4-Year-Old Aisha Lost Her Face in a U.S. Drone Strike

4-Year-Old Aisha Lost Her Face in a U.S. Drone Strike

By Matt Lemas

4-Year-Old Aisha

June 11, 2014 “ICH” – “RYOT” – On September 7th 2013, an American drone in Afghanistan struck a car carrying 15 passengers. Everyone was killed in the attack except for one — a four-year-old girl named Aisha.

The girl was traveling with her parents, a sibling, and other relatives to their home in Gamber, a village in the Kunar province of Aghanistan.

Referred to by the locals as “American birds,” U.S. drone strikes are a common fixture in Kunar, where the Taliban reportedly has a strong presence.

The wreckage was discovered by Aisha’s uncle, Meya Kan, and other villagers on the road after they received a phone call from a neighboring village.

Kan saw body parts strewn all around the wreckage, and assumed everyone was dead — until he he heard a voice calling out for water.

It was Aisha.

Upon being pulled from the ruined vehicle, the four-year-old girl was unrecognizable. She’d lost both eyes and her nose.

The Investigation

Journalist Terese Cristiansson came across Aisha’s story while Swedish newspaper Expressen was interviewing Afghan hospital personnel about children who were injured after being forced to plant roadside bombs.

The doctor she met with, Humayoon Zaheer, couldn’t refer her to any roadside bomb injuries within the hospital. Instead, he related one particularly gruesome tale — the story of Aisha.

“We had another case here,” Zaheer told Expressen. “She came in a couple of weeks ago, in September. A little girl who had lost her face in a drone strike. It was a very unusual case. I’ll never forget it.”

Expressen reports that Aisha was brought into the hospital with her nose, both eyes, and one hand missing.

The girl was shuffled to two different hospitals in Afghanistan before being transferred to a medical facility in the capital of Kabul, the only place in the country capable of treating her severe injuries.

A few days after being in Kabul, Aisha was visited by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who was at the hospital for a goodwill mission. In an interview with the Washington Post five months after the attack, Karzai recalled that seeing Aisha at the hospital was his “worst day in office.”
“The worst of it was when I went to visit a little girl in the French hospital who had no face, who was 4 1/2 years old, who had no face, completely blown off from the chin up to the eyes. She was blinded — her eyes were there but were blinded. Her arm was also not there. And she had lost the whole family, the entire family, 14 of them, in the bombing in Kunar. And that day . . . [note: there is a 39-second pause as Karzai struggles with his emotions] . . . that day, I wished she were dead and not alive, so she could be buried with her parents and brothers and sisters.”

Following the president’s visit, Aisha was moved across the globe to a hospital in the United States — without the consent of her remaining family. The girl’s two uncles were not allowed to accompany her.

It was at this point — five weeks after the initial strike — that Cristiansson sought to find Aisha. The girl’s uncles granted the journalist power of attorney, which made her the family’s official representative.

Through her research, she discovered that Aisha had been flown to the Walter Reed Military Hospital in Washington. From there, Aisha was put in the care of Solace for Children, a relief organization that treats Afghan children with war injuries, then finds them foster families until they can be flown back to their homes.

As the representative of Aisha’s family, Cristiansson reached out to Solace, but the organization said they’d been told that the girl didn’t have any relatives. After the journalist confirmed to the organization that Aisha did in fact have living family in Afghanistan, Solace declined to participate in any further questioning.

For weeks, Cristiansson was blackballed by the organization and heard nothing about Aisha’s condition. To both the journalist and the girl’s family, it seemed like a cover-up. Aisha’s two uncles believed that the U.S. military was withholding their niece to limit negative coverage of drone strikes.

“They probably don’t want her to become a poster girl for drone repercussions,” they told Expressen.

During this time, the International Security Assistance Force told Cristiansson that the September strike was performed because there were eight Taliban affiliates in the vehicle, and that they regret the civilian casualties.

The family of Aisha, however, said otherwise.

“How could they [commission an air strike?] They are not Taliban and there were several women and children in the car,” said Hasrat Gul, one of Aisha’s uncles.

It was not until March of this year that the family was finally updated on Aisha’s condition. When Cristiansson visted them, they told her that Aisha had been placed with a Muslim foster family in the United States. They added that her wounds had healed, but she’s still without her hand, eyes and nose.

In the end, the two uncles stressed that they just want Aisha to come home, rather than being stuck “in a country that killed her mother, father and little brother.”

“She belongs at home with us,” Meya Jan said.

The Toll of The Drone Program

2014 marks the fifth year of the U.S. drone program under President Obama, and it’s estimated that over this period at least 2,400 people have been killed. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that between 416 and 951 civilians, including 168 to 200 children, were among those who’ve died in Pakistan alone.

Additionally, both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International condemn the drone program, citing civilian casualties in Yemen and Pakistan that violate laws of war.

Just this March, the United Nations criticized American drone procedure for “the lack of transparency regarding the criteria for drone strikes, including the legal justification for specific attacks, and the lack of accountability for the loss of life resulting from such attacks.”

Nevertheless, the White House has held firm on their stance when it comes to drones.

In September of 2013, the same month Aisha was so badly injured in the devastating attack, the Obama administration denied claims from the aforementioned human rights organizations that laws were being broken.

Obama’s Chief Spokesman Jay Carney said current counterterrorism methods are “lawful” and “effective,” and that other methods would only increase civilian casualties.

In an interview with The New Yorker, President Obama asserted that the use of drones is only necessary when terrorists can’t be captured, and stated that his goal isn’t to “go around blowing things up.” He mentioned that he “wrestles” with the idea of civilians being caught in the crossfire.

“What I’ve tried to do is to tighten the process so much and limit the risks of civilian casualties so much that we have the least fallout from those actions,” Obama told the New Yorker. “But it’s not perfect.”

But accepting those types of imperfections is what led to Aisha’s horrific injuries. Isn’t it time we open our eyes and start to make a change?

Tired of hearing about drones killing innocent civilians? You can tell President Obama’s administration how you feel by signing Code Pink’s petition asking the US to take away the CIA’s lethal drone program. Click the action box to sign the petition and share this story to Become the News!
CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION

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Why is the mainstream media not talking about this child?

If the Taliban had done this it would be everywhere.

Ne sure to share this with your friends.

This is the true face of the US drones.

If we don’t tell people who will? Certainly not the main stream media.

They also fail to tell the truth about the Ukraine as well.

They all tell the public Russia is to blame for all the deaths, when in fact that is a blatant lie.

1 trillion of our tax dollars are wasted on NATO.

About 75 percent of it is used by the US.

No accountability No audits as to how the money is spent.

How many children are like little  4-Year-Old Aisha?

1 trillion dollars, can buy a lot of death and maiming.

Add to that all the money US tax dollars that go to war.

About Half of the US budget is earmarked for war.

So how many children have the US taken?

What a shame we have so few real reporters left in the world.

 

 

 

 

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No US assurance to halt missile strikes in Pakistan

November 4 2008

Attacks difficult to explain, says Zardari

* Petraeus meets Gen Kayani and Gen Majid
* Pakistan seeks help for Bajaur displaced
* US team informed about security needs

ISLAMABAD: United States Central Command chief General David Petraeus did not guarantee an end to US drone attacks in Pakistani in a meeting with Pakistan’s top leaders on Monday.

Pakistan’s most high profile protest yet came as Gen Petraeus met with top civil and military leaders in his first visit here since he took over his new position last week, amid claims that it could signal a shift in strategy in Afghanistan.

“Pakistani leaders told General Petraeus it is not possible to ask our people to support the war on terror when our sovereignty is violated every day,” sources familiar with the interaction told Daily Times. US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher accompanied Petraeus.

According to an official statement, Zardari warned the US general the missile strikes were ‘counterproductive’ and “difficult to explain by a democratically-elected government”. “It is creating a credibility gap,” he said.

“The president said that US leadership has affirmed respect for Pakistan’s territorial integrity,” the statement said.

Boucher and Petraeus also met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani and National Security Adviser Mehmood Ali and senior US and Pakistani officials were also present.

An Inter-Services Public Relations statement said Petraeus separately met with Gen Kayani and Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman General Tariq Majid.

Gen Majid told the US delegation the two countries needed a “consensus strategy to deal with violent extremism” that “keeps in view the local perspective”, the statement said.

Earlier, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar and Petraeus “stressed the need for enhanced co-operation to eliminate the scourge of terrorism”.

Bajaur displaced: Sources said Mukhtar also sought international help for the people displaced because of the military operation in Bajaur Agency.

Security needs: The American delegation was also briefed on Pakistan’s security needs to enhance its operational capability to fight terrorism.

Gen Patraeus said that they would consider the requests. sajjad malik/agencies

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NATO must stop violation of airspace

November 1 2008

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said in Istanbul that NATO forces in Afghanistan must stop violation of Pakistan’s airspace, terming it counter-productive that negatively impacts Pakistan’s efforts in the war on terror.The Prime Minister was talking to Foreign Minister of Belgium, Karel De Guelt who called on him on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum.

They discussed matters of mutual interest, including means for enhancing bilateral cooperation. Karel De Guelt, on behalf of the government and people of Belgium, extended heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the prime minister over the loss of precious human lives and damage to property caused by the devastating earthquake in Balochistan.

He said his government and people share the grief and sorrow of Pakistani people in this hour of tragedy.

The Prime Minister expressed his gratitude to the Belgium Foreign Minister for these sentiments and said that the government of Pakistan is mobilizing all available resources to provide speedy relief to the affected people.

During the meeting, they exchanged views on further promoting the existing bilateral relations.

They also discussed regional and global issues particularly the problem of terrorism and extremism being faced by Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The prime minister said that Pakistan was paying a heavy price for being a frontline state in the war on terror.

He pointed out that because of the two million Afghan refugees in the country, Pakistan was facing a severe socio-economic and law and order situation.

He called upon the world community to fully cooperate with Pakistan in its efforts in the war on terror.

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No more US attacks to be tolerated

November 1 2008

MIRANSHAH: A tribal elder of Pakistan People’s Party in North Waziristan has asked the United States to stop incursions in the agency, saying no more US drone missile attacks in the agency will be tolerated.

The party’s agency vice president Malik Ghulam Khan Madakhel said this on Friday while addressing a press conference here.

The PPP tribal leader also urged the federal government to implement parliament’s in-camera session declaration and start dialogue process in the tribal areas for ending the ongoing unrest.

He said during the USSR-Afghan war, Russian army had carried out several missile attacks in the tribal areas but did not succeed in fulfillment of its nefarious designs. Like Russian army, the US forces had also started missile attacks in the tribal region bordering Afghanistan but it, too, would never succeed in its wicked designs, he said.

He called the US drone attacks in tribal areas as challenge to the government of Pakistan and its sovereignty. He called upon the government to take practical steps for stopping US attacks in tribal areas and end military operation there. to pave way for resolution of the ongoing unrest in the tribal region through dialogues.

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UK Opposes US incursions inside Pakistan

ISLAMABAD,
October 31 2008

Once again strongly opposing persistent US incursions inside Pak territory the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Justice Jack Straw Friday urged the United States to respect the sovereignty and integrity of vital allies.

Talking to ARY One World, he said United Kingdom believes that the consent of Pakistan is must before initiating any action inside its territory.

Strongly favouring the continuation of Indo‑Pak dialogue process, he added that his country fully supports the negotiated settlement of disputes.

“United Kingdom applauds Indo‑Pak endeavours to extract an acceptable resolution of disputes especially the resolution of Kashmir issue through peaceful means,” he said.

He expressed heartfelt sympathies with the victims of earthquake on behalf of UK’s Queen, government,people and vowed to provide all possible help to affectees of natural disaster.

Responding to a question he said his country favours establishment of independent judiciary in Pakistan.

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