Hundreds of Children Killed: US Media Accomplice in Drone Murders

March 14th, 2016 - by admin

Emran Feroz / TeleSUR & The Drone Memorial – 2016-03-14 01:57:09

Is the Media an Accomplice in Drone Murders?
Emran Feroz / TeleSUR

(March 11, 2016) — Since 2001, the United States has been killing people with weaponized drones, most times not knowing the identities of the victims. The victims of drone strikes are nameless and invisible, despite the fact that most of them are civilians.

The Pentagon announced this week that more than 150 al-Shabab fighters have been killed by a US drone strike in Somalia. The Pentagon spokesmen repeatedly talked about “fighters” and “terrorists,” which “posed an imminent threat to the US” But as usual, he offered no proof of his claims.

This kind of language has become normalized when it comes to the US drone war, which is not just taking place in Somalia, but also in countries like Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. What is significant regarding the regular attacks in these countries is the media coverage.

In fact, it practically does not exist. The many victims of drone strikes are nameless and invisible. And if they appear in any media reports, all of them are completely dehumanized and described as “terrorists,” “suspected militants” or any other similar euphemism.

This was also the case after the latest strike in Somalia, a country the US is officially not at war with. Shortly after the Pentagon’s announcement, many news outlets adopted the US government’s version of the incident. The New York Times, for example, wrote about the killing of “150 fighters who were assembled for what American officials believe was a graduation ceremony.”

“Militants” was also the term the Washington Post used to describe all the victims. It is necessary to point out that many other well-known media outlets from all over the world did the very same thing.

As usual, there was a huge lack of any critical scrutinizing. Instead, media once again became a mouthpiece of the US government by quoting its military officials and spreading their one-sided views constantly.

Since 2001, the United States has been killing people with weaponized drones, most times not knowing the identity of the victims. As of today, at least 6,000 people have been killed by these drone strikes.

According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, only 4 percent of drone victims in Pakistan were identified as a-Qaida members. But vastly more than 2,000 people have been killed there by drones during the last years.

Another country which is suffering heavily under drone strikes is Afghanistan, the most drone bombed country in the world. Between 2001 and 2013, 1,670 drone strikes took place in the country. It was in the city of Kandahar, the Taliban’s former stronghold, where the first strike by a weaponized drone took place in October 2001.

The target, Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar, was not killed on this day, but many other unknown people have been in the years since.

One of these people was Sadiq Rahim Jan, a 21-year-old food vendor from Paktia, eastern Afghanistan. He was murdered by a drone strike in July 2012. A few days later, media outlets in Kabul described him as a “Taliban commander.” The family members of Aisha Rashid have also been killed by a drone strike.

The Afghan girl was four years old when a missile hit the pick-up of her family in Kunar, also in the east of the country. Fourteen passengers, including Aisha’s parents, were murdered. Only she survived — barely — with a ragged face. Initially, all the victims were described as “militants” by Afghan government officials and local media outlets.

Tariq Aziz, from North Waziristan shared a similar destiny. The 16-year-old anti-drone activist was killed by a drone strike in November 2011, together with his 12-year-old cousin Waheed. Unlike the case of Malala Yousafzai, the young Pashtun girl who was nearly killed by a member of the Pakistani Taliban and received a Nobel Peace Prize, Tariq’s case is widely unknown.

In all the mentioned cases, as well as many other, significant media coverage was nonexistent — or it described the victims as terrorists, extremists, militants, al-Qaida members, and so on. This is happening on a daily basis and there are also reasons why it is happening.

In the case of Sadiq, for example, his family became outraged after they noticed that local media outlets described their son and brother as a “Taliban commander.” On that day, the young Afghan was the only person who has been killed in the area. He never had any connection with any insurgent group, not to mention being a commander of them.

One of the media outlets that spread this news was Radio Azadi, an Afghan branch of the US government’s external broadcast services. It should be more than obvious that the main aim of such a media platform is not spreading objective information.

Another example for this behaviour is Tolo TV, Afghanistan’s leading mainstream television channel. Last year, the channel’s news website reported that in July 2015 drone strikes in the eastern province of Nangarhar killed “nearly 250 Taliban and Daesh [Islamic State] insurgents.”

The main source for this “reporting” was the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the Afghan intelligence service, which was built by the US in the first days of the NATO invasion.

Tolo TV was created in 2004 by Saad Mohseni, an Afghan businessman who is being called an “Afghan Rupert Murdoch” and is considered one of the most powerful men in Afghanistan. The channel’s creation was mainly funded by the notorious United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which is widely known as one of the most important foreign policy tools of the White House.

In general, one can assume that many media outlets in Afghanistan were not created to support journalism and press freedom but to install media institutions who can be useful to represent particular interests. This is also the case in other countries which suffer from drone strikes.

Noor Behram, an investigative journalist from Northern Waziristan, is known for taking pictures of the drone murder scenes and spreading the victims’ faces. After Behram talked with journalists from Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, he experienced that for them, a beard, long hair and a turban or a pakol (a traditional Afghan cap), is enough to describe male drone victims as “terrorists.” But nearly every man in this area looks like that. According to this logic, everyone — even myself when I am staying there — must be a terrorist.

Besides, Behram’s results fit into Washington’s practice that all military-aged males in a strike zone are considered as “militants.”

The US and its allies needed propaganda organs to construct and justify their war on a medial level. Despite the question if this is moral or not, one should agree that it is also very logical because every war is based on propaganda — it was always like that and probably will never change.

But what remains is the question why so many people still believe such a biased media coverage and its constructed narrative of a good war which is only hitting the bad guys.

Emran Feroz is an Afghan-Austrian journalist, writer and activist currently based in Germany. He is the founder of Drone Memorial, a virtual memorial for civilian drone strike victims.

Memorializing the Forgotten Victims of Drone Strikes and Holding Their Killers Accountable
Emran Feroz / AlterNet

(December 2, 2014) — In July 2012, a US drone strike killed 21-year-old Sadiq Rahim Jan in the Eastern Afghanistan province of Paktia. Afghan media reported that the strike had killed a “Taliban commander.” But Jan had no connection to extremist groups. He was an average young man.

Jan was the first person I memorialized when I launched Drone Memorial, an online tribute to drone strikes victims, last year. Had his relatives in Germany not noticed my work, Jan might have been forgotten or forever remembered by the media as a “militant.” And even if it had been reported that Jan was a civilian, his story would have been filed away as just another casualty of war.

Behind the statistics about drone strike casualties, there are names. The purpose of the Drone Memorial is to make those statistics less abstract. Mass murder has become part of everyday life in the Afghan-Pakistani border region of Waziristan, Yemen, Somalia and in Afghanistan, which is the “most drone bombed country on earth” according to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ).

And it’s not just the victims of US bombs that need to be remembered. During Israel’s assault on Gaza this summer, hundreds of people were killed by Israeli drone strikes.

No one in the West knows these people’s stories. No one talks about Afghan kids who, while playing in the garden, watched their grandmother get shredded to pieces. Nobody wants to hear about the wedding convoy in Yemen that was obliterated by a drone strike because intelligence in Langley mistook it for an Al Qaeda gathering.

There’s a lot of media coverage dedicated to victims of radical religious groups like ISIS or Boko Haram. But nobody talks about the victims of America’s illegal drone war. I’ve always been interested in this topic and during my research I noticed that a simple memorial for drone strike victims did not exist.

Those who were unjustly killed by US drone strikes, which are considered by some to be their own kind of terrorism — not to mention a violation of human rights and international law — deserve to be honored. That’s why I began this project.

Collecting the names was not easy. There are very few journalists on the ground in Yemen and Waziristan. And the Afghan media often describes victims like Jan as “militants” despite not having any evidence to support their claims.

Most of these Afghan news sources were created after the US occupation of Afghanistan and have connections to NATO or the US government. Because of this, NATO war crimes often go unnoticed. It’s only due to the work of a few researchers and independent journalists that these war crimes have come to light.

How do you even define a militant? The US government seems to consider all military-age males in a strike zone to be “enemies” or “armed combatants.” Or maybe you just need to have long hair and a beard?

In a recent article for The Intercept, journalist Glenn Greenwald described the work of a photojournalist who discovered that a victim’s long hair and beard is often enough evidence to classify him as a militant. Most Afghans, including myself, look exactly like that. So according to the White House we all are terrorists, enemies or militants.

When I was in Afghanistan last March to cover the country’s presidential elections, I found out that a relative of mine, 35-year-old Zahir Aslamyar, had been killed in Waziristan by a drone strike. Aslamyar was from Kabul. But he had traveled to visit some friends in an area where people are all too familiar with the drones they call “angels of death.

One of these “angels” blew him and his friends to pieces while they drank tea and reminisced about old times. Aslamyar left behind two children, a wife and his mother.

I did not expect to add a member of my own family to Drone Memorial. It was overcome with feelings of anger and despair. I felt helpless. The whole drone war, in which you kill a person by pressing a button or by signing an execution order, is deeply inhuman. And it is an insult that this war’s chief architect received a Nobel Peace Prize.

While discussing drone policy with his aides, President Barack Obama reportedly remarked that he’s “really good at killing people.”

Well, he killed Jan, Aslamyar and many other fathers, sons, brothers and mothers. Their deaths would not be possible without his signature. It’s hard to imagine that every Tuesday, when the so-called secret kill list gets updated, Obama signs execution orders and then dines with his family or plays with his daughters.

But Obama and the United States are not solely responsible for drone policy. My home country of Germany relays data between pilots and the drones they control from a US airbase. Berlin also provides the United States with important German technical components.

Without these components, drone construction and by extension, the wanton killings of civilians, would not be impossible. Finally, the German intelligence service known as BND provides location data to the NSA, CIA, and other US intelligence agencies, making German Chancellor Angela Merkel just as responsible as Obama for the death of my relative and others.

During the last several weeks, drone attacks in Afghanistan and Waziristan increased heavily. It is sad to know that Drone Memorial will have to add to its already long list of vicitms. However, it is necessary to continue this work, not just to remember the dead, but also to expose their murderers.

The Drone Memorial:
The Innocent Victims of Washington’s Wars

“Drones are like angels of death.
Only they know when and where they will strike.”

–Nazeer Gul, Waziristan

Amir | 4 | Afghanistan
Abdul Wahid | 25 | Afghanistan
Giovanni Lo Porto | 39 | Waziristan
Warren Weinstein | 73 | Waziristan
Suleiman | 15 | Waziristan
Uzair | 11 | Waziristan
Anwar al Zaneen | 41 | Gaza
Sadiq Rahim Jan | 21 | Afghanistan
Bibi Mamana | 67 | Waziristan
Daoud Zahir Aslamyar | 35 | Waziristan
Osama Haqqani | 13 | Waziristan
Kashmir Khan | 30 | Waziristan
Gul Dad Khan | 22 | Waziristan
Shoaib | Waziristan
Gul Said Khan | Waziristan
Gallop Hajji Khan | Waziristan
Batkai Khan | Waziristan
Mir Gul Khan | Waziristan
Noor Badshah Khan | Waziristan
Allah Mir Khan | Waziristan
Mir Jahan Gul | Waziristan
Salay Khan | 14 | Waziristan
Wolayat Khan | 25 | Waziristan
Saleh Khan | 14 | Waziristan
Shamroz Khan | 24 | Waziristan
Akram | Waziristan
Hatiqullah | 18 | Waziristan
Haq Nawaz | 23 | Waziristan
Mir Ajat | Waziristan
Sahid Din | Waziristan
Dulgir Khan | Waziristan
Bangal Khan | 28 | Waziristan
Fazel Rahman | 18 | Waziristan
Waliullah | 19 | Waziristan
Sahib Din | 19 | Waziristan
Mir Ajab Khan | 22 | Waziristan
Min Gul | 30 | Waziristan
Wahidullah | 12 | Waziristan
Tariq Aziz | 16 | Waziristan
Saidur Rahman | Waziristan
Khastar Gul | Waziristan
Mamrud Khan | Waziristan
Noorzal Khan | Waziristan
Vaqas | Waziristan
Shabir | Waziristan
Qalam | Waziristan
Bashir | Waziristan
Abdul Jalil | Waziristan
Shahzada | Waziristan
Akram Shah | Waziristan
Atiq Ur Rahman | Waziristan
Irshaq Khan | Waziristan
Amar Khan | Waziristan
Samad | Waziristan
Jamshed | Waziristan
Daraz | Waziristan
Iqbal | Waziristan
Noor Nawaz | Waziristan
Yousaf | Waziristan
Atif | 12 | Waziristan
Lewanay | Waziristan
Mir Zaman | Waziristan
Din Mohammad | 25 | Waziristan
Malik Tareen | Waziristan
Noor Ali | Waziristan
Mohammad Shahin | Waziristan
Gul Akbar | Waziristan
Ismael | Waziristan
Gul Mohammad | Waziristan
Malik Daud Khan | 45 | Waziristan
Haji Babat | Waziristan
Ismael Khan | Waziristan
Zare Jan | Waziristan
Sadiq | Waziristan
Mustaqeem | Waziristan
Khnay Khan | 40 | Waziristan
Bilal Khan | Waziristan
Nek Bahadur Khan | Waziristan
Sher Hayat Khan | Waziristan
Muzammal Khan | Waziristan
Bakhtar | Waziristan
Sadar | Waziristan
Wali Khan | Waziristan
Omar Khan | Waziristan
Dindar Khan | Waziristan
Faenda Khan | Waziristan
Gulnaware | Waziristan
Khangai | Waziristan
Noor Gul | Waziristan
Jafar | Waziristan
Faraz | Waziristan
Musa | Waziristan
Kamal | Waziristan
Mustafa | Waziristan
Jamil | Waziristan
Raza Khan | 50 | Waziristan
Sanaullah | 17 | Waziristan
Taj | Waziristan
Haris | Waziristan
Shaukatullah | Waziristan
Rias | Waziristan
Sabir | Waziristan
Naimullah | 10 | Waziristan
Laiq | Waziristan
Wajid | Waziristan
Bashir | Waziristan
Yahya | Waziristan
Samin | Waziristan
Niamatullah | Waziristan
Shahzad | Waziristan
Ilyas | Waziristan
Bismillah | Waziristan
Sohrab Khan | 26 | Waziristan
Sakhi Rahman | Waziristan
Sahib Rahman | Waziristan
Said Amanullah | Waziristan
Said Kamal | Waziristan
Fatima | Waziristan
Nisar Wazir | Waziristan
Naim Khan | Waziristan
Sarwar | Waziristan
Majan | Waziristan
Samim | Waziristan
Gulzar | Waziristan
Naila | 10 | Waziristan
Noor Jahan | Waziristan
Farhad | Waziristan
Samad | Waziristan
Salam | Waziristan
Basir | Waziristan
Akbar Zaman | Waziristan
Mir Qalam | 19 | Waziristan
Said Wali Khan | Waziristan
Mohammad Fayaz | Waziristan
Aisha | 3 | Waziristan
Khalid | Waziristan
Matiuallah | Waziristan
Kashif | Waziristan
Zaman | Waziristan
Waqar | Waziristan
Wajid Noor | 9 | Waziristan
Sadiq Noor | Waziristan
Zahinullah Khan | 17 | Waziristan
Asif Iqbal | 35 | Waziristan
Khaliq Dad | 40 | Waziristan
Said noor | Waziristan
shakirullah | Waziristan
Banaras | Waziristan
Fayaz | Waziristan
Bashirullah | Waziristan
Amir Khan | Waziristan
Shairullah | Waziristan
Abidullah | Waziristan
fazle rabbi | Waziristan
Shafiq | Waziristan
Sakinullah | 15 | Waziristan
razm khan | Waziristan
Ismael khan | Waziristan
Matiuallah khan | Waziristan
Sabir-ur-din | Waziristan
kadanullah jan | Waziristan
shaista | Waziristan
rahima | Waziristan
Faizullah | Waziristan
Naimullah | Waziristan
Sahibullah | Waziristan
Zainullah | Waziristan
Hajji munawar | Waziristan
Guldar | Waziristan
Sayed Wali shah | 7 | Waziristan
mulvi ikramudin | Waziristan
Jahanzeb | Waziristan
liaqat | Waziristan
Daraz | Waziristan
Sabil | Waziristan
Sabir | Waziristan
Ikram | Waziristan
Mohib | Waziristan
Zahid | Waziristan
Mashal | Waziristan
Said Noor | Waziristan
Qadir | Waziristan
Shafiq | Waziristan
Mohamamad Hossein | Waziristan
Abdullah | Waziristan
Abdul Latif | Waziristan
Mohammad Shoaib | Waziristan
Munawa | 15 | Waziristan
noor said | 8 | Waziristan
Masal | Waziristan
Mehboob | Waziristan
Waris | Waziristan
Wasim | Waziristan
Ehsan | Waziristan
javed | Waziristan
Tahir | Waziristan
mohammad khalil | Waziristan
aziz-ur-Rahman | 15 | Waziristan
Rafiqullah | Waziristan
Mansoor-ur-Rahman | Waziristan
Khushdil Khan | Waziristan
Ubaidullah | Waziristan
Safatullah | Waziristan
Shams | Waziristan
Noor | Waziristan
Majid | Waziristan
Siraj | Waziristan
Malik Gulistan Khan | Waziristan
Dil nawaz | Waziristan
Yousaf | Waziristan
ashraf | Waziristan
naimatullah | Waziristan
Taj Mohammad | Waziristan
musa | Waziristan
naim | Waziristan
omar | Waziristan
nasrullah | Waziristan
shakum | Waziristan
eida jan | Waziristan
sultan jan | Waziristan
bukhtar gul | Waziristan
amanullah jan | Waziristan
emran khan | 15 | Waziristan
kamran | Waziristan
sidiq | Waziristan
noor ul haqq | Waziristan
zarmyalay khan | Waziristan
mohammad | Waziristan
farman | Waziristan
Emran | Waziristan
Latif | Waziristan
sardar | Waziristan
najid | Waziristan
jamil | Waziristan
ilyas | Waziristan
noorullah jan | Waziristan
khan | Waziristan
zahidullah | Waziristan
Abdul Ghafur | Waziristan
jan mohammad | Waziristan
dilawar | Waziristan
katoor khan | Waziristan
taj alam | Waziristan
inayatur rahman | 16 | Waziristan
ikramullah | 17 | Waziristan
abdullah | 18 | Waziristan
zia ur rahman | 17 | Waziristan
ghulam Nabi | 21 | Waziristan
qari alamzeb | 14 | Waziristan
mohammad yaar khan | 16 | Waziristan
noor mohammad | 15 | Waziristan
shahabuddin | 15 | Waziristan
yahya khan | 16 | Waziristan
numair | 14 | Waziristan
bakht munir | 14 | Waziristan
gul sher khan | 15 | Waziristan
mashuq khan | 16 | Waziristan
Shah Jahan | 15 | Waziristan
mohammad Salim | 11 | Waziristan
khan | 21 | Waziristan
rahatullah | 17 | Waziristan
zia ur rahman | 13 | Waziristan
sultan khan | 16 | Waziristan
nawab | 17 | Waziristan
mohammad tahir | 16 | Waziristan
maulvi khalifa | Waziristan
aziz ul wahab | 15 | Waziristan
fazal wahab | 16 | Waziristan
ziauddin | 16 | Waziristan
mohammad younus | 16 | Waziristan
fazal hakim | 19 | Waziristan
ilyas | 13 | Waziristan
sohail | 7 | Waziristan
asadullah | 9 | Waziristan
shoaib | 8 | Waziristan
khalillulah | 9 | Waziristan
noor mohammad | 8 | Waziristan
khalid | 12 | Waziristan
saifullah | 9 | Waziristan
razi mohammad | 16 | Waziristan
mashuq jan | 15 | Waziristan
talha | 8 | Waziristan
jamruz khan | Waziristan
naimullah | 17 | Waziristan
najibullah | 13 | Waziristan
adnan | 16 | Waziristan
inayatullah | 15 | Waziristan
iftikhar | 17 | Waziristan
wali ur rahman | 17 | Waziristan
bacha rahman | 13 | Waziristan
fazal wahab | 18 | Waziristan
hizbullah | 10 | Waziristan
kitab gul | 12 | Waziristan
shakirullah | 16 | Waziristan
naimatullah | 14 | Waziristan
shafiullah | 16 | Waziristan
qari sharifullah | 17 | Waziristan
shabir | 15 | Waziristan
shahzad gul | 11 | Waziristan
zabiullah | 16 | Waziristan
wilayat khan | 11 | Waziristan
salman | 15 | Waziristan
ehsanullah | 16 | Waziristan
alam nabi | 11 | Waziristan
jamshed khan | 14 | Waziristan
qari ishaq | 19 | Waziristan
zahiruddin | 16 | Waziristan
tasil khan | 18 | Waziristan
ismail | 12 | Waziristan
jannatullah | 13 | Waziristan
loqman | 12 | Waziristan
qari abdul karim | 19 | Waziristan
rahmatullah | 14 | Waziristan
abdus samad | 17 | Waziristan
inayatur rahman | 17 | Waziristan
shaukat | 14 | Waziristan
amir said | 15 | Waziristan
darwesh | 13 | Waziristan
abdul waris | 16 | Waziristan
saidullah | 17 | Waziristan
siraj | 16 | Waziristan
noor aziz | 8 | Waziristan
abdul wasit | 17 | Waziristan
irfan wazir | 16 | Waziristan
zaman wazir | 10 | Waziristan
Afrah Ali Mohammed Nasser | 9 | Yemen
Zayda Ali Mohammed Nasser | 7 | Yemen
Hoda Ali Mohammed Nasser | 5 | Yemen
Sheikha Ali Mohammed Nasser | 4 | Yemen
Ibrahim Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 13 | Yemen
Asmaa Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 9 | Yemen
Salma Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 4 | Yemen
Fatima Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 3 | Yemen
Khadije Ali Mokbel Louqye | 1 | Yemen
Hanaa Ali Mokbel Louqye | 6 | Yemen
Mohammed Ali Mokbel Salem Louqye | 4 | Yemen
Jawass Mokbel Salem Louqye | 15 | Yemen
Maryam Hussein Abdullah Awad | 2 | Yemen
Shafiq Hussein Abdullah Awad | 1 | Yemen
Sheikha Nasser Mahdi Ahmad Bouh | 3 | Yemen
Maha Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 12 | Yemen
Soumaya Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 9 | Yemen
Shafika Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 4 | Yemen
Shafiq Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 2 | Yemen
Mabrook Mouqbal Al Qadari | 13 | Yemen
Daolah Nasser 10 years | 10 | Yemen
AbedalGhani Mohammed Mabkhout | 12 | Yemen
Abdel Rahman Al Awlaki | 16 | Yemen