Taliban offensive within Pakistan, that has brought the militants to within 60 miles of the capital.

At the same time, the attacks continue to spark resentment among the Pakistani public, the Los Angeles Times reports. “These drones are very bad,” Lahore apparel merchant Ashraf Bhatti tells the paper. “What would America think if someone started shooting rockets and killing people in their land?”

In American military and political circles, a growing number of opinion leaders are wondering whether the political blowback is beginning to outweigh the drones’ lethal value. According to the Washington Post, “some senior U.S. officials think [the robotic attacks] have reached the point of diminishing returns and the administration is debating the rate at which they should continue.”

As the influential Abu Muquwama blog notes, the tactician’s “reference to drone attacks being ‘very effective’ could be traditional Pashtun appreciation for an enemy’s prowess. Or, encouragement for a self-defeating course of action.”

[Photo: Noah Shachtman]

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Petraeus adviser tells U.S. Congress drone attacks in Pakistan ‘backfiring’ PDF Print E-mail
http://www.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=75163&Itemid=2
WASHINGTON, May 3 (APP): A key adviser to U.S. Army General David Petraeus, who is the head of Central Command, has called for ending the highly controversial and unpopular drone attacks against militant targets in the Pak-Afghan border region, saying the strikes are creating more enemies than they eliminate.

“We need to call off the drones,” said David Kilcullen Kilcullen, an Australian who served in Iraq as one of the counter-insurgency warrior/theorists involved in designing Gen. Petraeus’ successful “surge” of troops into the streets of Baghdad.

During a congressional hearing earlier this week, when a congressman asked Kilcullen what the U.S. government should do in Pakistan, Kilcullen called the missile strikes “cowardly” and said they should be stopped.

The LA Times said, Kilcullen’s objection to the U.S. strategy isn’t moral or legal . Kilcullen’s objection is practical. “He says the strikes are creating more enemies than they eliminate”.

“I realize that they do damage to Al Qaeda leadership,” he told the House Armed Services Committee.

But that, he said, was not enough to justify the programme.

“Since 2006, we’ve killed 14 senior Al Qaeda leaders using drone strikes; in the same time period, we’ve killed 700 Pakistani civilians in the same area. The drone strikes are highly

unpopular. They are deeply aggravating to the population. And they’ve given rise to a feeling of anger that coalesces the population around the extremists and leads to spikes of extremism. ... The current path that we are on is leading us to loss of Pakistani government control over its own population.”

Another problem, Kilcullen says, is that “using robots from the air ... looks both cowardly and weak.”In the Pashtun tribal culture of honor and revenge, face-to-face combat is seen as brave; shooting people with missiles from 20,000 feet is not. And besides, Kilcullen says, “There are other ways to do it.”Kilcullen didn’t elaborate on those “other ways.” Pakistani leaders visiting Washington this week for bilateral and trilateral talks involving Afghanistan on security and development efforts in the region, are expected to raise the issue. Islamabad has repeatedly objected to the U.S. drone attacks and termed them as counterproductive to overalll anti-terrorism effort and violative of its sovereignty.

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Personal thought - we should ratchet it up a notch. Seems to be working.

As for legality, it does not strike me as illegal to conduct strikes against Taliban/AQ targets.

Dreadnought
05 May 09,, 18:43
Interesting to see they fear the aerial drones. What do you think will happen when they see the latest and greatest drones but these baby's dont fly and wont eat or sleep either.;)

When he states cowardly and weak he doesn't get the point. The point is to win with less civy damage as possible not to be a gentlemen, they are not so why should we be.

astralis
05 May 09,, 18:48
Another problem, Kilcullen says, is that “using robots from the air ... looks both cowardly and weak.”In the Pashtun tribal culture of honor and revenge, face-to-face combat is seen as brave; shooting people with missiles from 20,000 feet is not. And besides, Kilcullen says, “There are other ways to do it.”Kilcullen didn’t elaborate on those “other ways.”

only other way for kinetic operations is to insert special operators. don't know if that pashtun sense of courage/honor/bravery will trump the larger outrage that a much larger footprint by operators will cause.

astralis
05 May 09,, 18:50
dreadnought,


When he states cowardly and weak he doesn't get the point. The point is to win with less civy damage as possible not to be a gentlemen, they are not so why should we be.

no, drones aren't there for that-- they're there for a less obvious, smaller US footprint.

at the same time, i'm not so sure how much influence being an "honorable" war-fighter is. US troops are battling taliban in direct contact engagements but that hasn't prevented villagers from informing or setting up US troops for ambushes.

Dreadnought
05 May 09,, 18:57
dreadnought,



no, drones aren't there for that-- they're there for a less obvious, smaller US footprint.

at the same time, i'm not so sure how much influence being an "honorable" war-fighter is. US troops are battling taliban in direct contact engagements but that hasn't prevented villagers from informing or setting up US troops for ambushes.

Fully concour with smaller footprint, It was a very good idea to utilize them in this fashion although I dont know about the casuality numbers wether they are good or bad accuracy wise. We definately need to become more accurate as far as civilian casuality but then again if you hang out with terrorists elements then you might find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. As far as cowardly goes, these are cowards so why should we send any troops to erase them when technology suites rather well. The object is to win so honor as to our troops is not even a thought. We know they are honorable, but they dont have to be stupid enough to play terrorist games either.;)

We need drones like "AMEE" from the movie Red Planet only armed.

S2
06 May 09,, 03:00
There are two, maybe three downsides-

1.) We can only attack incrementally, i.e. against discrete, point targets. That would be fine if we could launch 10 or 12 PREDATORS and execute something akin to a decapitating time-on-target strike that simultaneously drops 10 key leaders off the map.

We can't, though.

Not only can we not deliver operational success- only tactical, but it's temporal to boot while spreading the knowledge base to assure redundancy and replacements. We've STRENGTHENED their resistance by compelling a clear chain of succession while reducing the centralization of control into a few vulnerable hands.

2.) We've unquestionably pushed potential targets to areas that we've overtly or otherwise indicated as PREDATOR-free zones, i.e. the rest of the country.

Kilcullen certainly draws a contrast, eh? 14 Al Qaeda and over 700 civilians. I can see how he gets to one. I'm sure comm channels buzz with each success. The civilian numbers are, to my view, more suspect.

Finally, what about all the mid-range targets? We've a mid-level taliban logistics operative discussing the deaths of 29 associates via PREDATOR.

This isn't an easy call and Kilcullen should elaborate the other means he's in mind lest he appear a tad disingenuous himself.

troung
06 May 09,, 19:42
US bombing a sovereign country: US lawmaker

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-c...awmaker-szh--05

WASHINGTON: The House Foreign Affairs Committee of the US Congress heard an unusual speech from a Republican lawmaker who described US drone attacks as the bombing of a sovereign country and questioned America’s right to do so.


US special envoy Richard Holbrooke disagreed with this description of America’s military operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan and reminded Congressman Ronald Ernest Paul that US troops were there because people living in that region had invaded their homeland on Sept. 11, 2001.

But the explanation came only after Rep. Paul had completed his speech, urging policy makers in Washington to review the US foreign policies which were causing worldwide resentments against the United States.

‘We are bombing a sovereign country. Where do we get the authority to do that? Did the Pakistani government give us written permission? Did the Congress give us written permission to expand the war and start bombing in Pakistan?’ asked the US lawmaker.

‘Why do we as a Congress and as a people and as our representatives within the executive branch just so casually and carelessly expand the war and say, ‘Well, today we have to do this; we’ll worry about tomorrow.’

Mr Paul is an American physician and Republican Congressman from Texas, who gained widespread attention during his unsuccessful bid for the 2008 Republican Party presidential nomination. During the campaign he attracted an enthusiastic following which made use of the Internet and social networking to establish a grassroots campaign despite lack of traditional organization or media attention.

Rep. Paul wasted little time in formalities when the committee’s chairman, Congressman Howard Berman, invited him to speak.

After thanking the chairman and welcoming Ambassador Holbrooke, the lawmaker went straight to the question that seemed to be bothering him.

‘The main concern I have is I was hoping to see maybe a change in our foreign policy from the last administration, but, of course, we see just more of the same — more nation-building, more policing of the world, more involvement,’ he said.

‘And it just seems like we never learn from our past mistakes. We don’t learn from what kind of trouble the Soviets got into, and yet we continue to do the same thing.’

Referring to Mr Holbrooke’s earlier statement before the committee, Rep. Paul reminded him that he too had set ‘a grandiose goal.’

‘We want to work for a vibrant, modern democracy. Wow, what a dream. But think of how we’re doing this. I mean, we label everybody that opposes what we’re doing, we call them Taliban,’ he said.

While the US fought this war, ‘all of a sudden … many, many thousands of Pashtuns that are right smack in the middle, getting killed by our bombs, and then we wonder why they object to our policies over there.’

The bombing of this area, Mr Paul said, made him believe that the US was there for the long haul. ‘It’s going to cost a lot of money and it’s going to cost a lot of lives.’

The US lawmaker said that if the members of Congress had ever realized what Iraq would end up costing America in the number of deaths, in the number of dollars, ‘now trillion dollars,’ they would have been a little more hesitant to approve it.

‘They admit that now – ‘Well, maybe we shouldn’t have.’ But who knows what this is going to end up costing in terms of lives?’ he asked, reminding other lawmakers that the odds of the US policy for Afghanistan and Pakistan working were very slim. ‘This is what my great concern is,’ he added.

Congressman Paul then explained Pakistan’s recent history to other lawmakers, recalling that in 1999 the country had an elected prime minister who was toppled by the military. ‘And (Gen.) Musharraf comes in and we support him.’

Mr Paul then accused the US administration of trying to engineer yet another change in Pakistan, a charge Mr Holbrooke vehemently denied.

‘So now it’s said that we have relationships with Sharif, which everybody knows exactly what that means. It means that we’re involved in their elections. That’s the way that we’ve done it for so many years,’ said the congressman.

‘But, you know, the Pakistani papers report it as ‘US taps Sharif to be the next Pakistani prime minister.’ Now, whether or not we literally can do that — I think we can have a lot of influence — that’s what they believe in.’

He then asked: ‘How do you win the hearts and minds of these people if we’re seen as invaders and occupiers? And here we are, just doing nothing more than expanding our role in Pakistan and in Afghanistan. I don’t see any end to it.’

Addressing Mr Holbrooke, the US lawmaker said he had several specific concerns about the current situation in Pakistan.

‘It has to do with Pashtuns that have been killed by our bombs. What about our national debt? We have $1.8 trillion debt facing us.’

He said that while the administration was currently seeking $3.5 billion to support its efforts in Pakistan, ‘it will turn out to be tens of billions of dollars after this.

‘So I’d like to know where you stand on this, the innocent killing of Pashtuns. Are they all Taliban, or are there some innocent people being killed?’

As Congressman Paul finished, a Pakistani in the audience commented: ‘This American lawmaker has defended Pakistan more eloquently than our ambassador ever has.’

Obviously displeased with the questions the congressman raised, Ambassador Holbrooke said he did not say exactly what Mr Paul imputed to him, but he had thought a long time about the issues raise.

‘And you mentioned Iraq. Afghanistan-Pakistan is not Iraq. The reason we are in this area, notwithstanding its immense difficulties, is because the people in this area attacked our country on September 11th, 2001, and have stated flatly they intend to do it again.’

The militants, he said, not only killed Americans on 9/11 but also killed hundreds of Pakistanis and Afghans and committed gross human rights violations.

‘And therefore, it is not Iraq and it’s not Vietnam, despite the fact that many people say it is. It’s about defending our country,’ he said,

Ambassador Holbrooke said he agreed with the lawmaker that the fight against the extremists was not easy and it was not cheap either.

‘And having seen wars on three continents, having been shot at for my country, I sure don’t feel comfortable in a situation where you ask brave young American men and women to risk their lives and sometimes pay the ultimate sacrifice,’ the ambassador said.

‘However, the president of the United States reviewed everything in regard to this and came to the conclusion … that our goal has to be to defeat al Qaeda. We cannot let them take over an even larger terrain, move into other parts of the world, and then plan what they’re planning,’ he concluded.
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Moonbats in 3...2...1...

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Pretty sure Pakistan doesn't disagree much...

Oscar
06 May 09,, 20:34
Predator drones have negative consequences that should be openly debated.
By Micah Zenko
from the May 4, 2009 edition


New York - President Obama recently announced his policy goals for Afghanistan and Pakistan: "to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda … and to prevent their return to either country in the future." An important tool increasingly used in pursuit of those objectives is the use of unmanned aerial drones such as the Predator.

Under Pakistan's insistence that there be "no boots on the ground" impinging its sovereignty, the Obama administration is in the unenviable position of fighting a counterterrorism campaign from 10,000 feet. With little USpublic debate or congressional oversight, US drones have bombed suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban operatives in Pakistan almost 60 times in the last four years – two-thirds of those attacks since last summer.

From a military and political standpoint, drones have their appeal. Not least of which is the lack of US casualties.

But using them in response to a worsening situation has not only failed to achieve President Bush's or President Obama's goals, it has fueled anti-American animosity on the ground in Pakistan. A former key advisor to Gen. David Petraeus, who is head of US Central Command, has gone so far as to call for an end to the use of drones at a time when advancing technological capabilities have many US military and political leaders clamoring for expanding the scope and intensity of Predator strikes throughout Pakistan.

Before going down that path, the American people should consider the following:

First, senior US officials still insist these Predator strikes are "covert actions" – defined in the National Security Act of 1947 as "activities … where it is intended that the role of the United States Government will not be apparent or acknowledged publicly." This standing keeps the program officially hidden and therefore beyond an open and public debate. In fact, the drone missions are possibly the world's worst-kept secret.

Since Predators first started buzzing over villages along the border with Afghanistan, a number of unnamed US and Pakistani officials have admitted, off the record, to their use, and shrapnel fragments with US military markings have been found at bombed sites. Yet their use was not acknowledged publicly until January, when Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, Commander of US and NATO troops in eastern Afghanistan, boasted that "The Predator strikes in Waziristan [Pakistan] have caused a disruption across the border."

Second, the drones are a hot potato for Pakistani political and military leaders. For political reasons, leaders loudly and publicly protest attacks, but in truth they are not only well aware of the Predator program, they are quietly allowing the activity. In February, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, caused a minor diplomatic flare-up between Washington and Islamabad when she mentioned them being flown out of a Pakistani base. But even this assertion had already been reported in The Washington Post twice in early 2008, and the Pakistani daily The News had published Google Earth photographs time-stamped 2006 showing three drones parked at an airstrip in the Kharan District of Pakistan's Baluchistan province.

Third, the targets of the Predator strikes increasingly are not "high-value Al Qaeda targets who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks," as claimed by Obama. In fact, almost every recent strike, including one last week in the village of Kanni Garam, has been against the militant network run by jihadist leader Baitullah Mehsud. The leader is believed to have orchestrated the assassination of former Prime Minister and presidential candidate Benazir Bhutto. Reportedly, his primary agenda and interests are to overthrow the government of Pakistan.

Fourth, factions within the Pakistani Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) have tipped off its allies within the Taliban about US operations against them. As General Patraeus noted recently in Senate testimony: "An intelligence agency contact ... is warning [the Taliban] of an impending operation." At times, this has thwarted the advantage of surprise that the drones might have.

Fifth, because the United States relies on either ISI agents on the ground or overhead video feeds, it can be unclear if the person targeted was killed. This problem is exacerbated by the militants' practice of sealing off bombed-out sites, and removing the bodies for burial before the victims can be identified.

Sixth, after 60 Predator strikes, Islamic jihadist groups are steadily expanding their reach into Pakistani society. What is worse, the well-publicized attacks and their inevitable civilian casualties – almost 700 according to Pakistan – are swelling the ranks of jihadists who oppose the government in Islamabad, which ultimately gives the green light for the drone attacks in the first place.

The president was correct, if overdue, when admitting he was "gravely concerned about the situation in Pakistan." By being forced to battle Al Qaeda and the Taliban with flying robots from above, US leaders are put in a position where they remain largely unaware or uninterested in the serious negative consequences that the strikes have on the ground in Pakistan. At the very least, US officials should be more forthcoming in defending the use of drones and therefore open their use up to public debate.

The Predator strikes in Pakistan are a tactical response to a worsening foreign policy dilemma that requires developing and implementing a comprehensive national strategy – using nonmilitary as well as military means – to resolve the long-term problems posed by militant groups along the Pakistani border with Afghanistan. Predator strikes can be one component of an overall strategy, but not a substitution for it.

Micah Zenko is a fellow in the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Are US missile strikes in Pakistan a dud policy? | csmonitor.com (http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0504/p09s03-coop.html)

Looks a bit like Israelis boasting they can destroy Hizbollah with air strikes.

troung
06 May 09,, 21:04
it has fueled anti-American animosity on the ground in Pakistan.

I thought that is why we give them money.


Third, the targets of the Predator strikes increasingly are not "high-value Al Qaeda targets who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks," as claimed by Obama. In fact, almost every recent strike, including one last week in the village of Kanni Garam, has been against the militant network run by jihadist leader Baitullah Mehsud. The leader is believed to have orchestrated the assassination of former Prime Minister and presidential candidate Benazir Bhutto. Reportedly, his primary agenda and interests are to overthrow the government of Pakistan.

The problem being?


Fifth, because the United States relies on either ISI agents on the ground or overhead video feeds, it can be unclear if the person targeted was killed. This problem is exacerbated by the militants' practice of sealing off bombed-out sites, and removing the bodies for burial before the victims can be identified.

So then don't quote the 700 dead women and children as the gospel...


Sixth, after 60 Predator strikes, Islamic jihadist groups are steadily expanding their reach into Pakistani society. What is worse, the well-publicized attacks and their inevitable civilian casualties – almost 700 according to Pakistan – are swelling the ranks of jihadists who oppose the government in Islamabad, which ultimately gives the green light for the drone attacks in the first place.

They are expanding because the Pakistani army is filled to the brim with inept moral cowards and the Pakistani leadership (military and civilian) are idiotic ***** who have failed their people for 60 years; not because of the drone strikes.


Looks a bit like Israelis boasting they can destroy Hizbollah with air strikes.

The other option of doing nothing is no fun and worse.

Oscar
06 May 09,, 21:25
The other option of doing nothing is no fun and worse.

Yeah but you can do something and worsen the situation, I agree whith most of what you said but the Pakistanis can be pissed off by their rulers and the US in the same time.

troung
06 May 09,, 21:28
Yeah but you can do something and worsen the situation, I agree whith most of what you said but the Pakistanis can be pissed off by their rulers and the US in the same time.

Sitting around hoping the Pakistani "army" does something is worse then the drone strikes. The Taliban/AQ could only walk around in the open because of the battlefield prowess of the Pakistani forces.

Oscar
11 May 09,, 09:55
Sitting around hoping the Pakistani "army" does something is worse then the drone strikes. The Taliban/AQ could only walk around in the open because of the battlefield prowess of the Pakistani forces.

They did counter insurgency and prevailed against their enemy when the Pakistani army was sent in Baluchistan to fight separatists. And anyway the Pakistani army is designed for conventional wars against what they think is their only enemy which is India.

But do we have a better record than the Pakistanis? The Taliban were driven out of Afghanistan after 2001 and they came back due to the negligence of the Bush Administration not because of the Pakistani Army shortcomings.

Merlin
11 May 09,, 10:35
One big problem with bombing and air strikes by aircrafts, whether manned or unmanned, is that the number of civilian deaths from such deaths cannot be confirmed. Thus the enemy, say the Talibans, would make use of this blind spot to throw in additional corpses to inflate the number of air strike civilian deaths.

To the locals, the high number of civilian deaths causes a lot of anger. This anger is transmitted high up to the local government leaders which in turn pressurize the US to stop these bombing and strikes.

Dreadnought
11 May 09,, 13:31
One big problem with bombing and air strikes by aircrafts, whether manned or unmanned, is that the number of civilian deaths from such deaths cannot be confirmed. Thus the enemy, say the Talibans, would make use of this blind spot to throw in additional corpses to inflate the number of air strike civilian deaths.

To the locals, the high number of civilian deaths causes a lot of anger. This anger is transmitted high up to the local government leaders which in turn pressurize the US to stop these bombing and strikes.

And thats ok because thats a standard for them to do so and has been known for sometime now. IMO look at it like this, maybe you shouldn't be hanging around the people that you know are causing the troubles in Pakistan and are known terrorists. Self responsibility and responsibility for oneselfs own actions. Why is that so hard to understand.

astralis
11 May 09,, 14:26
dreadnought,


And thats ok because thats a standard for them to do so and has been known for sometime now. IMO look at it like this, maybe you shouldn't be hanging around the people that you know are causing the troubles in Pakistan and are known terrorists. Self responsibility and responsibility for oneselfs own actions. Why is that so hard to understand.

in many of these cases, hanging around is not voluntary. either the civvies are there by the point of a gun, or because their ancestral homes have ALWAYS been there.

Dreadnought
11 May 09,, 14:49
dreadnought,



in many of these cases, hanging around is not voluntary. either the civvies are there by the point of a gun, or because their ancestral homes have ALWAYS been there.

Astralis, Given the choice of moving or the life of yourself and family which would you prefer. You can always come back once it cools down if it is your ancestral home. The land will still be there. Call it what you want but they wont stop targeting these individuals in the open. Not now and not in the future either. So in other words this problem wont go away until those individuals are dead or very close too. These people should start to use their brains and realize what is going on around them and realize America is not targeting them but in the same sense also cannot make them move even if they wanted too. The people are the only ones that can do that. Its their choice.

Parihaka
11 May 09,, 21:30
The drones are an irrelevant issue. The only people angered by them are the Talibunnies and their supporters. Most of Pakistan is currently talking about how 'some collateral damage is neccessary' as their armed forces bomb and shell Malakand to dust.

chankya
11 May 09,, 22:41
They did counter insurgency and prevailed against their enemy when the Pakistani army was sent in Baluchistan to fight separatists. And anyway the Pakistani army is designed for conventional wars against what they think is their only enemy which is India.

This is just BS. Just because an army is meant for conventional war does not mean that it can't fight an insurgency.

They've fought counter insurgencies in Balochistan and Sindh and have been pretty damn successful.

Merlin
12 May 09,, 01:34
Information on these drone strkes compiled by Reuters.

FACTBOX-U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan (http://uk.reuters.com/article/featuredCrisis/idUKISL402585)


ISLAMABAD, May 9 (Reuters) - Despite fresh pleas from Pakistan this week for an end to U.S. attacks on militants in Pakistan by pilotless drone aircraft, intelligence officials reported another attack on Saturday. ....

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari had discussed the drone strikes with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on Wednesday, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Civilian casualties caused by the missile-carrying drones in Pakistan have infuriated many Pakistanis and made it harder for the government to cooperate with the United States.

Here are some facts about the U.S. missile attacks, ...

WHY DOES THE UNITED STATES ATTACK?
Many al Qaeda members and Taliban fled to northwestern Pakistan's ungoverned ethnic Pashtun belt after U.S.-led soldiers ousted the Taliban in 2001. From the sanctuaries, the militants have orchestrated insurgencies in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The United States and Afghanistan have pressed Pakistan to eliminate the sanctuaries. Apparently frustrated by Pakistan's inability to do so, the United States is hitting the militants itself.

HOW MANY ATTACKS?
The United States has carried out about 40 drone air strikes since the begining of last year, most since September, killing more than 300 people, including many foreign militants, according to a tally of reports from Pakistani intelligence agents, district government officials and residents. There have been 14 attacks this year with five in April.

SOME OF THE PEOPLE REPORTED KILLED

Jan. 28, 2008 - A senior al Qaeda member, Abu Laith al-Libi, was killed in a strike in North Waziristan.

July 28 - An al Qaeda chemical and biological weapons expert, Abu Khabab al-Masri, was killed in South Waziristan.

Oct. 31 - A mid-level al Qaeda leader, Abu Akash, was killed in an attack in North Waziristan.

Nov. 19 - An Arab al Qaeda operative identified as Abdullah Azam al-Saudi was killed in Bannu district.

Nov. 22 - Rashid Rauf, a Briton with al Qaeda links and the suspected ringleader of a 2006 plot to blow up airliners over the Atlantic, was killed in an attack in North Waziristan. An Egyptian named as Abu Zubair al-Masri was also said to be among the dead in that same attack.

Jan. 1, 2009 - A U.S. drone killed three foreign fighters in South Waziristan, Pakistani agents said. A week later, a U.S. counterterrorism official said al Qaeda's operational chief, Usama al-Kini, and an aide had been killed in South Waziristan. He declined to say how or when they died.

WHERE ARE THE DRONES' LAUNCHING SITES?
A senior U.S. lawmaker, Senator Dianne Feinstein, told a U.S. Senate hearing in February that drones were being operated and flown from an air base inside Pakistan. Pakistan denied that saying there was no permission for the strikes, nor had there even been.

PAKISTAN'S POSITION
Pakistan supports the U.S.-led campaign against militancy but does not allow foreign military operations inside its territory. It says the drones violate its sovereignty and undermine efforts to deal with militancy because they inflame public anger and bolster militant support.

U.S. POSITION
The United States has shrugged off Pakistani protests. It says the attacks are needed to protect U.S. troops in Afghanistan and kill Taliban and al Qaeda militants who threaten the forces.

Kernow
12 May 09,, 01:40
Hamid Karzai wants the US to stop using Air Strikes in the Stan!!!!!!! Yeah right.

Oscar
12 May 09,, 02:11
This is just BS. Just because an army is meant for conventional war does not mean that it can't fight an insurgency.

They've fought counter insurgencies in Balochistan and Sindh and have been pretty damn successful.

They haven't been damn successful they have suffered heavy casualties during the Balutchistan insurrection...What are they doing in these areas? they are shelling populated areas like hell, like this is suppposed to hurt the Taliban?

In the Pashtun areas it may be far more difficult since it seems that a lot of people in the Pakistani Army come from this ethnic group. The Pashtun are the second or third ethnic group in Pakistan and we don't know if they really decided to get serious about the taliban.

For them terrorists and irregulars may still appear to be a card worth playing against Karzai and in Kashmir. The lines are blurred in the regions we're talking about, theres a lot of what we call terrorism "simply" Pashtun nationalism.

Parihaka
12 May 09,, 03:09
The bulk of the Frontier Corp are made up of Pashtuns. After a shaky start they now have no motivational problems fighting the Taliban

Red Seven
12 May 09,, 13:34
Yeah, it's rough, ya can't go outside to take a leak in South Waziristan without being on Drone TV.

Civvie casualty numbers are always wrong. Too many cooks, too many ingredients in the brew. Not only that, the international media seems to take at face value any claim made by anti-coalition sources and invariably treat with skepticism denials or alternative figures or explanations released by the US military and ISAF.

Drone intel is in real time, live on the big screen and strikes have proven to be very effective (not to mention unsettling to AQ and TB elements).
And they may help lead us at some point to OBL. We need to drag his dead ass off the mountain.

chankya
12 May 09,, 20:17
They haven't been damn successful they have suffered heavy casualties during the Balutchistan insurrection...What are they doing in these areas? they are shelling populated areas like hell, like this is suppposed to hurt the Taliban?

Yeah well then they probably don't want to win as opposed to aren't capable of winning. Which is what you imply when you talk of "conventional army... can't fight insurgency".

Conventional armies still have infantry troops do they not? Basic infantry skills remain the same. Conventional capture of territory entails some element of counter insurgency in the aftermath. Don't tell me they never thought of it. They had active stay-behind groups in the event of a soviet invasion. They had a large number of troops as part of the Muj and then later as part of the Taliban(Re: Kunduz airlift) fighting against regular armies. So is there no person in the PA capable of using that knowledge? We're asked to believe that the PA is so wedded to conventional warfare that it's incapable of leaving its arty at home. I call BS.

Secondly if you don't mind killing your own people and sitting on them for decades you very well can shell and destroy an insurgency. It's a solution that armies over the ages have used. The only element to it is public support. Call them Indian agents and you can wipe them out just like the Baloch separatism.



In the Pashtun areas it may be far more difficult since it seems that a lot of people in the Pakistani Army come from this ethnic group. The Pashtun are the second or third ethnic group in Pakistan and we don't know if they really decided to get serious about the taliban.

For them terrorists and irregulars may still appear to be a card worth playing against Karzai and in Kashmir. The lines are blurred in the regions we're talking about, theres a lot of what we call terrorism "simply" Pashtun nationalism.

This has to do with the will to fight rather than the capability to do so. The PA when it wants to is perfectly capable of razing its own towns to wipe out an insurgency. It just doesn't want to contain the Taliban. Like you point they want to use them in Kashmir and Afghanistan in the future.

Added Later: I see no real incentive for the PA actually. In their experience they got massive largess to fight the Soviets. That tap dried when the Soviets left. Now the tap is open again. To actually defeat the Taliban would be counterproductive for them. They'd lose the money and the leverage against their neighbors. So why should the PA fight?

Let me make a wild prediction. By the time congress works up enough momentum to ask for aid with conditions 'again', the Taliban will be back again, we'll see articles about how Islamabad is about to fall and then Gates and Kerry will be back to arguing about how urgent then need for aid is and how the conditions would be counter productive. And the drama continues. Pakistan benefits by tottering on the edge. How can you ask them to remove the conditions that enable them to sustain that?

Oscar
13 May 09,, 00:54
Added Later: I see no real incentive for the PA actually. In their experience they got massive largess to fight the Soviets. That tap dried when the Soviets left. Now the tap is open again. To actually defeat the Taliban would be counterproductive for them. They'd lose the money and the leverage against their neighbors. So why should the PA fight?

Let me make a wild prediction. By the time congress works up enough momentum to ask for aid with conditions 'again', the Taliban will be back again, we'll see articles about how Islamabad is about to fall and then Gates and Kerry will be back to arguing about how urgent then need for aid is and how the conditions would be counter productive. And the drama continues. Pakistan benefits by tottering on the edge. How can you ask them to remove the conditions that enable them to sustain that?

Completely agree on that. In the own words of a Pakistani journalist, Pakistan has the habit of negociating with a pistol on its head. Attention whores. :rolleyes:

Merlin
13 May 09,, 03:09
Has anybody watched this program?

CBS Pro-Drone Propaganda (http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2009/05/12-13)


NEW YORK - May 12 - On May 10, CBS's 60 Minutes presented a remarkably one-sided report on unmanned Air Force drones firing missiles into Afghanistan and Iraq. Though the drones have been criticized for killing civilians in both countries, CBS viewers heard from no critics of the weapons.

Instead, correspondent Lara Logan seemed awed by the drones from the very start of the broadcast: "Every so often in the history of war, a new weapon comes along that fundamentally rewrites the rules of battle. This is a story about a revolution in unmanned aviation that is doing just that." She described the drones as "hunting down insurgents, every minute of every day," and as "one of the most important planes in the United States Air Force."

Viewers were told that CBS was getting special access: "Many of the details of this weapons program are classified, but our 60 Minutes team was given secret clearance and unprecedented access to bring you this story." The report relied entirely on pilots and the Air Force chief of staff.

The closest the segment came to airing any criticism at all was when Logan asked one pilot, Lt. Col. Chris Gough, about his confidence in the targeting of the missile attacks: "What if you get it wrong?" Logan asked. "We don't," Gough replied, before finally admitting that it's "a tough question.... We have the resources to make sure we're right." ....

troung
23 May 09,, 22:21
Al Qaeda recruits back in Europe, but why?
Four men say their training experience in Pakistan wasn't what they hoped for. Anti-terrorism officials wonder if they're just biding their time, ready to strike in Europe.
By Sebastian Rotella
May 24, 2009
Reporting from Brussels -- Determined to die as martyrs, the French and Belgian militants bought hiking boots and thermal underwear and journeyed to the wilds of Waziristan.

After getting ripped off in Turkey and staggering through waist-deep snow in Iran, the little band arrived in Al Qaeda's lair in Pakistan last year, ready for a triumphant reception.

"We were expecting at least a welcome for 'our brothers from Europe' and a warm atmosphere of hospitality," Walid Othmani, a 25-year-old Frenchman from Lyon, recalled during an overnight interrogation in January.

Instead, the Europeans -- and at least one American -- learned that life in the shadow of the Predator is nasty, brutish and short.

Wary of spies, suspicious Al Qaeda chiefs grilled the half-dozen Belgians and French. They charged them $1,200 each for AK-47 rifles, ammunition and grenades. They made them fill out forms listing next of kin and their preference: guerrilla fighting, or suicide attacks?

Then the trainees dodged missile strikes for months. They endured disease, quarrels and boredom, huddling in cramped compounds that defied heroic images of camps full of fraternal warriors.

"What you see in videos on the Net, we realized that was a lie," Othmani told police. "[Our chief] told us the videos . . . served to impress the enemy and incite people to come fight, and he knew this was a scam and propaganda."

Disenchantment aside, the accounts of four of the returning militants arrested in Europe combine with intercepts to paint a detailed picture of Al Qaeda's secret compounds. They also reinforce intelligence that a campaign of U.S. Predator drone airstrikes has sown suspicion and disarray and stoked tension with tribes in northwestern Pakistan, anti-terrorism officials say.

At the same time, the case shows that wily militant leaders still wage war in South Asia and train a flow of foreign recruits. The few trainees from the West remain an urgent concern. At least one American was detected -- a convert to Islam who trained with Al Qaeda in Pakistan during the last year, Western officials say.

Militant paths from the U.S. and Europe may cross: Prosecutors in Brussels have made a request to interrogate a witness now in the United States who was in Pakistan with the European suspects, a Belgian anti-terrorism official said.

Police in Europe tracked the group's radicalization and travel with the help of real-time U.S. intercepts that corroborate the confessions, and they exploited the men's reliance on the Internet. Fear of an imminent attack spurred their arrests here in December after Hicham Beyayo, 25, a Belgian just back from Pakistan, sent a troubling e-mail to his girlfriend.

"I am leaving for an O [operation] and I don't think I will return," Beyayo wrote Dec. 6, according to investigative documents. "My request has been accepted. You will get a video from me to you from the [organization]."

Beyayo told police that he was boasting to impress his girlfriend. But investigators believe the group may have been groomed for missions at home.

"They were much more valuable for operations in Europe," said the Belgian anti-terrorism official, who, like others interviewed, requested anonymity because the investigation is continuing. "Al Qaeda does not need Belgians and French to fight in Afghanistan."

Islamic resistance doesn't come cheap

Beyayo is about 5-foot-5, chubby and bespectacled. Like the others, he is of North African descent. He grew up in the tough Anderlecht neighborhood of Brussels, and his brothers have done time for robbery and arms trafficking. But he does not have a criminal record. He interspersed college courses with fundamentalist Islam.

"He is the intellectual of the family," said his lawyer, Christophe Marchand. "He bears no ill will against Belgium. He went to Afghanistan to join an Islamic resistance movement."

Islamic resistance is expensive. The unemployed Beyayo scrounged together about $5,000 for the trip.

The Frenchman Othmani, a father of two, had to borrow about $1,000 from his mother, and he spent hundreds on hiking boots, a sleeping bag, thermal underwear and a "big Columbia-brand jacket for the cold."

The leader was Moez Garsalloui, 42, a Tunisian married to the Belgian widow of a militant who killed Ahmed Shah Massoud, an anti-Taliban warlord, in a suicide bombing two days before the Sept. 11 attacks. The balding, bearded Garsalloui sought recruits among visitors to a radical website run by his wife, who is revered in militant circles.

It was Garsalloui's first trip to South Asia, but he took advantage of his wife's strong Al Qaeda ties, investigators say. He organized smuggling contacts and met four Belgians and two French in Istanbul in December 2007. He carried a bag full of cash -- about $40,000, according to the confessions.

Garsalloui went ahead alone, leaving the others to a harsh monthlong trek. Turkish smugglers frightened them by waving a pistol around, charged extra because they were "Arabs," and stole their gear and clothes, claiming it was for charity.

"They cleaned us out," Othmani recalled. "What they took was for the so-called poor, but evidently it was nothing of the kind."

Later, the recruits tried to burn their passports "because we all intended to die as martyrs in Afghanistan," Othmani said. But the smugglers confiscated the documents.

Next came a nocturnal mountain crossing into Iran. The recruits struggled through deep snow. A Belgian's foot turned blue. Beyayo fell repeatedly, dragged along by comrades as he moaned that this was the place where they would die.

After several men called their mothers from Iran, the group entered Pakistan via Zahedan, an Iranian border town that is a hub for militants and smugglers, the Belgian anti-terrorism official said. As they approached the tribal zone dominated by the Taliban, military patrols looked the other way and diners at a roadside restaurant seemed to know exactly where they were headed.

Their destination was a village in the Waziristan region about two hours past Bannu. But the reception was nothing like the heyday of the Afghan camps when Westerners, especially converts, got a chance to meet Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden himself.

Saudi Arabians armed with AK-47s emerged from a mosque looking hostile. They thought the French in particular could be spies, a senior French anti-terrorism official said. Increasing infiltration has contributed to recent captures and killings of militants, investigators say.

"They thought they would get a hero's welcome because they were Europeans," the Belgian official said. "That was not the case."

Tensions eased when Garsalloui showed up. But the recruits were kept in a kind of limbo. They had the misfortune of arriving just as U.S. forces unleashed a drone-fired missile barrage that would kill half a dozen veteran Al Qaeda chieftains in 2008. In an e-mail to his wife, Garsalloui said he narrowly escaped a strike that had killed a top Libyan. "I came close to dying," he wrote.

Fearful of the drones as well as anyone who might spot their hide-outs and pass on information that could lead to missile strikes, the trainees hunkered inside during the day. They moved frequently among crowded, squalid houses shared with local families in mountain hamlets.

The suspects say they wanted desperately to fight American troops in Afghanistan. To their dismay, the chiefs made them cough up more cash for weapons. They were assigned to train with an Arab group numbering 300 to 500, but spread out in small units for security. Religious and military instruction took place indoors, with firearms and explosives sessions confined to courtyards for secrecy.

A Saudi chief named Mortez assured the Europeans that they would go to the Afghan front. But idle weeks followed.

"We were quite angry for different reasons," Beyayo recalled. "We waited and Mortez's promises didn't come true. Life as seven together plus the host family was not always easy. And . . . [Garsalloui] played the little boss and gave us orders."

Only Garsalloui and a strapping Belgian, who both spoke fluent Arabic, went to Afghanistan as part of a Saudi unit.

Garsalloui later e-mailed a photo of himself wielding a grenade launcher to his wife. He bragged to comrades that he had killed American soldiers with a bazooka. Investigators are trying to verify the claim.

Meanwhile, Beyayo and Othmani say they chafed in safe houses, cooking foul meals, cringing during bombardments, getting sick. Beyayo suffered a bout of malaria.

A slippery character named Amar appeared, worsening the mood.

"We realized with time that this individual was there to test us, to spy on us," Beyayo recalled.

"He also gave us a speech according to which we should not dream because we were not ready to fight. . . . The idea of going back to Belgium and France began to form among us. Morale-wise, we were crushed."

One Belgian stormed out, intent on reaching the nearest city on his own and making his way back to Europe, the Belgian anti-terrorism official said. After hours of hiking through a desolate valley, he realized that it was hopeless and turned back.

Late last year, Beyayo, Othmani and two others finally came home and into the clutches of police, who had monitored them closely. A central question: the extent of their involvement in terrorist activity.

Their lawyers insist that they are failed holy warriors.

"They just weren't tough enough," Marchand said.

Investigators have doubts. French police point out that the explosives instruction described by Othmani is far more extensive than that received by many previous trainees.

Police think the Europeans may have exaggerated their haplessness to conceal a dark purpose.

"We must therefore ask ourselves for what motive someone in [Pakistan] would take such a risk to shelter people who had no goal or usefulness as declared in some interrogations," a French police report concludes.

Assessing the threat is difficult: Sinister aspects mix with goofy ones. The complaints about malaria, money and disrespect sum up the story. But so does the image of Garsalloui posing with his rocket launcher, eager to kill Americans.

rotella@latimes.com

tankie
24 May 09,, 12:28
1.200 for an ak 47 ,, shows what stupid bastards they are ,failed holy warriors my bollocks , more like failed in the brain tossers more like , and hopefully short lived ones :mad: