Every day, remotely piloted Predator and Reaper drones, manufactured by the secretive General Atomics Corporation, hover over towns and villages in the northern Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. Operated remotely by the CIA from the US, but launched from secret bases in Pakistan, they watch for “patterns of life” feeding back hundreds of hours of infra-red imagery via satellite for the spy agency to analyse.
These remotely piloted planes launch Hellfire missiles at targets, sometimes day after day, and typically in the early hours of the morning. The first reported attack was in 2004, under President Bush. This was followed by a further seven strikes that year. But it is under President Obama that the drone war has picked up. All told more than 300 strikes have been carried out in Pakistan, despite the fact that America is an ally, and now on average there is a strike every four days.
A year-long, continuing project by the Bureau has developed a database tracking all credibly reported strikes, and gathered information from on-the-ground researchers.
For more on this story, visit: Was this 16-year-old, killed by a US drone, really a terrorist?: TBIJ.