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Drone Strike Killing Suspected al-Qaeda Operative Leaves Woman Dead, Child Wounded

Predator drone attack in North Waziristan area of Pakistan puts drone program under scrutiny

Andrea Germanos, staff writer

(Photo: U.S. Air Force/Lt Col Leslie Pratt/ Flickr)

A US drone strike in Pakistan touted in corporate media reports as killing a "senior al Qaeda leader" has also killed a woman and wounded a child.

The drone attack happened on Thursday in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan, which borders Afghanistan, and killed 46-year-old Abdel Rehman al-Hussainan, also known as Abu Zaid al-Kuwaiti.

NBC News reports:

The 46-year-old cleric was seen as part of the “very top tier" of al-Qaida's remaining leaders in the wake of the death of Osama bin Laden, according to one expert on the terror group.

But reports from Associated Press and the New York Times on Sunday reveal that Hussainan's wife and daughter were wounded in the attack, and his wife died the next day.

Despite these and countless other civilian casualties from drone strikes, there is no sign of them stopping.  As NBC News' Robert Windrem adds in a report on the drone strike that killed Hussainan:

The fact that the attack was carried out by a Predator shows that the US intends to keep using the drones to kill al-Qaida, despite criticism from Pakistani officials and U.S. critics, said Roger Cressey, former deputy director of the White House counter terrorism center and an NBC News analyst.

“Anyone who believes that the drone program has run its course needs to know that people like al Kuwaiti are still out there,” he said.

Conservative columnist George Will also pushes for drones in an op-ed this week, "A case for targeted killings," in which he repeats the claim that drone strikes offer "precise" hits that limit civilian casualites, a claim that stands in stark contrast to the casualites in Hussainan's family.  Will writes:

Fortunately, John Yoo of California’s Berkeley School of Law has written a lucid guide to the legal and moral calculus of combating terrorism by targeting significant enemy individuals. In “Assassination or Targeted Killings After 9/11” (New York Law School Law Review, 2011-12), Yoo correctly notes that “precise attacks against individuals” have many precedents and “further the goals of the laws of war by eliminating the enemy and reducing harm to innocent civilians.” And he clarifies the compelling logic of using drones for targeted killings — attacking a specific person rather than a military unit or asset — in today’s “undefined war with a limitless battlefield.” [...]

Drones enable the U.S. military — which, regarding drones, includes the CIA; an important distinction has been blurred — to wield a technology especially potent against al-Qaeda’s organization and tactics. All its leaders are, effectively, military, not civilian. Killing them serves the military purposes of demoralizing the enemy, preventing planning, sowing confusion and draining the reservoir of experience.

Another three people were killed on Sunday from a further drone strike in North Waziristan, Agence France-Presse reports.  An unnamed senior security official told the news agency that it killed "three rebels."

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported recently that there have now been over 300 drone attacks on Pakistan during the first four years of the Obama administration.

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