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    Van nieuwsblog.burojansen.nl

    FRONTLINE investigates American-born terrorist David Coleman Headley, who helped plan the deadly 2008 siege on Mumbai. In collaboration with ProPublica, the film — an updated and expanded version of A Perfect Terrorist — reveals how secret electronic surveillance missed catching the Mumbai plotters, and how Headley planned another Charlie Hebdo-like assault against a Danish newspaper.

    APRIL 21, 2015 // 01:23:48
    REUTERS/Arko Datta
    Find this story at 21 April 2015

    Copyright http://www.pbs.org/


    Van nieuwsblog.burojansen.nl

    In 2008 Mumbai Attacks, Piles of Spy Data, but an Uncompleted Puzzle

    In the fall of 2008, a 30-year-old computer expert named Zarrar Shah roamed from outposts in the northern mountains of Pakistan to safe houses near the Arabian Sea, plotting mayhem in Mumbai, India’s commercial gem.

    Mr. Shah, the technology chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani terror group, and fellow conspirators used Google Earth to show militants the routes to their targets in the city. He set up an Internet phone system to disguise his location by routing his calls through New Jersey. Shortly before an assault that would kill 166 people, including six Americans, Mr. Shah searched online for a Jewish hostel and two luxury hotels, all sites of the eventual carnage.

    But he did not know that by September, the British were spying on many of his online activities, tracking his Internet searches and messages, according to former American and Indian officials and classified documents disclosed by Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor.

    They were not the only spies watching. Mr. Shah drew similar scrutiny from an Indian intelligence agency, according to a former official who was briefed on the operation. The United States was unaware of the two agencies’ efforts, American officials say, but had picked up signs of a plot through other electronic and human sources, and warned Indian security officials several times in the months before the attack.

    What happened next may rank among the most devastating near-misses in the history of spycraft. The intelligence agencies of the three nations did not pull together all the strands gathered by their high-tech surveillance and other tools, which might have allowed them to disrupt a terror strike so scarring that it is often called India’s 9/11.

    “No one put together the whole picture,” said Shivshankar Menon, who was India’s foreign minister at the time of the attacks and later became the national security adviser. “Not the Americans, not the Brits, not the Indians.”

    Mr. Menon, now retired, recalled that “only once the shooting started did everyone share” what they had, largely in meetings between British and Indian officials, and then “the picture instantly came into focus.”

    The British had access to a trove of data from Mr. Shah’s communications, but contend that the information was not specific enough to detect the threat. The Indians did not home in on the plot even with the alerts from the United States.

    Clues slipped by the Americans as well. David Coleman Headley, a Pakistani-American who scouted targets in Mumbai, exchanged incriminating emails with plotters that went unnoticed until shortly before his arrest in Chicago in late 2009. United States counterterrorism agencies did not pursue reports from his unhappy wife, who told American officials long before the killings began that he was a Pakistani terrorist conducting mysterious missions in Mumbai.

    That hidden history of the Mumbai attacks reveals the vulnerability as well as the strengths of computer surveillance and intercepts as a counterterrorism weapon, an investigation by The New York Times, ProPublica and FRONTLINE has found.

    Although electronic eavesdropping often yields valuable data, even tantalizing clues can be missed if the technology is not closely monitored, the intelligence gleaned from it is not linked with other information, or analysis does not sift incriminating activity from the ocean of digital data.

    This account has been pieced together from classified documents, court files and dozens of interviews with current and former Indian, British and American officials. While telephone intercepts of the assault team’s phone calls and other intelligence work during the three-day siege have been reported, the extensive espionage that took place before the attacks has not previously been disclosed. Some details of the operations were withheld at the request of the intelligence agencies, citing national security concerns.

    “We didn’t see it coming,” a former senior United States intelligence official said. “We were focused on many other things — Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, the Iranians. It’s not that things were missed — they were never put together.”

    After the assault began, the countries quickly disclosed their intelligence to one another. They monitored a Lashkar control room in Pakistan where the terror chiefs directed their men, hunkered down in the Taj and Oberoi hotels and the Jewish hostel, according to current and former American, British and Indian officials.

    That cooperation among the spy agencies helped analysts retrospectively piece together “a complete operations plan for the attacks,” a top-secret N.S.A. document said.

    The Indian government did not respond to several requests for official comment, but a former Indian intelligence official acknowledged that Indian spies had tracked Mr. Shah’s laptop communications. It is unclear what data the Indians gleaned from their monitoring.

    Asked if Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, Britain’s eavesdropping agency, should have had strong suspicions of a looming attack, a government official responded in a statement: “We do not comment on intelligence matters. But if we had had critical information about an imminent act of terrorism in a situation like this we would have shared it with the Indian government. So the central allegation of this story is completely untrue.”

    The attacks still resonate in India, and are a continuing source of tension with Pakistan. Last week, a Pakistani court granted bail to a militant commander, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, accused of being an orchestrator of the attacks. He has not been freed, pending an appeal. India protested his release, arguing it was part of a Pakistani effort to avoid prosecution of terror suspects.

    The story of the Mumbai killings has urgent implications for the West’s duel with the Islamic State and other groups. Like Lashkar, the Islamic State’s stealthy communications and slick propaganda make it one of the world’s most technologically sophisticated terror organizations. Al Qaeda, which recently announced the creation of an affiliate in India, uses similar tools.

    Although the United States computer arsenal plays a vital role against targets ranging from North Korea’s suspected assault on Sony to Russian cyberthieves and Chinese military hacking units, counterterrorism requires a complex mix of human and technical resources. Some former counterterrorism officials warn against promoting billion-dollar surveillance programs with the narrow argument that they stop attacks.

    That monitoring collects valuable information, but large amounts of it are “never meaningfully reviewed or analyzed,” said Charles (Sam) Faddis, a retired C.I.A. counterterrorism chief. “I cannot remember a single instance in my career when we ever stopped a plot based purely on signals intelligence.”

    The targeting of Mr. Shah’s communications also failed to detect Mr. Headley’s role in the Mumbai attacks, and National Security Agency officials did not see for months that he was pursuing a new attack in Denmark.

    “There are small successes in all of this that don’t make up for all the deaths,” said Tricia Bacon, a former State Department intelligence analyst, referring to intelligence and broader efforts to counter Lashkar. “It’s a massive failure and some small successes.”

    Lashkar’s Computer Chief
    Zarrar Shah was a digitally savvy operative, a man with a bushy beard, a pronounced limp, strong ties to Pakistani intelligence and an intense hatred for India, according to Western and Indian officials and court files. The spy agencies of Britain, the United States and India considered him the technology and communications chief for Lashkar, a group dedicated to attacking India. His fascination with jihad established him as something of a pioneer for a generation of Islamic extremists who use the Internet as a weapon.

    According to Indian court records and interviews with intelligence officials, Mr. Shah was in his late 20s when he became the “emir,” or chief, of the Lashkar media unit. Because of his role, Mr. Shah, together with another young Lashkar chief named Sajid Mir, became an intelligence target for the British, Indians and Americans.

    Lashkar-e-Taiba, which translates as “the Army of the Pure,” grew rapidly in the 1990s thanks to a powerful patron: the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), the Pakistani spy agency that the C.I.A. has worked with uneasily for years. Lashkar conducted a proxy war for Pakistan in return for arms, funds, intelligence, and training in combat tactics and communications technology. Initially, Lashkar’s focus was India and Kashmir, the mountainous region claimed by both India and Pakistan.

    But Lashkar became increasingly interested in the West. A Qaeda figure involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center was arrested in a Lashkar safe house in 2002. Investigators dismantled a Lashkar network as it plotted a bombing in Australia in 2003 while recruiting, buying equipment and raising funds in North America and Europe. In 2007, a French court convicted in absentia the ringleader, Mr. Mir. He remained at large in Pakistan under ISI protection, investigators say.

    Lashkar’s alliance with the ISI came under strain as some of the militants pushed for a Qaeda-style war on the West. As a result, some ISI officers and terror chiefs decided that a spectacular strike was needed to restore Lashkar’s cohesion and burnish its image, according to interviews and court files. The plan called for a commando-style assault in India that could also hit Americans, Britons and Jews there.

    The target was the centerpiece of Indian prosperity: Mumbai.

    Hatching a Plot
    Lashkar’s chiefs developed a plot that would dwarf previous operations.

    The lead conspirators were alleged to be Mr. Mir and Mr. Lakhvi, according to interviews and Indian court files, with Mr. Shah acting as a technical wingman, running the communications and setting up the hardware.

    In early 2008, Indian and Western counterterrorism agencies began to pick up chatter about a potential attack on Mumbai. Indian spy agencies and police forces gathered periodic leads from their own sources about a Lashkar threat to the city. Starting in the spring, C.I.A. warnings singled out the iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and other sites frequented by Westerners, according to American and Indian officials. Those warnings came from electronic and human sources, not from tracking Mr. Shah, other officials said.

    “The U.S. intelligence community — on multiple occasions between June and November 2008 — warned the Indian government about Lashkar threats in Mumbai,” said Brian Hale, a spokesman for the director of the Office of National Intelligence. “The information identified several potential targets in the city, but we did not have specific information about the timing or the method of attack.”

    United States spy agencies also alerted their British counterparts, according to a senior American intelligence official. It is unclear if the warnings led to the targeting of Mr. Shah’s communications, but by the fall of 2008, the British had found a way to monitor Lashkar’s digital networks.

    So had the Indians. But until the attacks, one Indian official said, there was no communication between the two countries on the matter.

    Western spy agencies routinely share significant or “actionable” intelligence involving threats with allies, but sometimes do not pass on less important information. Even friendly agencies are typically reluctant to disclose their sources of intelligence. Britain and India, while cooperative, were not nearly as close as the United States and Britain. And India is not included in the tightest intelligence-sharing circles of international, eavesdropping agencies that the two countries anchor.

    Intelligence officials say that terror plots are often discernible only in hindsight, when a pattern suddenly emerges from what had been just bits of information. Whatever the reason, no one fully grasped the developing Mumbai conspiracy. “They either weren’t looking or didn’t understand what it all meant,” said one former American official who had access to the intelligence and would speak only on the condition of anonymity. “There was a lot more noise than signal. There usually is.”

    Leaving a Trail
    Not long after the British gained access to his communications, Mr. Shah contacted a New Jersey company posing online as an Indian reseller of telephone services named Kharak Singh, purporting to be based in Mumbai. His Indian persona started haggling over the price of a voice-over-Internet phone service — also known as VoIP — that had been chosen because it would make calls between Pakistan and the terrorists in Mumbai appear as if they were originating in Austria and New Jersey.

    “its not first time in my life i am perchasing in this VOIP business,” Mr. Shah wrote in shaky English, to an official with the New Jersey-based company when he thought the asking price was too high, the GCHQ documents show. “i am using these services from 2 years.”

    Mr. Shah had begun researching the VoIP systems, online security, and ways to hide his communications as early as mid-September, according to the documents. As he made his plan, he searched on his laptop for weak communication security in Europe, spent time on a site designed to conceal browsing history, and searched Google News for “indian american naval exercises” — presumably so the seagoing attackers would not blunder into an overwhelming force.

    Ajmal Kasab, the only terrorist who would survive the Mumbai attacks, watched Mr. Shah display some of his technical prowess. In mid-September, Mr. Shah and fellow plotters used Google Earth and other material to show Mr. Kasab and nine other young Pakistani terrorists their targets in Mumbai, according to court testimony.

    The session, which took place in a huge “media room” in a remote camp on the border with Kashmir, was part of an effort to chart the terrorists’ route across the Arabian Sea, to a water landing on the edge of Mumbai, then through the chaotic streets. Videos, maps and reconnaissance reports had been supplied to Mr. Mir by Mr. Headley, the Pakistani-American who scouted targets.

    “The gunmen were shown all this data from the reconnaissance,” said Deven Bharti, a top Mumbai police official who investigated the attacks, adding that the terrorists were trained to use Google Earth and global positioning equipment on their own. “Kasab was trained to locate everything in Mumbai before he went.”

    If Mr. Shah made any attempt to hide his malevolent intentions, he did not have much success at it. Although his frenetic computer activity was often sprawling, he repeatedly displayed some key interests: small-scale warfare, secret communications, tourist and military locations in India, extremist ideology and Mumbai.

    He searched for Sun Tzu’s “Art of War,” previous terror strikes in India and weather forecasts in the Arabian Sea, typed “4 star hotel in delhi” and “taj hotel,” and visited mapsofindia.com to pore over sites in and around Mumbai, the documents show.

    Still, the sheer scale of his ambition might have served as a smokescreen for his focus on the city. For example, he also showed interest in Kashmir, the Indian Punjab, New Delhi, Afghanistan and the United States Army in Germany and Canada.

    He constantly flipped back and forth among Internet porn and entertainment sites while he was carrying out his work. He appeared to be fascinated with the actor Robert De Niro, called up at least one article on the singer Taylor Swift, and looked at funny cat videos. He visited unexplainable.net, a conspiracy theory website, and conducted a search on “barak obama family + muslim.”

    In late September and again in October, Lashkar botched attempts to send the attackers to Mumbai by sea. During that period, at least two of the C.I.A. warnings were delivered, according to American and Indian officials. An alert in mid-September mentioned the Taj hotel among a half-dozen potential targets, causing the facility to temporarily beef up security. Another on Nov. 18 reported the location of a Pakistani vessel linked to a Lashkar threat against the southern coastal area of Mumbai, where the attack would occur.

    Eventually Mr. Shah did set up the VoIP service through the New Jersey company, ensuring that many of his calls to the terrorists would bear the area code 201, concealing their actual origin. But in November, the company’s owner wrote to the fictitious Indian reseller, Mr. Singh, complaining that no voice traffic was running on the digital telephone network. Mr. Shah’s reply was ominous, according to Indian law enforcement officials, who obtained evidence from the company’s communications records with F.B.I. assistance after the attack.

    “Dear Sir,” Mr. Shah replied, “i will send trafic by the end of this month.”

    By Nov. 24, Mr. Shah had moved to the Karachi suburbs, where he set up an electronic “control room” with the help of an Indian militant named Abu Jundal, according to his later confession to the Indian authorities. It was from this room that Mr. Mir, Mr. Shah and others would issue minute-by-minute instructions to the assault team once the attacks began. On Nov. 25, Abu Jundal tested the VoIP software on four laptops spread out on four small tables facing a pair of televisions as the plotters, including Mr. Mir, Mr. Shah and Mr. Lakhvi, waited for the killings to begin.

    In a plan to pin the blame on Indians, Mr. Shah typed a statement of responsibility for the attack from the Hyderabad Deccan Mujahadeen — a fake Indian organization. Early on Nov. 26, Mr. Shah showed more of his hand: he emailed a draft of the phony claim to an underling with orders to send it to the news media later, according to American and Indian counterterrorism officials.

    Before the attacks started that evening, the documents show, Mr. Shah pulled up Google images of the Oberoi Hotel and conducted Wikimapia searches for the Taj and the Chabad House, the Jewish hostel run by an American rabbi from Brooklyn who would die in the strike along with his pregnant wife. Mr. Shah opened the hostel’s website. He began Googling news coverage of Mumbai just before the attacks began.

    An intercept shows what Mr. Shah was reading, on the news website NDTV, as the killings proceeded.

    “Mumbai, the city which never sleeps, was brought to its knees on Wednesday night as it came under an unprecedented multiple terror attack,” the article said. “Even as heavily armed police stormed into Taj Hotel, just opposite the Gateway of India where suspected terrorists were still holed up, blood-soaked guests could be seen carried out into the waiting ambulances.”

    A Trove of Data
    In the United States, Nov. 26 was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

    A long presidential election fight was over, and many officials in Washington had already drifted away for their long weekend. Anish Goel, director for South Asia at the National Security Council in the White House, left around 6 a.m. for the eight-hour drive to his parents’ house in Ohio. By the time he arrived, his BlackBerry was filled with emails about the attacks.

    The Pakistani terrorists had come ashore in an inflatable speedboat in a fishermen’s slum in south Mumbai about 9 p.m. local time. They fanned out in pairs and struck five targets with bombs and AK-47s: the Taj, the Oberoi Hotel, the Leopold Cafe, Chabad House, and the city’s largest train station.

    The killing was indiscriminate, merciless, and seemingly unstoppable over three horrific days. In raw, contemporaneous notes by analysts, the eavesdroppers seem to be making a hasty effort to understand the clues from the days and weeks before.

    “Analysis of Zarrar Shah’s viewing habits” and other data “yielded several locations in Mumbai well before the attacks occurred and showed operations planning for initial entry points into the Taj Hotel,” the N.S.A. document said.

    That viewing history also revealed a longer list of what might have been future targets. M.K. Narayanan, India’s national security adviser at the time, appeared to be concerned with that data from Mr. Shah in discussions with American officials shortly after the attacks, according to the WikiLeaks archive of American diplomatic cables.

    A top secret GCHQ document described the capture of information on targets that Mr. Shah had identified using Google Earth.

    The analysts seemed impressed by the intelligence haul — “unprecedented real-time active access in place!” — one GCHQ document noted. Another agency document said the work to piece the data together was “briefed at highest levels nationally and internationally, including the US National Security Adviser.”

    As early reports of many casualties came in, Mr. Goel said the focus in Washington shifted to a question already preoccupying the White House: “Is this going to lead to a war between Pakistan and India?” American officials who conducted periodic simulations of how a nuclear conflict could be triggered often began with a terror attack like this one.

    On Nov. 30, Mr. Goel was back at his office, reading a stack of intelligence reports that had accumulated on his desk and reviewing classified electronic messages on a secure terminal.

    Amid the crisis, Mr. Goel, now a senior South Asia Fellow at the New America Foundation, paid little attention to the sources of the intelligence and said that he still knew little about specific operations. But two things stood out, he said: The main conspirators in Pakistan had already been identified. And the quality and rapid pacing of the intelligence reports made it clear that electronic espionage was primarily responsible for the information.

    “During the attacks, it was extraordinarily helpful,” Mr. Goel said of the surveillance.

    But until then, the United States did not know of the British and Indian spying on Mr. Shah’s communications. “While I cannot comment on the authenticity of any alleged classified documents, N.S.A. had no knowledge of any access to a lead plotter’s computer before the attacks in Mumbai in November 2008,” said Mr. Hale, the spokesman for the Office of the director of National Intelligence.

    As N.S.A. and GCHQ analysts worked around the clock after the attacks, the flow of intelligence enabled Washington, London and New Delhi to exert pressure on Pakistan to round up suspects and crack down on Lashkar, despite its alliance with the ISI, according to officials involved.

    In the stacks of intelligence reports, one name did not appear, Mr. Goel clearly recalls: David Coleman Headley. None of the intelligence streams from the United States, Britain or India had yet identified him as a conspirator.

    The Missing American
    Mr. Headley’s many-sided life — three wives, drug-smuggling convictions and a past as an informant for the United States Drug Enforcement Administration — would eventually collapse. But for now, he was a free man, watching the slaughter on television in Lahore, Pakistan, according to his later court testimony. At the time, he was with Faiza Outalha, his Moroccan wife, having reconciled with her after moving his Pakistani wife and four children to Chicago.

    Mr. Headley’s unguarded emails reflected euphoria about Lashkar’s success. An exchange with his wife in Chicago continued a long string of incriminating electronic communications by Mr. Headley written in a transparent code, according to investigators and case files.

    “I watched the movie the whole day,” she wrote, congratulating him on his “graduation.”

    About a week later, Mr. Headley hinted at his inside information in an email to fellow alumni of a Pakistani military school. Writing about the young terrorists who carried out the mayhem in Mumbai, he said: “Yes they were only 10 kids, guaranteed. I hear 2 were married with a daughter each under 3 years old.” His subsequent emails contained several dozen news media photos of the Mumbai siege.

    Almost immediately, Mr. Headley began pursuing a new plot with Lashkar against a Danish newspaper that had published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. He went to Denmark in January and cased the newspaper, meeting and exchanging emails with its advertising staff, according to his later testimony and court records. He sent messages to his fellow conspirators and emailed himself a reconnaissance checklist of sorts, with terms like “Counter-Surveillance,” “Security (Armed?)” and “King’s Square” — the site of the newspaper.

    Those emails capped a series of missed signals involving Mr. Headley. The F.B.I. conducted at least four inquiries into allegations about his extremist activity between 2001 and 2008. Ms. Outalha had visited the United States Embassy in Islamabad three times between December 2007 and April 2008, according to interviews and court documents, claiming that he was a terrorist carrying out missions in India.

    Mr. Headley also exchanged highly suspicious emails with his Lashkar and ISI handlers before and after the Mumbai attacks, according to court records and American counterterrorism officials. The N.S.A. collected some of his emails, but did not realize he was involved in terrorist plotting until he became the target of an F.B.I. investigation, officials said.

    That inquiry began in July 2009 when a British tip landed on the desk of a rookie F.B.I. counterterrorism agent in Chicago. Someone named “David” at a Chicago pay phone had called two suspects under surveillance in Britain, planning to visit.

    He had contacted the Britons for help with the plot, according to testimony. Customs and Border Protection used his flight itinerary to identify him while en route, and after further investigation, the F.B.I. arrested him at Chicago O’Hare Airport that October, as he was preparing to fly to Pakistan. For his role in the Mumbai attacks, he pleaded guilty to 12 counts and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

    After disclosures last year of widespread N.S.A. surveillance, American officials claimed that bulk collection of electronic communications led to Mr. Headley’s eventual arrest. But a government oversight panel rejected claims giving credit to the N.S.A.’s program to collect Americans’ domestic phone call records. Case files and interviews with law enforcement officials show that the N.S.A. played only a support role in the F.B.I. investigation that finally identified Mr. Headley as a terrorist and disrupted the Danish plot.

    The sole surviving attacker of the Mumbai attack, Mr. Kasab, was executed in India after a trial. Although Pakistan denies any role in the attacks, it has failed to charge an ISI officer and Mr. Mir, who were indicted by American prosecutors. Though Mr. Shah and other Lashkar chiefs had been arrested, their trial remains stalled six years after the attack.

    Mr. Menon, the former Indian foreign minister, said that a lesson that emerged from the tragedy in Mumbai was that “computer traffic only tells you so much. It’s only a thin slice.” The key is the analysis, he said, and “we didn’t have it.”

    James Glanz, of The New York Times, reported from India, New York and Washington; Sebastian Rotella, of ProPublica, reported from Chicago, India, New York and Washington; and David E. Sanger, of The New York Times, reported from Washington. Andrew W. Lehren, of The New York Times, contributed reporting from New York, and Declan Walsh, of The New York Times, from London. Jeff Larson, of ProPublica, and Tom Jennings and Anna Belle Peevey, of FRONTLINE, contributed reporting from New York.

    Related Film: A Perfect Terrorist
    FRONTLINE and ProPublica teamed up in 2011 to investigate the mysterious circumstances behind David Coleman Headley’s rise from heroin dealer and U.S. government informant to master plotter of the 2008 attack on Mumbai. Also explore our interactive look at Headley’s web of betrayal.


    Find this story at 21 December 2014
    Copyright http://www.pbs.org/

    America sacrificed Mumbai to keep Headley in play (2013)

    Van nieuwsblog.burojansen.nl

    Five years on, this is what we now know. A valued CIA proxy, who infiltrated the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), a banned Pakistani Islamist outfit, planned the Mumbai attacks in which 166 people were killed, and more than 300 injured. David Headley, an American citizen, conceived, scoped and ran supplies for the terrorist ‘swarm’ operation, so called because several independent units simultaneously hit their enemy in multiple locations, coming out of nowhere, multiplying fear and panic.
    Headley selected Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, as the theatre of operations while acting as a ‘prized counter-terrorism asset’ for the United States, according to senior officers in the Joint Terrorism Task Force, who described his covert career as running for eleven years. When the LeT’s ten-man suicide squad sailed from a creek in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi, at dawn on 22 November 2008, they navigated towards a landing spot in Mumbai, marked on a GPS provided by the Washington DCborn maverick. Reaching the world’s fourth largest metropolis four nights later, LeT’s team fanned out, following routes plotted by Headley over an intense two-year period of surveillance . Shortly before 10pm, the gunmen shot dead tourists at the Leopold Cafe, massacred more than 60 Indian commuters at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station, and then laid siege to a Jewish centre and two five-star hotels, including the luxurious Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai’s most famous landmark. Ten men would keep the mega-city burning for more than three days.
    This month sees the fifth anniversary of the Mumbai attacks, and the most complete survey to date of former and serving intelligence agents, diplomats, police, and survivors from 12 countries, reveals that the CIA repeatedly tipped off their counterparts in India to an imminent attack, using intelligence derived from their prize asset Headley. What they did not reveal was that their source, a public school educated Pakistani-American dilettante and entrepreneur, was allowed to remain in place even as the attack was realized. His continuing proximity to the terrorist outfit would eventually lead to a showdown between Washington and New Delhi.
    Researching ‘The Siege’, we learned that Indian intelligence agents accused their US counterparts of protecting Headley and leaving him in the field, despite the imminent threat to Mumbai. Irate Indian officials claimed that Headley’s Mumbai plot was allowed to run on by his US controllers, as to spool it in would have jeopardized his involvement in another critical US operation . Having infiltrated the LeT, Headley also won access to al-Qaida, making him the only US citizen in the field who might be able to reach Osama bin Laden. Three years before America’s most wanted terrorist was finally run to ground in Abbottabad, this was an opportunity that some in the US intelligence community were not willing to give up.
    Phone and email intercepts seen by us confirm how Headley had become trusted by Ilyas Kashmiri, a former LeT commander and senior al-Qaida operative, who led an al-Qaida military affiliate, known as Brigade 313. Based in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, Ilyas Kashmiri was, at one point, considered as a potential successor to Osama bin Laden until his death in June 2011.
    In 2009, several months after the Mumbai atrocity, agents from the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), India’s foreign intelligence agency, confronted the CIA with these claims, according to accounts seen by us. India is said to have accused the US of pursuing ‘a narrow self-interest’ and having some responsibility in the deaths in Mumbai.
    However, the CIA stood firm, one senior agent claiming that ‘Indian incompetence’ was to blame for the attack. In 2006, the US had warned India that the LeT was forming a suicide squad to attack India from the sea. More than 25 increasingly detailed bulletins followed that named Mumbai as the prime objective, and identified several targets, including the Taj hotel. Additional bulletins suggested that a team of highly trained gunmen using AK47s and RDX, military-grade explosives, would seek to prolong the attack by taking hostages and establishing a stronghold, before a final shoot-out that they hoped would be broadcast live around the world on TV.
    Some of these bulletins were eventually distilled into notices that reached the police patrolling Mumbai . However, the assessments were ‘ignored or downplayed’ until July 2008 when a senior police officer, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) with responsibility for security in the district of South Mumbai where the Taj was located, took action . On 12 August 2008, DCP Vishwas Nangre Patil spent nine hours with the Taj’s security staff, writing a report to his seniors that concluded: ‘Overall, the [Taj] management has done very little to adapt the hotel to the changing security environment in the city.’ When a truck bomb devastated the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan, on 20 September 2008, Patil drew up an urgent list of enhanced security measures for the Taj, including snipers on the roof, blast barriers on the driveway and armed guards on all doors. Although security was tightened as a result, most of these measures were withdrawn again after DCP Patil went on leave in the second week of October 2008.
    David Headley was a bizarre mix of Eastern and Western cultures and made for a near-perfect mole. His mother was Serrill Headley, a socialite and adventuress from Maryland, whose great-aunt had funded women’s rights and Albert Einstein’s research . His father was Syed Gilani, a renowned radio broadcaster and diplomat from Lahore, who had been seconded to Voice of America. When Headley was born in Washington DC in 1960, he was initially named Daood Saleem Gilani. Within a year, the family had relocated to Pakistan, where Gilani was brought up as a Muslim and schooled at an exclusive military academy. After his parents divorced and Serrill returned to the US to open a bar in Philadelphia, named, suitably, the Khyber Pass, Gilani, aged 17, rejoined her. He lived with her in a flat above the Khyber Pass — and soon immersed himself in the American way of life. Later he moved to the Upper West Side in New York, where he opened a video rental shop, Fliks.
    By 1984, Gilani was a six-foot-two American boy, with a fair complexion, broad shoulders and an impressive mop of curly blond hair. Only his distinctively mismatched eyes — one blue one brown —hinted at his mixed heritage and muddled ancestry. Dressed in crumpled Armani jeans, a leather jacket slung over his shoulder, and a £10,000 Rolex Submariner poking out of his cuff, he was already looking for more lucrative opportunities than video rental. That year, he used his dual identities to smuggle half a kilogram of heroin from Pakistan’s tribal areas to New York, selling it through the video store. When German customs officers caught him four years later at Frankfurt airport en-route to Philadelphia, with two kilograms of heroin, Gilani informed on his co-conspirators to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). While, his accomplices were jailed for between eight and ten years, he became a paid DEA informer, infiltrating Pakistan’s drug syndicates . Some US agents warned that Gilani was too volatile to be trusted, and in 1997, he was arrested again in New York for trafficking. He offered another deal, suggesting he infiltrate Islamist radicals who were starting to worry the CIA and FBI.
    A letter put before the court reveals prosecutors conceded that while Gilani might have supplied up to fifteen kilograms of heroin worth £947,000, he had also been ‘reliable and forthcoming’ with the agency about ‘a range of issues’ . Sentenced to fifteen months in the low-security Fort Dix prison, New Jersey, while his co-conspirator received four years in a high-security jail, he was freed after only nine months. In August 1999, one year after hundreds had been killed in simultaneous Al-Qaeda bomb attacks on American embassies in Africa, he returned to Pakistan, his ticket paid for by the US government.
    By 2006, Daood had joined the inner circle of Lashkar-e-Toiba, which had been proscribed by the UN five years earlier. Coming up with the plan to attack Mumbai and launch LeT onto the international stage, he changed his name to David Headley and applied for a new US passport. He would use it to travel incognito to India on seven surveillance trips, selecting targets in Mumbai which he photographed using a camera he borrowed from his mother-in-law .
    Headley was chaotic and his Mumbai plan was almost undermined by his private life. By 2008, he was married to three women, none of who knew of the others’ existence, two living apart in Pakistan and one in New York. The wife in the US, however, grew suspicious after he championed the 9/11 attackers, reporting him to the authorities. Shortly before the Mumbai operation, his cousin Alex Headley, a soldier in the US Army also considered reporting him after Headley announced that he was naming his newborn son Osama and described him as ‘my little terrorist’ . His Pakistani half-brother Danyal Gilani, who worked as a press officer for the Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, disowned him.
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    Eventually, Headley’s mother informed on him to the FBI. Her son was only ever interested in himself, she warned, arguing that his selfishness was born out of his lack of a sense of self. None of the complainants heard anything back, with Serrill Headley, who died ten months before Mumbai, confiding in a friend that her son ‘must have worked for the US government’ .
    Five years on, with American officials continuing to remain silent over Headley (and the conflict of interest that enabled him to run amok in the field), and with New Delhi still prevented from accessing him, the full truth about Washington’s culpability in 26/11 remains muddied. In India, where no postmortem of any depth has been carried out into Mumbai, the scale of the intelligence failings — the inability of IB and RAW to develop the leads passed them by the CIA and others — will also never be fully exposed.

    Adrian Levy & Cathy Scott Clark | Nov 24, 2013, 05.15 AM IST

    Find this story at 24 November 2013

    Copyright http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/


    Van nieuwsblog.burojansen.nl

    It has been called the most spectacular terror attack since 9/11. On the night of Nov. 26, 2008, 10 men armed with guns and grenades launched an assault on Mumbai with a military precision that left 166 dead. India quickly learned the attackers belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani militant group associated with Pakistan’s secretive intelligence agency, the ISI. But what wasn’t known then was that a Lashkar/ISI operative had been casing the city for two years, developing a blueprint for terror. His name was David Coleman Headley, and he’d been chosen for the job because he had the perfect cover: he was an American citizen. FRONTLINE and ProPublica reporter Sebastian Rotella team up to investigate the mysterious circumstances behind Headley’s rise from heroin dealer and U.S. government informant to master plotter of the 2008 attack on Mumbai.

    NOVEMBER 22, 2011 // 53:40

    Find this story at 22 November 2011
    Copyright http://www.pbs.org/


    Van nieuwsblog.burojansen.nl

    FRONTLINE investigates American-born terrorist David Coleman Headley, who helped plan the deadly 2008 siege on Mumbai. In collaboration with ProPublica, the film — an updated and expanded version of A Perfect Terrorist — reveals how secret electronic surveillance missed catching the Mumbai plotters, and how Headley planned another Charlie Hebdo-like assault against a Danish newspaper.

    APRIL 21, 2015 // 01:23:48

    Find this story at 21 April 2015

    Copyright http://www.pbs.org/

    Guantánamo Bay files: Al-Jazeera cameraman held for six years (2011)

    Van nieuwsblog.burojansen.nl

    An al-Jazeera journalist was held at Guantánamo for six years partly in order to be interrogated about the Arabic news network, the files disclose. Sami al-Hajj, a Sudanese cameraman, was detained in Pakistan after working for the network in Afghanistan after 9/11, and flown to the prison camp where he was allegedly beaten and sexually assaulted.

    His file makes clear that one of the reasons he was sent to Guantánamo was “to provide information on … the al-Jazeera news network’s training programme, telecommunications equipment, and newsgathering operations in Chechnya, Kosovo and Afghanistan, including the network’s acquisition of a video of UBL [Osama bin Laden] and a subsequent interview with UBL”.

    The file shows that the camp authorities were convinced that al-Hajj was an al-Qaida courier who had provided funds for a charity in Chechnya suspected of having links with Bin Laden.

    However, the contents of the file also appear to support complaints made by al-Hajj to his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, that during his first 100-plus interrogations he was never once questioned about the allegations he faced, and that he eventually demanded that he be questioned about what he was supposed to have done wrong.

    Stafford Smith believes the US military authorities were attempting to force al-Hajj to become an informer against his employers.

    Al-Hajj was finally released in May 2008.

    Ian Cobain
    The Guardian, Monday 25 April 2011

    Find this story at 25 April 2011

    © 2015 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    CIA’s Pakistan drone strikes carried out by regular US air force personnel

    Former drone operators claim in new documentary that CIA missions flown by USAF’s 17th Reconnaissance Squadron

    A regular US air force unit based in the Nevada desert is responsible for flying the CIA’s drone strike programme in Pakistan, according to a new documentary to be released on Tuesday.

    The film – which has been three years in the making – identifies the unit conducting CIA strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas as the 17th Reconnaissance Squadron, which operates from a secure compound in a corner of Creech air force base, 45 miles from Las Vegas in the Mojave desert.

    Several former drone operators have claimed that the unit’s conventional air force personnel – rather than civilian contractors – have been flying the CIA’s heavily armed Predator missions in Pakistan, a 10-year campaign which according to some estimates has killed more than 2,400 people.

    Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, said this posed questions of legality and oversight. “A lethal force apparatus in which the CIA and regular military collaborate as they are reportedly doing risks upending the checks and balances that restrict where and when lethal force is used, and thwart democratic accountability, which cannot take place in secrecy.”

    The Guardian approached the National Security Council, the CIA and the Pentagon for comment last week. The NSC and CIA declined to comment, while the Pentagon did not respond.

    The role of the squadron, and the use of its regular air force personnel in the CIA’s targeted killing programme, first emerged during interviews with two former special forces drone operators for a new documentary film, Drone.

    Brandon Bryant, a former US Predator operator, told the film he decided to speak out after senior officials in the Obama administration gave a briefing last year in which they said they wanted to “transfer” control of the CIA’s secret drones programme to the military.

    Bryant said this was disingenuous because it was widely known in military circles that the US air force was already involved.

    “There is a lie hidden within that truth. And the lie is that it’s always been the air force that has flown those missions. The CIA might be the customer but the air force has always flown it. A CIA label is just an excuse to not have to give up any information. That is all it has ever been.”

    Referring to the 17th squadron, another former drone operator, Michael Haas, added: “It’s pretty widely known [among personnel] that the CIA controls their mission.”

    Six other former drone operators who worked alongside the unit, and who have extensive knowledge of the drone programme, have since corroborated the claims. None of them were prepared to go on the record because of the sensitivity of the issue.

    Bryant said public scrutiny of the programme had focused so far on the CIA rather than the military, and it was time to acknowledge the role of those who had been carrying out missions on behalf of the agency’s civilian analysts.

    “Everyone talks about CIA over Pakistan, CIA double-tap, CIA over Yemen, CIA over Somalia. But I don’t believe that they deserve the entirety of all that credit for the drone programme,” he said. “They might drive the missions; they might say that these are the objectives – accomplish it. They don’t fly it.”

    Another former drone operator based at Creech said members of the 17th were obsessively secretive.

    “They don’t hang out with anyone else. Once they got into the 17th and got upgraded operationally, they pretty much stopped talking to us. They would only hang out among themselves like a high school clique, a gang or something.”

    Shamsi said the revelations, if true, raised “a host of additional pressing questions about the legal framework under which the targeted killing programme is carried out and the basis for the secrecy that continues to shroud it.”

    She added: “It will come as a surprise to most Americans if the CIA is directing the military to carry out warlike activities. The agency should be collecting and analysing foreign intelligence, not presiding over a massive killing apparatus.

    “We don’t know precisely what rules the CIA is operating under, but what we do know makes clear that it’s not abiding by the laws that strictly limit extrajudicial killing both in and out of traditional battlefields. Now we have to ask whether the regular military is violating those laws as well, under the secrecy that the CIA wields as sword and shield over its killing activities.

    “Congressional hearings in the last year have made it embarrassingly clear that Congress has not exercised much oversight over the lethal programme.”

    In theory, the revelation could expose serving air force personnel to legal challenges based on their direct involvement in a programme that a UN special rapporteur and numerous other judicial experts are concerned may be wholly or partly in violation of international law.

    Sitting 45 miles north-west of Las Vegas in the Mojave desert, Creech air force base has played a key role in the US drone programme since the 1990s.

    The 432d wing oversees four conventional US air force Predator and Reaper squadrons, which carry out surveillance missions and air strikes in Afghanistan.

    There is another, far more secretive cluster of units within the wing called the 732nd Operations Group, which states that it “employs remotely piloted aircraft in theatres across the globe year-round”.

    This operations group has four drone squadrons, which all appear to be linked with the CIA.

    The 30th Reconnaissance Squadron “test-flies” the RQ-170 Sentinel, the CIA’s stealth drone which made headlines after one was captured over Iran in December 2011.

    The 22nd and 867th Reconnaissance Squadrons each fly Reaper drones, the more heavily armed successor to the Predator.

    But it is the last of the four units – the 17th Reconnaissance Squadron – that is now under the most scrutiny.

    It is understood to have 300 air crew and operates about 35 Predator drones – enough to provide five or six simultaneous missions during any 24-hour period.

    It operates from within an inner compound at Creech, which even visiting military VIPs are unable to access, say former base personnel. Former workers at Creech say the unit was treated as the “crown jewels” of the drone programme.

    “They wouldn’t even let us walk by it, they were just so protective of it,” said Haas, who for two years was a drone operator. He was also an operational trainer at Creech.

    “From what I was able to gather, it was pretty much confirmed they were flying missions almost exclusively in Pakistan with the intent to strike.”

    In the Operations Cell, which receives video feeds from every drone “line” in progress at Creech, mission co-ordinators from the 17th were kept segregated from all the others.

    Established as a regular drone squadron in 2002, the unit transitioned to its new “customer” in 2004 at the same time that CIA drone strikes began in Pakistan, former personnel have said.

    The operators receive their orders from civilian CIA analysts who ultimately decide whether – and against whom – to carry out a strike, according to one former mid-level drone commander.

    Creech air force base would only confirm that the 17th squadron was engaged in “global operations”.

    “The 732nd Operations Group oversees global operations of four squadrons – the 17th Reconnaissance Squadron, 22nd Reconnaissance Squadron, 30th Reconnaissance Squadron and the 867th Reconnaissance Squadron. These squadrons are all still active … their mission is to perform high-quality, persistent, multi-role intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in support of combatant commanders’ needs.”

    Although the agency’s drone strikes have killed a number of senior figures in al-Qaida and the Taliban, the CIA also stands accused by two United Nations investigators of possible war crimes for some of its activities in Pakistan. They are probing the targeting of rescuers and the bombing of a public funeral.

    • Tonje Schei’s film Drone premieres on Arte on 15 April.

    • Chris Woods is the author of Sudden Justice: America’s Secret Drone Wars, which is published next winter in the US and Europe.

    Chris Woods
    The Guardian, Monday 14 April 2014 14.30 BST

    Find this story at 14 April 2014

    © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    ‘Not bug splats’: Artists use poster-child in Pakistan drone protest

    A poster of a young child has appeared in north-west Pakistan to raise awareness of the numerous drone attacks the region suffered. Artists who created the image hope military commanders will think twice about shooting after seeing the portrait.

    More than 200 children are believed to have died in the heavily-bombed Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa according to the website notabugsplat.com. ‘Bug splat’ is the name given by the military to a person who has been killed by a drone. Viewing the body through a grainy computer image gives the impression that an insect has been crushed.

    Now a giant portrait of a young child has been produced to try and raise awareness of civilian casualties in the region. The hope is now the drone operator will see a child’s face on his or her computer screen, rather than just a small white dot and may think twice before attacking indiscriminately.

    The child featured in the poster is nameless, but according to the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, who helped to launch the project in collaboration with a number of artists, both parents were lost to a drone attack.

    Drone raids in Pakistan started in 2004 under George W. Bush’s administration as part of the US War on Terror. The vast majority of strikes have focused on the Federally Administered Tribal Area’s and the Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa area due to their proximity to Afghanistan, which the country invaded following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

    Image from notabugsplat.comImage from notabugsplat.com

    The United States says drones, which have been continued under Barak Obama’s presidency are more accurate than any other weapon and a vital tool for killing Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders. But Pakistani deaths from drone strikes are estimated at between 2,537 and 3,646 over the period from 2004 to 2013, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism says, drawing on media reports.

    Civilian deaths have long strained relations between the United States and Pakistan. The issue of drone strikes, while remaining largely out of US headlines, has become one of the most polarizing in Pakistan. While previous reports have made it clear that Pakistani leaders have authorized at least some drone strikes, they publicly maintain that that American unmanned aerial vehicles constantly buzzing in the skies undermine Pakistan’s sovereignty.

    Islamabad has tried to convince the United Nations Human Rights Council to pass a resolution that would force US drone strikes to adhere to international law. However, America has not been forthcoming and boycotted recent talks in Geneva.

    The number of drone strikes in Pakistan has at least fallen over the last month as the Pakistani government asked the US to limit the number of attacks as they entered peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban.

    Published time: April 07, 2014 13:29
    Edited time: April 08, 2014 15:04 Get short URL

    Find this story at 7 April 2014

    © Autonomous Nonprofit Organization “TV-Novosti”, 2005–2014

    Revealed: US drone attack in Pakistan killed German ‘security contact’

    A German national died in a US drone strike in Pakistan, a report revealed on Monday. The 27-year-old convert to Islam claimed to have close links with German authorities and even to be in contact with security officials.

    The strike occurred on February 16, 2012, some 35 km south of the Pakistani town of Mir Ali, which itself is about 30 kilometers south east of the Afghan border.

    However, it is only now that details have begun to emerge. The man in question has been identified as Patrick K., from Hesse, central Germany, according to the German paper, Süddeutsche Zeitung and the NDR broadcaster.

    An entry at a jihadist forum, which also produced video evidence of his death, stated the man’s full name was Patrick Klaus. Two separate German-language video messages (Part one; Part two) posted by German Islamists show Klaus smiling at the camera as he calls on his compatriots with the same beliefs to: “Follow me”.

    The German national apparently switched to Islam at the age of 14, reports Die Welt. In 2011, he moved to Waziristan, a mountainous region near Afghanistan’s border back in 2011 to live with his wife, who is thought to be a Pakistani national.

    The reports state that at the time of the strike Patrick K. had been travelling in a pick-up truck alongside several Uzbek fighters. They were heading in the direction of South Waziristan when a MQ-1 Predator drone missile hit the vehicle. Nine others died alongside Patrick K., and the vehicle itself was left completely burnt out.

    “He says that he was in close contact with an official from the BKA [Federal Criminal Police Office] in Hesse, who allegedly recruited him successfully,” claims the SZ paper, a link to which can be found in German.

    It is also thought that an official from the domestic intelligence agency – the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution – had made efforts to communicate with him.

    Patrick KlausPatrick Klaus

    Patrick K. had previously been arrested in Bonn in 2011, according to Süddeutsche Zeitung, in the run-up to the Social Democrat’s German Festival to celebrate 150 years of the party’s existence. Security services were on high alert and feared a possible attack. However, suspicions about him were quickly dispelled and the possibility of an attack was dismissed.

    Patrick K. travelled to Pakistan a few days afterwards, according to the paper, and subsequently lost contact with the officials that he had allegedly been in contact with. Whilst in Pakistan, he was in contact with the notorious Chouka brothers – Yassin and Mounir Chouka – two German militants of Moroccan descent, who are part of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, deemed a terrorist organization by the UK, US and Russia.

    At the time of the 2012 attack’s occurrence, there had been over 260 US drone strikes in the previous eight years. A week prior to the strike, several senior leaders were also killed in an attack in North Waziristan. The area is known for high militant activity, and the US government deems the strikes a necessary and carefully considered part of the struggle against militant groups in its “War against Terror” operation.

    Pakistan has repeatedly condemned US drone strikes in the country, with a high court ruling in May last year that strikes in the tribal belt should be considered war crimes. Demonstrations against strikes have also taken place, with a former cricket star-turned politician, Imran Khan, leading a road block demonstration in November against the practice, of which he is a harsh critic.

    Published time: January 13, 2014 17:12
    Edited time: January 13, 2014 17:49 Get short URL

    Find this story at 13 January 2014

    © Autonomous Nonprofit Organization “TV-Novosti”, 2005–2014

    Deutscher Konvertit bei Drohnenangriff getötet

    Deutscher Konvertit durch Drohne getötetBild vergrößern Patrick K. ist der erste deutsche Konvertit, der bei einem Drohnenangriff getötet worden ist. (Foto: OH)

    Erstmals ist ein deutscher Konvertit bei einem Drohnenangriff im afghanisch-pakistanischen Grenzgebiet ums Leben gekommen. Der Angriff soll im Februar 2012 stattgefunden haben. Dies geht aus einer Videobotschaft deutscher Islamisten hervor. Der Offenbacher Patrick K. war den Behörden bekannt: Er soll vor Jahren in Hessen als Informant der islamistischen Szene angeworben worden sein.

    Von Marie Delhaes
    Erstmals ist ein deutscher Konvertit in Waziristan bei einem Drohnenangriff ums Leben gekommen. Dies geht aus einer Videobotschaft deutscher Islamisten hervor. Der Name des Toten wird mit Patrick K. aus Offenbach angegeben.

    Angeblich soll er nach Informationen von SZ.de und des NDR bei einem Drohnenangriff am 16. Februar 2012 in der Nähe der Stadt Mir Ali getötet worden sein. Der 27-Jährige lebte zu diesem Zeitpunkt seit weniger als einem Jahr in Waziristan. Patrick K.s Ehefrau, wahrscheinlich eine Pakistanerin, reiste mit ihm ins afghanisch-pakistanische Grenzgebiet aus.

    In der Videobotschaft, die in zwei Teilen in einem dschihadistischen Forum veröffentlicht wurde und der SZ vorliegt, ist Patrick K. einige Minuten lang zu sehen, er lächelt in die Kamera. In dem Video wird auch sein Leben in Deutschland geschildert. Demnach ist er bereits im Winter 2001 als 16-Jähriger zum Islam konvertiert. Angeblich war er von deutschen Sicherheitsbehörden als Informant der islamistischen Szene angeworben worden.

    Nach eigenen Angaben stand er in engem Kontakt mit einem Beamten vom BKA in Hessen, der ihn erfolgreich angeworben haben soll. Auch der Verfassungsschutz soll ihn kontaktiert haben. Patrick K. war im Vorfeld des Bonner Deutschlandfestes 2011 in Offenbach festgenommen worden. Es hatte in der islamistischen Szene Gerüchte wegen eines möglichen Anschlags in Bonn gegeben. Der Verdächtige wurde aber bereits einige Stunden später wieder auf freien Fuß gesetzt, da es keine konkreten Hinweise auf einen angeblich geplanten Anschlag gab. Einige Tage später reiste K. nach Pakistan aus. Angeblich wollte er in Kontakt mit dem BKA bleiben, er setzte sich jedoch in die Stammesgebiete ab.


    Bei dem Drohnenangriff am 16. Februar war er angeblich mit mehreren usbekischen Kämpfern in einem Pickup unterwegs. Sie fuhren rund 35 Kilometer südlich von Mir Ali in Richtung Südwaziristan, als Raketen der MQ-1 Predator Drohne ihr Fahrzeug trafen.

    Augenzeugen berichteten, dass auch eine Stunde nach dem Angriff noch vier Drohnen über dem brennenden Autowrack kreisten. Das Fahrzeug war vollkommen ausgebrannt und keiner der Insassen überlebte. Bei dem Angriff starben insgesamt zehn Menschen.

    Nach Zählungen des britischen Dokumentationszentrums “The Bureau of Investigative Journalism” steht die Attacke in einer langen Reihe von Drohnenangriffen. Es war der 263. Angriff seit 2004 und der neunte Drohnenangriff im Jahr 2012. Eine Woche zuvor, am 9. Februar, wurden bei einem Angriff, der ebenfalls in Nordwaziristan stattfand, mehrere hochrangige Führungspersonen getötet. Unter ihnen war Badar Mansoor, der Kommandeur der pakistanischen Taliban mit starken Verbindungen zu al-Qaida.

    Die Brüder Chouka
    Die Meldung vom Tod des deutschen Konvertiten kam von den Bonner Brüdern Mounir und Yassin Chouka. Die Choukas melden sich regelmäßig aus Waziristan. Sie sind 2008 über den Jemen ins afghanisch-pakistanische Grenzgebiet ausgereist. Seitdem sind sie die Nachrichtensprecher des Dschihads. Viele Jahre veröffentlichten sie ihre Videobotschaften unter dem Label “Studio Jundullah” (Armee Gottes) der Islamischen Bewegung Usbekistan (IBU). Seit einigen Monaten hat sich das geändert. Nun erscheint ihr zweites Video unter dem Namen “Al-Khandaq”, eine Anspielung auf eine historische Schlacht, bei der der Prophet gekämpft hat.

    12. Januar 2014 12:24

    Find this story at 12 January 2014

    © Süddeutsche Zeitung Digitale Medien GmbH

    Karim Khan, Anti-Drone Activist Who Lost Family Members to U.S. Strike, Goes Missing in Pakistan

    An anti-drone activist and journalist has gone missing in Pakistan just days before he was due to travel to Europe to speak with Parliament members about the impact of the U.S. drone wars. The legal charity Reprieve says Karim Khan was seized in the early hours of February 5 by up to 20 men, some wearing police uniforms. He has not been seen since. Khan’s brother and son were both killed in a drone strike. In addition to public activism, Khan was also engaged in legal proceedings against the Pakistani government for their failure to investigate the killings of his loved ones. We are joined by filmmaker Madiha Tahir, who interviewed Khan for her documentary, “Wounds of Waziristan.”

    “These are people seeking peaceful, legal routes for restitution for a great harm that been done to them,” Tahir says. Of drone victim’s families’ difficulty gaining legal traction, she says, “It speaks to the secretive nature of the American state.”

    This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: We begin today’s show in Pakistan, where an anti-drone activist and journalist has gone missing just days before he was due to travel to Europe to speak with Parliament members about the impact of the U.S. drone wars. The legal charity Reprieve says Karim Khan was seized in the early hours of February 5th by up to 20 men, some wearing police uniforms. He has not been seen since. Karim Khan’s brother and son were both killed in a drone strike. He told his story in the recent documentary Wounds of Waziristan.

    KARIM KHAN: [translated] In 2009, my home was attacked by a drone. My brother and son were martyred. My son’s name was Hafiz Zaenullah. My brother’s name was Asif Iqbal. There was a third person who was a stone mason. He was a Pakistani. His name was Khaliq Dad.

    Their coffins were lying next to each other in the house. Their bodies were covered with wounds. Later, I found some of their fingers in the rubble.

    As you know, my son had memorized the Qur’an. He was a security guard at the girls’ school, and he was studying for grade 10. My brother had a master’s degree in English. He was a government employee. He loved to debate, but he was so short, he didn’t reach the dais, so they wouldn’t give him many chances to make speeches.

    AMY GOODMAN: Karim Khan speaking in the film Wounds of Waziristan. Since his son and brother were killed in 2009, Karim became a prominent anti-drone activist. He’s been missing since last week. The executive director of Reprieve, Clare Algar, said in a statement, quote, “We are very worried about Mr Khan’s safety. He is a crucial witness to the dangers of the CIA’s covert drone programme, and has simply sought justice for the death of his son and brother through peaceful, legal routes,” she said.

    Well, for more, we’re joined by Madiha Tahir. She made the film Wounds of Waziristan. She is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in Foreign Affairs, Vice, BBC, PRI’s The World, Global Post and other outlets, co-editor of the anthology Dispatches from Pakistan.

    Madiha Tahir, thanks so much for being here. We broadcast Wounds of Waziristan and got tremendous response to it. Now one of the key figures who you interview in it, Karim Khan, is gone, at least for the moment. Explain who he is, his significance.

    MADIHA TAHIR: Karim Khan is actually one of the first people to bring a case in the Pakistani courts on—about drone attacks. So he’s the one who started to bring cases forward, and he has been working with a lawyer, Shahzad Akbar, who has been fighting on behalf of drone survivors and families of the dead. And Karim was working with Shahzad to help, you know, not only in his own case, but also to help and assist in other cases that were being brought forward in Pakistani courts to demand restitution and demand transparency for—you know, for these attacks.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: Madiha, can you give us a sense of how many such cases have been filed and whether other anti-drone activists in Pakistan have been targeted in any way or in fact picked up in the way that he was, Karim Khan?

    MADIHA TAHIR: So, Karim is the first, that I know of, that has been picked up who is an anti-drone activist, but disappearances in Pakistan are very common. It’s a common state tactic. It has been happening in Balochistan, where there is a separatist movement, for a long time now. And, in fact, three are families protesting. There were mass graves found in Balochistan of missing people quite recently, only a few weeks ago. So this is a very common tactic by the state, and now, clearly, the Pakistani establishment, which is to say the intelligence agencies and the Pakistani army, want to send a message to the anti-drone movement to tell us to—you know, to tell the movement to shut up, basically.

    AMY GOODMAN: I want to go back to your film, Wounds of Waziristan. In this clip, Karim speaks to you, Madiha Tahir.

    KARIM KHAN: [translated] You asked me a question about terrorism. Can I ask you one? What is the definition of “terrorism” or “terrorist”?

    MADIHA TAHIR: [translated] I don’t know. What do you think it is?

    KARIM KHAN: [translated] I think there is no bigger terrorist than Obama or Bush, those who have weaponry like drones, who drop bombs on us while we are in our homes. There are no greater terrorists than them.

    AMY GOODMAN: There again, Karim Khan, who went missing last week. And the people who took him, how many people saw this go down?

    MADIHA TAHIR: His family was at home. His wife and his children were at home when it happened, so they saw it, and there are other eyewitnesses who saw it. He was picked up by 15 to 20 people. It seems to be people who were dressed in plainclothes, as well as police officers, who picked him up and disappeared him. His whereabouts are unknown. His family has not been able to find out where he’s being kept. Shahzad Akbar, the lawyer, did file something on his behalf in the Lahore court, and the court has ordered the intelligence agencies now to produce him by February 20th before the court. So we have to wait for that date and see what happens. But the best scenario would be that he is released before then.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: And Karim Khan moved from Waziristan to Rawalpindi. Can you talk about the significance of the area from which he was picked up and whether it’s significant that—or whether it ’ widely believed that the people who were responsible for picking him up were the ISI, the intelligence services, or the military, or a combination?

    MADIHA TAHIR: I mean, I think it is significant. It speaks to the nature of—again, it speaks to the nature of state violence in Pakistan. I think the news media both in the United States and in Pakistan has been—and, you know, rightly so—discussing the attacks by militants that have happened in Pakistan, and those acts, you know, have been reprehensible. Just two days ago, there was a bomb blast in a Peshawar cinema that killed anywhere between 11 to 13 people. But it’s important to realize that that violence happens in a context, and that context is state violence, which has been brutal, in the sense of it’s very quiet, there are disappearances like this. In this case, it’s a high-profile activist, but there are many people who we don’t even know have been picked up and disappeared by the state. So it is—you know, there’s a cyclical pattern between state violence and the non-state violence that is happening in Pakistan.

    AMY GOODMAN: Madiha, talk about what he would say if he did get out. Where was he going in Europe? Who was he going to be addressing?

    MADIHA TAHIR: Karim Khan was actually slated to speak to several European parliaments next week, and he was going to talk about the drone attack that killed his son and his brother on New Year’s Eve in 2009. And he would have talked about the cost of these attacks on the people in the tribal areas in Pakistan, who are some of the most marginalized communities in Pakistan. For simply for wanting to speak out about what happened to him and what is happening and continues to happen in that area, he has been disappeared by the Pakistani state. And certainly, I think, you know, we shouldn’t forget that the United States has backed and funded the Pakistani military, and this is happening, so, in conjunction with these states working together, both Pakistan and the United States.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: Madiha, you also spoke about the increasing cycle of violence in Pakistan, both state violence and anti-state violence. Could you draw the links between what you think is the correlation, or if there is any, between the increasing number of drone strikes and really the unprecedented number of suicide bombs that occur now in Pakistan, a place which never knew suicide bombs 10 years—you know, 10 years ago?

    MADIHA TAHIR: Yes. I mean, I think it’s—we have to be wary of drawing simple causes. So it’s not that, you know, suicide bombings are happening because. You know, it’s not a straightforward cause; however, there is a linkage. And you’re right, there is a correlation. The suicide attacks have increased in the last decade as Pakistan has been attacked by drones and has participated in the war on terror. The violence in Pakistan has gotten so much worse, not just suicide bombings, but all sorts of blasts happening. So, certainly, the war on terror, if it was meant to protect Pakistanis, is not working at all. It has actually had an adverse effect. By some estimates, you know, anywhere—you know, something like 30,000 Pakistanis have been killed in attacks by non-state actors. So, the war on terror is something that is something that the U.S. and the Pakistani government have been sort of working on together, but it’s certainly not had—it’s certainly not been to the—on behalf of Pakistanis.

    AMY GOODMAN: Madiha, I want to go back to your film, Wounds of Waziristan, where you speak with Karim Khan’s lawyer, the man you just mentioned, Shahzad Akbar.

    MADIHA TAHIR: This is Shahzad Akbar. He’s Karim’s lawyer. They’ve filed a case against drone attacks in Pakistani courts. He told me why it’s difficult to narrate his clients’ lives for the court and the media.

    SHAHZAD AKBAR: For example, you know, when I have a client and we want—OK, this was a person who was killed, so we’d like to construct his life on photographs. You know, you have family photos and—of when he was young, when he was in school, when he was in teens and when he grew up—in all those photos. They’re missing. They’re not there, because, you know, you don’t have the culture of taking pictures for that matter.

    AMY GOODMAN: In 2012, Democracy Now! spoke to Shahzad Akbar, the co-founder of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, an organization that represents victims of drone strikes in Pakistani courts. Again, he is Karim Khan’s lawyer. And Akbar explained why he decided to visit the United States at that time.

    SHAHZAD AKBAR: I, on behalf of the victims in Pakistan, wanted to reach out to Americans so that they can make an informed judgment on drones. Their opinion matter, and it’s going to matter in next elections, as well. So they need to know what drones are doing to humans in Pakistan, many of them who are civilians. And it has been said by independent groups and journalists, as well, a bigger—higher number of civilian victims. And that has to be reported to the American public so they can make an informed judgment on drones, that if American government should let be killing people overseas in their names.

    AMY GOODMAN: Now, this is Shahzad Akbar, who you’ve just watched and listened to. He was in the United States in 2012. But this past year, when some of his clients came to the United States, drone victims—the Rafiq Rehman family, little girl, little boy, both injured when their grandmother was blown up in a drone strike—he was not granted a visa to come to the United States. The significance of this, Madiha Tahir? Of course, it made it much more difficult. They didn’t speak English. He would have been as much their navigator and their comfort. They were in a strange land, in fact a land where the drone came from that killed their grandmother.

    MADIHA TAHIR: I mean, these are people that are seeking peaceful, legal routes for restitution for something—for a great harm that has been done to them and for a loss they will suffer for the rest of their lives. And so, to not allow their lawyer is to say that the U.S. doesn’t care about legal—about the rule of law and about the legal process at all, to not allow their representatives to come to the United States and to speak, you know, to stand by his clients and to speak alongside them. I think it’s highly problematic, but I think it speaks to the secretive nature of the American state.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Madiha, can you give us a sense of how many victims or families of victims of drone strikes have attempted to bring their cases to the courts, either in Pakistan or indeed in the U.S.?

    MADIHA TAHIR: I’m not sure exactly what the figures are at this point, because the cases are at different levels. Some of them are still—they’re—Shahzad and others are actually still in the process of gathering information in order to, you know, get the cases out there. So the most significant cases right now are—you know, there’s been the Karim Khan’s case and also Noor Khan, who is the son of the tribal—the mullah who was killed on March 17th in a drone attack on a jirga, a gathering, that killed upwards of 40, 50 people.

    AMY GOODMAN: The Obama administration is facing criticism over reports it’s debating whether to kill a U.S. citizen living in Pakistan who’s allegedly plotting terror attacks. On Monday, I spoke with journalist Glenn Greenwald, who recently launched TheIntercept.org with Jimmy Scahill and Laura Poitras. I asked Glenn about the initial Associated Press article that broke the story. And folks can go to our website at democracynow.org to hear what Glenn responded. I think, actually, we have it for you right now.

    GLENN GREENWALD: The very idea that the U.S. government suspects an American citizen, not of having already engaged in crimes, but of planning to do so, as Jeremy said, it’s like a pre-crime framework, where the U.S. government tries to guess at who will engage in crimes in the future and then treat them as a criminal—but then, not just treat them as a criminal, but declare them guilty in secret proceedings, not involving any court, but by the decree of the president of the United States to literally, A, declare the person guilty, B, impose the death penalty, and then, C, go out and carry out the execution—just like they did with Anwar Awlaki and Samir Khan. And now they are obviously viewing it as a regular practice. I mean, no American, no matter your political affiliation or ideology, should accept the idea that the president of the United States has the power to order American citizens killed, not on a battlefield or anywhere else that is in a war zone, but simply on the suspicion that they intend to engage in future criminal behavior. To describe that power is to describe the most extremist and out-of-control government you can get.

    AMY GOODMAN: That is Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept. Mahiha?

    MADIHA TAHIR: Yes, I mean, I agree with Glenn Greenwald. It is—you know, it is a kind of pre-crime for which this American citizen is now going to be possibly attacked for by the United States. I think it’s important to remember that most of the people who are being attacked in exactly a similar way are not Americans, they are Pakistanis, Yemenis, Somali, etc. In Pakistan, as you know, there has been the tactic of what are called signature strikes, which are strikes that aren’t actually targeting a specific, named, high-value target or anything of that nature, but rather people whose behavioral patterns, for one reason or another, appear to trigger a suspicion in the U.S. intelligence apparatus that they may or may not be militants. We don’t actually know. But simply on that basis, on very faulty intelligence, much of which is happening through cellphone—unreliable cellphone data, you know, a lot of these attacks are carried out, and why we have the figures that we have of the numbers of people killed.

    Wednesday, February 12, 2014

    Find this story at 12 February 2014

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    Secret military intelligence unit ran 8 covert operations abroad?

    NEW DELHI: Technical Support Division (TSD), the secretive military intelligence unit set up by former Army chief General V K Singh which is accused of trying to overthrow the Omar Abdullah government, has claimed to have carried out at least eight successful covert operations in a foreign country.

    But the claims are so sensitive and sensational that it would be a key reason why the government will not hand over the inquiry report into the functioning of TSD to an external investigation agency.

    Sources said though the Army has recommended an independent investigation by an agency such as the CBI, the defence ministry has not fully endorsed the suggestion. In fact, official MoD notings have said the investigation won’t move forward because of lack of concrete evidence even if it is handed over to an external agency.

    Gen Singh has already dismissed all allegations, saying it was the Congress-led UPA government’s vendetta politics. “This is simple vendetta as some people are not comfortable with me sharing the dais with Narendra Modi to espouse the cause of ex-servicemen in the country,” Gen Singh had said over the weekend.

    Sources said the inquiry report also doesn’t conclusively prove that the money claimed to have been paid to various people reached the intended beneficiaries. “These are all based on statements of TSD officials, former DGMI (director general of military intelligence) and others. There is no concrete evidence that can stand the scrutiny of law,” a senior official.

    According to sources, among the most sensational claims in the report is that the TSD carried out eight specific covert operations in a foreign country. It has claimed to have spent a few crores on those operations. There is no corroborative evidence for the claims, but if it were to emerge in public, it would be a major embarrassment for New Delhi.

    Besides, the report prepared by director general military operations Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia has claimed that Rs 1.19 crore was given to Ghulam Hassan Mir, agriculture minister of Jammu and Kashmir, to topple the Omar Abdullah government.

    The report also claimed that Rs 2.38 crore was given to Hakikat Singh who set up an NGO called ‘Jammu and Kashmir Humanitarian Service Organisation’ that was in turn linked to ‘Yes Kashmir’ which filed a PIL against Army chief Gen Bikram Singh in the alleged fake encounter case in Jangalat Mandi when he was a brigadier.

    Bhatia’s report has also claimed that TSD spent Rs 8 crore to buy interception equipment from a Singapore-based company in November 2010. Though this was officially for Srinagar-based 15 Corps, it was misused for tapping into phone calls in New Delhi. In March 2012, the equipment was destroyed in Jammu and Kashmir. Then director general of military intelligence Lt Gen D S Thakur told the inquiry that he ordered destruction on instruction from the top brass.

    The report also said that at least three retired lieutenant generals, including an Army commander, were aware of some of the payoffs of military intelligence funds for TSD activities.

    Sources said the MoD recommendation was to look at closing structural gaps in the system. Among them was to ensure that the intelligence agencies do not overlap in their function. “Why should MI have such operations in foreign countries,” a source asked.

    Josy Joseph, TNN Sep 24, 2013, 02.45AM IST

    Find this story at 24 September 2013

    © 2013 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.

    Indian army spooks carried out covert operations in Pakistan

    NEW DELHI – The Indian military intelligence unit set up by former army chief General VK Singh was involved in sensitive covert operations in Pakistan and was even on the trail of 26/11 mastermind and Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed, officials associated with it have told HT.
    “Our main task was to combat the rising trend of state-sponsored terrorism by the ISI and we had developed contacts across the Line of Control in a bid to infiltrate Hafiz Saeed’s inner circle,” an official who served with the controversial Technical Services Division (TSD) said.
    Asked for an official response, an army spokesperson said, “The unit has been disbanded. Details of the unit, which was the subject matter of an inquiry, are only known to the Chief and a few senior officers. It is for the defence ministry now to initiate any further inquiries.”
    The spook unit was set up after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks on a defence ministry directive asking for the creation of covert capability.
    Army documents, perused by HT, reveal the senior-most officers signed off on the formation of this unit. File No A/106/TSD and 71018/ MI give details of approvals by the Director General Military Intelligence, vice-chief and chief of army staff.
    The TSD – disbanded after allegations that it spied on defence ministry officials through off-the-air interceptors – was raised as a strategic force multiplier for preparing, planning and executing special operations “inside depth areas of countries of interest and countering enemy efforts within the country by effective covert means”.
    But it then got caught in an internecine battle between army chiefs. The TSD – which reported directly to Gen VK Singh – used secret service funds to initiate a PIL against current chief General Bikram Singh. As reported by HT in October 2012, secret funds were paid to an NGO to file the PIL, in a bid to stall Bikram Singh’s appointment as chief.
    However, covert ops were the unit’s essential mandate and deniability was built into it and it reads, “The proposed organization (TSD) will enable the military intelligence directorate to provide a quick response to any act of state-sponsored terrorism with a high degree of deniability.” Its task was to carry out special missions and “cover any tracks leading to the organisation”.
    Though covert operations were formally shut down by IK Gujral when he was PM in 1997, sources reveal the TSD carried out several such operations within and outside the country – such as Op Rehbar 1, 2 and 3 (in Kashmir), Op Seven Sisters (Northeast) and Op Deep Strike (Pakistan). Controversy is dogging the unit once again after disclosures in The Indian Express that secret service funds were also used to destabilise the Omar Abdullah government in Held Kashmir. The BJP has raised questions over the timing of the disclosures. While the defence ministry has had the inquiry report since March, the revelations have come soon after Singh shared the stage with the saffron party’s PM candidate Narendra Modi last Sunday.

    September 23, 2013
    The Nation Monitoring

    Find this story at 23 September 2013

    © The Nation

    Random afluisteren in India

    In het voorjaar van 2010 was India een paar weken in de ban van een afluisterschandaal, maar vervolgens verdween dat in de vergetelheid. Dit is opmerkelijk gezien de staat van dienst van de inlichtingenwereld in India. Schandalen die gewone Indiërs raken, maar ook corruptie, slecht management, verkeerde technologie en apparatuur en bovenal incompetentie lijken de boventoon te voeren bij de NTRO, die verantwoordelijk wordt gehouden voor het schandaal. NTRO, National Technical Research Organisation, gebruikt IMSI Catchers om voor lange tijd en op grote schaal politici, ambtenaren, zakenmensen, beroemdheden en gewone Indiërs af te luisteren.

    Het gebruik van een IMSI catcher moet nauwlettend gecontroleerd worden. Het afluisterschandaal in India laat zien wat de gevaren zijn van het toelaten van het apparaat in een veiligheidsstelsel. Een IMSI catcher is een mobiele zendmast. Het International Mobile Subscriber Identity nummer is een uniek nummer dat aan een SIM kaart voor een mobiele telefoon is gekoppeld. Aan het IMSI nummer zit tevens een uniek telefoonnummer. Het IMSI nummer bestaat uit drie groepen getallen, 111/22/3333333333. Aan het nummer is te zien uit welk land de SIM kaart komt. De eerste cijfers (111) staan voor het land, Nederland heeft bijvoorbeeld 204 als code. De tweede set cijfers (22) onthullen de provider, KPN heeft bijvoorbeeld 08 en Vodafone 04. De laatste cijfers, maximaal tien cijfers, zijn het unieke abonnementsnummer. Dit is niet hetzelfde als het telefoonnummer. Telefoons waar twee SIM kaarten in zitten, hebben ook twee IMSI nummers.
    De IMSI catcher fungeert als mobiele antenne die het gsm verkeer in de buurt opvangt, hierbij gaat het alleen om uitgaande gesprekken. Bij gewone mobiele telefoons vindt de versleuteling van de conversaties plaats in de dichtstbijzijnde mast. De IMSI catcher hoeft de informatie dus niet te kraken, maar kan simpelweg de gesproken of geschreven data lezen. De catcher moet het telefoonverkeer wel doorgeleiden naar een reguliere mast anders kan er geen contact worden gemaakt met de persoon die door de gsm wordt gebeld. De catcher fungeert als tussenstation om de data ofwel direct af te vangen ofwel niet versleuteld door te geleiden. Het doel van de catcher is natuurlijk ook? om het telefoonnummer van een beller te achterhalen. Voor opsporingsinstanties die het gsm nummer van een verdachte niet kunnen traceren is dit een handig middel. Men plaatst een catcher in de buurt van de persoon in kwestie, vangt de nummers allemaal af en kan nagaan welk nummer men moet hebben. Bij politie-invallen kan het apparaat ook zijn dienst bewijzen door op locatie het telefoonverkeer te monitoren, vooral als binnen een onderzoek niet alle gsm-nummers bekend zijn. Tevens kan de catcher worden gebruikt voor spionage doeleinden, vooral spionage die de overheid niet aan de grote klok wil hangen. Bij het afluisteren met een IMSI catcher heeft men namelijk geen medewerking van een Telecom provider nodig. De IMSI catcher laat echter wel een spoor achter die een gebruiker kan wijzen op onregelmatigheden in de transmissie en het apparaat is niet altijd succesvol. De IMSI catcher was tot begin 2011 ook te koop door particulieren. Verschillende bedrijven in New Delhi, Gurgaon en Noida boden de ‘off-the-air-monitoring’ systemen aan. In 2011 besloot de regering de handel van de apparaten aan banden te leggen. Private ondernemingen bleken namelijk gebruik te maken van de catcher.

    In India is de IMSI Catcher op grote schaal ingezet voor spionage doeleinden, zo onthulde het weekblad Outlook in het voorjaar van 2010. Vanaf waarschijnlijk eind 2006 tot en met april 2010 werden politieke tegenstanders, mensen die promotie zouden maken, leden van het kabinet en allerlei andere politieke en niet politieke figuren door één van de Indiase geheime diensten afgeluisterd. De gesprekken werden afgeluisterd, opgenomen en bewaard. De dienst die verantwoordelijk is voor het afluisteren is de National Technical Research Organisation, de NTRO. De NTRO werd na de Kargil oorlog in 1999 opgezet. Dit conflict ontstond toen het Pakistaanse leger posities in het district Kargil, in de regio Kashmir innam. India reageerde furieus en verdreef de Pakistanen uit een groot deel van Kargil. De laatste posities werden door Pakistan verlaten na diplomatieke druk. De Kargil Review Committee concludeerde in 1999 dat een van de redenen van het uit de hand lopen van het conflict gebrekkige inlichtingen was. De Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) en de National Technical Facilities Organization (NTFO) die al snel NTRO werd gedoopt, werden opgezet.
    De NTRO begon zijn werkzaamheden in april 2004. De NTRO is de Indiase stofzuiger van data, zowel internet als telecommunicatie data, en monitort het Indiase grondgebied en luchtruim. De NTRO gebruikt hiervoor allerlei technische hulpmiddelen, van satellieten tot IMSI catchers. De Technology Experiment Satellite (TES), een satelliet die is uitgerust met een camera die foto’s kan maken van voorwerpen van een meter, is een van de hulpmiddelen. De satelliet werd in oktober 2001 gelanceerd en de beelden worden beheerd door de Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Beelden worden ook commercieel verhandeld door een bedrijf dat verbonden is aan de ISRO, Antrix Corporation. BBC News rapporteerde dat India door TES ook beelden bezit van de oorlog in Afghanistan. In 2001 was India het tweede land naast de Verenigde Staten dat een satelliet bezit die beelden kan genereren van voorwerpen van een meter groot. Een van de functionarissen die centraal staat in de introductie van de afluister praktijken door de NTRO is dhr. Narayanan. Narayanan heeft decennia lang een centrale rol gespeeld in de Indiase inlichtingenwereld. Hij was hoofd van het Intelligence Bureau van 1988 tot 1992, en diende daarbij onder vijf verschillende minister-presidenten. Daarna nam hij een adviserende rol op zich onder de directe verantwoordelijkheid van de minister-president van India. In zijn rol als National Security Advisor (NSA) introduceerde hij de nieuwe afluistertechnologie in India in 2005. Narayanan wordt wel de ‘super spook’ van India genoemd, omdat hij zijn gehele wat? leven? al in de kringen van de Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), het Intelligence Bureau en de NSA heeft bewogen. Zijn verhouding met minister-president Manmohan Singh was toen hij National Security Advisor niet close. Hij had bezwaren tegen de nucleaire samenwerking tussen Amerika en India en de toenadering van India en Pakistan. In de Wikileaks Cables over India die begin 2011 zijn vrijgegeven door The Hindu wordt Narayanan echter wel omschreven als een belangenbehartiger van de relatie met de Verenigde Staten. In een van de berichten wordt hij omschreven als de smeerolie voor zaken die voor de Amerikanen interessant zijn.
    De NTRO valt onder de verantwoordelijkheid van de inlichtingendienst buitenland van India, de Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), hoewel het een zekere mate van onafhankelijkheid heeft. De NTRO faciliteit waar het afluisteren van de communicatie met het buitenland wordt gedaan ligt in de buurt van Kala Ghoda, zuidelijk Mumbai. Bij Malad, dat in de buurt ligt van Kala Ghoda, komen de datakabels die internet- en telecommunicatie tussen continenten mogelijk maken het Indiase vasteland binnen. De NTRO zit er letterlijk boven op. Hierbij gaat het om communicatie tussen India en het buitenland. De inlichtingendiensten van India hebben daarnaast genoeg binnenlandse capaciteit om de iedere Indiase burger af te luisteren.

    Het afluisterschandaal van de NTRO werd eind april 2010 door het weekblad Outlook onthuld. In de editie van 3 mei van dat jaar zegt een senior inlichtingenofficier dat de NTRO geen toestemming nodig heeft om een telefoon te tappen. Het gaat volgens hem om het onderscheppen van een signaal tussen de gsm en de antenne. Volgens de officier gaat het daarom niet om het afluisteren van een telefoonnummer. Het apparaat zou signalen binnen een cirkel van twee kilometer kunnen onderscheppen. De medewerker van de NTRO lijkt te suggereren dat er helemaal niets mis is met het afluisteren met behulp van een IMSI catcher, het signaal wordt gewoon opgevangen en bewaard. Op dezelfde wijze lijkt de minister van Binnenlandse Zaken van India, P. Chidambaram, de storm rond het afluisterschandaal te willen sussen. In een van de eerste reacties verklaarden bronnen binnen de regering dat het ging om een proef van de NTRO. De regering had geen opdracht gegeven, dus is zij niet verantwoordelijk, en er hoeft geen onderzoek te komen. Volgens de minister waren in de bestanden van de NTRO ook geen bewijzen gevonden van het afluisteren van politici. Tevens wees de regering erop dat de NTRO niet zelfstandig operaties uitvoert, maar werkt onder auspiciën van andere diensten. Bij deze diensten zou het gaan om zeven inlichtingendiensten: het Intelligence Bureau, de Research and Analysis Wing, de Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Enforcement Directorate, Narcotics Control Bureau, Economic Intelligence Unit and Directorate-General of Investigations, Income-Tax (CBDT). Een oud medewerker van de NTRO voegde daar in de Economic Times van 24 april 2010 nog aan toe dat de dienst slechts onderzoek doet naar technische hulpmiddelen. Volgens hem luistert de dienst geen individuen af en wordt het NTRO in diskrediet gebracht door verongelijkte werknemers.
    Ook de politie heeft de bevoegdheid om af te luisteren. De minister van Binnenlandse Zaken stelde dat ruim dertig instanties in de verschillende Indiase deelstaten de mogelijkheid hebben om te tappen en af te luisteren. Volgens minister Chidambaram ligt daarom de macht tot het uitvoeren van deze observaties niet alleen op nationaal niveau, maar ook op deelstaatniveau. Dat dit ook daadwerkelijk aan de hand is werd in dezelfde periode geïllustreerd door een afluisterschandaal van de CBDT. Deze dienst had lobbyisten van de telecommunicatie industrie afgeluisterd ten tijde van de toewijzing van mobiele breedband netwerken met de 2G technologie. Bij deze onthulling werd niet de CBDT beschuldigd van illegale taps, maar kregen de bedrijven het te verduren. De afgeluisterde gesprekken onthulden de grote invloed van de industrie op de besluitvorming van de regering. De CBDT luisterde de lobbyisten af in het kader van een onderzoek naar belastingfraude. Zowel politiek als binnen de juridische wereld worden er vraagtekens gezet bij het afluisteren van mensen die worden verdacht van belastingfraude.
    Hoewel de onthulling in de Outlook erg gedetailleerd was, was het antwoord van de minister en de dienst dat er niets aan de hand is. Er wordt niet afgeluisterd en er is geen bewijs gevonden dat het is gebeurd, luidde het officiële regeringsstandpunt. De Indiase Telecomwet van 1885 en de toegevoegde wijziging van 2008 maken afluisteren echter wel mogelijk. Bij het afluisteren gaat het om uitzonderlijke situaties en niet om een standaard regel. Het was dus wel degelijk een schending van wettelijke regels. In de week erna bevestigden enkele inlichtingenofficieren anoniem dat er op grote schaal afgeluisterd wordt. Naast de vier politici waarover Outlook in het nummer van 3 mei 2010 publiceerde bleken er veel meer mensen te zijn afgeluisterd. Het gaat daarbij naast politici om ambtenaren, zakenmensen, gewone Indiërs en beroemdheden. Volgens de anonieme officieren werden de gesprekken zonder wettelijke toestemming afgeluisterd . De officieren vertellen in de Outlook van 10 mei 2010 dat zij de opdrachten mondeling kregen of soms op een geel memo papiertje. Volgens de officieren waren de afluisteroperaties allemaal illegaal , zonder toestemming van de NSA of het kabinet van de minister-president. Er mocht ook geen administratie van worden bijgehouden. De IMSI catchers werden ingezet om bijvoorbeeld in Delhi, de hoofdstad van India, rond te rijden om gsm verkeer op te vangen. Eigenlijk waren het ‘fishing operaties’ op zoek naar dat ene gesprek dat mogelijk een gevaar kan zijn voor de nationale veiligheid. Het systeem scant alle nummers zonder onderscheid te maken en kan alles opnemen. Op elk willekeurig moment kan het apparaat dat in India is gebruikt maximaal 64 gesprekken opnemen. Sommige gesprekken werden vernietigd, andere werden bewaard. Het wordt uit het interview met de medewerkers niet duidelijk wie er verantwoordelijk was voor het besluit om gesprekken al dan niet te vernietigen. In The Times of India worden anonieme bronnen aangehaald die zeggen dat het afluisteren van de politici was uitgevoerd door “junior officials”, maar dat hun werk deel uitmaakt van een grotere operatie.
    Volgens de medewerkers van de inlichtingendiensten gaat het om in totaal vijf apparaten die door de NTRO gebruikt worden. Van de ritten van de auto met de IMSI Catcher worden twee logboeken bijgehouden. Het ene logboek bevat geen enkel detail van de operatie. Het andere logboek is “top secret” en bevat gedetailleerde informatie over de locatie waar het apparaat heeft afgeluisterd. De precieze route, bestemmingen, data en tijden zijn in dat logboek te vinden. Medewerkers van de inlichtingendienst vertelden dat het niet alleen de NTRO hoeft te zijn die verantwoordelijk is voor het tappen. Verschillende van de zeven inlichtingendiensten en zelfs de politie hebben een IMSI catcher. Bronnen in de inlichtingenwereld hebben het weekblad Outlook aangegeven dat er in totaal 90 apparaten zijn aangeschaft door de verschillende instanties. Vooral in regio’s waar veel moslims wonen gebeurt dit volgens de officier. De inlichtingenofficieren die in Outlook worden geïnterviewd worden ondersteund in hun verhalen door een oud- directeur van het Intelligence Bureau (IB), dhr. Dhar. Hij vertelde het Indiase weekblad Tehelka dat de NTRO namen moet hebben gekregen om af te luisteren. Tevens verklaart hij dat politieke leiders regelmatig inlichtingendiensten de opdracht geven om mensen af te luisteren zonder schriftelijke toestemming. Medewerkers van diensten die weigeren aan deze afluisterpraktijken mee te doen, worden ontslagen volgens de oud-directeur van het Intelligence Bureau.

    Iedereen is verdacht
    Het is onduidelijk wat het doel is van de afluisteroperatie die zeker vier jaar heeft geduurd. Hoewel de verantwoordelijk minister in zijn eerste reactie had aangegeven niets van het afluisteren af te weten, gaven regeringsbronnen aan de The Times of India toe dat de NTRO wel toezicht uitvoerde. Welk toezicht wordt door de Times niet vermeld. Volgens de bronnen staan die activiteiten onder directe verantwoordelijkheid van de National Security Advisor of het kabinet van de minister-president waaronder de Research and Analysis Wing en de NTRO valt. Bij de NSA zou het gaan om dhr. Narayanan, de man die aan de wieg stond van het afluisteren in 2005. In de Indiase media worden ook verbanden gelegd met de lange traditie van de Indian National Congress (INC), een regeringspartij, om de oppositie in diskrediet te brengen door het verzamelen van politiek gevoelige informatie door het inzetten van inlichtingendiensten. Het dagblad The Pioneer vergelijkt het met de werkwijze van de Indiase roddelpers, maar dan veel serieuzer. Volgens de krant gaat het er bij het afluisteren om om te achterhalen wie elkaar ontmoeten, met wie iemand contact heeft, met wie personen van de elite slapen en vergelijkbare vragen uit de roddelbladen. Het lijkt er volgens de krant op dat de inlichtingendiensten de levens van politieke spelers in kaart probeert te brengen.
    De Indian National Congress (INC) is echter niet de enige politieke partij die deze middelen inzet. Het lijkt erop dat het binnen de Indiase democratie de gewoonte is om de oppositie op allerlei manieren in de gaten te houden. De wijze waarop de oppositie het schandaal gebruikte om de regering onder druk te zetten, lijkt deze stelling ook te ondersteunen. De oppositie is geschokt en wil uitleg van de minister-president, maar daadwerkelijke wettelijke hervormingen werden niet met zoveel woorden geëist.
    De verantwoordelijk minister voor de afluisteroperatie is Chidambaram. Chidambaram is lid van de Indian National Congress (INC). Onder de afgeluisterde politici bevond zich ook de minister voor Consumentenzaken, voedsel en distributie, Sharad Pawar van de Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), een afsplitsing van de INC. De NCP neemt op dit moment ook deel aan de regering samen met het INC. Ook leden van de partij van de minister van Binnenlandse Zaken zoals dhr. Digvijay Singh werden afgeluisterd, evenals leden van de oppositie, zoals het hoofd van de Communistische Partij India, dhr. Karat. Het afluisteren vond niet alleen nationaal plaats, ook in deelstaten van India zoals in Bihar werden hoge politici afgeluisterd, zoals de premier van Bihar, dhr. Kumar.
    De onderwerpen van de gesprekken die Outlook in haar bezit heeft, zijn uiteenlopend. Bij de gesprekken van de minister van Consumentenzaken ging het om het grote schandaal rond de Indian Premier League (IPL), de Indiase cricket competitie, IPL-gate, waar sprake was van witwassen van geld en het vooraf bepalen van de winnaar van een wedstrijd. De premier van Bihar belde een collega om te lobbyen voor meer geld voor zijn deelstaat. En van de communistische partij zijn gesprekken bewaard uit 2008 toen er oppositie werd gevoerd tegen de aankoop van nucleaire technologie van de Verenigde Staten. Hoewel Karat tegenstander was van de overeenkomst tussen India en de Verenigde Staten stond hij onderhandelingen met minister-president Singh niet in weg. Hij fungeerde ook als een belangrijke exponent van de oppositie in India tegen de overeenkomst. De gegevens over de afluisterpraktijk van de NTRO geven nu aan dat dhr. Karat toen is afgeluisterd. Uiteindelijk bleef de Communistische Partij bij haar standpunt om tegen te stemmen, maar de regering behaalde toch een nipte overwinning. De Samajwadi Party (SP) en tien leden van de BJP, beide oppositie partijen, hielpen de regering aan haar meerderheid. De overeenkomst met de Amerikanen kon doorgaan. Naar nu blijkt werden er tijdens de onderhandelingen over het akkoord met de Amerikanen parlementariërs omgekocht. In documenten van de Amerikaanse vertegenwoordiging in India die door Wikileaks zijn buitgemaakt, blijkt dat de Amerikanen op de hoogte waren van de steekpenningen die parlementariërs ontvingen om voor te stemmen. Of de afgeluisterde gesprekken hebben bijgedragen aan het omkopen van leden van het parlement is niet duidelijk.

    DE NTRO als schandaal
    De NTRO heeft absoluut geen schoon blazoen. De korte historie van de dienst kent al vele schandalen, gebrekkig functioneren, politieke benoemingen en tekenen van corruptie. India kent geen Commissie van Toezicht op de Inlichtingen en Veiligheidsdiensten, wel een algemene controledienst, te vergelijken met de algemene Rekenkamer. De regering stelde dhr. P.V. Kumar van de Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) aan om de misstanden bij de NTRO te onderzoeken. Kumar is een oud medewerker van de Research and Analysis Wing en werd na zijn onderzoek begin 2011 aangesteld om de NTRO te leiden. In hoeverre er een einde is gekomen aan de misstappen is dan ook niet duidelijk. Een van de schandalen naast het afluisteren van politici is de benoeming van de tweede man van de dienst, dhr. Vijararaghavan, en zijn betrokkenheid bij een deal met het Amerikaanse bedrijf CISCO. Na de deal met CISCO werd de dochter van Vijararaghavan door CISCO in dienst genomen. De positie van de tweede man staat ook ter discussie omdat hij naast zijn functie bij de NTRO ook nog zijn oude functie als hoofd van Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) vervult en tevens directeur is van een lobbygroep van de elektronica-industrie. Ook diverse andere benoemingen worden door de CAG onderzocht op hun onvolkomenheden. Het gerechtshof in Delhi oordeelde verder dat er een onderzoek moet komen naar administratieve en financiële onregelmatigheden bij de aanstelling van ruim zeventig werknemers. Vacatures zouden zijn opgevuld met niet capabele mensen zonder de juiste opleiding en voor sommige functies is zelfs geen vacature uitgeschreven, maar die zijn onderhands opgevuld.
    Naast het personeelsbeleid zijn er ook vragen gerezen over de aankoop van apparatuur door de dienst. Een medewerker schafte zonder overleg met het agentschap dat over de aankopen van gevoelige apparatuur gaat, computers aan die vitale Chinese onderdelen bevat. De spanningen tussen India en China fluctueren al decennia lang tussen gespannen en vriendschappelijk. De laatste jaren gaat het beter, maar tien jaar geleden had de verhouding tussen de twee landen een nieuw dieptepunt bereikt na Indiase kernproeven. En dat de relatie verre van close is maakten Canadese onderzoekers van de Information Warfare Monitor (IWM) duidelijk toen zij India erop wezen dat begin 2010 Chinese hackers zich de toegang hadden verschaft tot computers van het Indiase leger. IWM had de Indiase overheid er een jaar eerder al op gewezen dat haar computers en servers kwetsbaar waren voor aanvallen uit vooral China. Op de computers die in 2010 gehackt zijn, zou informatie staan over het raketprogramma van India, de artillerie-brigades van Assam, luchtmachtbases en andere militaire informatie. De Canadese onderzoekers produceerden een rapport over de Chinese elektronische infiltratie, ‘Shadow in the Cloud’. In mei 2010 bleek dat de schade van de Chinese spionage operatie aanzienlijk is. Computers en servers van diplomatieke vestigingen van India in Kabul, Moskou, Dubai, Abuja, in de Verenigde Staten, Servië, België, Duitsland, Cyprus, het Verenigd Koninkrijk en Zimbabwe waren door de Chinezen overgenomen. Ook het kantoor van de National Security Advisor was besmet en zelfs bedrijven als Tata, YKK India en DLF Limited. Naast deze militair en economisch strategische spionage hadden de Chinezen het ook gemunt op de Tibetaanse gemeenschap in Dharamshala.
    Een andere medewerker kocht satelliet communicatiemiddelen van een bedrijf uit Singapore (Singapore Technologies), een bedrijf dat door de Indiase overheid op een zwarte lijst was geplaatst. Bij de aanbesteding van de satelliet communicatie apparatuur kwamen de specificaties van de NTRO precies overeen met het product van Singapore Technologies. In andere gevallen, zoals bij de aanschaf van onbemande vliegtuigen van het Israëlische bedrijf Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is door het NTRO geen aanbesteding uitgeschreven volgens de onderzoekers van CAG. De onbemande vliegtuigen moesten in januari 2010 aan de grond worden gehouden, omdat bleek dat de NTRO onveilige en open radiofrequenties gebruikte voor de besturing van de vliegtuigen. Volgens de India Today zouden ook de onbemande vliegtuigen van het Indiase leger op deze manier worden bediend. Bij grote uitgaven dient de NTRO een aanbesteding te doen en toestemming te vragen aan de National Security Advisor en uiteindelijk de minister-president. Ook dit laatste is bij diverse aankopen door de dienst niet gebeurd.
    Naast deze personele en technische misstappen wordt de kwaliteit van het werk van de dienst in het publieke debat in India in twijfel getrokken. Hoewel haar taak het verzamelen van informatie over mogelijke terroristische aanslagen, cyber crime, opstanden en illegale grensoverschrijdingen is, heeft de dienst geen enkel duidelijk succes geboekt. De aanslagen van 26 november 2008 in Mumbai worden gezien als het bewijs van de mislukking van de dienst. Toch lijkt de dienst onaantastbaar, zoals zoveel inlichtingendiensten. Twee jaar later was het opnieuw raak. Op basis van informatie van de inlichtingendiensten werd een man gearresteerd die verantwoordelijk werd gehouden van de aanslag op de “Duitse bakkerij”, een populaire uitgaansgelegenheid voor toeristen in Pune. Minister Chidambaram feliciteerde de inlichtingendiensten, maar ze bleken het bij het verkeerde eind te hebben. De man moest worden vrijgelaten wegens ontlastend bewijs.
    En hoewel de NTRO de stofzuiger is van data van Indiase burgers staat zij net als de andere spelers in de Indiase inlichtingenwereld bekend om het ‘kwijtraken’ van gevoelige data. In 2003 was de Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) plotseling 53 computers kwijt. Toen zij werden teruggevonden, ontbraken de harde schijven. Op de harde schijven stonden geheime codes voor communicatie met inlichtingendiensten en het leger. In 2006 raakte een belangrijke wetenschapper van de DRDO zijn laptop kwijt op het vliegveld van Delhi. Op de laptop bewaarde de wetenschapper geheime informatie over het Indiase kernwapenarsenaal en raketsystemen. En in 2008 raakte een directeur van de NTRO zijn laptop met geheime informatie over de kernwapenprogramma’s in Pakistan, China en Noord Korea kwijt in Washington DC.

    Het schandaal staat niet op zich
    De NTRO is niet de enige dienst die tekenen vertoont van verval. Ook de dienst waaruit zij is voortgekomen, de Research and Analysis Wing, wordt geteisterd door technische, personele, administratieve en financiële schandalen. Eigenlijk is het niet onlogisch dat er schandalen optreden binnen de Indiase inlichtingenwereld. Met zoveel onregelmatigheden is het bijna vanzelfsprekend dat er schandalen plaatsvinden die ook Indiase burgers raken. Het NTRO schandaal staat dan ook niet op zich. Vergelijkbare afluisterpraktijken zijn de afgelopen decennia aan het licht gekomen. In de jaren tachtig kwam aan het licht dat de Indiase overheid politieke leiders afluisterde. Daarnaast werden ook toen toonaangevende journalisten in de gaten gehouden. In 1990 – 1991 was het opnieuw raak met een nieuw afluisterschandaal. De Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), een burgerrechtenbeweging, bracht de zaak voor de rechter. Tijdens de rechtzaak gaf de CBI, Central Bureau of Investigation, toe dat op grote schaal journalisten, parlementariërs en leden van het kabinet zowel op nationaal als op deelstaatniveau waren afgeluisterd. Het CBI gaf toe dat deze afluisterpartij onwettig was.
    En is er wat veranderd na het schandaal in het voorjaar van 2010 dat de Indiase politiek enkele weken bezig hield? Nee, in juli van hetzelfde jaar werd de IMSI Catcher als nieuw gepresenteerd in een operatie met de codenaam Fox, alsof het om een nieuwe strijd ging tegen terrorisme en criminele bendes. De media waren het schandaal van twee maanden eerder al weer vergeten.

    Find this story at 20 April 2013

    Living Under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians from US Drone Practices in Pakistan

    This report is the result of nine months of research by the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic of Stanford Law School (Stanford Clinic) and the Global Justice Clinic at New York University School of Law (NYU Clinic). Professor James Cavallaro and Clinical Lecturer Stephan Sonnenberg led the Stanford Clinic team; Professor Sarah Knuckey led the NYU Clinic team. Adelina Acuña, Mohammad M. Ali, Anjali Deshmukh, Jennifer Gibson, Jennifer Ingram, Dimitri Phillips, Wendy Salkin, and Omar Shakir were the student research team at Stanford; Christopher Holland was the student researcher from NYU. Supervisors Cavallaro, Sonnenberg, and Knuckey, as well as student researchers Acuña, Ali, Deshmukh, Gibson, Salkin, and Shakir participated in the fact-finding investigations to Pakistan.

    In December 2011, Reprieve, a charity based in the United Kingdom, contacted the Stanford Clinic to ask whether it would be interested in conducting independent investigations into whether, and to what extent, drone strikes in Pakistan conformed to international law and caused harm and/or injury to civilians. The Stanford Clinic agreed to undertake independent fact-finding and analysis on these questions, as well as others related to drone strikes and targeted killings in Pakistan, beginning in December 2011. Later, the NYU Clinic agreed to join the research project and participated in the second research trip to Pakistan, as well as in additional research, writing, and editing of this report.

    In the course of the research, the Stanford and NYU Clinics have exchanged information and logistical support with Reprieve and its partner organization in Pakistan, the Foundation for Fundamental Rights (FFR). The latter organization assisted in contacting many of the potential interviewees, particularly those who reside in North Waziristan, and in the difficult work of arranging interviews. The Stanford and NYU Clinics designed the research project, analyzed information, and drafted and edited the report independently from Reprieve and FFR.

    Cavallaro, Knuckey, and Sonnenberg supervised and directed the preparation of the report, oversaw the writing, and served as the final editors of this publication. Students Acuña, Ali, Deshmukh, Gibson, and Shakir drafted initial sections of the report. Acuña, Ali, Gibson and Shakir synthesized and restructured the initial draft sections. Holland from the NYU Clinic also assisted with research for the report. Firas Abuzeid, Jennifer Ingram, Usman Liaqat, Clara Long, Waqas Mustafeez, Ada Sheng, and Zade Shakir assisted the research team in the review and fact-checking of the final version.

    Abdulrasheed Alabi, Danny Auron, Dr. Rajaie Batniji, Kristen DeRemer, Aisha Ghani, Emi MacLean, Veerle Opgenhaffen, Professor Margaret Satterthwaite, Dr. Saad Shakir, Hina Shamsi, Professor Shirin Sinnar, Professor Allen Weiner, and Nate Wessler reviewed and commented on this report or some part thereof. The Stanford and NYU Clinics would like to thank these scholars and practitioners for volunteering their time and expertise. The opinions and positions articulated in this report are the exclusive responsibility of the research team and not of these external reviewers.

    The Clinics also extend our appreciation to the Brave New Foundation, in particular its president, Robert Greenwald, as well as Josh Busch, Aminta Goyel, Jeff Cole, David Fisher, Joseph Suzuki, and John Amick for preparing a short video to accompany the report.

    The Stanford and NYU Clinics express our sincere thanks to our translators in Islamabad and Peshawar. In particular, we would like to thank Muhammad Abdullah Ather, Rascim Khan Khattak, Muzafar Mohiuddin, Obaid Khan, Adnan Wazir, Usama Khilji, and Amna Bilal.

    A particular debt of gratitude is owed to those who agreed to be interviewed for this report, often at risk to themselves. This includes in particular the Waziris who traveled long distances and faced significant risks to share their accounts of living under drones with our research team.

    Executive Summary and Recommendations

    In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the US safer by enabling “targeted killing” of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts.[1]

    This narrative is false.

    Following nine months of intensive research—including two investigations in Pakistan, more than 130 interviews with victims, witnesses, and experts, and review of thousands of pages of documentation and media reporting—this report presents evidence of the damaging and counterproductive effects of current US drone strike policies. Based on extensive interviews with Pakistanis living in the regions directly affected, as well as humanitarian and medical workers, this report provides new and firsthand testimony about the negative impacts US policies are having on the civilians living under drones.

    Real threats to US security and to Pakistani civilians exist in the Pakistani border areas now targeted by drones. It is crucial that the US be able to protect itself from terrorist threats, and that the great harm caused by terrorists to Pakistani civilians be addressed. However, in light of significant evidence of harmful impacts to Pakistani civilians and to US interests, current policies to address terrorism through targeted killings and drone strikes must be carefully re-evaluated.

    It is essential that public debate about US policies take the negative effects of current policies into account.

    First, while civilian casualties are rarely acknowledged by the US government, there is significant evidence that US drone strikes have injured and killed civilians. In public statements, the US states that there have been “no” or “single digit” civilian casualties.”[2] It is difficult to obtain data on strike casualties because of US efforts to shield the drone program from democratic accountability, compounded by the obstacles to independent investigation of strikes in North Waziristan. The best currently available public aggregate data on drone strikes are provided by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ), an independent journalist organization. TBIJ reports that from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, available data indicate that drone strikes killed 2,562-3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474-881 were civilians, including 176 children.[3] TBIJ reports that these strikes also injured an additional 1,228-1,362 individuals. Where media accounts do report civilian casualties, rarely is any information provided about the victims or the communities they leave behind. This report includes the harrowing narratives of many survivors, witnesses, and family members who provided evidence of civilian injuries and deaths in drone strikes to our research team. It also presents detailed accounts of three separate strikes, for which there is evidence of civilian deaths and injuries, including a March 2011 strike on a meeting of tribal elders that killed some 40 individuals.

    Second, US drone strike policies cause considerable and under-accounted-for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury. Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning. Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves. These fears have affected behavior. The US practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims. Some community members shy away from gathering in groups, including important tribal dispute-resolution bodies, out of fear that they may attract the attention of drone operators. Some parents choose to keep their children home, and children injured or traumatized by strikes have dropped out of school. Waziris told our researchers that the strikes have undermined cultural and religious practices related to burial, and made family members afraid to attend funerals. In addition, families who lost loved ones or their homes in drone strikes now struggle to support themselves.

    Third, publicly available evidence that the strikes have made the US safer overall is ambiguous at best. The strikes have certainly killed alleged combatants and disrupted armed actor networks. However, serious concerns about the efficacy and counter-productive nature of drone strikes have been raised. The number of “high-level” targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low—estimated at just 2%.[4] Furthermore, evidence suggests that US strikes have facilitated recruitment to violent non-state armed groups, and motivated further violent attacks. As the New York Times has reported, “drones have replaced Guantánamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants.”[5] Drone strikes have also soured many Pakistanis on cooperation with the US and undermined US-Pakistani relations. One major study shows that 74% of Pakistanis now consider the US an enemy.[6]

    Fourth, current US targeted killings and drone strike practices undermine respect for the rule of law and international legal protections and may set dangerous precedents. This report casts doubt on the legality of strikes on individuals or groups not linked to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011, and who do not pose imminent threats to the US. The US government’s failure to ensure basic transparency and accountability in its targeted killing policies, to provide necessary details about its targeted killing program, or adequately to set out the legal factors involved in decisions to strike hinders necessary democratic debate about a key aspect of US foreign and national security policy. US practices may also facilitate recourse to lethal force around the globe by establishing dangerous precedents for other governments. As drone manufacturers and officials successfully reduce export control barriers, and as more countries develop lethal drone technologies, these risks increase.

    In light of these concerns, this report recommends that the US conduct a fundamental re-evaluation of current targeted killing practices, taking into account all available evidence, the concerns of various stakeholders, and the short and long-term costs and benefits. A significant rethinking of current US targeted killing and drone strike policies is long overdue. US policy-makers, and the American public, cannot continue to ignore evidence of the civilian harm and counter-productive impacts of US targeted killings and drone strikes in Pakistan.

    This report also supports and reiterates the calls consistently made by rights groups and others for legality, accountability, and transparency in US drone strike policies:
    The US should fulfill its international obligations with respect to accountability and transparency, and ensure proper democratic debate about key policies. The US should:
    Release the US Department of Justice memoranda outlining the legal basis for US targeted killing in Pakistan;
    Make public critical information concerning US drone strike policies, including as previously and repeatedly requested by various groups and officials:[7] the targeting criteria for so-called “signature” strikes; the mechanisms in place to ensure that targeting complies with international law; which laws are being applied; the nature of investigations into civilian death and injury; and mechanisms in place to track, analyze and publicly recognize civilian casualties;[8]
    Ensure independent investigations into drone strike deaths, consistent with the call made by Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism in August 2012;[9]
    In conjunction with robust investigations and, where appropriate, prosecutions, establish compensation programs for civilians harmed by US strikes in Pakistan.
    The US should fulfill its international humanitarian and human rights law obligations with respect to the use of force, including by not using lethal force against individuals who are not members of armed groups with whom the US is in an armed conflict, or otherwise against individuals not posing an imminent threat to life. This includes not double-striking targets as first responders arrive.
    Journalists and media outlets should cease the common practice of referring simply to “militant” deaths, without further explanation. All reporting of government accounts of “militant” deaths should include acknowledgment that the US government counts all adult males killed by strikes as “militants,” absent exonerating evidence. Media accounts relying on anonymous government sources should also highlight the fact of their single-source information and of the past record of false government reports.

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    © Copyright 2012 Living Under Drones by Stanford Law School

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