Biden’s Assassination of al-Qaeda Leader Ayman al-Zawahiri Was Illegal
- Editor’s note: Readers of this blog have noted that for 16+ years, I have been unequivocal in my condemnation of our government killing anyone without approval of Congress, as required by The Constitution of the United States.
- I condemned Presidents Bush 43, Obama and Trump on this blog for having done so.
- I now add President Biden to that list!
From Marjorie Cohn, Truthout:
President Joe Biden’s assassination of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan was illegal under both U.S. and international law. After the CIA drone strike killed Zawahiri on August 2, Biden declared, “People around the world no longer need to fear the vicious and determined killer.” What we should fear instead is the dangerous precedent set by Biden’s unlawful extrajudicial execution.
In addition to being illegal, the killing of Zawahiri also occurred in a moment when the United Nations had already determined that people in the U.S. had little to fear from him. As a United Nations report released in July concluded, “Al Qaeda is not viewed as posing an immediate international threat from its safe haven in Afghanistan because it lacks an external operational capability and does not currently wish to cause the Taliban international difficulty or embarrassment.”
Just as former president Barack Obama stated that “Justice has been done” after he assassinated Osama bin Laden, Biden said, “Now justice has been delivered” when he announced the assassination of Zawahiri.
Retaliation, however, does not constitute justice.
Targeted, or political, assassinations are extrajudicial executions. They are deliberate and unlawful killings meted out by order of, or with acquiescence of, a government. Extrajudicial executions are implemented outside a judicial framework.
The fact that Zawahiri did not pose an imminent threat is precisely why his assassination was illegal.
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