United Kingdom-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s Naming the Dead project has now recorded the names of more than 700 people reportedly killed in United States’ drone attacks in Pakistan.
About 323 of the people identified are reported to be civilians, including 99 children. The database of names has grown since its launch the previous year, but those identified still make up fewer than one in three of the 2,342 reportedly killed in drone attacks.
The Bureau uses open source materials to monitor and record all drone attacks in covert war situations including Pakistan.
The US authorities claim that only militants are killed in drone strikes, but only 295 reported militants killed in drone strikes have been identified. There are an additional 95 people identified by the Bureau who are classed as ‘unknown’, where it is unclear whether they were civilians or members of a militant group.
The project gathers the names of people reportedly killed by CIA drones in Pakistan, along with any available biographical details – although often such details are scarce.
The project was launched in September 2013, publishing 568 names of people killed in more than 370 drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004. This is the biggest publicly available list of drone victims, and draws on the thousands of media reports, court documents and other sources that inform the Bureau’s main drones’ databases.
The Bureau has since built on this, uncovering new names from eyewitness accounts gathered during a trip to Pakistan, leaked Pakistani government documents, and work by Bureau researchers in Pakistan.
Media reports have continued to identify drone strike victims. They emerged after senior Al Qaeda member Sanafial Nasr eulogised three men killed on July 10.
Al Nasr, reportedly a member of Osama bin Laden’s extended family and a member of the organisation’s strategy committee, took to Twitter to lament the deaths of Fayez Awdaal Khalidi, Tajal Makki and Abu Abdurahmanal Kuwaiti.
Unnamed US intelligence sources told the Long War Journal that al Makki, a Saudi, and al Kuwaiti, from Kuwait, were mid-level Al Qaeda commanders. The sources said the men were likely to be important people in Al Qaeda because of their relationship with Al Nasr.
In total, the Bureau has identified reports suggesting at least 168 children died in drone strikes, of whom it has identified 99 by name. Sixty-seven of these names belong to children killed in a single attack, an October 2006 strike on a madrassa in Bajaur Agency that killed 81 civilians.
Just two women killed by drones have been identified by name. One, Bibi Mamana, was a grandmother in her mid to late 60s. She was killed while tending to a field near her home; several of her grandchildren were also injured in the attack. The other is Raquel Burgos Garcia, Spanish wife of Al Qaeda member Amer Azizi. At least 55 women have been reported killed in the 10-year drone war, and as the Bureau reported in 2013, in the conservative culture of the tribal regions it is likely that many women’s deaths go entirely unreported.