5 drone strike cases everyone should know about

Image of Malik Jalal

The US Assassination Programme has killed over 4,000 people, including more than 250 children. Here are 5 stories of people whose lives have been devastated by these attacks. They include acclaimed journalists, peace activists, and a man who found out he was on the Kill List from a PowerPoint presentation. These are all cases that Reprieve is working on right now.    

1. Bilal Abdul Kareem

Bilal is a US citizen and a freelance journalist who has lived in New York for most of his life. He has narrowly avoided being killed in five separate drone strikes while reporting on the Syrian conflict.

As a journalist, Bilal has reported for the BBC, Channel 4, CNN, Sky News and Al Jazeera. He travelled to Syria in 2012 to report on the conflict there and give an all-important on the ground perspective to audiences at home.

As a journalist, Bilal has interviewed people on all sides of the conflict in Syria. He believes this is why the US Government has placed him on a list of people who it seeks to assassinate.

With Trump at the helm of the drone programme, this journalist’s life is in grave danger as long as he remains on the US kill list.

2. Ahmad Zaidan

Ahmad is a fearless journalist who has reported on some of the most dangerous conflicts and regions in the world. For this, the United States Government wants to assassinate him – a fact which he found out via a powerpoint presentation.

Ahmad is an acclaimed Al Jazeera journalist who until recently served as the network’s Islamabad Bureau Chief. As producer of the widely-praised documentary “In search of Al-Qaeda”, he secured an interview with wanted terrorist, Osama Bin Laden.

The United States Government has put him on its assassination list on the basis that he communicated and met with individuals in Pakistan and Syria who oppose the US government. Interviewing such individuals is, of course, his job.

Ahmad found out he was on the Kill List via a PowerPoint presentation, produced by the NSA and shared with the UK Government. It shows that he has been assigned a number in the US Government’s “TIDE” database, which logs the names of more than one million individuals.

A secret US programme called Skynet used metadata analysis to determine that he was “suspicious.” This suspicion was based largely on his travel and social media, collected by tracking his phone. Skynet is intended to find “different people using phones in similar ways” to designate Al Qaeda couriers. Through its means of measuring ‘pattern of life, social network, and travel behaviour’, Skynet is not nuanced enough to distinguish that Zaidan was there legitimately for his job.

3. Muhammad Tuaiman

Muhammad was killed on 26th January 2015 when he was just thirteen years old. Before his death, his father and two of his brothers had already been killed in drone strikes.

On the day of his death, Muhammad left the house early in the morning to visit his father’s wife. As the family was driving back, their car was struck by a drone on the main highway. The remaining family fear they may be the next victims in Trump’s ramp up of drone activity in Yemen.

Just months before his death, Mohammed was given a camera to record his family life and ask his siblings why their father had been killed. When interviewed by the Guardian, Mohammed spoke of his ever-present fear of being killed by a drone; ‘I see them every day and we are scared of them.’ ‘In their [the US government] eyes, we don’t deserve to live like people in the rest of the world and we don’t have feelings or emotions or cry or feel pain like all the other humans around the world’. You can see some of his footage here.

4. Malik Jalal

The US government has already tried to assassinate Malik Jalal four times, killing many other innocent people in the process. He is a community leader, anti-drone activist and a prominent member of the North Waziristan Peace Committee. He has been told that he is a target because he is “inciting” people against the drone strikes, even though he is working to bring peace to his community.

A strike taken against Jalal in 2011 left forty innocent tribal elders dead at a local gathering. Earlier that year, three men were killed and Jalal’s nephew was hospitalised for a month after a missile attack.

He has since resorted to desperate measures to protect his wife and children from the strikes aimed at him, including sleeping in the mountains away from his family home. One evening, his 6 year old son, Hilal, followed him out to the mountainside because he was scared of being killed by a drone while he slept.

5. Faisal bin Ali Jaber

Faisal is an engineer from Yemen. His brother-in-law Salem and nephew Waleed were killed by a US drone strike in 2012. Salem was an imam who was well known for speaking out against al-Qaeda in his sermons. Waleed was a local policeman.

The Friday before he was killed, Salem had given a sermon at his mosque denouncing al-Qaeda’s ideology. A few days later, a group of strangers arrived in the village, demanding to speak with him. Salem eventually agreed to meet them, and took Waleed with him. The whole group was then hit by a US drone missile, killing all of them. The strike took place on the second day of family wedding celebrations, which Salem and Waleed were attending

Faisal’s relatives were given a bag containing $100,000 in US dollar bills as compensation, but the US has never admitted responsibility. All Faisal and his family want is an admission of responsibility and an apology in the hope that this will prevent further innocent families being destroyed.

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