An American military drone strike over the weekend in southern Libya killed a top recruiter and logistics specialist for Al Qaeda's branch in northwest Africa, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, and a senior military official warned of more attacks on extremists there. The military's Africa Command said in a statement that the attack killed two militants, one of whom was identified as Musa Abu Dawud, a high-ranking official in Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, known as AQIM. Mr. Dawud trained Qaeda recruits in Libya for strike operations in the region, and provided logistics, money and weapons that enabled the group to threaten and attack American and Western interests, the military statement said. Until now, the Pentagon had focused its counterterrorism strikes in Libya -- eight since President Trump took office -- almost exclusively on Islamic State fighters and operatives farther north. Over several months in 2016, the military conducted nearly 500 airstrikes in the coastal city of Surt to destroy the Islamic State's stronghold there.
Shifting from the drone policy of the Obama administration, President Donald Trump has given the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) new authority to conduct drone attacks against suspected militants, anonymous U.S. officials said. The new policy is in contrast to that of former President Barack Obama that limited the CIA's paramilitary role, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. Under the Obama administration, the CIA used drones and other intelligence resources to locate suspected terrorists and then the military conducted the actual strike. Although Obama pushed for the use of drones, he kept the military in place to conduct the actual strike. During Obama's two terms, a total of 563 strikes, largely by drones, targeted Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen compared to 57 strikes under George W. Bush, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Drone supporters often say that strikes are effective, their targets aren't random and are not a recruiting tool for various armed groups. A look at the evidence, though, demonstrates otherwise. In this week's Reality Check, Mehdi Hasan explains why he believes that drone strikes are ineffective, inaccurate and unsuccessful. Follow UpFront on Twitter @AJUpFront and Facebook.
The family of the driver killed in a US drone strike that targeted Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor have registered a case against US officials seeking murder charges. The case, filed by the family of Mohammad Azam who was killed last week along with Mansoor in the Pakistani town of Ahmad Wal near Afghan border, said the father of four was innocent. US officials described the car's driver as a "second male combatant" but according to Pakistani security officials he was a chauffeur named Mohammad Azam who worked for the Al Habib rental company based out of Quetta, the region's main city. "US officials whose name I do not know accepted the responsibility in media for this incident, so I want justice and request legal action against those responsible for it," Mohammad Qasim, Azam's brother said in a police report, a copy of which was seen by the AFP news agency. "My brother was innocent and he was very poor who has left behind four small children and he was the lone bread earner in the family," he added.