LAHORE: The Special Activities Division of the American Central Intelligence Agency may have (temporarily) halted the drone strikes carried through its unmanned aerial vehicles in Pakistan, but not before these attacks had resulted in deaths ranging between 1,717 and 2,680 during the 2004-November 16, 2011 period. This was revealed in the recent estimates of a Washington DC-based non-profit think tank called the New America Foundation.
This figure cited in the introductory paragraph above includes fatalities of both innocent civilians and militants on Pakistani’s soil.
The yearly break-up of the deaths caused in Pakistan by drones shows that during the 2004-2007 period, between 89 and 112 people were hit by these unmanned aerial vehicles, between 274 and 314 were exterminated through this attack mode in 2008, between 369 and 725 people were eliminated in 2009, between 607 and 993people were victims of drones in 2010 and between 378 and 536 innocent inhabitants were fatally hit (along with just a handful of militants) by these pilot-less vehicles till November 16, 2011.
According to the New America Foundation, an eminent American public policy institute, the number of estimated militant deaths from these drone attacks targeted mainly in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas situated along the Afghan border in Northwest Pakistan, had rested between 1424 and 2209 during the time period under review.
The yearly break-up of the militant deaths caused by drones shows that during the 2004-2007 period, between 81 and 103 militants were hit by these unmanned vehicles, between 134 and 165 of these people were wiped out in 2008, between 266 and 502 radicals were killed in 2009, between 581 and 939 fundamentalists were victims of drones in 2010 and between 362 and 500 revolutionaries were fatally hit by this mode of the CIA-led offensive till November 16, 2011.
It is imperative to note that currently headed by Google’s Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Eric Schmidt, the New America Foundation is being funded by some of the most prestigious American and non-US business conglomerates/educational institutions/charities like the globally-renowned Microsoft Corporation, the London School of Economics, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Arizona State University, Bank of Palestine, Levi Strauss Foundation, State of California, Google Incorporated, the Asia Foundation, the Columbia University, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, George Mason University, the Georgia State University and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation etc.
The estimates of New America Foundation reveal that not fewer than 38 militant leaders have been killed by CIA drones between 2004 and 2011.
Meanwhile, a cumbersome research carried out by The News International by taking into account the above-quoted New America Foundation report and stories published/aired by various local/foreign media outlets like the NBC Television, the BBC, the Daily Telegraph, The New York Times, AFP, the Associated Press, The Times of India, Geo television, CNN, The News, Daily Dawn, the Washington Post, The Australian, the ABC News, Times of London, Long War Journal and Reuters etc during these last eight years, shows that the most formidable and combative Al-Qaeda/Taliban leaders killed in drone attacks had included the likes of:
Baitullah Mehsud, Rashid Rauf (a British national who is a key suspect in the 2006 plot to bring down US and Canadian airliners), senior Al-Qaeda member Abu Zubair al Masri, Abdullah Azzam al Saudi, Abu Hassan al Rimi, Abu Jihad al Masri, Mohammad Omar (a close associate of the former Taliban commander Nek Mohammed), Khalid Habib, Abu Ubaydah al Tunisi, Abu Haris (Al-Qaeda’s chief in Pakistan), Abu Wafa Al Saudi (Al Qaeda commander and logistician), Abdul Rehman (a Taliban commander in South Waziristan), Khabab al Masri (Al Qaeda’s Weapons of Mass Destruction expert), Abu Sulayman Jazairi (an Algerian Al-Qaeda planner), Abu Laith al Libi (known for orchestrating a 2007 suicide attack targeting US Vice President Dick Cheney while he was visiting Bagram), Haitham al-Yemeni (an Al-Qaeda explosives expert), a renowned Pakistani Taliban leader, Nek Mohammed, Abu Hamza Rabia (Al-Qaeda’s 3rd in command), Midhat Mursi, Abu Akash, Usama al-Kini, Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan, Tahir Yuldashev (leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan), Ilyas Kashmiri, Mustafa al Jaziri, Irfan Mehsud, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, Saleh al-Somali (a senior Al-Qaeda planner and external operations chief), Zuhaib al Zahibi, Abdullah Said al Libi (a leader of Lashkar al-Zil), Mahmoud Mahdi Zeidan, Jamal Saeed Abdul Rahim (allegedly involved in hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 in 1986), Abdul Haq al-Turkistani (leader of the Turkistani Islamic Party), Sheikh Mansoor (a commander of Lashkar al Zil), Mohammed Haqqani (the brother of Afghan Taliban commander Siraj Haqqani), Bahadar Mansoor, Rana Afzal (the man believed to be behind the FIA Headquarters bombing in Lahore), Saad bin Laden (one of Osama bin Laden’s sons), Mohammed Qari Zafar (the head of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the person believed to have planned the 2002 and 2006 bombing of the US consulate in Karachi), Hussein al-Yemeni or Sadam Hussein Al Hussami (the Al-Qaeda terrorist who allegedly planned the Camp Chapman attack), Saeed al-Masri, Hamza al-Jufi (an Egyptian militant), Saifullah Haqqani (first cousin of Haqqani Network leader Sirajuddin Haqqani), Abu Zaid al-Iraqi (an Iraqi Al-Qaeda finance coordinator), Atiyah Abdel Rahman (Al-Qaeda’s Number 2), Abu Hafs al Shari (Al-Qaeda’s operational chief and the replacement for the Al-Qaeda Number Two Atiyah Abdel Rahman), Jan Baz Zadran (a logistics commander for the Haqqani network), Taj Gul Mehsud (a Tehreek-e-Taliban leader), Abu Amin (an Al-Qaeda linked Swat Taliban commander), Ali Marjan, Sheikh al-Fateh (Al-Qaeda chief in Afghanistan and Pakistan), Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, Nazimuddin Zalalov alias Yahyo (a leader of the Islamic Jihad of Uzbekistan and a trusted lieutenant of Osama bin Laden) and Khan Mohammad (Maulvi Nazir’s deputy commander).
However, after they were reported by Western media to have been killed by drones, contradictory reports did surface in press that a few of these militant leaders like Saad bin Laden and Atiyah Abdel Rahman etc were still alive.