Sunday, January 15, 2006

Wash Post: Thousands of Pakistanis Protest Killing of Innocent Civilians In Al-Zawahri Strike

According to the Washington Post, Pakistan has lodged its second official protest in a week over the United States killing innocent civilians while launching air strikes against alleged terrorist hiding places:

KARACHI, Pakistan, Jan. 15 -- Thousands of Pakistanis in cities across the country on Sunday took to the streets in protest against a U.S. missile attack that killed more than a dozen people in an apparently failed attempt to strike al Qaeda deputy leader Ayman Zawahiri.

"There has been a protest in every big city, and the government understands why so many people are angry," said Sheik Rashid Ahmad, Pakistan's information minister. "When it comes to image-building in Muslim countries, particularly Pakistan, the U.S. is moving one foot forward and two backwards."

Friday's rocket attack in the village of Damadola, which is just over the border from Afghanistan, was executed by the CIA, with an unmanned Predator drone firing missiles at houses where Zawahiri was thought to have been located, according to U.S. military and intelligence sources. Pakistani officials had initially said 17 people were killed in the strike, but on Sunday a senior intelligence official in Islamabad said there was evidence of 13 deaths, including three children and five women. Local officials said all of those killed were local residents, and that none were militants.

A second Pakistani intelligence official discounted reports that the FBI may test the DNA of the victims to determine whether any were known terrorists.

"What do you think, that the families of the victims would let us or the Americans dig the graves of their loved ones for FBI tests?" the official asked. "An absolutely crazy idea."

U.S. officials said the Pakistani intelligence service had taken an active role in helping to coordinate Friday's strike. But on Saturday, Pakistan lodged a formal protest over the incident. The foreign secretary summoned the U.S. ambassador to deliver the latest protest personally, though it was unclear Sunday whether the two had talked. The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad had no comment.

The protest was the second of its kind in just the past week. The Pakistanis had earlier protested an attack in the Waziristan region that killed eight, and was blamed on the United States. In December, a CIA-led attack in the tribal areas of Pakistan succeeded in killing a top al Qaeda operative.


Friday's attack seemed to provide fresh ammunition to the Islamist groups as they push their anti-American message. An alliance of religious parties known as Muttahida Majlise Amal called Sunday's protests, but all opposition political parties, as well as a key coalition partner of the government, participated in the rallies.

Sunday's protests remained relatively peaceful, a day after a rally near the scene of the attacks turned violent when the offices of a U.S.-backed aid organization were ransacked and set ablaze. On Sunday, strict security measures were enforced, and all roads leading to U.S. diplomatic missions in Pakistan were blocked by paramilitary forces.

The largest anti-U.S. rally was held here in Karachi, Pakistan's biggest city, outside the main Banori mosque. About 8,000 people listened to fiery speeches condemning the United States and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

The protests came at a time when thousands of U.S. troops are involved in major relief and rehabilitation work in areas of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir that were devastated by last fall's earthquake. Former U.S. president George H. W. Bush, the current president's father, is due in Pakistan on Monday to survey the work. But speakers said that after Friday's attack, he will not be welcome.

"Senior Bush must not be allowed to come to Pakistan unless Junior Bush seeks pardon from the people of Pakistan for killing our innocent children and women," said Ghafoor Ahmad, leader of the radical party Jamat-i-Islami.
One step forward, two steps back.

We help Pakistan after the devasting earthquake in Kashmir last year, then we kill innocent civilians in two separate air strikes against alleged terrorist hide-outs.

And what do the boys in Washington think?

U.S. senators on television talk shows Sunday defended the strike, even if Zawahiri was not hit.

"We apologize, but I can't tell you that we wouldn't do the same thing again," said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation," McCain added that, "We have to do what we think is necessary to take out al-Qaeda, particularly the top operatives. This guy has been more visible than Osama bin Laden lately."

Democratic senator Evan Bayh (Ind.) also defended the choice. "It's a regrettable situation, but what else are we supposed to do?" Bayh told CNN's "Late Edition." "It's like the wild, wild west out there. The Pakistani border is a real problem."

Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), said Friday's strike was "clearly justified by the intelligence."

Can you imagine what McCain, Lott, or Bayh would be saying if Pakistan accidently killed 18 American civilians while launching an airstrike against terrorists?

They'd be denouncing the incident from the high heavens and calling for Musharraf to issue an official apology and make restitution to the families of the deceased.

But when it's the U.S. slaughtering innocent civilians (and setting off anti-American protests all over Pakistan), all McCain, Bayh et al. can say is "Oops...sorry about that. But we can't promise it won't happen again."

No wonder so many people in the Muslim world despise the United States. We're a bunch of fucking hypocrites.

it would seem that a grab mission would have been a better idea. this guy would seem to me to be an excellent source of intelligence and might even know where osama is.

of course they are justifing the bombing on the intelligence, guess it was gathered by the same guys who told us about WMD in Iraq.
A grab mission would have been a great idea, though I'm sure it would have been hard to pull off. But just think, how much would the # 2 Al Qaeda know about operations even in an organization as loosely put together as Al Qaeda?
A grab mission would have been a great idea, though I'm sure it would have been hard to pull off. But just think, how much would the # 2 Al Qaeda know about operations even in an organization as loosely put together as Al Qaeda?
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