Early in 2012, worried that suicide bombers might pass through airline security undetected, American counterterrorism officials ordered a drone strike in Yemen to kill a doctor they believed was working with Al Qaeda to surgically implant explosives in operatives, according to British intelligence documents.
The documents, previously undisclosed, include details about how terrorism suspects are targeted in drone strikes and how strikes can go wrong at times. The documents also show how closely the National Security Agency has worked in Pakistan and Yemen with its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters, or G.C.H.Q.
Britain has carried out drone strikes only in war zones in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. The documents raise the possibility that in addition, British intelligence may have helped guide American strikes outside conventional war zones.
President Obama spoke on Thursday about the two hostages accidentally killed in a counterterrorism operation.Obama Apologizes After Drone Kills American and Italian Held by Al QaedaAPRIL 23, 2015
Drone strikes carried out by the C.I.A. and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command have received fresh scrutiny after President Obama disclosed in April that a strike had killed two Western aid workers held hostage by Al Qaeda in Pakistan. In that case, intelligence officers targeting the Qaeda compound had no idea the hostages were there, illustrating how incomplete or faulty information has led to civilian deaths in the drone campaign.