[pjw] NEWS: Pakistan says US drone strike aimed at Taliban leader illegal (Reuters 5/24)
Peace and Justice Works
pjw at pjw.info
Thu May 26 16:55:35 EDT 2016
Oh how I miss the old days when someone had to actually commit a crime
before they could be arrested, tried and jailed. But I guess I still have
that pre-9/11 mentality. Now the US just has to believe that a person
was posing an imminent threat and they can assassinate them. Mind you,
this does not even rise to the same kind of imminent threat that police
officers use to justify shootings, when a person might be standing there
in front of them with a weapon in hand. Just words, likely intercepted by
drones or spies or internet snooping, if they existed at all.
The US used a drone strike on Saturday to (possibly) kill the head of the
Afghan Taliban, based on this flimsy excuse. It's more likely they are
trying to force the Taliban to the negotiating table. I'm not sure that
killing anyone who refuses to negotiate is the best motivator for that
person's successors to come to the table.
Interestingly, this is only ("only") the third drone strike in Pakistan
all year, with the first two being on January 9 and February 22. (more
info at http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com ). There were 13 in 2015, 25
in 2014, 27 in 2013, and 50 in 2012.
Anyway, here's the article from Reuters.
peace and justice works iraq affinity group
| Tue May 24, 2016 6:50pm EDT
Pakistan can't confirm Taliban leader is dead, criticizes U.S. drone strike
ISLAMABAD | By Asad Hashim and Syed Raza Hassan
ISLAMABAD Pakistan's interior minister said on Tuesday he could not
confirm that Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour had been
killed in a U.S. drone strike, and described Washington's
justification for the attack as "against international law".
U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday that Mansour had been
killed in the drone strike, and the Pentagon said separately that
Mansour was plotting attacks that posed "specific, imminent threats"
to U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
On Tuesday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told reporters
that the body recovered on Pakistani soil, near the Afghan border, was
charred beyond recognition, adding that DNA samples would be tested
against a relative who had come forward to claim the body.
"The government of Pakistan cannot announce this without a scientific
and legal basis," Khan told a news briefing.
He did not identify the relative or say whether he or she claimed to
be related to the Taliban leader or someone else.
Two U.S. officials told Reuters that U.S. intelligence and military
agencies used multiple streams of intelligence, including human
intelligence and electronic surveillance to locate and identify the
car carrying Mansour.
That enabled multiple drones operated by the Joint Special Operations
Command to incinerate the car when it reached an empty stretch of road
in a remote area where there was little danger of causing civilian
"There were multiple forms of intelligence attributed to tracking him
down," a U.S. official said.
Khan rejected the U.S. argument that it could launch attacks across
borders in order to protect its interests.
"For the U.S. government to say that whoever is a threat to them will
be targeted wherever they are, that is against international law," he
said. "And if every country in the world adopts this rule, it will be
the law of the jungle."
Pakistan and the United States have been uneasy allies in the war
against the Taliban and other Islamist militants in the region.
Critics in Afghanistan and the United States accuse Pakistan of
allowing the Afghan Taliban's leadership to take shelter on its
territory, something that Islamabad has denied.
The militant movement has made territorial gains and carried out a
series of deadly attacks across Afghanistan since NATO forces
officially wound down their combat mission at the end of 2014,
undermining the Western-backed government in Kabul.
Recent events echo those in 2011, when U.S. special forces raided a
building in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad that killed longtime al
Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, infuriating and severely embarrassing
Khan said the car was destroyed on Pakistani territory but was fired
"from another country", presumably Afghanistan, where more than 10,000
U.S. and coalition troops remain.
Khan added that Pakistani authorities were also investigating a
passport bearing the name of Wali Muhammad, which was found near the
burned out shell of the car believed to have been the target of the
He confirmed the passport in question had been used to travel from
Pakistani airports multiple times, and that it held valid visas for
Iran, Dubai and Bahrain.
If the travel document proves to have been used by Mansour himself, it
would raise fresh questions about how the Taliban leader was able to
move freely in and out of Pakistan and whether he had help from the
country's security apparatus.
Khan on Tuesday disputed that elements of Pakistan's security
apparatus supported the Taliban leadership.
"If (Mansour) was availing Pakistani intelligence agency support and
help, would he be traveling like this?," he asked, referring to
reports that the target was alone with a single driver.
The circumstances surrounding the killing remain murky, including how
the U.S. verified it was Mansour who was killed in the attack and how
any documents could be recovered from the fiery scene.
"You could not see a spot of paint ... that's how bad it was hit,"
Khan said. "How was a passport lying just a few yards away? So first
we have to establish that, whether he was actually using it."
The Taliban have not issued any official statements on Mansour since
Saturday's drone strike.
However, Taliban officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have
said Mansour is dead and a council is meeting to choose a successor,
the second such leadership shura in a year after the death of the
movementÕs founder, Mullah Mohammad Omar, was confirmed in 2015.
Authorities in Quetta, the Baluchistan capital, showed a copy of the
recovered passport, which has a photo bearing a strong likeness to the
officially released Taliban picture of Mansour, to a Reuters reporter.
They also noted that it bore an exit stamp from Iran's land border
with Pakistan dated May 21, the day of the drone strike.
Pakistani immigration records show that the Wali Muhammad passport was
used at least 18 times since 2006 to travel internationally, two
senior officials in the Federal Investigation Agency, which manages
borders, told Reuters.
One of the officials in the southwestern province of Baluchistan said
the passport was used mostly over the land border with Iran and from
the airport in the southern city of Karachi, with the last exit from
Karachi en route to Dubai on March 31, 2015.
The second official reviewed computerized records of the passport and
said there were "18 travel events" from Karachi airport starting in
2007, with the last arrival at Karachi on April 2, 2015.
A spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry was quoted on state media
denying that such an individual had crossed the border from Iran to
Pakistan at the time in question.
Authorities in the United Arab Emirates did not respond to questions
on whether Mansour might have entered Dubai using an assumed name or
whether there was any record of a Wali Muhammad visiting.
(Additional reporting by Gul Yousufzai in QUETTA, Idrees Ali and Mark
Hosenball in Washington.; Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Mike
Collett-White and Alan Crosby)
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