Half killed in U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan are “unknown extremists”

The Independent reports on recently leaked U.S. documents show that in one year alone almost half killed were listed as “unknown extremists”. No doubt this is a result of targeting practices called signature strikes that track and eliminate suspicious “patterns of life” rather than known personalities.

“There is now mounting evidence that the Obama administration is misleading the American public – and the world at large – about the drone war it is waging in Pakistan,” said Jennifer Gibson of Reprieve. “The reports show a significant number of the strikes have nothing to do with al-Qa’ida. Instead, they may have been a quid pro quo exchange between two countries’ spy agencies. The result  is that the US often doesn’t know who it is killing.”

At least 265 of the 482 people killed by the CIA programme in the 12 months up to September 2011 were listed as Afghan, Pakistani or “unknown extremists”. This contrasts sharply with US administration’s claim that drones are only used to target “senior operational leaders” in al-Qa’ida, those involved in the 11 September 2001 attacks or individuals plotting imminent attacks on the US.

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