Targeted killing is the intentional killing–by a government or its agents–of a civilian or "unlawful combatant" targeted by the government, who is not in the government's custody. The target is a person taking part in an armed conflict or terrorism, whether by bearing arms or otherwise, who has thereby lost the immunity from being targeted that he would otherwise have under the Third Geneva Convention. Note that this is a different term and concept from that of "targeted violence" as used by specialists who study violence.
Ibrahim Nafie, writing in Egypt's Al-Ahram Weekly in 2001, criticized the U.S. for agreeing with "the Israeli spin that calls ... its official policy of assassinating Palestinian leaders 'targeted killing.'"
On the other hand, Georgetown Law Professor Gary Solis, in his 2010 book entitled The Law of Armed Conflict: International Humanitarian Law in War, writes: "Assassinations and targeted killings are very different acts". The use of the term assassination is opposed, as it denotes murder, whereas the terrorists are targeted in self-defense, and thus it is viewed as a killing, but not a crime. Judge Abraham Sofaer, former federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, wrote on the subject:
When people call a targeted killing an "assassination," they are attempting to preclude debate on the merits of the action. Assassination is widely defined as murder, and is for that reason prohibited in the United States.... U.S. officials may not kill people merely because their policies are seen as detrimental to our interests.... But killings in self-defense are no more "assassinations" in international affairs than they are murders when undertaken by our police forces against domestic killers. Targeted killings in self-defense have been authoritatively determined by the federal government to fall outside the assassination prohibition.
Author and former U.S. Army Captain Matthew J. Morgan has argued that "there is a major difference between assassination and targeted killing.... targeted killing not synonymous with assassination. Assassination ... constitutes an illegal killing." Similarly, Amos Guiora, professor of law at the University of Utah, writes: "Targeted killing is ... not an assassination", Steve David, Professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University, writes: "There are strong reasons to believe that the Israeli policy of targeted killing is not the same as assassination". Syracuse Law Professor William Banks and GW Law Professor Peter Raven-Hansen write: "Targeted killing of terrorists is ... not unlawful and would not constitute assassination", Rory Miller writes: "Targeted killing ... is not 'assassination'". Associate Professor Eric Patterson and Teresa Casale write: "Perhaps most important is the legal distinction between targeted killing and assassination".
On the other hand, the American Civil Liberties Union also states on its website, "A program of targeted killing far from any battlefield, without charge or trial, violates the constitutional guarantee of due process. It also violates international law, under which lethal force may be used outside armed conflict zones only as a last resort to prevent imminent threats, when non-lethal means are not available. Targeting people who are suspected of terrorism for execution, far from any war zone, turns the whole world into a battlefield." Yael Stein, the research director of B’Tselem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, also states in her article "By Any Name Illegal and Immoral: Response to 'Israel's Policy of Targeted Killing'":
The argument that this policy affords the public a sense of revenge and retribution could serve to justify acts both illegal and immoral. Clearly, lawbreakers ought to be punished. Yet, no matter how horrific their deeds, as the targeting of Israeli civilians indeed is, they should be punished according to the law. David’s arguments could, in principle, justify the abolition of formal legal systems altogether.
Targeted killing has become a frequent tactic of the United States and Israel in their fight against terrorism. The tactic can raise complex questions and lead to contentious disputes as to the legal basis for its application, who qualifies as an appropriate "hit list" target, and what circumstances must exist before the tactic may be employed. Opinions range from people considering it a legal form of self-defense that reduces terrorism, to people calling it an extra-judicial killing that lacks due process, and which leads to further violence. Methods used have included firing a five-foot-long Hellfire missile from a Predator or Reaper drone (an unmanned, remote-controlled plane), detonating a cell phone bomb, and long-range sniper shooting. Countries such as the U.S. (in Pakistan and Yemen) and Israel (in the West Bank and Gaza) have used targeted killing to eliminate members of groups such as Al-Qaeda and Hamas. In early 2010, with President Obama's approval, Anwar al-Awlaki became the first U.S. citizen to be publicly approved for targeted killing by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Awlaki was killed in a drone strike in September 2011.
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Other articles related to "targeted killing, targeted killings, killings, killing":
... Kill authorizations Israeli targeted killings Licence to kill (concept) Assassination Executive actions of the CIA CIA transnational anti-terrorism activities Extrajudicial ...
... Chronicle in 2004, Sofaer wrote on the issue of targeted killing "It is essential not to allow loaded rhetoric to obscure the propriety of lawfully using deadly force in self-defense." He stressed ... He wrote further When people call a targeted killing an "assassination", they are attempting to preclude debate on the merits of the action ... But killings in self-defense are no more "assassinations" in international affairs than they are murders when undertaken by our police forces against domestic killers ...
... On December 14, 2006 the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that targeted killing is a legitimate form of self-defense against terrorists, and outlined several conditions for its use ... Israel's policy of targeted killing has been censured by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in the past ... Air Force commander, claims IAF operations only comprised 5% of targeted killings in 2003–04, while in 2007-8, IAF strikes comprised 50–70% of targeted killing operations ...
... Israel adopted targeted killing in response to Black September's Munich Olympics massacre, leading to Mossad's Operation Wrath of God and Sayeret Matkal's Operation ... Israel has continued to employ the targeted killing of violent radical opponents ... the car of Hizbullah leader Abbas Musawi, killing him and members of his entourage ...
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