The increasing reliance on drones



The CIA's Drone War on al Qaeda

256 pages; 6" x 9"; Notes; Bibliography; Index

$29.95   $23.96
Available: July 2013


Predators is a riveting introduction to the murky world of Predator and Reaper drones, the CIA’s and U.S. military’s most effective and controversial killing tools. Brian Glyn Williams combines policy analysis with the human drama of the spies, terrorists, insurgents, and innocent tribal peoples who have been killed in the covert operation—the CIA’s largest assassination campaign since the Vietnam War era—being waged in Pakistan’s tribal regions via remote control aircraft known as drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles.

Having traveled extensively in the Pashtun tribal areas while working for the U.S. military and the CIA, Williams explores in detail the new technology of airborne assassinations. From miniature Scorpion missiles designed to kill terrorists while avoiding civilian “collateral damage” to prathrais, the cigarette lighter–size homing beacons spies plant on their unsuspecting targets to direct drone missiles to them, the author describes the drone arsenal in full.

Evaluating the ethics of targeted killings and drone technology, Williams covers more than a hundred drone strikes, analyzing the number of slain civilians versus the number of terrorists killed to address the claims of antidrone activists. In examining the future of drone warfare, he reveals that the U.S. military is already building more unmanned than manned aerial vehicles. Predators helps us weigh the pros and cons of the drone program so that we can decide whether it is a vital strategic asset, a “frenemy,” or a little of both.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)

BRIAN GLYN WILLIAMS earned his first master’s at the Central Eurasian studies program at Indiana University and a second master’s in Russian history and a PhD in Central Asian history from the University of Wisconsin. Among his published works are Afghanistan Declassified: A Guide to America’s Longest War (2011) and the upcoming The Last Warlord: The Life and Legend of Dostum, the Afghan Warrior Who Led US Special Forces to Topple the Taliban Regime (2013). A tenured professor of Islamic history at the University of Massachusetts–Dartmouth, he lives in Boston.


"Predators is an insightful and intriguing introduction to the new war against Al Qaeda."—Bruce Riedel, Brookings Institute, former CIA analyst and special assistant to President Obama on terrorism in Pakistan

“Finally a book that dispassionately shows the facts and impact on this new technology. A must read for anyone interested in the evolution of warfare.”—Dr. Marc Sageman, former CIA field officer liaison to the Afghan mujahideen and author of Understanding Terrorist Networks

"Brian Glyn Williams succeeds in the near impossible task of providing both the most damming indictment of drones in modern warfare and a glowing endorsement of them. Never before has such a meticulous and indispensable history of drone warfare been presented. Predators is an invaluable resource for anyone seeking to better understand the contentious lethal legacy of drones in America’s Global War on Terrorism."—Matthew C. DuPée, U.S. Department of Defense Analyst for South Asia

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