FREE: Bowe Bergdahl exchanged for 5 Taliban, a determined father and establishing dialogue

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(First published on June 1st 2014 on Radical Sister)

In a long awaited move “the American prisoner” Sgt Bowe Bergdahl (28) was finally released after several attempts in exchange for the following 5 Taliban prisoners;

Abdul Haq Wasiq, who served as the Taliban deputy minister of intelligence.

Mullah Norullah Nori, a senior Taliban commander in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif when the Taliban fought U.S. forces in late 2001.

Khairullah Khairkhwa, who served in various Taliban positions including interior minister and had direct ties to Taliban leader Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden.

Mohammed Nabi, who served as chief of security for the Taliban in Qalat, Afghanistan.

Mohammad Fazl, whom Human Rights Watch says could be prosecuted for war crimes for presiding over the mass killing of Shiite Muslims in Afghanistan in 2000 and 2001 as the Taliban sought to consolidate their control over the country.

Bowe was captured on June 30th 2009, thought to be held prisoner by the Haqqani network and shifted back and forth across the border with Afghanistan./Pakistan. Several videos were released during his captivity where Bowe outlines life as a “valued guest” of the Taliban. He stresses that he is being treated according to Islamic law and is critical of US wars and occupation highlighting the impact on civilians, see my earlier article,

Bowe Bergdahl, US soldier captured by the Taliban, a reflection on his words and time for prisoner exchange,

Efforts to secure the prisoner exchange were negotiated between US officials and the Taliban through a third party in Qatar. Bowe’s release came in Khost province where 18 Taliban fighters delivered their prisoner to Special Operations Forces in a peaceful encounter lasting a few minutes.

Bowe will pass through Bagram air base in Afghanistan, then on to the U.S military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany and is likely to be reunited with his family at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, where he will undergo a thorough medical screening and debriefing by intelligence officials.

In discussions with some who served with Bowe there was a call for aggressive military operations to rescue him. I recall Ethan McCord soldier who served and featured in the documentary, “Incident in New Baghdad” supporting me to try to persuade them to take a message back to superiors that this was not the best approach, would antagonise the Taliban and risk lives.

My own direct dialogue with the Taliban regarding Bowe began several months ago when I was reassured that Bowe was in good health and keeping occupied and Taliban would do what they could to assist me. My own fears re negotiations were allayed by Robert Bergdahl, Bowe’s father who told me, “don’t worry about getting our hopes up. We have been down this road for so long, we are prepared for everything (and I mean the very worst).”

The most recent effort to work towards his release was communication on the 25th April in the form of a series of questions from myself forwarded by a senior and well respected Taliban commander (who cannot be named for security reasons) to those holding Bowe. I was informed that there were no guarantees however he was hoping for a response by courier.

On the same day I received word from Robert stating “we go to Washington DC all next week for briefings. Prayers and Pashtunwali are our only hope for BB’s survival… Insha Allah! Thank you for all your informative work! Only God knows how this will end.”


Robert was making every effort himself to connect with those holding Bowe. He grew his hair, was learning Pashto and raising money to plant trees that had been destroyed in Afghanistan during American occupation. He told me,

“I addressed the Afghan war in front of all networks this summer, including BBC who said they would put it out on BBC Pashto in AfPak (Afghanista/Pakistan) I believe they did. I said, ‘After 30+ years of war in Afghanistan even the trees have given up, even the trees have died…We plant trees for our children and our grandchildren….We plant trees because we have hope in the future.’ ….I will do everything I can to help the Afghan people. That mostly amounts to my prayers and advocating for them in front of powerful people (but God is Greatest!) Endurance, Patience, Truth, these things will overcome all adversity in mankind’s declining days”

Robert was in some ways walking a tightrope, reluctant to give media interviews in case he jepardized efforts to release his son. He described Bowe as “having nothing but endurance, patience and truth built into his character. He was raised old school presbyterian. Question… What is the chief end of man? Answer… To glorify God and enjoy Him forever. He has a theocentric worldview, highly developed epistemology (for his age) and genuine love for humanity. This is what broke is spirit in Afghanistan. The inhumanity of war.”

I intend to keep the larger part of our conversations private however I will share that he told me the following,

“I have been in contact with who I believe is the Quetta Shura and have been trying to open communications directly with the Haqqanis and the people immediately around Bowe. While State Dept is talking at high levels, I have been trying to talk with the Jihad ranks based in North Waziristan. The US is committed to bringing Bowe out with the 2014 drawdown, while I must have a longer agenda in place. This is more complicated than anyone, however familiar with the complexity can understand”

The Islamic Emirate have released a statement expressing their feelings with regard to release of the 5 Taliban as follows;

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Freed Taliban prisoners

We heartily congratulate the whole nation, Mujahidin of the Islamic Emirate, particularly the kith and kin of the released ones that five heads of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan namely Mulla Muhammad Fazal Akhund, Mulla Noorulla Noori, Mulla Khairulla Khairkhwa, Mulla Abdul Haq Waseeq, Moulavi Muhammad Nabi who had been incarcerated for the last thirteen years in ‘Guantanamo Jail’ are released due to the benevolence of Allah Almighty and the sacrifices of the heroic and courageous Mujahidin of the Islamic Emirate.

These five heads were released in the result of an indirect negotiation between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and the United States mediated by Qatar. They will remain with their families inside Qatar and will lead a normal life.

To get the preceding five heads released, it is worth mentioning that the Islamic Emirate handed over the American soldier to the US government who was captive with us approximately for the last five years.

These five heads of the Islamic Emirate were handed over on Saturday at 07:00 pm Afghanistan standard time to the delegation of Qatar who has been waiting there inside ‘Guantanamo Jail’ for the previous three days. This delegation including five heads of the Islamic Emirate left Guantanamo at 10:00 pm and will reach Qatar today Sunday. They will be received and welcomed by the Political Bureau of the Islamic Emirate inside Qatar and members of the leading council of the Islamic Emirate. Similarly, the American prisoner ‘Bergdahl’ was handed over in the suburbs of ‘Khost’ province to the other side on Saturday at 07:00 pm Afghanistan standard time.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has been taking all possible measures since long to get all the Afghan prisoners released whether they are incarcerated inside the country or outside and to let them enjoy a free and peaceful life.

In the future too, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is determined to get all the Mujahidin prisoners released as soon as possible. In this regard, we expect all the legal and human rights societies particularly the United Nations to share and accelerate their efforts with Afghan people and the Islamic Emirate on the basis of human sympathy so that all the incarcerated people are freed and their basic legal and human rights are safeguarded and they could lead an independent and peaceful life of their own accord.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan


Robert and Jani Bergdahl had a message for their supporters,

“To every single person who worked so hard to make this recovery possible, WE LOVE YOU! GOD IS GREAT AND HIS MERCY ENDURES FOREVER!”                                                            

President Obama highlighted that Bowe had “never been forgotten” and  praised the sustained efforts of those negotiating his release. However it is worth reminding ourselves that according to local sources, Bowe almost became yet another victim of a US drone strike aimed at his captors and came close to never seeing Idaho again, see

2014, Activists and Taliban slate Guantanamo and did US attempt to drone Bowe Bergdahl?

Not everyone celebrated the release of prisoners, Republicans were quick to criticise with the Chairman of the House intelligence committee, Republican Mike Rogers of Michigan, declaring that, he was “extremely troubled” by the trade, which he called a “negotiation with terrorists” that will incentivise further US troop captures (Guardian).

As part of a newly released message which I received from the Taliban today, they note the tremendous 5 year effort of the parents of Bowe Bergdahl who didn’t have to speak out against war. I observed through conversations the respect that Robert had developed both for Islam and the Pashtuns, something I hope we continue to share

In their press release, the Taliban highlight a young Muslim Ummah saying there is a plenty of work to be done. They state that thousands of men and women prisoners are still held by the “infidels” and a lot of Muslim blood to be revenged. A durable Islamic system is not implemented anywhere in the world and Taliban ask the question, who will rise to free the prisoners and carry out their Islamic duties?


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Aafia Siddiqi and Shaker Aamer are two of the remaining prisoners in US custody and work continues to secure their release.

Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.


Pashtun Council QAU protest against Waziristan bombing (press release)

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Posters read “General, you are reminding us 1971″ and “Allow international media to North Waziristan”

(Article was first published on Radical Sister May 26th 2014)

Islamabad, 24th May 2014, Pashtun students Council, Quaid e Azam University.

Islamabad held a Protest today against indiscriminate shelling by Army on innocent civilian residents. Army started huge operation on 21st June with aerial bombing by PAF jets and Gunship helicopters. The ongoing brutal operation in Mossaki, Degan and Machis camp which has forced thousand people to migrate from their houses and leaving hundreds of innocent children, women and other civilian killed by indiscriminate aerial bombing.

On this occasion, students and political workers shouted slogan against indiscriminate bombing of civilian population and asked judicial probe of these incidents. The students also condemned the brutality of Law enforcing agencies.

Progressive political workers from Awami Workers Party and National Students Federation (NSF) joined protest in solidarity. NSF Punjab General Secretary, Alia Amir Ali condemned the coldblooded killing of Waziristani civilians by those who claim to be our defenders and said that people of Waziristan and FATA in general are oppressed both by the Taliban and army.

The students from Waziristan also demanded judicial probe of the killing of the civilians and asked for immediate cease fire of army bombing of civilian population and lifting of curfew.

— at Islamabad Press Club


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Messages emphasize “Stop Pakhtun Genocide” and “We want peace” and “My name is Khan, I am not a terrorist”

Oh General ! we were Slaughtered in Charsdaa

We were killed in Karachi

Were made IDPs in Swat and Bajawar

Our Elders were blasted n Women were disgraced

First their Dogs came after us

This time its the Master

Hey General! We did not see 1971

but We know what happened there

Oh General! Don’t force us to repeat 1971

We will yell, we shall overcome

History will be repeated by us.

Asad khan — at Islamabad Press Club

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Slogans state “Army is for our security or ??????” and “F16 kills more than drones Waziristan”

Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.



North Waziristan: Taliban claim retaliation attacks and TTP Commander denies his death as protests continue


Mohmand Taliban media

(Article first appeared on Radical Sister May 25th 2014)

Mohmand Agency Taliban have claimed responsibility for an IED blast which hit a Pakistan army convoy in the Pandiali region of Mohmand agency yesterday morning, killing 6 soldiers and wounding others. They also accepted responsibility for a further blast which hit the house of local Sahwa commander, Alam Sher, member of a peace committee in Wacha Jawara area of Utmanzai in Pindiali. Attacks were said to be in retaliation for air strikes on Waziristan to avenge the assasination of Tribal Muslims, “a few drops of blood will be taken back.”

Confusion continues to reign over who exactly was killed in North Waziristan air strikes by Pakistan jets and helicopter gunships. Calls from youth organisations for Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) to name all those who perished have not been answered. Some journalists wrote that the government were not consulted in this recent attack while others state strikes were with the approval of Nawaz Sharif government. There appears to be no accountability to the public.

Photos allegedly of bombed areas in Mir Ali, depict homes and shops reduced to rubble, one (below) shows person sat, head in hands, bags by their side in what is left of the market.

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Mir Ali, photos alleged to show the aftermath of strikes on houses and market

23rd May 2014

Dawn media highlighted the alleged deaths of 5 Taliban commanders in the following statement,

“sources have confirmed that five key militant commanders were killed in airstrikes launched on Wednesday in North Waziristan.

Among those killed was also an Uzbek Commander named Abu Ahmad.

Sources said other local terrorists who were killed included ‘Commander Qanooni’ and 

Sabir, said to be a handler of suicide-bombers.

Others included Commander Gilamand and Commander Jihad Yaar, the sources added”

Taliban commanders disputed the deaths, claiming it was ordinary civilians that took the brunt of the strikes.

Within a short time of posting this article, I was sent a video of Commander Jangrez (well armed along with two others) refuting media propaganda of him being killed. He was previously declared dead on April 13th 2014 by Pakistan Tribune. False announcement of Taliban deaths seems to be a regular occurance so few know what to believe. Journalists attempting to establish facts are often threatened and females subjected to crude sexual insults from some pro-army supporters in an attempt to intimidate.

Pakistan Tehreek -e-Insaf (PTI) chairman, Imran Khan who released a statement condemning attacks, continued to express his concerns to Twitter followers,

“governments callousness over fate of civilians in North Waziristan is shocking with no evacuation of civilians before aerial bombings & helicopter gunship attacks. Civilians getting killed in NWA or fleeing & becoming IDPs – from zakat givers to paupers- as present  2 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) neglected by government and in bad state”

In one video from North Waziristan, a resident says if this continues they will migrate to Afghanistan and will have nothing to do with Pakistan.

COMSATS Institute of Information Technology students, Abbottabad, called the military operation by Pakistan Army in North Waziristan ‘Genocide’.


Protesters showed their anger towards military displaying posters stating, “shame, shame, NaPak army is bleeding Waziristan, shame” whilst another read, “the fire you set to FATA will engulf your house too.”

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Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.

North Waziristan air strikes: Imran Khan expresses “serious concern” and Amnesty International monitor actions



(Article first published on Radical Sister May 22nd 2014)

Earlier today I reported on air strikes on North Waziristan by Pakistan jets and helicopter gunships which killed both militants and civilians see North Waziristan suffers serious bombardment, civilians traumatized by airstrikes

Imran Khan, Chairman of Pakistan Tehrik-e -Insaf (PTI) has now realized a press statement as follows:-

Chairman Imran Khan’s Press Statement (May 22, 2014)

Chairman PTI, Imran Khan, today expressed serious concern over the aerial bombing through planes and helicopter gunships in NWA.

Especially with regard to civilian casualties. Khan said he feared this could be the start of a full-scale ground operation which would lead to more IDPs. He pointed out that already there are almost 2 million IDPs who are in bad shape and almost forgotten by the state.

Khan demanded the PM inform the parliament what was the status of the dialogue with the TTP which had resulted in a sharp decline in acts of terror especially in Khyber Puikhtunkhwa. Also, Khan stated, the main tribes in Waziristan were fully supportive of the talks and the ceasefire.

He said it was incomprehensible why the talks would be undermined at this stage or why the political leadership would be kept in the dark by the government on the actual status of the talks.


Mustafa Qadri, Pakistan researcher at Amnesty International had this to say “my personal opinion is there’s armed conflict in Waziristan, there are threats that require military response but it must be strictly in line with IHL (International Humanitarian Law.” He may however be surprised at the above press statement as he had earlier tweeted, “presumably Imran Khan and co won’t criticise this because it’s not America or CIA” (referring to Waziristan airstrikes”

Mr Qadri did request that I send him any testimony from those in affected areas so hopefully Amnesty is closely monitoring activity in North Waziristan. Meanwhile Pakistan’s National Youth Organizations demands that Inter Services Public relations (ISPR) releases a list of all casualties, militant and civilian killed in recent airstrikes. Those who claim “precision strikes” should know exactly who they have hit.


Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.


North Waziristan suffers a fierce bombardment, civilians traumatized by air strikes

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Photos from locals in Waziristan claiming to show child casualties from recent bombardment.

(Article first published on Radical Sister May 22nd 2014)

As reports started to emerge yesterday regarding the latest airstrikes by Pakistani jet fighters over North Waziristan, a friend posed the question as to whether this fresh operation was the result of U.S Foreign Ministry envoy’s recent meeting with Pakistan army chief, Staff General Raheel Sharif putting pressure on the military to “do more”to tackle insurgency. Although the intended targets were militants, traumatized civilians had no place to shelter as the region was pounded by helicopter gunships. Drone strikes have also recently restarted following a break in activity during peace talks between the Taliban and government

Pakistan seems to operate a policy of “what the USA wants, the US gets” and launched a series of airstrikes in the early hours of the morning killing both militants and civilians alike. There followed the usual variation and dispute over figures with most mainstream media appearing to take the attitude that where “alleged” insurgents are killed, information from official sources and figures seem to be accepted without question. When its comes to reporting civilians deaths however, those reporting are subjected to what feels like a 10 page questionnaire to prove their numbers.

Today’s latest update from Dawn states,

“at least 73 suspected local and foreign militants were killed in a series of pre-dawn air strikes on hideouts and bases in North Waziristan and in a later clash following an attack on security personnel

An army major and three other security personnel died in the clash.

The targets of the air strikes were strongholds of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (Etim) — a militant outfit comprising largely Turkic-speaking militants from Uzbekistan and Uighurs from China’s north-western autonomous region of Xinjiang, a security official said”

When I took to social media on Wednesday to tweet information I had received on civilian casualties, trolls appeared in force insisting that attacks were “precision strikes” and no non- militants had perished. Several communications I received disputed this fact, one came from Abdul Wahan Khan who told me, “my village has been attacked by army jets, 3 people died including two brothers, there was no Taliban died in this attack. In my village Land Muhammad Khel area of North Waziristan these people have died that I mention to you, Ali Zuman and Sher Rehman, two brothers and third one is Sher Daraz Khan… is reality.”


Photo claiming to show digging for bodies, allegedly 27 members of one family killed, one house

Omar Khorasani of Mohmand Agency Teheek -e -Taliban (TTP) stated,

“the deaths of innocent people is increasing in the bombardment of NAPAK army last night according to the fresh reports that in village Musaki more 7 people were recovered from the debris including two women and two children. and this is also latest report that in Mir Ali Bazaar, Haidar Kheil Miranshah and in Miranshah village, Machis (a camp where there are civilian residents) is being pounded by NAPAK army by artillery and targeting innocent people.”

I came under heavy criticism on Twitter from pro-army supporters objecting to my quoting TTP. I explained that as a researcher, I was simply reporting all sides, a process called “triangulation” in social science, a cross verification of sources to increase the validity and credibility of results. We cannot necessarily assume that one side is always right and another always wrong… we must consider a variety of contacts.

Another source, Hariss Ali Akakhail, a local reporter, Conflict Analysis, informed me, “in today’s air-strike (Wednesday) by army gunships at North-Waziristan agency, important T.T.P commander Jihadyar and Sabir are down. A total of 55 men went down in today’s strikes, including 15 civilians.”

There were difficulties for those reporting casualty figures with one freelance journalist stating, “I filed my story at 9 a.m in the morning. I did mention civilian casualties and instantly “men in uniform” had to intervene and asked me to change my stance.. Indeed civilians are killed in today’s air-strike !!!”

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISI) claimed the air attacks were in retaliation for the killing of “a large number of civilians and security forces personnel” by terrorists in FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Karachi. However the news of the deaths of non combatant men women and children brought criticism from a number of directions causing the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group to reconsider their non-aggression treaty with the government according to DAWN.

Commander Ahmadullah Ahmadi is reported as saying that the group “cannot remain silent over bombardment on people,” calling it a clear atrocity on the civilians and that the Shura (council) has convened an important meeting to assess the situation and hinted that the peace accord with the government might get revoked.

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Photos claiming to show casualties of recent airstrikes

Justice for Pashtuns raised another important question for those in Waziristan…. How do civilian casualties disappear when it’s Pakistan Air force and not American drones that do the killing?” This poignant post appeared on their Facebook page,

“In this short Pashto audio Ilyas Khan from Waziristan could manage to say only this about Pakistan Army’s bombing in Mirali before he broke into tears:

‘The bombardment has been going on since last night. Is this how you shoot the terrorist hideouts, by destroying the people? Run over there and look at their condition. All those lying dead are civilians. They are lying out on the road. They [the army] have closed the road to the public’”

Journalist Amir Iqbal emailed me his report which highlighted the difficulties of transporting those injured in the jet strikes to hospitals, a nightmare scenario given the current curfew which is also affecting food supplies. In addition there are problems with telephone communication for those needing help (locals say services went down following the military operation) and in verifying the exact numbers of casualties affected. Iqbal quotes a local man, Sheharyar Khan who states, “we have no food available with us and we are not allowed to go out and get some food for our families. Why are they targeting us since we are not responsible for any terrorism in Pakistan …. why not the force targeting Taliban only?”


Alleged aftermath of recent attacks on Mir Ali bazzar area

Mohammad Younas Afridi, a community worker and radio journalist who originates from the Tribal Areas wrote a poignant message for his followers today, it read,

“Tribal areas need to be heard and protected too. They want to live in peace and harmony, it is really important a strong response arrives from public institutions and from government. They deserve, like everyone in the world a better quality of life, they deserve a future of their children and we all have an obligation not to drop these right demand.

My heart crying to write this story, because this is the story of Tribal areas who live constantly with fear, drops and hopeless every day of their life. They are both VICTIMS and WITNESSES of war they have never asked or wanted.

The most vulnerable part of of the population are those people due to financial problem can’t leave their lands. The population is at its lowest, and children are paying the highest price.”

A tweet has just come in alleging that North Waziristan air strikes continue for a second day though this has been denied by Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR). Is the latest bombardment the end then for any hope of peace talks continuing in the near future? This would appear to be the case with a rather ominous post from Mr Akakhail indicating that TTP shura is in the process of finalizing the break up of peace talks with the government of Pakistan. One can only shudder as to what tomorrow might bring for those remaining in Waziristan!

Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.

Pakistan ambassador calls for ban on drones at UN conference as several persons killed in latest strike

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Ambassador Zamir Akram of Pakistan calls for ban on drones at UN Conference in Geneva

(Article first posted on Radical Sister May 14th 2014)

All this week The CCW Meeting of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) is taking place from 13 to 16 May 2014 at the United Nations in Geneva. The event is being chaired by Ambassador Jean-Hugues Simon-Michel of France with the mandate declared as follows:-

 “to discuss the questions related to emerging technologies in the area of lethal autonomous weapons systems, in the context of the objectives and purposes of the Convention. He will, under his own responsibility, submit a report to the 2014 Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention, objectively reflecting the discussions held.”

see programme

I was following tweets from Sarah Knuckley, an international human rights lawyer at the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (NYU School of Law), and a Special Advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions when I read that Pakistan is calling for a ban on use and production of lethal weapons. This rather surprised me as the country has a history of co-operation with the US on drones, with former President Pervez Musharraf (now on trial for alleged treason) openly stating this in an interview with CNN in 2013, see article by Rob Crilly in the Telegraph

Musharraf admitted to a secret CIA drone deal with US, stating that he had authorised strikes, though claiming “only on very few occasions where the target was absolutely isolated and had no chance of collateral damage”. He also claimed that the strikes were “discussed at the military intelligence level” and cleared only if “there was no time for our own special operations task force and military to act. That was … maybe two or three times only”.


Musharraf, admits to being complicit with US on drone strikes

The reality is that many civilians have been annihilated in FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Area) of Pakistan and drone strikes have acted as recruiting tool for militants with a series of violent retaliation attacks adding to the death toll.

At the start of peace talks with the Taliban, Nawaz Sharif politely asked the US to cease strikes but this appeared to be empty rhetoric without meaningful action. Pakistan’s Ambassador Zamir Akram stated at the Convention yesterday that a ban should come through a dedicated protocol under the framework of UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. Radio Pakistan reported the Pakistan envoy saying that several developing and non-aligned countries are pleading for an immediate moratorium on production and use of such lethal weapons until that times comes.

0906jh_729_world_drones-20120608211948402065-420x0   Tribesmen sit with Khan, who says he lost both legs and one eye in a drone strike on his house last year, as they demonstrate in Islamabad

Protesting drones and interviewing victim of a drone strike 

In the meantime after a recent lull in strikes, breaking news this morning alleged that more persons had been killed in the border area of Afghanistan and Pakistan. There was the usual confusion due to a ban on journalists and inability to access the affected area. Initial casualty figures ranged from 3 individuals to Dawn claiming the number could be as high as 10 “suspected militants” with 14 injured during an alleged attack on a militants’ compound and vehicles.

Express Tribune reported that an official of the political administration from Khyber Agency informed the media that “a US drone fired three missiles at around 8:30am in Chancharo Khawa area of Naziyan in Afghanistan, targeting the suspected hideouts of militants.” (Prior to that the last drone strike occurred towards the end of December, 2013, killing three suspected insurgents.)

I received the following information on today’s strike in an e-mail from Pakistani journalist Aamir Iqbal stating,

“at least three Taliban fighters of banned outfit Lashkar e Islam were killed in a suspected US drone attack in Nadyan area near Pak Afghan border in Afghanistan. Nasar Khan Shinwari the para military personal confirmed.

‘Suspected US Drone aircraft fired three missiles on a vehicle and killed three militants affiliated with Lashkar e Islam’ Shinwari shared the details.

It is worth mentioned that the banned Pakistani outfit Lashkar e Islam considered the most influential group in Pakistani tribal area Khyber Agency, is in battle since last two months with Afghan Taliban in Nadyan area to take over the administration of the area”

Strikes may have been aimed at Taliban “smugglers” according to Express Tribune. In addition an Afghan journalist from Jalalabad said that he heard “the drones fire missiles when the Pakistan and Afghan Taliban were holding a ‘jirga’ for reconciliation as they also had some disputes” see article below,

There was also a further report via Amir Iqbal of at least one government official being killed in (non-drone) attack carried out by militants on a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) supply, Godown, Jamrud NLC Khyber Agency. This was confirmed to Iqbal Mohammad Tayyab the senior government officer. It was unclear however whether this was in response to the latest drone strike.

Opposition party Pakistan Tehreek -e-Insaf (PTI) led by Chairman Imran Khan has repeatedly called for an end to drone strikes by holding anti-drone rallies and a peaceful blockade of NATO supply line to highlight the victims of US “collateral damage”. Chris Woods, an investigative journalist who is currently writing a book on drone warfare said, “if the airstrike in Pakistan today is confirmed as CIA, it would mark the end of the longest pause (139 days) in US bombing campaign since summer 2006.”


Just Security… Start of the first intergovernmental expert meeting on autonomous weapons (Sarah Knuckley)


Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.

Censorship Double Standards: State terrorism websites versus insurgent websites


Should CIA website be banned? This organization promotes drone strikes which radicalize youth, and is alleged to be implicated in torture and thousands of killings worldwide .

(Article first published April 6th 2014 on Radical Sister)

I am not someone that ever wishes to promote violence however I do believe in reporting all sides of a conflict and that rules on censorship of websites pertaining to security must equally apply to all whether state, insurgent, media or other. Militant websites are frequently closed down whilst incendiary material on government websites remains untouched.

It is very easy to leap on a newly launched Taliban website questioning its threat to state security whilst dismissing state actors and press that could equally be argued to be putting a country at risk.

Sana Saleem takes up the issue of the Taliban website on her blog but fails to address that for some, the websites of national and international security services can be equally provocative inciting acts of aggression yet their existence is rarely questioned. She writes,

“I just checked the website: and was surprised to see that it was still accessible in Pakistan. The website carries propaganda material that clearly incites violence, especially against security forces. Can you please tell me why there has been no action on such blatant display of hate speech? While the authorities do not even blink before blocking access to websites like IMDB and XBox, why was an official website for a terrorist group left unblocked? Please note this is not the only website that incites violence, several other websites exist and have been functioning for years. Still, it is rather shocking to see the TTP’s website being launched very publicly in Pakistan, where the group is responsible for murdering over 50,000 civilians”

National and international security is a valid issue but then I must ask why people do not apply the same standards to state websites where institutions are linked to violence that may exceed legal boundaries. For example, should the CIA website be banned until there is a thorough investigation as to its role in relation to torture… Becoming aware that a state practices “enforced disappearances” ignores fair judicial process, tortures and carries out unlawful killings can turn some to respond through aggressive acts. Alongside state websites do we then also consider banning all media websites that cover stories which could in turn incite violence and threaten security… where does it stop?


Take the CIA story as reported in the Guardian, the possibility of a criminal violation by CIA personnel. Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee accused the CIA of “illegally accessing Senate staff computers kept at the agency over the past year, while Senate staff conducted an investigation of the CIA’s secret torture programme.” The website reported,

“CIA director John Brennan informed Feinstein that CIA staff had discovered a top secret internal CIA report on the torture program, known as the Panetta review, on the staff computers. But Brennan would not tell Feinstein, she said, when or how the CIA had accessed the Senate computers, and he would not assure her that it would not happen again.”

Feinstein stated,

“I have grave concerns that the CIA search may well have violated the separation of powers principle in the US constitution. I have asked for an apology and a recognition that this … was inappropriate. I have received neither.”

CIA Director John Brennan has also promoted a drone programme which has killed many civilians going about their daily business. There is plenty of evidence from both Pakistan and Yemen that drone strikes leading to “collateral damage” radicalize youth and promote retaliation attacks so is there a valid case for banning websites featuring John Brennan and the CIA and any site championing drone attacks?

Back in November 2013, crime and security minister, James Brokenshire stated that UK measures for censoring “extremist” content of websites would be announced shortly with support from prime minister David Cameron who favours a ban. It is likely that “a government-funded body, possibly within the counter-terrorism referral unit, will order companies including BT, TalkTalk, BSkyB and Virgin Media to block websites, according to industry sources.” There is likely to be collaboration with the US on this issue,

In yesterday’s Telegraph (April 5th 2014) a security source disturbingly claims that former prime minister Tony Blair and other politicians knew in detail about CIA torture and the rendition…. “everything”. The source stated that “they could have said [to M16] ‘stop it, do not get involved’, but at no time did they do this.

The question I ask is why are so many silent on security issues relating to party political websites and media interviews which advocate unjust foreign policy and could be radicalizing youth. I checked this out in an recent interview with Brits where well educated, middle class males (including reverts to Islam) had travelled to Pakistan to take up “jihad”. As part of one interview I asked the following,

Question…. To what extent were you radicalized by US and British foreign policy?

Answer…. Not just Britain and America but the philosophy and attitude of “West” as a whole was off putting and the more I looked at their history and actions, the more I was convinced of their shaky foundations and the realism of Islam.

Question…. What are your thoughts on drone strikes?

Answer…. Just one of the instruments in the war against Islam. Every drone that kills five people produces 50 new soldiers of Islam. Kill a leader and you inspire hundreds more soldiers of Islam.

The complete interview shows that this man and others were radicalized by a variety of information sources and media as well as personal contact which influenced choices. Even the A level subjects taught at school impacted on one man’s thinking introducing him to global politics in relation to “Africa, poverty, sanctions in Iraq, Muslim genocide in Bosnia and Palestine.” Taking this into consideration who and what do we censor?

Should we ban all websites and news programmes that show wars built on false information such as Iraq, promoted by alleged war criminal, former British PM Tony Blair who along with George Bush instigated violence on a massive scale leading to a number of groups taking up arms against occupying forces?


Do images of British forces on army website radicalize youth given recent killing of Lee Rigby?

What about banning websites of the Armed Forces that encourage young people to join up and invade countries irrespective of whether there is a valid reason and legality? After all there have been recent reported incidents of suspected bombs left at armed forces recruiting offices.

Can we allow any press coverage of controversial night raids in Afghanistan, that might lead to retaliation attacks and encourage more recruits to militant ranks?

Individuals are exposed to many influencing factors in day to day life. There is a wide spectrum of websites that could be argued to put state security at risk, a person could just as easily be influenced by a violent game or drama on TV. Therefore the same censorship rules must be applied to all websites whether state, insurgent, media or other and stop these ridiculous double standards!


Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.


Drones: Yemeni families launch National Organization for Drone Victims (NODV)

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Families of drone victims launch NODV to the international press

(Article first posted on Radical Sister 1st April 2014)

On April 1st 2014, bereaved families who lost relatives to US drone strikes in Yemen launched the National Organization for Drone Victims (NODV) with the aim of supporting affected communities and highlighting the civilian impact of the covert programme.

The initiative comes from Mohammad al-Qawli, an Advisor to the Ministry of Education whose brother, an elementary school-teacher was killed in a drone strike in Khawlan near the capital Sanaa in January 2013. (At the time of the attack I received graphic photos of body parts from the attack from a lawyer friend in Yemen but it was months before I found out the identity of the victims after reading testimony given to a Senate hearing in the US.) Mohammad Al- Qawli stated;

“I founded the NODV in memory of my brother Ali because it was clear that the voices of victims of the US drone programme in Yemen need to be heard and the affected communities need support. There is so much misinformation spread about these attacks and almost no notice paid to the lasting, devastating affect they have on communities throughout Yemen. These attacks are making us all less safe: not only are innocents killed, but drone strikes create instability and radicalisation. By bringing victims together we have the chance to uncover facts regarding the strikes and their consequences and work together towards ending the illegal use of drones in Yemen and preventing further bloodshed.”

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Display showing images of those affected by drone strikes

Legal organization, Reprieve, are providing ongoing support to NODV and have taken on the role of “assisting victims’ families to seek legal accountability for drone attacks, with the goal of exposing the programme to scrutiny and restoring the rule of law.” Members of the group include Faisal Ali Bin Jaber, whose brother-in-law, an Imam who preached against Al-Qaeda, and nephew were killed in an August 2012 strike.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Baraa Shiban, the project coordinator for Reprieve spoke of the constant presence of drones in Yemen that is devastating communities, he said, “we are talking almost 50 percent of the country — ten provinces in total — who suffer from the constant hovering of drones.”

The US claim to be targeting “alleged” insurgents but time and time again civilians in Yemen (and also Pakistan) are killed or severely injured. Victims of “collateral damage” are taking legal action but its a long and stressful road to justice. NODV describes its main role as follows;

“to investigate and publish facts about drone strikes and their effects on communities with the aim of changing government policy regarding the secretive US programme. The organization will also seek to assist affected communities with the after-effects of drone strikes including: the economic impact of the loss of families’ primary bread-winners; psychological trauma—particularly in children; and physical injuries”

The launch of the programme comes just says after the tragic death of Hamza Hassan Bin Dahaman, a Yemeni youth so traumatized at witnessing a drone strike that he never recovered from the experience, see my earlier story on the link below

Yemeni lawyer, Haykal Bafana’s poignant words about Hamza were posted on his Facebook, they read as follows,

“maybe Americans know how not to care about anonymous innocents droned dead or the boy frightened to death by drones. Teach me, please.

Teach me how not to dream about innocent people droned dead. Teach me how not to grieve over men, women and children killed for no reason, without need for a court, judge or jury to judge them. 

Maybe one can learn to not care, not feel. Teach me, then, how not to care about a boy frightened dead by drones. 

Teach me how not to see my children in his place”


Hamza Hassan bin Dahaman traumatized to death after witnessing drone strike

Yemenis were outraged and took to the streets in December 2013 after a wedding party in Radaa was hit by drone missiles killing 12 men and injuring at least 15 others including the bride. Human Rights Watch issued a 28 page report with researcher, Letta Taylor stating, “the US refusal to explain a deadly attack on a marriage procession raises critical questions about the administration’s compliance with its own targeted killing policy. All Yemenis, especially the families of the dead and wounded, deserve to know why this wedding procession became a funeral.”

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Families gather for a group photo and the debris from drone strikes

The US have also killed America citizens in Yemen including Anwar -al Awlaki, a Yememi Imam wanted for alleged terrorist activities and in a separate drone strike his son Abdulrahman -al-Awlaki age 16 who had no connection to terrorism.

Faisal bin Ali Jaber highlighted to Al Jazeera the importance of investing in civil projects and institutions instead of drones which only radicalizes a new generation and creates violent blowback. Any one that doubts this should take a look at Azan magazine aimed at recruiting youth to jihad and its comprehensive and chilling article on countering drone attacks. Violence breeds violence and the cycle continues…


Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad.  She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”.

Who is the terrorist? Drones PTSD and the boy traumatized to death


Hamza Hassan Bin Dahaman, drone inflicted trauma, a crime against humanity

(Article first appeared on Radical Sister blog March 22nd 2014)

There is no other word for it… I am outraged at seeing the photo of Hamza Hassan Bin Dahaman, a Yemeni youth so traumatized at witnessing a drone strike that he never recovered from the experience. The image above speaks volumes as do the words of Haykal Bafana, a lawyer friend in the region, who clearly distressed, posted the photo alongside a message stating, “I’ll be offline for the forseeable future. Need time to think, to reflect, and to decide on what’s what.”

The young boy (known as Hassan) had been at the scene of a devastating US drone attack on 5 alleged Al Qaida militants in 2012 in the port city of Shiher, Hadramout province. According to the father, his son was never the same again, diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Omar Abdullah Al Najjar, a friend of Hassan spoke to the the Gulf Times stating,

“we were sitting in the street when a big bang occurred. Most of my friends quickly returned home, except Hamza, my brother and I.

Out of the blue, Hamza shrieked in terror when he saw the bodies. My brother snuggled him and I recited some verses of Quran on his head and immediately sent him home. The next day, I heard that he became sick.”

According to the report, after watching bodies burn, Hamza’s symptoms included, talking gibberish and spending a long time watching himself in the mirror, throat falling into his stomach, sleep disorder, sleeping long hours and refusing to leave his bed. He was also on medication after “inhaling gases”. It would be interesting to see if theses gases relate to “fall-out” material from the drones. I have long raised concerns about this after talking to doctors in Peshawar, Pakistan that claim they are seeing locals from drone hit areas with strange illnesses. Could there be carginogenic material within the drones? The full article on Hamza by Saeed al Batati can be read on the following link,

A year ago I considered giving evidence on drones to Ben Emmerson, UN special rapporteur  on counter -terrorism and human rights. However, after exchanging initial emails my gut feeling was that whatever report came out it would be unlikely to recommend the cessation of drone strikes but rather more accurate targeting to avoid civilian deaths. Anything less than recommending that drones strikes halt entirely would be to ignore and negate the effects of strikes on those living under drones, seeing the devastation first hand and the subsequent traumatizing effect. Also, I did not wish to participate in any investigation that might sanction the targeting of “alleged” insurgents (however accurate) that had never been through fair judicial process.

As someone that has acted as an “expert witness” at other inquiries into the action of states in the past, I have experienced how they often operate as a damage limitation exercise for governments and official bodies without promoting truly effective change.

Last year, I was distressed myself to receive photos of unidentified body parts after a drone strike in Yemen. It was only months later that by chance I discovered the tangled remains belonged to civilians, a teacher and young friend whose vehicle had been hit after giving locals a lift (a common practice in some areas). Imagine seeing bodies blown apart and incinerated right in front of your eyes, not only visual but the sounds of impact and smell of burning flesh.

Sara Jamal, a Yemeni activist tweeted on 23rd April 2013, from a number of witnesses at a drone hearing, these were some of the messages I received;

“father of Wafaa 5 year old who was killed by a US drone is asking what have we done to have drones kill our children?

“we have to deal with panic and fear of US drones’ sounds hovering over our heads and women having miscarriages due to that” 

“latest US drone victim’s cousin from Wesaab, Yemen says: Drone kept hovering for 3 hours after the strike we couldn’t save anybody”

 “my brother was hurt with a US drone and when people tried to rescue him another drone hit and killed 11 men and a pregnant woman”

Colum Lynch of Foreign Policy highlighted a Pakistani resolution that nations “ensuretransparency” when discussing drone strikes and “conduct prompt, independent and impartial investigations whenever there are indications of any violations to human rights caused by their use.”

Residents of Yemen and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan (FATA) undergo human rights violations day after day subjected to the fear and trauma caused by not knowing if their families and homes might be next to be hit by a drone strike.

The United Nation Rights Council has called for an independent investigation of drone attacks but how many investigations do we need to state the obvious wasting time and money when there is enough evidence now to show the physical and psychological damage caused by drones. Humanity and common sense appear to have gone out of the window, it takes seconds to look into the eyes of a child that has witnessed a parent annihilated to see the colossal impact on a young life.

I recall a message sent from a father begging me to inform the US that drones were turning the children of FATA into killers. This was echoed by community leaders. The man’s own son, once a dedicated university student had given up his studies and joined insurgents after seeing a friend blown apart and his community decimated by a drone strike. He later went on to carry out a devastating “martyrdom operation” killing many including himself in Afghanistan. As Kat Craig of legal charity Reprieve states,

“In Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere, the US, assisted by its European allies, is carrying out devastating attacks with total impunity – a practice that is terrorizing local communities, and creating far more extremism than it has ever eliminated.”

Hamza, the latest victim of drones, was buried on Thursday. My heart goes out to his family, yet more traumatized secondary victims of drone strikes. One thing for certain, the anger built up by the thousands attending the funeral in Yemen will be needing an outlet.

Faisel bin Ali Jaber, 55, a Yemeni government engineer travelled to America in 2013 seeking U.S. government compensation for his village and warned of increasing radicalization with every drone attack. He described the missile strike on his own community as being akin to “a mountain falling on us” and seeing legs, arms and a head strewn on the ground. He conveyed his message to members of Congress, that the attack had only made Al Qaeda ‘more popular’ and that young people in his village were ‘infused with anger’. He told listeners that locals including two teenagers had left to join the terrorist group, never to be heard from again, stating such was their fury that “they would join Al Qaeda or any other group that would be able to get them revenge.”

The US and other countries must be condemned by the international community in the strongest terms and held to account by appropriate legal bodies for their actions against civilian populations… What they are practicing by their use of drones is none other than state terrorism!

Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad.  She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.

Pakistan Taliban announce ceasefire and TTP Commander Adnan Rasheed writes on Mir Ali attack

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Shahidullah Shahid (TTP spokesperson) and Taliban Commander Adnan Rasheed

(Article first appeared on Radical Sister March 2nd 2014)

My announcement of a one month ceasefire by the Pakistan Taliban on Twitter was cautiously welcomed by some yesterday as spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid stated,

“After taking into consideration appeals of religious scholars, the Tehreek-e-Taliban announces a month-long ceasefire in the best interests of Islam and the country.”

Shahid said, “TTP has initiated talks with the government with sincerity and for good purpose,” and confirmed that, “the senior leadership of the Taliban advises all subgroups to respect the Taliban’s call for a ceasefire and abide by it and completely refrain from all jihadi activities in this time period.”

I contacted Mohmand Agency TTP (who accepted responsibility for recent killing of 23 Frontier Corps soldiers). They shared a letter declaring that they were supporting the ceasefire despite the killing of their own men in custody. The attack on FC was claimed to be in retaliation for killing of colleagues while under state supervision.

My ceasefire tweets did however bring a string of abuse from lawyer and “political analyst” Sabena Sidiqi whose reaction was so deluded I was suddenly libelled as a “wicked Mossad agent.” (I dont think Mossad would be too pleased either to find me albeit fictitiously added to their ranks). She wrote “I am in favour of the army, this is my party. Love martial law…. this Goddamn government wants to have talks with TTP it deserves to be booted out again.” I was then referred to as a “two bit floozie” with Pakistan Tehreek -e-Insaf (PTI) party that has supported dialogue with insurgents described as “a party of retarded people led by Im the Dim” (Imran Khan). After accusing the Taliban of being possible “rapists” because she alleged they were linked to RAW (Indian security agency) Sidiqi then said she “hoped there was an airstrike tomorrow to teach these sobs a lesson”.

It is unfortunate that with alarming regularity, political discussions in Pakistan deteriorate to paranoia, conspiracy theories and a distinct lack of logic and also worrying to think that such behaviour could come from a lawyer… I pray for Sidiqi’s poor clients.

The climate of fear is such in Pakistan that few dare criticise the security agencies or the military but if dialogue is to work, all sides must address with honesty allegations of abuse and stop burying heads in the sand. The Taliban tend to declare their killings whereas the state has a tendency to deny any wrongdoing. There does not appear to be any system in place to independently check the welfare of prisoners held by the state and document their concerns so claims of enforced disappearances, torture and unlawful killings are unlikely to be followed up. This must change as abuse by the state only leads to radicalize more of the population.

Only yesterday TTP made a further allegation which read, “Shaheed Qare Abdurrahman who belonged to BODI Cor Area of Mechani Mohmand Agency. He has been captured by security forces 5 years ago. On first March he was killed ruthlessly by Pakistani forces in Ghalanai jail”. Here is the photo below so from this information surely details can be checked.


If talks are to proceed all sides must be heard not closed down as suggested by one politician who advised media not to cover Taliban statements. It is time journalists were given greater access to report in Waziristan which is mostly off limits so hard to independently verify claims from all parties. We need to move away from polarization, the narrative that whatever the state says must be right and any allegations from insurgents automatically considered propaganda and report fairly. It is with this thought in mind that I am publishing an article from Adnan Rasheed detailing an army attack last December which I also covered at the time.

Adnan Rasheed is a Taliban commander who some will remember as the insurgent that penned a letter to schoolgirl Malala Yousafsai following her shooting by TTP. He was sentenced to death for the attack on former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf in 2004. Rasheed was incarcerated at Bannu prison and later freed along with 400 inmates when militants stormed the complex in 2012. He was also the mastermind of the 2013 Dera Ismail Khan jailbreak in which over 170 prisoners escaped.


The Mir Ali Massacre and True face of Pakistan Army by Adnan Rasheed

Reprinted with permission from Azan Magazine, Issue 5 Page No 27) 

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Photos received at the time alleging Pakistan Air Force Attack

It was the 20th of December 2013. The morning was frosty, however no one could have anticipated the chilling events that were about to unfold. More than 25 truck drivers were sipping tea in the Sheereen hotel, waiting for the lifting of the curfew that the Pakistan Army imposes whenever it wills in Mir Ali, North Waziristan. Among them were two tribesmen who had just returned from The Gulf States after 6 years of hardships. They were travelling to their native villages in Miran Shah, a city close to Mir Ali. However, trapped in curfew, they decided grudgingly to stay in the hotel. They were eager to rush to their homes; impatiently waiting to give gifts to their children and loved ones, from the stuff they had bought from overseas. Maybe they were imagining the very moment they’d enter their homes… embracing their mothers and kissing their children… but alas it wasn’t to be…

Shereen hotel is on the roadside, situated near the Pakistan Army camp in Mir Ali. The convoys of the security forces used to pass from its front regularly. The hotel was not a security threat for the security forces; in fact, the soldiers themselves used to frequently visit the hotel for a cup of tea. Therefore, the truckers and other civilians who lodged in the hotel were satisfied that the security forces would not harm them.

One day, the convoy stopped and the Army officers and their men came into the hotel. The officers ordered their men to arrest all people inside, including the hotel staff. The innocent civilians were then handcuffed, blind folded and shot in their heads, one after another!

The only eyewitness who had managed to hide somehow in the hotel said that all of the truck drivers were begging for their lives. They pleaded with the soldiers, especially the two – just returned – expatriates, who were showing them their tickets and passports. But all their cries were to no avail and they were calmed with bullets in their heads. [Indeed, to Allah I, we belong and indeed, to Him we are returning]

The whole area of Mir Ali was heavily shelled with long range artillery from 6 am in the morning till darkness. Cobra gunships and machine gun-fitted Mi-17 helicopters targeted the homes of innocent civilians killing more than 70 men, women and children and severely injuring more than 100. Anyone who breathed was declared an enemy combatant. The Pakistan Army continued the operation for a week; homes, shops, mosques, markets, schools and hospitals all were targeted. The Army brutally and ruthlessly bombed down the main Mir Ali Jami’a Masjid located in the heart of the city, killing 6 worshippers in the process. The terrified population of Mir Ali decided to leave their homes in the dark of the night. They all went to the faraway valley of Khaisor by foot in the chilling cold. They had to leave behind their pets and cattle, which died after some days due to starvation. Mir Ali became a ghost town.

My dear brothers and sisters! This was not the first time that the Pakistani security forces played this bloody game – killing innocent and unarmed civilians. In fact, it is merely a repetition of their shameful history.

On 12 August 1948, in Ba Bara, a village in Charsadda district of KPK province a massacre happened. The then law enforcement agencies killed more than 650 innocent, unarmed civilians. The protesters were demanding that Jinnah fulfil his promise – that of imposing the Islamic system in Pakistan. However, their demands were answered with bullets. This massacre happened in the life and government of Jinnah, the so-called father of the nation and founder of this so-called Islamic state.

On the 6th of March 1953, the Pakistan Army imposed martial law in the city of Lahore in order to launch an operation against the anti-Qadyani protesters. The Muslim protesters’ demands were that the government declare Qadyanis to be non-Muslims. More than 1000 devout Muslims were brutally killed (the Red Cross counted 330 killed bodies that day) by the Pakistan Army and thousands were arrested. On the other hand, the Qadyanis were given full protection and security.

In September 1970, known as ‘Black September’, the Jordanian Army, under the command of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, then Brigadier, conducted operations against Palestinian refugees on the behest of the Jordanian government, and killed several thousand innocent Palestinian Muslim refugees.

Also, the Pakistan Army in the then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, killed a huge number of Bengali Muslims, including women and children from March 1971 to December 1971.  Furthermore, a large number of Bengali Muslim women were raped in front of their husbands and family members by the Pakistani security forces. Most of them were arrested and taken to army camps where the Pakistani Army used them as sex slaves for months until they got pregnant.

On October 30 2006, the Pakistan Army conducted an air strike against a Madrassa (seminary) in Bajaur killing more than 70 innocent young students.

In July 2007, Commandos of the Pakistan Army massacred more than 1000 male and female students, with white phosphorus bombs in Jamia Hafsa, a seminary next to Lal Masjid (The Red Mosque). Two soldiers among them who refused to take part in that operation were then sentenced and sent to jail where I met them.

More than 1000 Swati Muslim women with their children were arrested in various military operations in 2009. They are still missing.

When the Army regained Swat after military operations in 2009, the Pakistan Army used a new tactic; soldiers used to announce a list of some men every day and say that they are required for investigation. Their families were forced to produce the wanted men. The local Jirga used to be the guarantor that the men would be returned after the investigation, within a few days. About 6,500 men were picked up for a FEW DAYS and they are still missing. The families of missing persons staged a protest in front of the Army office in Swat.

Pakistan Army has killed more than 25,000 tribesmen (civilians) during operations in FATA from 2008 to 2012. This figure was officially admitted and submitted by the Pakistan Army to the Supreme Court of Pakistan in February 2012. The Pakistan Air Force, that claims to be the symbol of pride for the nation, is in reality a symbol of shame for the nation. They proudly claim that they have dropped more than 10,600 bombs in the tribal areas on terrorist’s compounds, but undeniably most of the victims were innocent tribesmen. The former Air Chief admitted that their bombing accuracy was only 15 percent. That means 85 percent bombs were dropped on civilians!

The Pakistan Air Force claimed that they targeted my house on January 20, 2014. By the Grace of Allah, I and my family are safe. However, the bombing killed four innocent civilians. They were Maryam (4 years old), her mother Ayesha (24 years old), her grandmother (80 years old) and her uncle Bakhtullah (17 years old). A young boy Shahzeb (7 years old) and his sister (14 years old) were taken to Peshawar for treatment; they had sustained burns and broken bones. The symbol of shame, Pakistan Air Force, killed innocent civilians of the Mehsud tribe in an attempt to kill me along with my wife, two year old daughter and infant son.

It was breaking news on TV that I, with my wife, children and mother were killed in an air strike by PAF jets. The government proudly made this claim but nobody in the Pakistani nation raised this simple question: Why were women and children targeted?

Why wasn’t the question raised: Which national or international law permits the killing of families? The media is biased and might is right! Our opponents term us as ignorant, wild, barbaric and uncivilized. On the other hand, a fighter pilot is regarded as highly educated, disciplined, and having high moral values. Nevertheless, when it comes to matters of war, then who is actually wild and barbaric? You can judge this yourself from the bombings on Faqir of Eppi to the killing of innocent Maryam!

The atrocities of the Pakistan Army in the Baluchistan Province are also widespread. According to ‘Voice for Baloch Missing Persons’, more than 18,000 Baloch Muslims are missing; among them are women. They also claim that they have found more than 3000 mutilated dead bodies of the missing persons. Recently, a mass grave was discovered in which the bodies of fourteen missing Balochs were found; they were known to have been kidnapped by the ISI.

In the 1970s operations in Baluchistan, the Pakistan Army killed more than 5,300 so-called Baloch separatists and 6,000 innocent Baloch civilians, under the command of General Tikka Khan.

It is ridiculous that an Army that has totally failed in maintaining peace in its own country since it came into being, is available for rent to the United Nations’ so-called ‘peace-keeping missions. When a Pakistani soldier dies, it brings money to the pockets of Generals. One of the primary reasons of Pakistan’s joining the war on terror (War against Islam) is money. It seems like the more soldiers die, the better it is for the Generals because with each soldier’s death more money comes in from the coalition support fund.

Pakistan’s security forces are ahead of everyone in human rights abuses, atrocities and war crimes. One can find every example of evilness in their past and present; of massacres more horrifying then Mai Lai, mass graves more than Bosnia, sex abuses more than North Korea, disappearances and mutilated dead bodies more than any country of Latin America, corruptions and bribery more than Russia, Military Coups more than Turkey, corporations and assets more than the military junta of Burmaand expertise in extraordinary rendition.

The Government of Pakistan has imposed an unprecedented law in the country. According to the Protection of Pakistan Act; any member of the security forces can kill anyone if he thinks this person may be a terrorist or miscreant. No authority can question the Army or secret services if they subject someone to disappearance for an unknown and unlimited period. No application or writ petition can be entertained or submitted in any court of Pakistan against the atrocities. Thousands of civilians have been arrested in Karachi during the last two months under this new law. Nobody can question who were they, where they are or when they will be presented to the court for justice? Earlier it was happening de facto now it is happening de jure.



Since the Mir Ali attack there have been further allegations of civilian casualties and I received these photos which claim that the persons shown were killed on 25th February, South Waziristan as a result of Pakistan army action.

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All allegations of human rights abuses must be investigated, confirmed or denied and until the Pakistan government puts in place procedures to do so, there will be no trust from the people and little hope of dialogue being effective.

Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad.  She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.