Lawyer Shahzad Akbar (left) and Shireen Mazari (center), PTI central information secretary, at press conference on holding CIA responsible for November 21 drone strike | Screen shot from PTI’s website
A political party in Pakistan has named the CIA station chief in the country and accused the chief and CIA director John Brennan of murder for their role in a recent drone strike in Hangu, where an Islamic school was targeted.
The drone strike on November 21 killed six and, injured a “large number of those present including children,” according to a letter submitted to police by Dr. Shireen M. Mazari, the central information secretary for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
Following the strike in the Khyber Pakhtunkwa province, a settled urban area, a First Information Report (FIR) was submitted to a nearby police station asking them to investigate crimes committed by those who were behind the strike.
Firedoglake is not revealing the alleged station chief’s name. The identity of the alleged CIA station chief in Pakistan has already been exposed by PTI, and his alleged name is circulating in the country.
The letter nominates Brennan and alleged CIA station chief Craig Osth for “committing the gross offenses of committing murder and waging war against Pakistan.”
Mazari continues, “It has further come to my knowledge that Craig Osth is running an illegal clandestine spying operation throughout Pakistan but specifically in KP and annexed Tribal Areas, wherein Craig Osth and his allies (names not known yet) throw a GPS (Global Positioning System) device at a targeted house/car and the Drone (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), which is remotely controlled from undisclosed location, strikes at the target.”
The alleged CIA station chief is accused of using a “clandestine network” to plant a GPS on the school and “further ordered/conspired” to launch the missiles that killed and injured people.
“It is pertinent to mention here that the Honorable Peshawar High Court has already declared such drone strikes illegal and a violation of Pakistani and international laws,” Mazari adds. Mazari cites a judgment in the case of Foundation for Fundamental Rights v. Federation of Pakistan. (More on that case here.)
Mazari goes on to urge authorities to interrogate the CIA station chief, who is “currently residing and operating from the United States Embassy situated in the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad.” She suggests this is a “clear violation of diplomatic norms and laws as a foreign mission cannot be used for any criminal activity within a sovereign state.”
She also argues that the chief is “not a diplomatic post, therefore, he does not enjoy any diplomatic immunity.” He’s subject to the domestic laws of Pakistan and is subject to the jurisdiction of Pakistan’s penal code.
The letter accuses Osth of multiple crimes and concludes that he “might try to avoid the course of law and run away from the country, therefore it is requested that the Ministry of Interior be contacted to put his name on ECL (Exit Control List).” She also contends that Osth should have to give up the names of others involved in the strike.
Those killed in drone strike on November 21 were Noorullah, Hamidullah, Ahmed Jan, Gul Marjan and Abdul Rehman, according to The Express. Each of these people were taken to Afghanistan to be buried. Ahmed Jan, also known as Maulana Ahmad Jan, was a “spiritual leader” for the Haqqani network. He and others had been at the attacked seminary, which was a “rest base” for militants fighting NATO forces.<
The Haqqani network has never been directly implicated in any attacks on the US homeland. The group is not a part of al Qaeda, although its members are believed to have cooperated with al Qaeda in the past. The members are not senior members of al Qaeda, which President Barack Obama has falsely claimed are the people the US government targets in drone strikes.
After the strike on the Islamic school, PTI, led by Imran Khan, mobilized tens of thousands of people toblock the route for NATO supplies entering into Afghanistan.
Major rallies have been held before, but the naming of an alleged CIA station chief represents a significant escalation in efforts to stop US drone strikes.
“The names of two previous CIA station chiefs in Islamabad were exposed during a six-month stretch three years ago,” The Washington Post’s Greg Miller wrote. “In one case the CIA officer became a target of death threats after his cover was blown, forcing the agency to rush him out of the country.”
One of the instances where the chief’s cover was blown occurred after Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor,shot two men in Lahore and was charged with double murder.
For what it’s worth, according to Ahmed Quraishi, a Pakistan-based columnist for News International, the CIA is claiming that Craig Osth is not the station chief’s name.
Shahzad Akbar, a Pakistani lawyer who represents US drone victims, will be representing students who were injured in the Hangu attack. Though the injured students are apparently no longer in Hangu for safety reasons, they will eventually go to the police station so that their statements can be taken.
Akbar has tried to enter the US in the past months for conference events, but the State Department has been unwilling to grant him a visa.
The PTI and its supporters, along with human rights lawyers like Akbar, have consistently worked to raise the stakes for US so they could force the government into a position where it had to stop launching drone strikes.
It is clear that if the US government wishes to continue operations, which the Pakistan’s justice system have declared illegal, they will be confronted by a swelling movement committed to holding those behind the strikes accountable.