Pakistani Anti-Drone Activist on Being Abducted: "I Was Beaten, Tortured"
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Pakistani anti-drone activist Karim Khan was abducted February 5, just before he was due to travel to Europe to speak out about U.S. drone strikes. He joins us to describe how he was held for nine days. During that time he says he was repeatedly tortured and beaten. In 2009, a U.S. drone killed Khan’s brother and son. He joins us from London, where he traveled to to meet with British lawmakers to raise concerns about the U.S. drone program. "They attacked our mosques, they attacked our schools, they attacked our schoolchildren, they attacked our teachers," Khan says. "So everything is completely destroyed by these drone strikes." We also speak with Khan’s lawyer, Shahzad Akbar. "This is what the human face of the victim is, and it is important that the American people are told about who these people are," Akbar says. "They are being targeted in the name of national security, [but] what we see on the ground is that it is not really serving the national security interests of anyone."
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: We turn to Pakistani anti-drone activist Karim Khan. He made headlines earlier this month when he was abducted just before he was due to travel to Europe to speak out about U.S. drone strikes. In 2009, a U.S. drone killed his brother and his son. On February 5th, Khan was abducted at gunpoint from his home. He was hooded, shackled and then driven several hours to a location where he was held in a basement cell. He was held for nine days. During that time, he says, he was repeatedly tortured and beaten. He was then released on February 14th. This week, Karim Khan traveled to London, where he met with British lawmakers. He joined us from London to describe his ordeal, along with his attorney, Shahzad Akbar, who also joined us. I began by asking Khan what happened to him February 5th.
KARIM KHAN: At that time, I was sleeping at my home. It was 12:30. Some people entered my house, and they took me. I asked them, "Who are you?" But they said, "Shut up. Don’t speak." So they took me, and they blindfolded and also cuffed handed, and also they put some cape on my head and also a blanket. So they took me in an undisclosed place, and after one night they took me from that place to another place and kept me in a tight-held cell. There, I spent eight days. So, after this, they released me.
AMY GOODMAN: Were you beaten?
KARIM KHAN: They abused me, and they also beat me, and they tortured me. So, they repeatedly asked me some names, but I don’t know them. They said that "They know you." But I said, "But I don’t know them." It was very strange questions. When I remember, it was very strange questions.
AMY GOODMAN: Shahzad Akbar, you’re the attorney for Karim Khan, as well as the attorney for other drone strike victims or families of those who have been killed. Talk about, first, what happened to Karim. Talk about the case of his family, and then what it means to get word out.
SHAHZAD AKBAR: I think the whole problem with drone is that the U.S. government doesn’t really want to talk about what’s really going on ground, because what Karim Khan’s story and Rehman family’s story and so many other drone—civilian drone victims’ stories tells us, that these strikes are not precisions, as President Obama would like to sell this to people in America, because this is what the human face of the victims is. And it’s important that American people are told about who these people are—they are being targeted in the name of national security—because what we see on ground, that it is not really serving a national security interest of anyone, be it United States or their ally Pakistan, which is a front-line state in this war against terror. And it’s really counterproductive, and it’s not really making any friends.