CIA drone strikes degraded terrorist networks
As we all know, both the U.S. military and the CIA use drones as part of conventional fighting in war zones as well as to conduct targeted killings of individuals they say are suspected of terrorism.
The CIA’s drone program remains largely a secret, and it has used drones to conduct killings both inside and outside of the military battlefield. The CIA’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) program was officially commissioned as a result of the September 11th terrorist attacks and the increasing emphasis on operations for intelligence gathering in 2004.
However, the CIA was employing drones for its missions before 2004. On November 3, 2002, the Agency conducted its first lethal drone strike, using an unmanned Predator aircraft to destroy a car carrying Qaed Senan al-Harethi, a well-known al-Qaeda commander linked to the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, as he travelled across a barren region in Yemen.
The most lethal drone in the CIA’s anti-terrorism arsenal is the Lockheed Martin’s RQ-170 Sentinel. It is operated by the United States Air Force for the CIA.
I discuss the CIA’s use of drones in the new spy thriller MISSION OF VENGEANCE. Here is a snippet:
“There will be continual surveillance missions against our enemies in the Caribbean. I directed the 432nd out of Creech Air Force Base in Nevada to position MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones in Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands.
The drones can loiter for hours and with their wide range of sensors will aid our efforts to target and track the Hezbollah narco-terrorist network that Russia uses as its terrorist proxy. These drones will be used for reconnaissance missions only, but if the need arises, they will be armed with laser-guided bombs and Hellfire missiles, which I will not hesitate to use.”
End of Snippet
In 2011, a Yemeni-American terrorist was killed in Yemen by an American drone strike ordered by President Barack Obama. Al-Awlaki became the first U.S. citizen to be targeted and killed by a U.S. drone strike- he was a key organizer for the Islamist terrorist group al-Qaeda. Here is a video about his assassination: U.S. citizenship not always a “shield” against drone strikes.
Robert Morton is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), enjoys writing about the U.S. Intelligence Community, and relishes traveling to the Florida Keys and Key West, the Bahamas and Caribbean. He combines both passions in his Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster series. Check out his latest spy thriller: MISSION OF VENGEANCE.