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CAIR Urges DoD to Adopt ‘Zero Civilian Harm Approach’ Following Pentagon Order Requesting Plan on Mitigation 

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/28/22) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today responded to Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III yesterday issuing a memorandum directing the Department of Defense to, in the next 60 days, build an action plan on civilian harm mitigation and response.   

Secretary Austin’s order came following a critical RAND Corporation study that found the “DoD is not adequately organized, structured, or resourced to sufficiently mitigate and respond to civilian-harm issues,” and national and international outcry over an August 29 U.S. military drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children.  

The Rand Corporation study also found that the “DoD’s responses to civilian harm have historically been inconsistent and confusing” and the “military’s standard for finding a civilian casualty report to be credible is higher than advertised.”

In a statement, CAIR Director of Government Affairs Director Robert S. McCaw said:    

“We encourage the Department of Defense to use this new review to take real and concrete actions that will protect civilians from harm. 

“Over the past 20 years, drone strikes and other attacks conducted by the Pentagon and the CIA have killed thousands of Muslim civilians in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and elsewhere.      

“As long as the Pentagon views even a single civilian death as acceptable ‘collateral damage,’ and as long as it merely seeks to minimize the number of innocents killed during drone strikes and other bombing operations, innocent people will continue to be at risk. 

“The Department of Defense must stop launching unauthorized drone strikes on foreign countries, adopt a zero civilian harm policy when engaged in legitimate military operations, and hold its leaders accountable when they take innocent lives.”  

In November, CAIR strongly condemned a Pentagon report that found no violation of law took place in its killing of 10 Afghan civilians saying: “If slaughtering ten innocent Afghan civilians–including a two-year-old girl–is not a crime under American law, then our laws are unjust.”  

SEE: CAIR Condemns Pentagon Report Finding No Misconduct in Killing of 10 Afghan Civilians, Reiterates Call for Moratorium on Drone Warfare  

In its “100-Day Agenda for Biden Administration” released following President Biden’s election, CAIR wrote:     

“Whenever our nation engages in military action overseas, we must do so only as a last resort, act with clear congressional authorization and within the limits of the Constitution, respect international law, honor the sovereignty of foreign nations, and most importantly, protect civilians from harm.”      

SEE: CAIR Releases 100-Day Agenda for Biden Administration: ‘Restoring the Rights of American Muslims, Advancing Justice for All’    

In 2019, CAIR condemned a drone strike by U.S. military forces in Afghanistan that killed 30 pine nut farmers. American officials said the attack was intended to target ISIS fighters.      

SEE: CAIR Condemns U.S. Drone Strike That Killed 30 Afghan Farmers    

CAIR has expressed solidarity with the Afghan-American community and called on the Biden Administration to do everything possible to welcome Afghan refugees to the United States while protecting Afghan civilians.        

SEE: CAIR Calls on Biden Administration to ‘Do Everything Possible’ to Welcome Afghan Refugees, Protect Afghan Civilians    

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.            

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.           

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CONTACT: CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell, 404-285-9530,; CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448,; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,     ReplyReply allForwardIA

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