Although British Reaper drones currently continue to operate over Iraq and Syria, the real desire by British political and military leaders to prove that despite Brexit, the UK is willing, ready and able to co-operate in militarily operations with other European nations could potentially see British drones deployed to the Sahel region. No doubt the recent questions about the viability of NATO in light of Trump’s political manoeuvring makes co-operating militarily with European partners seem even more important to the UK government. With France and the US engaged in separate counter-terrorism operations in the Sahel, and other European nations contributing to a peacekeeping mission there, over the past few weeks there have been some signs – including the deployment of UK troops and military helicopters – that the UK may join other Western forces in the area. Read more
By Max Brookman-Byrne, Lecturer in Law, University of Lincoln. Reposted with permission.
It was today revealed by various newspapers (for instance, the Guardian, BBC and Mail) that Sally Jones, the so-called ‘White Widow’, has likely been killed by a targeted drone strike. Jones was described as being a member of ISIS and was apparently killed, along with her 12-year-old son, in June 2017 near the Iraq-Syria border.
As a researcher whose work for the last three and a bit years has been on the lawfulness of drone strikes, the question of whether this strike was lawful or not immediately came to mind. Jones was viewed as a member of ISIS and generally the media has uncritically reported her death, implying an assumption that the strike was lawful. But is this correct?
There is an armed conflict occurring in the situation in which Jones was Read more
In December 2015 the US announced plans to vastly expand its drone programme including increasing the number of drones to be purchased, doubling the number of drone operators and opening new drone bases.
A map in the USAF’s new ‘RPA Vector Report’ released on April 4 2014 confirms that ‘Project Crossbow’ based at RAF Marham in Norfolk is part of the intelligence backbone guiding the growing use of US and UK drones.
While British Reaper drones based in Afghanistan are being remotely controlled from RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, RAF Marham near Kings Lynn is home to Crossbow, a joint UK-US intelligence analysis project. Operated by the RAF’s Tactical Imagery Intelligence Wing (TIW) but “under the tactical control” of a USAF Squadron, Crossbow receives and feeds information into the US Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS). Read more
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has admitted that British RAF pilots have borrowed USAF Reaper drones more than 250 times in Afghanistan, launching weapons on at least 39 occasions. However the numbers of strikes by RAF pilots using US Reapers drones is likely to be higher as the MoD are keeping secret the number of weapons launches by RAF pilots when they have been officially embedded with the USAF. Read more
On both sides of the Atlantic, legal challenges related to US drone use are about to hit the courts.
Tomorrow the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will take the CIA to court for refusing to comply with a Freedom of Information request for copies of documents related to the CIA’s drone strike programme.
The CIA has refused to comply with the FoIA request on the grounds that it is forbidden to talk about the secretive programme. The ACLU say that the CIA cannot on the one hand refuse documents on the grounds of secrecy while at the very same time regularly give briefings about its drone strikes. Jameel Jaffer, the deputy legal director of the ACLU told the Guardian: Read more