Who was behind the kidnapping of Pakistani anti-drone activist Kareem Khan from his house in Islamabad? He told a press conference after his release that 20 men, some wearing police uniforms kidnapped him in the middle of the night. Khan was about to leave for Europe where he was to testify before European parliaments about the massive civilian casualties caused by US drone strikes. He lost a brother and son to such strikes in 2009.
Washington DC, Crescent-online
February 17, 2014, 10:43 EST
Pakistani journalist-turned-anti-drone campaigner, Kareem Khan was released on February 14 after being kidnapped from his house on the outskirts of Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, 10 days earlier. At a press conference in the presence of his lawyer after his release, he said he was tortured and interrogated by his abductors.
“They kept asking me about various names and whether I knew these people.” He said he knew some of them but others he had no idea about.
Khan was kidnapped on February 5 from his house in Islamabad that was raided at night while he and his family were asleep.
Twenty men, some wearing Pakistani police uniforms and others in plain clothes invaded his house and took him away, causing his family great anxiety and consternation.
The anti-drone campaign has become a major issue in Pakistan. Family members of those killed or injured in such US attacks have demanded these be halted immediately and the families compensated.
Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaf chief, Imran Khan is also strongly opposed to drone strikes and he has mobilized party supporters and others to block convoys taking military equipment to US/Nato forces in Afghanistan.
Imran Khan’s party heads the government in Pakistan’s Khyber-Pukhtoonkhwa province that borders Afghanistan and is the major transit route for such convoys.
Kareem Khan joined the campaign when his brother and son were killed in a US drone attack in 2009 in Waziristan. He famously sued both the CIA and the Pakistani government for the drone attacks on Pakistani soil.
His recent abduction took place just before he was about to leave on a tour of European parliaments to speak about the toll the US drone strikes have caused.
Over the last decade, US drone attacks have killed up to 3,646 Pakistanis, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalists, a group that tabulates figures from media reports.
The US drone attacks have spread terror throughout the northwestern regions of Pakistan with North and South Waziristan being special targets.
Khan's lawyer says he was kidnapped, tortured and interrogated before being dumped near Islamabad. The men who seized him wore police uniforms, the lawyer said.
The British-based human rights charity Reprieve said he had been beaten and tortured while “placed in chains and repeatedly questioned” about his knowledge of drone strikes and their victims.
“If this kidnapping was done by a rogue branch of government, (Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif) needs to launch an immediate public investigation and hold those who are guilty accountable,” said Reprieve’s staff lawyer Jennifer Gibson.
Even those affiliated with the US military industrial complex have noted the media firestorm over Khan’s abduction, and observed that it was an unwise move.
“This is a very bizarre case,” says Kamran Bokhari, who works for Stratfor, the global intelligence company that has close links with the CIA.
“Clearly those who don’t think drone strikes are a bad thing — because they eliminate the state’s enemies — are most likely behind the abduction. But the move was badly thought out, because a court case could be the result,” Bokhari said.
Last October, 9-year-old Nabeel and her 13-year-old brother Zubair Rahman came to Washington to testify before Congress. Both were injured when two Hell-fire missiles were fired from a drone that killed their 68-year-old grandmother Maimana Bibi on the eve of Eid al-Adha October 24, 2012.
The US government refuses to even acknowledge that its missiles killed an elderly grandmother and badly injured three of her grandchildren.