Pakistani Death Squads Target Informants Who Help Drone Attacks

Dashiell Bennett
The Atlantic Wire
Pakistani Death Squads Target Informants Who Help Drone Attacks

A new militant group called the Khorasan Mujahedin has sprung up in the tribal areas of Pakistan, kidnapping and murdering people it believes are helping the U.S. drones that routinely target Al Qaeda and Taliban commanders. The Los Angeles Times reports that tribal elders say that most of those kidnapped are innocent, but confess under torture before being killed.

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There are real informants, of course, as those who provide information that leads to a target's location can earn up to $1,000 in reward. However, many of those living in the border regions near Afghanistan are just as afraid of the drones as the terrorists are. The missile attacks destroy villages and often kill those who are not the primary targets. Yet, the Times reports that after every attack, Khorasan Mujahedin swarm into local villages looking for spies.

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The confessions and executions are often videotaped and distributed as a warning to those who might be considering selling information. The brutality has even lead some Taliban leaders to distance themselves from the Khorasan, after complaints about the deaths of innocent people.

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The American drone program has received increased scrutiny in recent days, amid reports that the use of drones has expanded to included dozens of secret bases, from where the U.S. can strike in an unprecdented use of covert operations. The administration will likely catch even more scrutiny after The Wall Street Journal reported today that Yemen's government may have duped the U.S. intelligence community into launching a drone strike against a local opposition enemy.