US spy arrest halts drone strikes in Pakistan as Al-Qaeda steal Predator drone

Activist group 'Pasban Pakistan' protest against American diplomatic Raymond Davis at the Karachi Press Club in Pakistan. Davis, is under investigation for the double murder of two Pakistani motorcyclists in Karachi, Pakistan.

In Pakistan drone strikes seem to have ceased since 23rd January. While there have been pauses in drone strikes in Pakistan before, there has been speculation that this latest pause is connected to diplomatic efforts to secure the release of Raymond Davis a US citizen who shot and killed two Pakistan men in disputed circumstances. It has been alleged that Davis is a US spy – the US say that he is a member of the US Embassy staff and has diplomatic immunity. For background to the case see this Washington Post piece.

Meanwhile AFP has reported the crash of a Predator drone in Yemen this week in which the wreckage, initially collected by the police, was then hijacked and taken away by Al-Qaeda gunman. (Rather strangely are recommending that AQAP sell the drone to the Chinese.)  Yemen authorities later denied that a Predator had crashed.  The Yemen Times rather cleverly reported both the crash and the denial and then reminded its readers that last year a Wikileaks cable revealed that Yemen had deliberately covered up the crash of a US Scan Eagle drone in Yemen.

In the UK, the Highlands and Islands Enterprise agency has proposed that the Hebrides be used as a place for testing unmanned drones. While the agency is headlining the fact that such drones would be used for civilian use, the proposal has presented to Peter Luff, UK defence minister and the testing range is currently being run by arm giant QinetiQ

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