For the Mumbai Mirror.
Washington A father and his two children, who have no connection to the Taliban or al-Qaeda, have travelled to the US where, on Tuesday, they gave US Congress first hand testimony of the death and dread inflicted on innocent civilians by CIA's drone attacks.
The children, Zubair (13) and Nabila (9), are mourning their grandmother who died before their eyes when missiles rained on them in Oct 2012. They, and six other kids, were injured.
The little girl had a question for the US: "What did my grandmother do wrong?" Their father, Rafiq-ur-Rehman, a school teacher in North Waziristan who lost his 67-year-old mother, said, "Nobody ever told me why my mother was targeted that day."
On Tuesday, the family relived their tragedy, telling their story to a packed Congressional briefing organised by Democrat Alan Grayson and civil rights group Reprieve. The briefing, intended to put a human face on America's drone campaign, came a week after Amnesty International said US drone attacks could be classified as war crimes, The Independent reported.
Since 2008, 67 civilians have been killed secret CIA drone strikes. Rehman accepted an invitation from a documentary production company to come to the US because "as a teacher I wanted to educate Americans and let them know my children have been injured". "My daughter does not have the face of a terrorist and neither did my mother. It just doesn't make sense why this happened," he told AFP.
Reports had said missiles hit a house, with one version alleging a car was struck and militants killed. But the Rehmans said missiles landed in a field where the aged woman was teaching Nabila how to pick okra. "The only person killed was my mother, Mammana Bibi. Not a militant," Rehman said.
"After a loud boom, where my grandmother was standing, I saw two bright lights hit her," Nabila said. "And everything became dark at that point."
Shrapnel lodged in her right hand and she was treated at a hospital. Her brother, Zubair, suffered wounds to his leg, and required two operations. They took a loan to pay for surgeries. Most poignant was the testimony of Zubair, 13, who witnessed his grandmother die on what should have been the joyous Islamic festival of Eid. "We could see the drone hovering, but I wasn't worried. We weren't terrorists. Then the ground opened up. We ran, but the drone fired again. I was operated on the next morning. That's how I spent Eid."
Zubair no longer goes outside to play. "I hear they're going after people who have done wrong to America, then what have I done wrong to them?," his sister asked. Rehman said no one asked who was killed or injured. "Quite simply, nobody seems to care."