Bureau of Investigative Journalism –
The Covert Drone Wars Archive

The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism monitored reports of covert and clandestine US drone strikes and other actions in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia between 2010 and 2019, in one of the longest running media investigations in modern history. The Bureau also tracked local claims of civilian harm - challenging US assertions that no few or no civilians were being harmed.

The Bureau also conducted many critical investigations into these secretive US wars. It revealed for example that the CIA had begun a policy of ‘double tap’’ strikes in Pakistan which were killing rescuers attending the scene of earlier attacks. It showed that the CIA’s claims of zero civilian harm were false. The TBIJ revealed that an Iranian news agency was fabricating claims of US drone strikes in Somalia. And it investigated high civilian casualties from US covert actions on the ground in Yemen. The team won several awards and accolades, including the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism.

In 2019 Airwars took over from the Bureau its monitoring of US actions in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. Since this involved transitioning the Bureau’s original assessments to our own methodology, this archive page preserves all key Bureau web pages, graphics and datasets, enabling researchers to review the TBIJ’s earlier work.

Monitoring the drone strikes: the original Bureau archive

We have preserved in their entirety each original Bureau webpage tracking alleged US actions and reported civilian harm for Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. These represent a historical record only, having now been superseded by Airwars’ own assessments. All associated Bureau news stories on Yemen can be found in our searchable News & Investigations archive

Yemen Archive

Somalia Archive

Between 2011 and 2012, the Iranian media organisation Press TV falsified dozens of claimed US drone strikes in Somalia, which it alleged had killed as many as 1,500 civilians. The Bureau’s investigation into these false claims led to co-reporter Emma Slater winning the prestigious British Young Journalist of the Year Award.

Pakistan Archive

Pakistan: Naming the Dead

As part of its efforts to improve transparency and accountability for the CIA’s drone campaign in Pakistan, the Bureau commissioned a major study seeking to name as many drone strike victims as possible - both civilian and militant. Airwars has preserved both the searchable Naming The Dead archive, as well as several dozen individual case studies of named victims.