Unnamed Sources and Drones: A Deadly Combination

There are a number of deeply disturbing issues about the reports that Abdul Jabbar, a British Citizen killed in US drone strike in North Waziristan was to lead British terrorist cell. Firstly the suggestion that he was in fact to lead a terrorist cell in the UK appears to come from one unnamed “senior Pakistani security source” via a BBC Newsnight report

It is of great concern that a single unnamed source who, it could be argued, has a vested interest in justifying the death of Mr Jabbar and raising fears about terrorism has such an influence on the media. Indeed other ‘unnammed sources” are dismissing the story. Sky News for example are reporting that their sources, this time unnamed government officials are saying that the stories are something “to be”rather cautious of”.   And indeed as the Guardian reports one key element of the story is very suspicious – the idea Abdul Jabbar was chosen at a gathering of 300 Taliban and al-Qaida militants in North Waziristan. “It’s unthinkable that 300 people could meet in one location in the tribal belt. Maybe 10 or 20, but 300 is too much. It would be too much of an easy target for the drones,” said Imtiaz Gul, author of a book on militancy in the frontier regions.

 But perhaps even more disturbing about this whole story is the fact that the execution of a British citizen accused of being involved in terrorist activity”at very early stages” without any due legal process seems acceptable to many in the media and beyond – indeed it passes without even comment.

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