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(Unified Press Global -- UPG) FBI Agents yesterday arrested Perverz Omit, a 36-year-old resident of Arlington, Virginia. He was charged with several counts of murder and attempted murder for allegedly directing a bomb-laden drone into Washington DC’s Studwell Friends School.
(Unified Press Global -- UPG) FBI Agents yesterday arrested Perverz Omit, a 36-year-old resident of Arlington, Virginia. He was charged with several counts of murder and attempted murder for allegedly directing a bomb-laden drone into Washington DC’s Studwell Friends School. Eight children and one teacher died when the device collided with the school’s roof; and twenty more were wounded, two seriously. Omit is also suspected of having navigated a similar flying explosive craft into Vice President Joseph Biden’s home at the Washington Naval Observatory.
Two naval officers and one secret service official perished at the Biden home, three others were wounded. The Vice President and his family were not at home when the drone hit the house.
FBI officials led the handcuffed Omit from his suburban Virginia home. He screamed at reporters. “This is vengeance for what they did to my family.”
White House spokesman Gibbs Phooney stated that the drone attack “had no justification. How can you claim family vengeance for exploding a bomb aimed at innocent people?” He told a press conference that only “uncivilized and murderous people would think of sending an explosive laden drone into civilian targets.”
Omit’s wife, Perveen, said Perverz had been despondent for a year since a U.S. military drone had landed in his native village of Barjo, in Pakistan, killing his brother and sister, their five children and his parents. A CIA spokesman denied any civilians were killed in that bombing. “The house destroyed by the drone belonged to foreign extremists suspected of planning attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan.” Twenty-two people died in that strike, U.S. intelligence officials said. The drones have become a favored weapon of the CIA. Since 2007, dozens of these unmanned planes loaded with explosive charges have hit Afghan and Pakistani villages. American officials praised these attacks for having killed scores of militants, including ranking members of Al-Qaida, the terror group blamed for the September 11 attacks. The drone operations have reduced U.S. casualties to zero. Until the recent drone attack in Washington no retaliatory attacks had occurred in the United States.
Mrs. Omit insisted that her husband’s relatives were “not terrorists, but hard working farmers.” The Pakistan government did not comment on the occupations of the victims, but it again protested the raids as violations of its sovereignty. Sources inside the Pentagon, however, assured UPG that Pakistani officials had struck a deal with Washington allowing drone strikes.
U.S. intelligence officials claim the southern Pakistan region has become home to hordes of Afghan militants and suspicious nationals from other Muslim countries. They insist the region around Borja had become both a staging area for attacks on U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan as well as the place where Osama bin Laden, leader of Al-Qaida, has been hiding.
Former colleagues praised Omit, pointing out he had graduated with honors from Rentseller Polytechnic Institute in Sparta, New York, with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. He did post-graduate work at MIT before joining All American Weapons Inc., a company that has security clearance from the Pentagon to do research on Air Force projects. The company would not discuss the nature of Omit’s work with them. His wife thought he built model airplanes to be used as tests for drones.
The devices that hit the school and the Biden residence were thought to be advanced models of radio operated toy planes. Observers saw the miniature craft en route to the school. “I thought some people who have these hobby airplanes that you direct from the ground and can make fly in all directions,” said Yves Drooper, a janitor at the school.
The FBI called Omit a “vicious terrorist.” “What this guy did,” said an FBI spokesman, “shows how dangerous life has become. There is no conceivable reason for a sane man to try to assassinate the Vice President’s children.”
Julius Naiver, a neighbor of the Omits in suburban Virginia, said he could not believe that the mild-mannered man he had come to know and respect could have perpetrated such a horrendous act. “I mean what kind of man would send a plane with a bomb to hit a civilian target?” asked Naiver.
“When we send in the drones, we always target bad guys,” said Brig. General Christine Flippant. Last week, the Pentagon estimated that 18 U.S. drones fired rockets on Afghan and Pakistani villages which terrorists used for training. The explosives killed an estimated 51 members of the Taliban and Al-Qaida. “They can’t keep sustaining these losses,” declared Gen. Flippant.
U.S. and NATO casualties in Afghanistan since 2001, have reached 8,409. Some 23,000 have been wounded. In 2008, civilian deaths increased 40% from 2007, according to UN figures. In addition, the Pentagon has faced an increased suicide rate among service men and women, “a problem we must face squarely,” Gen. Flippant told UPG.
General Flippant added that the Omit arrest showed the nation now faces “a threat of more ‘enemy’ drones targeting the U.S. population in supposed retaliation. Omit may be just the first of many who use some bogus revenge pretext for their unbridled barbaric terrorism.”
The general also referred to a February 2010 arrest by the FBI in Seattle of Yoo Can Too, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Malaysia for attempted murder. On February 5, Mr. Too allegedly tried to shoot John Whine, a former U.S. Special Forces sniper. He claimed Mr. Whine had assassinated his twin brother in Malaysia.
Apparently, Mr. Whine had belonged to an “executive assassination ring” that purportedly functioned during the Bush years and reported directly to former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Seymour Hersh first broke the story in a March 13, 2009, speech at the University of Minnesota. Hersh described these extra-legal operations of the Joint Special Operations Command as “a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently. They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office. . . Congress has no oversight of it.”
Hersh said the assassins entered foreign countries, did not consult with the U.S. ambassador or CIA station chief. They hunted people on a list, executed them and left. “That’s been going on, in the name of all of us,” said Hersh.
The White House denied any knowledge of this program. UPG discovered that Mr. Too’s brother, Notme Too, was mysteriously shot as he left his house in Kuala Lumpur. Maylay police called the crime a robbery, but CIA sources speculated that the sniper may have mistaken the victim for an Al-Qaida operative, I Can Too, who also lived in Kuala Lumpur.
The Obama Administration has been debating for a year whether or not to continue some of the anti-terrorist programs begun under the Bush Administration. Thus far, the drones continue to operate and Obama has not addressed the issue of secret assassination squads. The CIA refers to events like the Omit and Too cases as “blowback,” the unexpected consequences of covert U.S. policies.
“When you fight a war against terrorists,” said a CIA source who wanted to remain anonymous, “you sometimes have to use the tactics of the terrorists. That leads to collateral damage. But, hey, we know we’re the good guys.”
Saul Landau is a Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies and a senior fellow of the Transnational Institute. His latest book is A Bush and Botox World. His latest film is We don't play golf here! And other stories of globalisation .