PARIS -- Is "killed by a drone strike" the new "alive and well"? If you pay close enough attention, it makes you wonder what's really going on.
Here's how this charade usually goes: One or more major news organizations runs a story about some Middle Eastern terrorist being killed in a drone strike, usually in Pakistan. The reports, typically generated by some murky Pakistani intelligence source -- are neither confirmed nor denied by U.S. intelligence. The boilerplate response is instead something like, "We can only confirm they were in the area." It's kind of like asking, "Did you sleep with my wife?" and getting back, "I cannot confirm or deny except to say that we were in the same bed."
This week, senior al-Qaeda leader Abu Zaid al-Kuwaiti was reported to have been killed by a drone in northern Pakistan. American intelligence officials have yet to confirm or deny, but that hasn't stopped this from becoming worldwide news and accepted as fact. After all, in the event that the story isn't actually true, will anyone remember the retraction -- or even demand one? Al-Kuwaiti sure won't. He'll probably be grateful to finally get some peace and quiet.
Throughout history, people have paid big bucks for the privilege of dropping off the face of the earth, often unsuccessfully. Little did they know that all they had to do was turn to terrorism and end up on America's radar as a major target.
There is no question that these stories are becoming part of an interesting, if not suspicious, pattern.
In September 2010, U.S.S. Cole bombing suspect Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso was reported to have been killed by a drone. U.S. intelligence wouldn't confirm or deny the report of his death beyond saying that he was in the drone-flooded area of Northern Pakistan. You'd think it would be their job to find these things out. He met his second "death" by drone on May 6, 2012. Any chances of a third? Is this man a cat?
In October 2010, an Osama bin Laden "ambassador," Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, was reported to have "killed" by a drone. But again, U.S. intelligence wouldn't confirm or deny anything beyond saying that he was hanging out in northern Pakistan. It was later reported that he was killed yet again by a drone on August 22, 2011.
There must be a stellar vacation-package deal for members of Middle Eastern terrorist groups to vacation in northern Pakistan if they're willing to risk all the drones and repeated deaths.