The other side of the drone war: death squads in Pakistan

The New York Times reports on the “death squads” in and around North Waziristan that round up those tribesman they suspect of being American spies. The captives are then tortured, filmed, and executed as a warning to would-be collaborators. The most infamous group is the Haqqani Network-aligned Ittehad-e-Mujahedeen Khorasan,

a shadowy group that experts consider to be Al Qaeda’s local counterintelligence wing. Since it emerged in 2009, the group, which is led by Arab and Uzbek militants, has carefully cultivated a sinister image through video theatrics and the ruthless application of violence.

The paranoia rife in these areas surrounds the existence (or not) of GPS bugs that death squads believe are planted by spies working for the CIA.

The Taliban and Al Qaeda have become obsessed with “patrai” — a local word for a small metallic device, now synonymous with the tiny electronic tagging devices that militants believe the C.I.A. uses to find them. In 2009 Mr. Libi, the Qaeda deputy, published an article illustrated with photographs of such devices, warning of their dangers. He waskilled in a drone strike near Mir Ali in June.

This year, the Taliban released a video purporting to show one such device: an inch-long electronic circuit board cased in transparent plastic that when connected to a nine-volt battery pulsed with an infrared light. A spokesman for the C.I.A. declined to comment on details of the drone program. But a former American intelligence official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that the agency did use such GPS devices, which are commercially available in the United States through stores that supply the military.

The death squads have damaged everyday life in the region; with scared families fleeing FATA to Karachi or neigbouring Gulf states.

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