New York University graduate student Josh Begley has started tweeting every U.S. drone strike reported since 2002, revealing a particular pattern of attacks that suggests Americans are using a tactic that is considered by some to be a war crime.
Known as a “double tap,” the tactic involves striking the same target in quick succession. Consequently, civilians have apparently been killed while trying to rescue or provide medical attention to victims of the initial attack.
The same tactic is commonly used in bombings by terrorist groups, as illustrated by a 2007 report by the Homeland Security Institute which characterizes double taps as a “favorite tactic of Hamas.” The tactic has also been used by terror groups operating in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In June 2012, after a suicide-bomber blew himself up on a motorbike in a crowded Kandahar market, soon after a second suicide-bomber detonated himself in the gathering crowd. The two attacks killed 23 civilians while wounding an additional.
In June, Christof Heyns, a South African professor and UN special rapporteur, told the international body in Geneva that some such drone attacks by the U.S. could constitute “war crimes.”
If “there have been secondary drone strikes on rescuers who are helping (the injured) after an initial drone attack, those further attacks are a war crime,” warned Heyns, adding “The targeting is often operated by intelligence agencies which fall outside the scope of accountability.”
Begley told The Daily Beast he was inspired to start the drone-strike tweets by Jane Mayer’s 2009 New Yorker piece, “The Predator War.” He told the website had felt a nagging need to open Americans’ eyes to the reality of this method of warfare.
Since taking office in 2009, President Barack Obama has significantly increased the use of drones in combating terrorism.
According to the New America Foundation, there have been 337 CIA drone attacks in Pakistan alone since 2004, 86 percent of which occurred during Obama’s watch. The New America Foundation estimates between 1,932 and 3,176 Pakistanis have died as a result of the drone attacks since 2004, of which between 1,487 and 2,595 were reported to be militants.
The collateral damage caused by such drone attacks in Pakistan caused the Muslim nation to close supply routes to Afghanistan used by NATO forces. The closure was lifted in July after an apology was issued by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a November 2011 U.S. drone attack that left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead.
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