A rare video reportedly smuggled out of northwest Pakistan allegedly shows a woman being stoned to death by Taliban militants in the upper region of Orakzai.
Al Aan, a Dubai-based pan-Arab television channel that focuses on women's issues, said it had obtained cellphone footage that it says shows a woman being executed because she was seen out with a man. The killing reportedly took place two months ago and was smuggled out by a Taliban member who attended the stoning, according to Al Aan. ABC News could not independently confirm the cellphone video's authenticity.
The video, which seems to show a woman tethered to the ground as a group of men throw stones at her, is so graphic that ABC News cannot show it in its entirety. Parts of it air today on the 25th episode of "Brian Ross Investigates."
"It's difficult to know where and when it was shot," says Gayle Lemmon, deputy director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the Council of Foreign Relations, in an interview with Ross, "It is consistent with videos that have been coming from Taliban-controlled areas since the '90s."
Lemmon says that when women "stray outside the line" in Taliban-controlled areas, they may "face severe punishment."
"Women are respected as carriers of the family honor," says Lemmon, "but they also pay the price."
In a statement, US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, "We condemn in the strongest possible terms the brutal stoning of a woman in Orakzai, Pakistan. ... The vicious attack ... is a chilling example of the cowardly disregard violent extremists have for human life."
Also on Friday's show, ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross delves into the secret U.S. air war using unmanned aerial missile strikes to target terrorists and militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The program is now itself being targeted by civil-liberties groups who question the legal limits of the U.S. to launch the attacks outside of Afghanistan or Pakistan.
Joined by former national security advisor Richard Clarke, who was at the helm of the drone program and is now an ABC News consultant, and drone critic Philip Alston, an international law scholar appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate the use of U.S. drones on the Afghan border, Ross explores the legal and ethical issues surrounding the program.
Clarke says the drones have been very successful, and that there is no other alternative for the U.S. "There was no other way for the United States to go after these terrorists," says Clarke. "The drones have an advantage over cruise missiles or F-16s. The drones can linger and look and make sure they are hitting the right target."
Clarke says he doesn't believe the drones have been overused. "I don't' know of instances that were ever documented where the wrong people were hit. If we have to stop using drones and start using F-16s, the wrong people are going to be hit."
Philip Alston tells Ross his problem is not with the use of the drones, but with who's using them. Says Alston, "My problem is that they're operated by the CIA. The CIA is not accountable in any meaningful way, and that's a real problem. An agency that operates in complete secrecy playing a major operation role, including killing large numbers of people."
Unmanned drone attacks, sent from sometimes thousands of miles away on command, have significantly increased this year as part of President Obama's new Afghan strategy. After 52 attacks in 2009, there have already been at least 69 attacks so far in 2010. Just this week a suspected U.S. missile strike killed seven alleged militants in eastern Afghanistan.
Also on the show is an update on an ABC News Investigation into Goldline, a hugely successful company that sells hundreds of millions of dollars worth of gold to American consumers each year. Using two former Presidential candidates and several top personalities at Fox News, Goldline has now come under scrutiny by Congress for its sales pitches in the wake of an ABC News investigation.
At a Congressional hearing Thursday, Rep. Anthony Weiner, D.-New York, who called for the hearing, said "This industry is an orchestrated effort to scare people, to lie to them, and then to rip them off."
Goldline executives strongly defended the firm's sales practices, and the company has said Weiner's attacks are motivated by "a political agenda."
"Brian Ross Investigates" is a weekly 30-minute investigative news magazine show that features exclusive interviews, undercover videos and extended investigations and story updates.
"The show is part of our expanded digital efforts in this new age of news," Ross said. "It's an exciting venture that we hope will allow viewers to interact with our investigative team and offer input as we continue reporting."
"Brian Ross Investigates" airs every Friday on Hulu.com and ABC News Now, the network's 24-hour news channel available throughout the U.S. and Europe, at 1:36pm. Each show is also available on mobile devices, including the iPhone and iPad.
Viewers can submit videos and personal thoughts on controversial issues and current topics through Facebook and Twitter, including the "Skype Gripe" segment, in which viewers are invited to interact with Ross about recent investigations.
This week is the 25th episode of "Brian Ross Investigates." All shows are archived on Hulu for viewing.