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Profile: Amir Mir

Amir Mir was a participant or observer in the following events:

US Brigadier General Walter Givhan says that the US military is looking to eventually equip Afghanistan’s air corps with unmanned aircraft, otherwise known as “drones,” for surveillance missions. Givhan, who is working to train and arm Afghanistan’s air force, says that although the US military is not presently seeking to arm the corps with drones, they are likely to be supplied in the future. “I think it fits into that category of things that, as we continue to develop and we get the basics down, that we look at adding to their portfolio,” Givhan says. (Agence France-Presse 8/12/2009) Givhan explains to Agence France-Presse that the US military wants to give Afghanistan’s air force the capability to carry out reconnaissance and surveillance missions, which would initially be carried out with manned aircraft, but because Afghanistan also needs to deploy manned aircraft for moving troops and supplies, the Afghan military will eventually need to have the unmanned (drone) option. The plan to revive the country’s air force is part of a wider US-led effort to train and equip the Afghan National Security Forces. The Afghan Army’s air corps currently has 36 aircraft and 2,700 airmen, but Washington’s goal is to increase the fleet to 139 aircraft with 7,250 airmen by 2016, according to Givhan. (Agence France-Presse 8/12/2009)
Extrajudicial Killing and High Civilian Casualties - The US has used drones extensively in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, not only for surveillance, but also for targeted missile attacks that have killed civilians and militant leaders alike, earning the widely unpopular weapon strong criticism as a legally dubious instrument of extrajudicial killing. (Shamsi 7/21/2009) A Brookings report, citing analysis by journalists Peter Bergen, Katherine Tiedemann, and Pakistani terrorism expert Amir Mir, estimates that drones may have killed 10 civilians for every militant killed in Pakistan. (Bergen and Tiedemann 6/3/2009; Byman 7/14/2009) Counter-insurgency expert David Kilcullen has cited even more alarming statistics. In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, he said that 98 civilians are killed for every two targeted individuals. (Kilcullen 1/6/2009)

US-operated drones kill 708 civilians in 44 Predator attacks targeting Pakistan’s tribal areas between January 1 and December 31, 2009, according to statistics compiled by Pakistani authorities. Dawn reports that for each key al-Qaeda and Taliban militant killed by US drones, 140 Pakistani civilians also die. On average, 58 civilians are reportedly killed in drone attacks every month—about two people per day. (Dawn (Karachi) 1/2/2010) Other estimates of civilian-to-militant deaths over a longer time span vary greatly. Daniel L. Byman of the Brookings Institution, citing analysis by journalist Peter Bergen and Pakistani terrorism expert Amir Mir, estimates that since 2004, drones may have killed 10 civilians for every militant killed in Pakistan. (Bergen and Tiedemann 6/3/2009; Byman 7/14/2009) Counter-insurgency expert David Kilcullen cites even more alarming statistics, acknowledging earlier Pakistani estimates that 98 civilians are killed for every two targeted individuals. (Kilcullen 1/6/2009; Kilcullen and Exum 5/16/2009) Bergen and Katherine Tiedmann will later report that new analyses of drone strike deaths in Pakistan from 2004 to March 2010 indicate that the civilian fatality rate is only 32 percent. Their study estimates that of the 114 reported drone strikes in northwest Pakistan from 2004 to the early months of 2010, between 834 and 1,216 people are killed, of whom around 549 to 849 are described as militants in press accounts. (Bergen and Tiedemann 2/24/2010 pdf file) Apart from the statistics, the controversial weapons are regarded by human rights and legal experts as legally-dubious instruments of extrajudicial killing. (Shamsi 7/21/2009)


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