Lawfare and Predator strikes


A Pakistani tribesman from the al Qaeda haven of Mir Ali in North Waziristan is threatening to sue the US government if he is not paid for what he claims is the wrongful death of his brother and son in a US Predator strike on Dec. 31, 2009. From The Associated Press:

A Pakistani man who says he lost his son and brother in an American missile attack in the northwest threatened Monday to sue the CIA unless he receives compensation, a move that will draw attention to civilian casualties in such strikes.

Kareem Khan and his lawyers said they were seeking $500 million in two weeks or they would sue CIA director Leon Panetta, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and a man they said was the CIA’s station chief in Islamabad for “wrongful death” in a Pakistani court.

The potential plaintiff and his lawyer don’t expect results, but they do want to raise the profile of the effects of Predator strikes:

Any legal action stands no chance of success unless U.S. officials cooperate with the court, something highly unlikely given the secretive nature of the missile strike program. The most Khan and Akbar can hope for is to bring attention to the issue.

The US Predator program in Pakistan is increasingly coming under the scrutiny of the law. This story comes months after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain information on the program. When the request was ignored by the US government, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Defense Department, the State Department, and the Justice Department.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.



  • Villiger says:

    Is this ISI retaliation for a US court having summoned the ISI chief in a case filed by the Rabbi’s (victim of Bombay 26-11) family?

  • Jim Bronw says:

    Interesting story. Have any tribesmen filed lawsuits against the Taliban for killing elders and civilians, bombing mosques, suicide attacks against the Pak gov’t, blowing up schools, ruining the tourist business in Swat, burning hundreds of fuel trucks, etc.?

  • Spooky says:

    No, they aren’t sueing the Taliban. They’re forming militias to fight them, or have you been paying attention?
    Being so constantly sarcastic about anything done by a non-American if they don’t happen to like American actions isn’t always an ISI or liberal plot. To deny that there is ANY innocents killed or harmed in the crossfire or that they don’t deserve to be heard regardless is deluded at best.
    The reason they are suing (or rather, want to sue) the United States is because we understand the rule of law. We want OTHERS to understand the rule of law. That includes times when it can be inconvenient. They also know the Taliban do not understand rule of law, which is why they are fighting them.
    As for the predator strikes themselves, they will continue and will continue to reap dividends. But lets not kid ourselves in how it affects locals.

  • Caratacus10ad says:

    I think the US authorities are going to have to nip the issues of the American Civil Liberties Union and et al, filing Freedom of Information Act requests attempting to clearly manipulate and influence how govts such as the United states can fully prosecute an effective war against enemies of the state by those opponents using Lawfare against the actual state under threat.
    Freedom of Information, should not be allowed to be a tool in creating severe difficulties for the state authorities and its departments, within fighting what is a defensive war against those whom wish to remove and harm the freedoms enjoyed of those very individuals attempting to create mischief for the state in misguided ways.
    Let the Lawfare issue fester and it will get only worse… A legal task-force needs to deal with this looming problem rapidly, as it certainly wont go away I bet.

  • villiger says:

    Whats ludicrous is the amount of the demand–$500,000,000 !!!
    You could buy the whole Pakistani cabinet for that!
    Zardari and Kayani, though, are probably worth a bit more since they are busy milking US provided funds.

  • ramgun says:

    Well said Spooky.
    You cant deny that the Predator programme, no matter how well targeted, is causing an unacceptable collateral damage. Indeed, there is left no moral difference between the NATO forces and Taliban in being indifferent to the suffering of the common people
    All right thinking and civilised people should constantly make sure the far right hawks are kept in leash and rules of the game are obeyed. Otherwise its just one terrorist fighting another

  • Villiger says:

    Hey ramgun ‘unacceptable’ to whom?
    What do you suggest as an alternative?

  • Zeissa says:

    If this was serious it wouldn’t be 500 million.


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram