Appearance before Congress by the Rehman family of North Waziristan set to put secret CIA programme under the spotlight.
Two young Pakistani victims of a US drone attack and their father have appeared in Washington to give evidence about their experiences – with only five members of Congress present to hear them.
Nabila Rehman, nine, and her 13-year-old brother Zubair travelled with their father Rafiq from their North Waziristan village to appear before members of Congress, and urge the US to end its drone attacks.
Five members of Congress – all Democrats – sat in on the evidence, which was the first opportunity US politicians have had to hear directly from Pakistani victims of US drones.
The family told the story of the day, October 24 last year, when the drone attacked their village. The missile fired from the drone struck as they were outside picking okra, severely injuring Nabila and Zubair, and killing their grandmother, Rafiq’s mother, 67-year-old Momina Bibi.
The Rehmans participated in an Amnesty International report about casualties of drones. According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 376 total strikes have taken place in Pakistan, killing up to 926 civilians and as many as 200 children.
Zubair recounted how he was hit by shrapnel in his leg — an injury that would take expensive laser surgeries to heal — while Nabila looked down to see her hand bleeding.
“I tried to bandage my hand but the blood wouldn’t stop,” she said. “The blood kept coming.”
Momina Bibi’s wounds were so severe that neighbours would not allow her sons to see the body, said Rafiq, a primary-school teacher in Pakistan who was away in town when the attack happened.
Rafiq said the newspapers reported that fighters had been killed in the strike. As far as he knows, his mother’s was the death.