News & Investigations

News & Investigations

Published

December 1, 2014

Written by

Jack Serle
This page is archived from original Bureau of Investigative Journalism reporting on US military actions in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Three drone strikes hit houses and vehicles in Pakistan’s North Waziristan area (Flickr/Maverick bashoo)

Report of children killed in drone attack in Pakistan.

Four strikes hit Yemen – most in a month since April.

No strikes reported in Somalia.

Four names added to Naming the Dead, including two children.

Pakistan

November 2014 actions

Total CIA strikes in November: 3

Total killed in strikes in November: 13-24, of whom 0-2 are reportedly children

All actions 2004 – November 30 2014

Total Obama strikes: 353

Total US strikes since 2004: 404

Total reported killed: 2,396-3,882

Civilians reported killed: 416-959

Children reported killed: 168-204

Total reported injured: 1,131-1,704
For the Bureau’s full Pakistan databases click here.

An al Qaeda spokesman said that two children were killed in a CIA drone strike in November. If confirmed these would be the first childrens’ deaths since August 2012.

They were said to be the teenage sons of an Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent fighter. The man, his sons and at least one other person were reportedly killed in a strike on November 11. The attack targeted a house in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan. Some reports say a four-wheel drive vehicle was also hit.

This was the first of three CIA strikes to hit Pakistan’s tribal areas this month. The attacks killed at least 13 and as many as 24 people.

Between five and eight people died in the second strike of the month, on November 20, which also targeted a house and possibly a vehicle in the Datta Khel area. The attack reportedly killed Uzbeks and men from the Haqqani Network and the group loyal to Hafiz Gul Bahadur.

The third strike, on November 26, killed between four and nine people in the Shawal area which straddles the North and South Waziristan borders. The strike again targeted a house and possibly a car. Two “foreigners” were reportedly among the dead.

Most US strikes this year have clustered in and around Datta Khel and the Shawal area – only six of 21 attacks this year have hit outside these areas. Datta Khel has been a focus of operations for the Pakistan military in its ongoing offensive against the Pakistan Taliban in North Waziristan. The Pakistan Army took a reporter for NBC News on an embedded tour of Datta Khel to show the media how sophisticated the Taliban operation was in the town.

There was one strike reported just across the border in Afghanistan that almost killed Mullah Fazullah, the leader of the Pakistan Taliban.

According to an analysis of Bureau data this month by legal charity Reprieve, the US has killed 874 people whilst targeting the same 24 men on multiple occasions in Pakistan.

Yemen

November 2014 actions

Confirmed US drone strikes: 4

Further reported/possible US strike events: 1

Total reported killed in US operations: 22-35

Civilians reported killed in US strikes: 0

All actions 2002 – November 30 2014*

Confirmed US drone strikes: 71-83

Total reported killed: 362-531

Civilians reported killed: 64-83

Children reported killed: 7

Reported injured: 78-196

Possible extra US drone strikes: 101-120

Total reported killed: 345-553

Civilians reported killed: 26-68

Children reported killed: 6-11

Reported injured: 90-123

All other US covert operations: 15-80
Total reported killed: 157-393
Civilians reported killed: 60-89
Children reported killed: 25-27
Reported injured: 22-115
Click here for the full Yemen data.

* All but one of these actions have taken place during Obama’s presidency. Reports of incidents in Yemen often conflate individual strikes. The range we have recorded in US drone strikes and covert operations reflects this.

Four US drone strikes hit Yemen in November, the highest number of confirmed US attacks in a month since April.

Three of the strikes hit vehicles in and around the town of Radaa, in Bayda province. The attacks came in quick succession, making it difficult to determine the exact course of events and the death toll (between 9 and 20 people were reported dead).

In one of the strikes two alleged casualties were named, both reportedly associated with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Nabil al Dahab was reported to be AQAP’s leader in Bayda. The US had tried to kill him in May 2012. His family has been associated with AQAP frequently in the past, and his sister married the US-born preacher Anwar al Awlaki.

The other reported casualty was Shawki al Badani.  According to two unnamed US officials, Shawki al Badani was the target of a calamitous drone strike in December 2013 that targeted a wedding party, killing several civilians and wounding the bride. He was said to be the cause of global terror alert in the summer of 2013 that prompted the US to close 19 embassies.

On November 25 US special forces from the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) attempted to rescue a US citizen held hostage by AQAP. Some Yemeni special forces took part in the operation. The commandos freed eight captives and killed seven people in the operation. The US citizen however, along with a Briton, and an Iranian and a Saudi Arabian diplomat, had been moved before the operation.

This is the second JSOC ground raid reported in Yemen this year. On April 20 US and Yemeni soldiers ambushed a vehicle – reportedly a failed attempt to kill master bomb maker Ibrahim al Asiri. Three or four people died, including a 16-year old child.

Somalia

November 2014 actions

Total reported US operations: 0

All actions 2007 – November 30 2014

US drone strikes: 6-9

Total reported killed: 16-30

Civilians reported killed: 0-1

Children reported killed: 0

Reported injured: 2-3

All other US covert operations: 8-11

Total reported killed: 40-141

Civilians reported killed: 7-47

Children reported killed: 0-2

Reported injured: 11-21
Click here for the Bureau’s full data on Somalia.

There were no reported US operations in Somalia this month – the third consecutive month without a reported strike.

The fight against al Shabaab remains active however. The group continues to battle the African Union peacekeeping force Amisom and the Somali military.

Al Shabaab is losing fighters as they become disenchanted with the organisation and its practices. The death of Ahmed Abdi Godane, the group’s leader in the last reported US drone strike on September 1 is believed to have contributed to the defections. This has led to some reports suggesting al Shabaab is unraveling.

However the group demonstrated it is still capable of causing carnage beyond Somalia’s borders. On November 22 the group murdered 28 people on a bus in northern Kenya. Nairobi retaliated immediately, claiming to have killed more than 100 al Shabaab fighters the following day in airstrikes in Somalia.

There is growing insecurity across northern Africa. An an estimated 400 people have died in the past six weeks of fighting in Benghazi, Libya, and more than 100 people died in a multiple suicide-bomb attack on the largest mosque in Nigeria’s second city, Kano. France has a 3,000 counter-terrorism force stretched across the region and the US has increased its drone and special forces presence there, reports the Financial Times.

Naming the Dead

Four names were added to the Naming the Dead database this month. A strike on November 11 killed at least four people. Adil Abdul Quddus, a former major in the Pakistan Army, and Dr Sarbuland, a Pakistani doctor who ran a clinic for injured Taliban fighters in the tribal area, were identified as members of al Qaeda by one of the group’s spokesmen.

Two teenage boys were reportedly killed in the strike, however they were only named as among the dead by the same al Qaeda spokesman. Suleman, 15, and Uzair, 13, were reportedly Dr Sarbuland’s sons.

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