The Evolution of International Law and the War on Terrorism

(Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Alan Baker and Col. Daniel Reisner - A country - whether it be Israel, or the United States in its fight with al Qaeda - whose army is involved in fighting a terrorist organization which has no state and no boundaries, has to be able to carry out those acts necessary to deal with terror. What happens if the Israeli police see a suicide bomber who opens his jacket and shows his explosive belt? Can the police kill him? He hasn't done anything. There is a rich international legal literature covering war crimes of military forces, but no agreed international legal definition that covers all cases of terrorism. There is a basic asymmetry in international law with respect to terrorists and armies fighting terrorism that needs to be resolved. If we receive information about a terrorist bomber going to carry out a suicide attack and we can catch him en route, and shoot a missile into his car while he's trying to come into Israel, are we permitted to do so? The answer is definitely yes. The United States has now targeted combatants in the same way in its drone attack in Yemen. International law must recognize terrorists as combatants and not as civilians.

2002-12-27 00:00:00

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