Drone Attacks Monthly Report May 2011


American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has struck 9 drone attacks inside Pakistani territory, after Osama Bin Laden’s killing, during the month of May 2011. At least 62 people were killed and 17 injured in these highly controversial strikes. CIA has intensified the frequency of drone attacks to an unprecedented level after the killing of Osama Bin Laden in a compound near Pakistan Military Academy Abbottabad. The intensification in drone attacks can be judged by the fact that during the month of April 2011 only two drone attacks were carried out killing 32 people. First drone attack after Bin Laden’s death was carried out on May 6, 2011, just four days after the Abbottabad operation by US Navy SEALS. Except one, all the drone attacks were carried out in the North Waziristan Agency, which is considered by U.S. as a safe haven for Haqqni Network and other militants who are believed to be involved in attacks on NATO forces across the border. Pakistan is under tremendous pressure to launch a military operation in the agency to wipe out anti-U.S. militants from the area. Unconfirmed media reports suggest that the government has decided to launch the military operation in the area to establish its writ. Restoring its writ in the area can help Pakistan to convince U.S. to stop or reduce number of drone attacks.

1.   Cost of Attacks

In these 9 drone strikes U.S. unmanned aircrafts fired 26 missiles. According to U.S. media report the drones use AGM-114 Hellfire missiles that costs $68000 a piece. It means U.S. has spent a minimum of 1.768 million dollars to eliminate 62 suspected militants during the month of May 2011. The amount is equivalent to 150 million Pakistani rupees. In other words, an amount of $28516 was spent to kill one suspected militant.

2.   Targets

 It is observed that most of the targets were vehicles. Seven out of eight drone attacks targeted vehicles which shows that during the month of May CIA was more focused on moving targets in its assassination campaign in Pakistan’s tribal belt. Previously the focus was on militant hideouts and training camps.

3.   Significant Casualties

During the month of May 2011, no significant commander of Al-Qaeda was killed in drone attacks. However, a local commander Moulana Bashir of Hafiz Gul Bahadur group was killed on May 16, 2011. A 19-year-old young Al-Qaeda commander Naeem Ukasha was severely wounded in the same attack. He is son of Al-Qaeda’s late commander Abu Ukasha Al-Iraqi who was also killed in a drone attack in October 2008. The rest of the people who were killed during the month were all unnamed persons. Security officials claimed that all were suspected militants but their claims could not be verified independently.

4.   Civilian Casualties

BBC and Daily Ummat –a Karachi based Urdu newspaper- reported civilian deaths during these attacks. Daily Ummat and BBC reported that 17 people who were killed on May 6, 2011 were civilians. In many other incidents civilian killings were reported by Daily Ummat but the claims could not be corroborated with International media organizations that mainly rely on claims of anonymous security officials.

It is general practice by the security officials that they do not release names and other identities of the killed persons except when a known commander is killed. If one accepts claims of security officials without counter checking them then it is evident that all those killed in the month of May were ordinary militants. This raises question on the effective use of high-cost predator campaign.

5.   Political Cost of Drone Attacks

The drone campaign is eliminating apparently less significant targets with relatively very high political cost. U.S. has pledged $7.5 billion for Pakistan under Kerry-Lugar Act. One of the main purposes of this aid was to promote good image of U.S. in Pakistani public. During Last year’s floods, U.S. military and USAID did a great job to help Pakistani public. All this public diplomacy is severely damaged by drone attacks, which are considered by general public as attacks on Pakistan’s sovereignty. Pakistani parliament in its recent resolution expressed its deepest anger against drone attacks by asking the government to stop NATO supply route if these attacks continue. U.S. spends millions of dollars for its ‘assassination by drones’ campaign and pledged billions of dollars to make a good impact in the eyes of Pakistan. It is not understandable why it is just killing the unnamed foot soldiers or suspected militants with such a high cost.

6.   Drone Attacks During John Kerry’s Visit

CIA kept its practice of embarrassing Pakistan by conducting drone attacks after highest-level meetings. When Senator John Kerry chairman of U.S. senate’s foreign relation committee and special representative of president Obama, left Pakistan on 16th of May, 2011, after meeting with Pak Army Chief Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, CIA carried out a drone attack just few hours after his departure. This is the third time in recent months that U.S. attacked within Pakistani territory with drones just after highest-level meetings. The first such drone attack was carried out on 13th of April 2011. The strike came two days after a visit by Director General Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt. General Ahmad Shuja Pasha to U.S. The second such attack was carried out on April 22, two days after Admiral Mike Mullin’s visit to Pakistan. It is not clear that it is a result of deliberate actions or just lack of coordination.

7.   Protest against Drone Attacks

Protest against drone attacks continues to mount in Pakistan. A two days sit-in (Dharna) by Imran Khan, the head of liberal political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, was staged in southern city of Karachi on May 21 and 22. Thousands of people from different walks of life participated in the sit-in. PTI has announced another such sit-in in Multan on June 25, 2011.

‘The assassination by drone’ campaign was common topic during current affairs talk shows and Op-Eds in newspapers. The campaign is considered absolute violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.

8.   Comparison with Previous Year

During the same period in 2010, five drone attacks were reported in which 32 people were killed. It shows an increased frequency this year. However the number of attacks during May 2011 is less than the number of attacks in January 2011 (11 attacks 49 killed) and March 2011 (12 attacks 89 Killed). Nonetheless, the number is two times higher than February 2011 (4 attacks 21 killed) and four times higher than April 2011 (2 attacks 32 killed).

 Table 1. Drone Chart 2011


No. of Drone Attacks

Reported Deaths



















 Table 2. Drone Attacks Monthly Chart May 2011 on 

Sr. No.








NWA A Madrassha and a house were attacked in Datta Khel area. 4 aircrafts took part. 6 missiles fired 10 6 Daily Times

Daily Ummat

Daily Express

BBC Urdu


NWAVehicle Targeted in Datta Khel area. 2 missiles fired7


SWAA house and vehicle were targeted in the area of Angoor Adda. Two missiles fired47Daily Times

Daily Express

Daily Ummat


NWAA vehicle (double cabin) targeted in Datta khel area. 2 missiles were fired.8 DAWN

Daily Ummat

Daily Express


NWAA car was attacked with 4 missiles in Doga area of Datta khel5 DAWN

Daily Ummat

Daily Express


NWADrone fire 2 missile on a school building (Daily Ummat) . 2 drones took part. Khushali Toor near Mir ali was the area. Son of Al-Qaeda commander Abu Ukash Al-Iraqi severely wounded. Moulana Bashir commander of Gul Bahadur killed91Daily Times

Daily Ummat

Daily Express

BBC Urdu 16NWAFew minutes later drone fired 2 missiles on a vehicle.63 20NWA2 missiles fired on a vehicle on the road between Miramshah and Spelga6 Dawn

Daily Express


Daily Ummat 23NWA4 missiles fired on a public transport coach in Machi Khel area near Mir Ali. It was for the first time that a public transport vehicle was targeted.7 Dawn

Daily Ummat



The News

Daily Express9  6217 


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