This is what it feels like to be hunted by drones, explains Malik Jalal – the man on US drone ‘Kill List’
A Pakistani man who claims to be on a ‘Kill List’ of people to be targeted in US drone strikes appeared on a BBC Radio programme on Monday to urge the US and UK governments to stop trying to kill him.
Malik Jalal, from Waziristan, claims to have narrowly missed at least four drone strikes and says he has been warned by various authorities that he is on a “Kill List”.
Describing one such attack, Jalal said a car driving behind him was hit by a missile while he was out visiting another village. “I heard the explosion and the back window of my car shattered. The car behind was in flames and the passengers were in pieces,” he said.
Jalal, a tribal elder, has travelled to the UK on the invitation of Lord Ken MacDonald, the former Director of Prosecutions, to ask parliamentarians and the government to take his name off the “Kill List”. He further says that his children are “terrified” of dying in a missile attack.
According to him, the US and UK is targeting him for his work with North Waziristan Peace committee (NWPC) – a group attempting to bring peace between the Taliban and the government of Pakistan. Jalal’s role as an intermediary in settling disputes is recognised by the Pakistani government.
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“I had a special role to improve security and we were making progress and that’s why I think America targeted us. I came close to being bombed four times, so in the end I realised they were on to me,” Jalal told BBC.
In a letter addressed to Home Secretary Theresa May, who has oversight of MI5 and the NCA, and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, who has responsibility for GCHQ and MI6, Jalal has asked for meetings to clear his name and get off the “Kill List”. The US ambassador is also copied in the letter.
Recounting another drone incident, Jalal said a friend’s house he had intended to visit for dinner was hit by a missile while he was about 500 metres away in his car.
“I have had to leave Waziristan. In my own family there are six people who are mentally destabilised because of the strikes. In Waziristan there are more than 400,000 people who have mental problems because of the drones. My own son is too scared to go back to Waziristan,” the tribal elder said.
“I have a peaceful role in Pakistan. I am not involved in terrorism. I came to Britain because I feel like Britain is like a younger brother to America. I am telling Britain that America doesn’t listen to us, so you tell them not to kill Waziristanis,” he continued.
Shahzad Akbar, Malik Jalal’s Pakistani lawyer, and Director of the Islamabad Foundation for Fundamental Rights, said, “Malik Jalal has come all the way to this country to try to speak with people about how he can get off their Kill List and try to protect his family and friends. He is willing to speak to anyone at any time in any place to convince them that this killing is both immoral and counterproductive.”
Speaking about the issue, Clive Stafford Smith, Director of Reprieve, a human rights charity, said, “It is horrifying that, in the 21st Century, we have drawn up a list of people we want to kill. Malik Jalal puts a very human face on the horror of this policy. If democracy means anything at all, the prime minister must order a full and transparent inquiry into the Kill List, starting today.”
Reprieve, who represents Malik Jalal, says Western intelligence agents believe the North Waziristan Peace committee (NWPC) allows the Taliban a safe haven in Waziristan.
This article originally appeared on Independent