Kidnapped Anti-Drone Activist Freed in Pakistan

Kareem Khan, who was taken from his home earlier this month, is set to testify about CIA drone strikes.

Kareem Khan (center) was released Friday after being kidnapped earlier this month. He is set to testify in Europe about the CIA drone attack that killed his family.
National Journal
Alex Brown
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Alex Brown
Feb. 14, 2014, 10:37 a.m.

A Pakistani act­iv­ist who lost a broth­er and a son in a CIA drone at­tack has been freed after a mys­ter­i­ous ab­duc­tion earli­er this month.

Kareem Khan — who had been set to testi­fy in Europe about drone war­fare — was taken from his home Feb. 5 by nearly 20 men, eight of whom were in po­lice uni­form. “We be­lieve it likely to have been agen­cies con­nec­ted to the gov­ern­ment, po­lice, coun­terter­ror­ism force, or mil­it­ary, in­tel­li­gence ser­vices,” emailed Za­rmeeneh Rahim, a law­yer for the Found­a­tion for Fun­da­ment­al Rights, which rep­res­ents Khan. “His work is an em­bar­rass­ment to the Pakistani gov­ern­ment and the mil­it­ary, and they have ample reas­on to si­lence him.”

Khan was beaten re­peatedly on the soles of his feet, in­ter­rog­ated about his con­tact with drone vic­tims, and driv­en around blind­folded. On Fri­day, his captors threw him from a van after or­der­ing him not to speak with the me­dia.

Al­though the kid­nap­ping was ap­par­ently in­ten­ded to in­tim­id­ate Khan from speak­ing out, Rahim said he plans to leave for Europe Sat­urday as planned.

In 2010, Khan sued the CIA, ur­ging Pakistani courts to ex­ecute the agency’s Is­lamabad sta­tion chief for his role in the drone at­tack that killed his fam­ily mem­bers. U.S. gov­ern­ment lead­ers said the strike was tar­geted at a Taliban com­mand­er they be­lieved to be in the house. Khan claimed he did not know the com­mand­er and that he was not in the home at the time.

Khan — who is slated to speak with Ger­man, Dutch, and Brit­ish au­thor­it­ies about the drone strikes — is also su­ing the Pakistani gov­ern­ment for fail­ing to in­vest­ig­ate the strike that killed his fam­ily. Rahim said he is try­ing to change per­cep­tions of his re­gion, Waziristan, to pre­vent fur­ther vi­ol­ence. “Even with­in Pakistan, there is a lot of mis­in­form­a­tion, mis­un­der­stand­ing about the people of Waziristan, their pre­sumed sup­port for ter­ror­ists,” Rahim said. “The people of the tri­bal areas are seen as either Pakistani Taliban, or their sup­port­ers, and seen as in­vit­ing or de­serving of the vi­ol­ence that is vis­ited upon them daily.”

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