Washington, Apr 19: The United States intelligence agency CIA is planning to expand its covert drone campaign in Yemen by launching strikes against terrorism suspects even when it does not know the identity of the person to be killed, American officials have revealed.
The so called “Signature Strikes”, if allowed, would allow the CIA to hit targets based solely on intelligence indicating patterns of suspicious behavior.
CIA Director David H. Petraeus has requested permission to use the tactics, which has been a core element of drone program in Pakistan, against the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, which has emerged as the most pressing terrorism threat to the United States, The Washington Post reports.
A senior US administration official declined to talk about what he described as US “tactics” in Yemen, but he said that “there is still a very firm emphasis on being surgical and targeting only those who have a direct interest in attacking the United States.”
Proponents of the plan, which has been presented to the National Security Council, said that improvements in US intelligence collection in Yemen have made it possible to expand the drone campaign, and use signature strikes, while minimizing the risk of civilian casualties.
According to the paper, they also pointed to the CIA’s experience in Pakistan, saying the agency killed more senior al-Qaeda operatives there with signature strikes than with those in which it had identified and located someone on its kill list.
The agency has cited the Pakistan experience to administration officials in arguing that it can be more effective against Al-Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate if it doesn’t have to identify its targets before an attack.
According to the paper, US President Barack Obama, however, ruled out a similar push for such authority more than a year ago. (ANI)