MOSCOW, October 17 (RIA Novosti) – Fewer than 4 percent of victims of US drone strikes in Pakistan have been identified as members of al-Qaeda, a study conducted by the UK Bureau of Investigative Journalism shows.
"Only 704 of the 2,379 dead have been identified, and only 295 of these were reported to be members of some kind of armed group….Only 84 are identified as members of al Qaeda – less than 4% of the total number of people killed," the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported Thursday.
"Few corroborating details were available for those who were just described as militants. More than a third of them were not designated a rank, and almost 30% are not even linked to a specific group," the Bureau noted.
The data was collected as part of the Bureau's "Naming the Dead" project. According to the organization, the names of the people killed by US drones in Pakistan since June 2004 and further details were collected over a year of research in and outside Pakistan, using various sources, including Pakistani government records leaked to the Bureau.
The United States resumed its drone attacks in Pakistan in June. Washington says the airstrikes are part of an effort to eliminate a global terrorist threat. The legal basis for the strikes comes from a law signed by Congress after 9/11, which gives the US president the right to use all necessary force against those behind the September 11, 2011 attacks on the United States.
International organizations and human rights groups have often criticized Washington over its drone operations that in many cases have led to the deaths of civilians.