The Long War Journal’s reporting on the covert US air campaign in Pakistan has been widely cited in the media. Here is one cite we’d like to take back. Iran’s PressTV has completely distorted the The Long War Journal’s data on the Paksitan air campaign in this report. Here is what PressTV claims:
The Long War Journal, a US website tracking the strikes, however, says the assaults have killed mostly civilians and have failed to target top militant leaders.
We’ve said no such thing. A simple reading of this Jan. 5 report by Alexander Mayer and me will show just the opposite. According to our data, less than 10 percent of the casualties reported are civilian. Here is what we said:
Considering that drone strikes have resulted in 985 total casualties during that same time period, our numbers show that only 9.5 percent of the casualties reported have been identified as civilians. And the incidence of civilian casualties appears to be trending downward; during 2009, only 8.5 percent of the reported casualties were identified as civilians.
And as far as senior leaders killed, Alex and I reported the program has had success:
Since January 2008, the US strikes in Pakistan have killed 15 senior al Qaeda leaders and one senior Taliban leader. Eight were killed in 2008 (Abdullah Azzam al Saudi, Abu Zubair al Masri, Abu Jihad al Masri, Khalid Habib, Abu Haris, Abu Khabab al Masri, Abu Sulayman Jazairi, and Abu Laith al Libi); and six were killed in 2009 (Zuhaib al Zahib, Saleh al Somali, Najmuddin Jalolov, Mustafa al Jaziri, Tahir Yuldashev, Baitullah Mehsud, Osama al Kini, and Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan). In addition, 16 mid-level al Qaeda and Taliban commanders and operatives have been killed since January 2008. [see list of al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed since 2004, below]
We even took the time to list the senior and mid-level al Qaeda and Taliban commanders killed in the strikes over the years. Since this report was issued, Abdullah Said al Libi, the leader of al Qaeda’s Shadow Army or Lashkar al Zil, and Taliban commander Haji Omar Khan, have been reported killed, while Taliban commander Sadiq Noor may also have been killed.
If PressTV wanted to find a report on the US air campaign in Pakistan that more closely fit its worldview, it could have cited this report by Andrew Exum and David Kilcullen at The New York Times [note, you can see Alexander’s responses to the Exum/Kilcullen op-ed here and here].
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