Originally published on April 25, 2015, at NationofChange.org
Since the inception of the drone program, the CIA has killed at least eight U.S. citizens with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). On Thursday, President Obama announced that the agency recently used drones to kill two al-Qaeda hostages including a kidnapped American. According to estimates, nearly 4,000 people have been killed by U.S. drone strikes including at least 476 innocent civilians.
After weeks of reviewing intercepted cellphone conversations, drone feeds, satellite data, and informants’ reports, the CIA launched drones from a base in Afghanistan on January 15. The drones crossed the border into Pakistan and flew over the Shawal Valley to conduct a signature strike against four suspected al-Qaeda operatives. After the attack, surveillance video recorded six bodies being pulled from the debris instead of four.
Two of the bodies belonged to kidnapped aid workers, Dr. Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto. Abducted in 2011, Dr. Weinstein had lived in Maryland before moving to Pakistan to become director for a consulting firm working with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Lo Porto, an Italian national, was taken hostage in 2012 while attempting to perform humanitarian work in Pakistan.
Included amongst the rubble was the body of another American. Alleged al-Qaeda deputy leader, Ahmed Farouq also died in the strike. According to U.S. officials, Farouq was born in the United States and moved to Pakistan as a child.