Targeted killing is defined as a form of assassination based on the
presumption of criminal guilt. Some analysts believe it to be a modern
euphemism for the assassination (premeditated killing) of an
individual by a state organization or institution outside a judicial
procedure or a battlefield.
Since the late 20th century, the legal status of targeted killing has
become a subject of contention within and between various nations.
Historically, at least since the mid-eighteenth century, Western
thinking has generally considered the use of assassination as a tool
of statecraft to be illegal. Some academics, military personnel and
officials describe targeted killing as legitimate within the
context of self-defense, when employed against terrorists or
combatants engaged in asymmetrical warfare. They argue that drones are
more humane and more accurate than manned vehicles, and that
targeted or "named killings" do not occur in any context other than a
declared state of war.
Some twenty-six members of Congress, with academics such as Gregory
Johnsen and Charles Schmitz, media figures (Jeremy Scahill, Glenn
Greenwald, James Traub), civil rights groups (i.e. the American
Civil Liberties Union) and ex-
CIA station chief in Islamabad,
Robert Grenier, have criticized targeted killings as a form of
extrajudicial killings, which may be illegal within the United States
and possibly under international law. In particular, preemptive
self-defense cannot justify targeted killings outside armed conflict;
deliberately lethal force may only be employed in such situations to
protect life from imminent and serious threats. According to
statistical analyses provided by Reprieve, 9 children have been killed
for every targeted adult the United States has tried to assassinate,
and, in numerous failed attempts to kill Ayman al-Zawahri, the CIA has
killed 76 children and 29 adult bystanders.
Somalia and Rwanda, 1990s
2.1 American drug cartels, 1980s
2.2 Central and South America
2.3 North America
2.3.1 Use by the United States Government
2.3.2 Obama Administration position on combat drones
3.1 Use by Iranian government
3.2 Use by Israel
4.1 In Bosnia and Serbia
4.2 Use by the Russian government
5.1 Legal justifications for targeted killing
5.2 Legal opposition
5.3 Additional concerns
6 See also
8 Further reading
Targeted killings have also been used in Somalia, Kenya,
Rwanda and in
Somalia and Rwanda, 1990s
During fighting in the Somali Civil War,
Sean Devereux described
torture and killing by warlords in
Kismayo as "targeted killings, a
kind of ethnic cleansing", shortly before his assassination.
Also in Africa,
Reuters described "targeted killings of political
Hutu army and militias in
Rwanda during the Rwandan
Genocide. The American State Department reported the "politically
targeted killings" were a prelude to general massacres in Rwanda.
During the 1980s and 1990s, targeted killings were employed
extensively by death squads in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, and
Haiti within the context of civil unrest and war.
During the Bush Administration, targeted killings became a
frequent tactic of the United States government in the War on
Terror. Time was reserved on the President's schedule on Tuesday
every week for Bush to review and approve the killing of selected
targets, without due process. Instances of targeted killing by the
United States that have received significant attention include the
killing of Osama bin Laden and of American citizens Anwar al-Awlaki
and his teenage son in 2011. Under the Obama administration, use of
targeted killings expanded, most frequently through use of combat
drones operating in Afghanistan,
Pakistan or Yemen.
American drug cartels, 1980s
Referring to killings by drug cartels in
Washington, D.C. in 1989,
Marion Barry infamously stated, "Washington should not be called
the murder capital of the world. We are the targeted-killing capital
of the world." Barry said that "targeted killings" by D.C.'s
cartels were comparable to those during the days of "
Al Capone and
Eliot Ness" at the time of Prohibition in the United States.
Similarly, drug-related "mob hits" in Moscow during the 1990s were
euphemistically described as "targeted killings" by the Cox News
Service and Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Central and South America
Operation Condor participants. Green: active members. Blue:
Operation Condor was a campaign of political repression
and state terror in Latin American right-wing dictatorships involving
assassination of political opponents and dissidents. The National
Security Archive reported, "Prominent victims of Condor include two
former Uruguayan legislators and a former Bolivian president, Juan
José Torres, murdered in Buenos Aires, a former Chilean Minister of
the Interior, Bernardo Leighton, as well as former Chilean ambassador
Orlando Letelier and his 26-year old American colleague, Ronni
Moffitt, assassinated by a car bomb in downtown Washington D.C."
In 1986, the human rights group Americas Watch released a report
stating that death squads and armed forces under President José
Napoleón Duarte in
El Salvador had carried out 240 targeted killings
throughout 1985. The report relied upon figures provided by the
Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church and included allegations of torture and summary
executions. Americas Watch and other rights groups reported
"targeted killing" of civilians by the Nicaraguan Sandinista
government in the following year during its campaign against the
Contras. Politically motivated targeted killings of trade
unionists and activists were also recorded in Haiti and
Colombia during the late 1980s and 1990s. Targeted killings linked
to the drug trade and paramilitary organizations including
the United Self-Defense Forces of
Colombia (AUC) resulted in large
numbers of deaths among human rights and political activists, and
women and children, throughout the 1990s.[verification needed]
Use by the United States Government
While article 2(4) of the
United Nations Charter
United Nations Charter prohibits the threat
or use of force by one state against another, two exceptions are
relevant to the question of whether targeted killings are lawful: (1)
when the use of force is carried out with the consent of the host
state; and (2) when the use of force is in self-defense in response to
an armed attack or an imminent threat, and where the host state is
unwilling or unable to take appropriate action. The legality of a
targeted drone strike must be evaluated in accordance with
international humanitarian law (IHL), including the fundamental
principles of distinction, proportionality, humanity, and military
The part of The Charter of the United Nations that regulates "action
with respect to threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, and acts
of aggression" is Chapter VII (articles 39-50), which requires that it
is the Security Council that determines any threat to peace and
decides on measures to be taken to maintain or restore peace. Article
51 mentions the only exception, as being members of the United Nations
have "the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if
an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until
the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain
international peace and security".
The tactic raises complex questions 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 extrajudicial killing
that lacks due process, and which leads to more
violence. Methods used have included firing a Hellfire
missile from an
AH-64 Apache attack helicopter (Israel), or a Predator
or Reaper drone (an unmanned, remote-controlled plane), detonating a
cell phone bomb, and long-range sniper shooting. Countries such as the
Pakistan and Yemen) and Israel (in the
West Bank and Gaza)
have used targeted killing to kill members of groups such as Al-Qaeda
Targeted killing operations, according to Harvard Law School
Professors Gabriella Blum and Philip Heymann, amplify the tension
between addressing terrorism as a crime versus addressing terrorism as
an act of war. Governments pursuing a law enforcement strategy punish
persons for their individual guilt, which must be proven in a court of
law, where the accused enjoys the protections of due process
guarantees. Governments in the midst of war, on the other hand,
may claim a legal obligation to take advantage of the relaxation of
peacetime constraints on the use of deadly force. Enemy combatants may
be targeted and killed not because they are guilty, but because they
are potentially lethal agents of a hostile party. No advance
warning is necessary, no attempt to arrest or capture is required, and
no effort to minimize casualties among enemy forces is demanded by
law. Despite this inherent tension, the United States has made
targeted killing—the deliberate assassination of a known terrorist
outside the country’s territory, usually by airstrike—an essential
part of its counter-terrorism strategy. Hence, the United States
has justified the killing of terrorists under a war paradigm. "Using
the war paradigm for counter-terrorism enabled government lawyers to
distinguish lethal attacks on terrorists from prohibited
assassinations and justify them as lawful battlefield operations
against enemy combatants, much like the uncontroversial targeted
killing of Japanese Admiral
Isoroku Yamamoto while he was traveling by
a military airplane during World War II."
Graph of average casualties in drone strikes ordered by the United
States in Yemen, 2002-Present.
Further support for the U.S. government’s use of drone strike
tactics is found in a report found in the Journal of Strategic
Security concerning the surgical nature of drone strikes for use in a
populated area. The author concedes, "Indeed the tactic of using
drones promises the ability of eliminating enemies in complex
environments, while minimizing the political implications of resorting
The domestic legislative basis offered to justify drone strikes is the
Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF), a
joint resolution of both houses of Congress passed exactly one week
after 11 September 2001. The AUMF permits the President to use
"all necessary and appropriate force against those nations,
organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized,
committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on 11
September 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons".
A report published in the Journal of Strategic Security focusing on
the future of drones in geopolitics finds the U.S. government's use of
drones in targeted killing operations and "indiscriminant and
disproportionate use of force that violates the sovereignty of
In early 2010, with President Barack Obama's approval, Anwar al-Awlaki
became the first U.S. citizen to be approved for targeted killing by
Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Awlaki was killed in a drone
strike in September 2011.
Reuters report analysing the killing of 500 "militants" by US drones
between 2008 and 2010 found that only 8% of those killed were mid- to
top-tier organisers or leaders; the rest were unidentified foot
The Intercept reported, "Between January 2012 and February 2013, U.S.
special operations airstrikes [in northeastern Afghanistan] killed
more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets.
During one five-month period of the operation, according to the
documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were
not the intended targets."
Obama Administration position on combat drones
See also: Disposition Matrix
The United States is in an armed conflict with al-Qa'ida, the Taliban,
and associated forces, in response to the 9/11 attacks, and we may
also use force consistent with our inherent right of national
self-defense.There is nothing in international law that bans the use
of remotely piloted aircraft for this purpose or that prohibits us
from using lethal force against our enemies outside of an active
battlefield, at least when the country involved consents or is unable
or unwilling to take action against the threat.
John O. Brennan
John O. Brennan in his 2012-04-30 speech "The Ethics and
Efficacy of the President's
In a speech titled "The Ethics and Efficacy of the President's
Counterterrorism Strategy" John O. Brennan, Assistant to the
President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, outlined on 30
April 2012 at the Wilson Center the use of combat drones to kill
members of al-Qaeda by the US Federal government under President
Barack Obama. John Brennan acknowledged for the first time
that the US government uses drones to kill selected members of
He justified the use of drones both from domestic law and
international law point of view. With respect to domestic law Brennan
stated, "as a matter of domestic law, the Constitution empowers the
President to protect the nation from any imminent threat of attack.
The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed by Congress
after the September 11 attacks authorizes the president "to use all
necessary and appropriate force" against those nations, organizations
and individuals responsible for 9/11. There is nothing in the AUMF
that restricts the use of military force against al-Qa'ida to
Afghanistan." And he further said: "As a matter of international
law, the United States is in an armed conflict with al-Qa'ida, the
Taliban, and associated forces, in response to the 9/11 attacks, and
we may also use force consistent with our inherent right of national
self-defense. There is nothing in international law that bans the use
of remotely piloted aircraft for this purpose or that prohibits us
from using lethal force against our enemies outside of an active
battlefield, at least when the country involved consents or is unable
or unwilling to take action against the threat."
The speech came a few days after Obama authorized the CIA and the U.S.
Special Operations Command (JSOC) to fire on targets based
solely on their intelligence "signatures" — patterns of behavior
that are detected through signals intercepts, human sources and aerial
surveillance, and that indicate the presence of an important operative
or a plot against U.S. interests. Under the previous rules the CIA and
the US military were only allowed to use drone strikes against known
terrorist leaders whose location could be confirmed and who appeared
on secret CIA and JSOC target lists.
The justification by Brennan built upon remarks by US top officials
like the State Department's top lawyer Harold Hongju Koh, US
Attorney General Eric Holder, the US Defense Department
general counsel Jeh Johnson and President Obama himself who
defended the use of drones outside of so-called "hot battlefields"
John O. Brennan, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency
and chief counter-terrorism advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama.
In 2011/2012, the process for selecting targets outside of warzones
was altered so that power was concentrated in the hands of a group of
people in the
White House centered around
White House counterterror
chief John Brennan. Under the new plan, Brennan's staff compiles the
potential target list and runs the names past agencies such as the
State Department at a weekly
White House meeting. According to the
New York Times, President Obama has placed himself at the helm of a
top secret process to designate terrorists for kill or capture,
reserving the final say on approving lethal action, and signs off
every strike in Yemen,
Somalia and Pakistan.
U.S. Congressional oversight over the targeted killing operations
increased as the drone program intensified under the Obama
Administration. Once a month, a group of staff members from the House
and Senate intelligence committees would watch videos of the latest
drone strikes, review intelligence that was used to justify each drone
strike, and sometimes examine telephone intercepts and after-the-fact
evidence, such as the CIA's assessment of who was hit. The procedure
used by House and Senate intelligence committees to monitor CIA drone
strikes was set up largely at the request of Senator Dianne Feinstein
who became determined to ensure that it was as precise as the CIA had
been claiming. "That's been a concern of mine from the beginning,"
Feinstein said in little-noticed comments after the raid that killed
Osama bin Laden in May 2011. "I asked that this effort be established.
It has been. The way in which this is being done is very careful."
Feinstein explained how the oversight works in general. "We receive
notification with key details shortly after every strike, and we hold
regular briefings and hearings on these operations," Feinstein wrote
in May in a letter sent in response to a column that ran in the Los
Angeles Times questioning the oversight of drone strikes. "Committee
staff has held 28 monthly in-depth oversight meetings to review strike
records and question every aspect of the program including legality,
effectiveness, precision, foreign policy implications and the care
taken to minimize noncombatant casualties." If the congressional
committees objected to something, the lawmakers could call CIA leaders
to testify in closed investigative hearings. If unsatisfied, they
could pass legislation limiting the CIA's actions.
Congressional criticism of drone strikes has been rare. However, in
June 2012, 26 lawmakers, all but two of them Democrats, signed a
letter to Obama questioning so-called signature strikes, in which the
U.S. attacks armed men who fit a pattern of behavior that suggests
they are involved in terrorist activities. Signature strikes have been
curbed in Pakistan, where they once were common, but in 2012 Obama
gave the CIA permission to conduct them in Yemen, where an Al Qaeda
affiliate that has targeted the United States has established a safe
haven in the south. The lawmakers expressed concern that signature
strikes could kill civilians. They added: "Our drone campaigns already
have virtually no transparency, accountability or oversight."
While the Bush administration had put emphasis on killing significant
members of al Qaeda, the use of combat drones underwent a quiet and
unheralded shift during the Obama Administration to focus increasingly
on killing militant foot soldiers rather than high-value targets
CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen. Bergen
noted: "To the extent that the targets of drone attacks can be
ascertained, under Bush, al Qaeda members accounted for 25% of all
drone targets compared to 40% for
Taliban targets. Under Obama, only
8% of targets were al Qaeda compared to just over 50% for Taliban
Minneapolis anti-war protest: 'Stop Killer Drones', 5 May 2013
Facing the possibility of defeat in the 2012 Presidential election,
the Obama administration accelerated work in the weeks before the
election to develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of
terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit
clear standards and procedures. The work to codify U.S. drone
policy began in summer 2011. "There was concern that the levers might
no longer be in our hands," said one unnamed U.S official. With a
continuing debate about the proper limits of drone strikes, Obama did
not want to leave an "amorphous" program to his successor, the
official said. The effort, which would have been rushed to completion
by January had
Mitt Romney won, will now be finished at a more
leisurely pace, the official said. "One of the things we've got to
do is put a legal architecture in place, and we need Congressional
help in order to do that, to make sure that not only am I reined in
but any president's reined in terms of some of the decisions that
we're making," Obama said and added "creating a legal structure,
processes, with oversight checks on how we use unmanned weapons, is
going to be a challenge for me and my successors for some time to
come." U.S. President Obama also expressed wariness of the
powerful temptation drones pose to policy makers. "There's a
remoteness to it that makes it tempting to think that somehow we can,
without any mess on our hands, solve vexing security problems," he
In response lawsuits brought by
The New York Times
The New York Times and the American
Civil Liberties Union seeking to use the Freedom of Information Act to
make public more details about the legal basis for the drone programs
U.S. District Court Judge
Colleen McMahon ruled at the end of December
2012 that the U.S. Government has no legal duty to disclose legal
opinions justifying the use of drones to kill suspected terrorist
operatives abroad. While noting that a more detailed disclosure of the
administration's legal rationale "would allow for intelligent
discussion and assessment of a tactic that (like torture before it)
remains hotly debated", McMahon came to the conclusion that the
Freedom of Information Act did not permit her to require such
In a letter dated 22 May 2013 to the chairman of the U.S. Senate
Judiciary committee, Patrick J. Leahy, U.S. attorney general Eric
Holder wrote that the United States will use lethal force by combat
drones "in a foreign country against a U.S. citizen who is a senior
operational leader of al Qa'ida or its associated forces, and who is
actively engaged in planning to kill Americans, in the following
circumstances: (1) the U.S. government has determined, after a
thorough and careful review, that the individual poses an imminent
threat of violent attack against the United States; (2) capture is not
feasible; and (3) the operation would be conducted in a manner
consistent with applicable law of war principles." In a
Presidential Policy Guidance entitled "U.S. Policy Standards and
Procedures for the Use of Force in
Counterterrorism Operations Outside
the United States and Areas of Active Hostilities" from May 2013 the
United States government stated that lethal force by combat drones
"will be used only to prevent or stop attacks against U.S. persons,
and even then, only when capture is not feasible and no other
reasonable alternatives exist to address the threat effectively".
The U.S. government further declared, "lethal force will be used
outside areas of active hostilities only when the following
preconditions are met:
First, there must be a legal basis for using lethal force.
Second, the United States will use lethal force only against a target
that poses a continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons.
Third, the following criteria must be met before lethal action may be
Near certainty that the terrorist target is present;
Near certainty that non-combatants will not be injured or killed;
An assessment that capture is not feasible at the time of the
An assessment that the relevant governmental authorities in the
country where action is contemplated cannot or will not effectively
address the threat to U.S. persons; and
An assessment that no other reasonable alternatives exist to
effectively address the threat to U.S. persons.
Barack Obama touched on the subject of combat drones in
a speech on
Counterterrorism delivered on 23 May 2013 at the National
Defense University. "It is a hard fact
that US strikes have resulted in civilian casualties," he said,
adding, "These deaths will haunt us. But as commander-in-chief I must
weigh these heartbreaking tragedies against the alternative. To do
nothing in the face of terrorist networks would invite far more
civilian casualties." Obama said new guidance allowed targeting
only those terrorists posing "a continuing and imminent threat to the
American people", which administration officials said meant only
individuals planning attacks on the U.S. homeland or against U.S.
persons abroad. Obama defended the use of drones as just because
America "is at war with al Qaeda, the
Taliban and their associated
forces". To stop terrorists from gaining a foothold, drones will
be deployed according to Obama, but only when there is an imminent
threat; no hope of capturing the targeted terrorist; "near certainty"
that civilians won't be harmed; and "there are no other governments
capable of effectively addressing the threat". Never will a strike
A report by
Ben Emmerson QC, the UN's special rapporteur on human
rights and counter-terrorism, who identified 33 drone strikes around
the world that have resulted in civilian casualties and may have
violated international humanitarian law urged the United States "to
further clarify its position on the legal and factual issues ... to
declassify, to the maximum extent possible, information relevant to
its lethal extraterritorial counter-terrorism operations; and to
release its own data on the level of civilian casualties inflicted
through the use of remotely piloted aircraft, together with
information on the evaluation methodology used". Human Rights
Watch said that in
Yemen more civilians were killed than admitted by
the Obama administration, while
Amnesty International said the same of
drone strikes in Pakistan. Caitlin Hayden, a
White House spokeswoman,
declined to comment on the reports, but said in an e-mail statement:
"As the President emphasized, the use of lethal force, including from
remotely piloted aircraft, commands the highest level of attention and
While the U.S. government is considering whether to kill an American
abroad suspected of planning terrorist attacks and how to do so
legally under new stricter targeting policy issued in 2013,
The Intercept reported that the U.S. government is using primarily NSA
surveillance to target people for drone strikes overseas. In its
The Intercept the author details the flawed methods which are
used to locate targets for lethal drone strikes, resulting in the
deaths of innocent people. According to the Washington Post, NSA
analysts and collectors (i.e. NSA personnel who control electronic
surveillance equipment) use the NSA's sophisticated surveillance
capabilities to track individual targets geographically and in real
time, while drones and tactical units aim their weaponry against those
targets to take them out.
NBC News released in February 2014 an undated Department of Justice
White paper entitled "Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed
Against a U.S. Citizen who is a Senior Operational Leader of Al Qa'ida
or An Associated Force" in which the Obama Administration concludes
that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if
they are believed to be "senior operational leaders" of al-Qaida or
"an associated force" – even if there is no intelligence indicating
they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S. However
any such targeted killing operation by the United States would have to
comply with the four fundamental law-of-war principles governing the
use of force which are necessity, distinction, proportionality and
humanity – i.e., the avoidance of unnecessary suffering. (Page 8 of
). The memo also discusses why targeted killings would not be a
war crime or violate a U.S. executive order banning assassinations:
"A lawful killing in self-defense is not an assassination. In the
Department's view, a lethal operation conducted against a U.S. citizen
whose conduct poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the
United States would be a legitimate act of national self-defense that
would not violate the assassination ban. Similarly, the use of lethal
force, consistent with the laws of war, against an individual who is a
legitimate military target would be lawful and would not violate the
In 2013, a report on drone warfare and aerial sovereignty proposed
that U.S. government drone policy in
Pakistan potentially violated
human rights according to the U.N. International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights. The rights in direct question were the right to
life; right to a fair trial; the freedom of association; right to
protection of the family; and, less directly, right to highest
attainable health standards; right to education; and right of freedom
Nearly a year after U.S. President Obama's counterterrorism speech on
23 May 2013 at the National Defense University, much of his agenda he
outlined remained unfinished or not even begun. This included
increased public information on and congressional oversight of lethal
attacks with drones, and efforts to remove the CIA from the drone
program and transfer control entirely into the hands of the U.S.
On 21 April 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second
Circuit overturned the above-mentioned December 2012 ruling by U.S.
Colleen McMahon and ruled that the Obama administration
must release documents justifying its drone-killings of Americans and
foreigners. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal released on 23
June 2014 a Juli 2010 memo by then U.S. Justice Department's Office of
Legal Counsel David Barron which outlined the rationale for killing
the American Citizen Anwar al-Aulaqi.
Use by Iranian government
Main article: List of Iranian assassinations
Alleged and confirmed assassinations were reported to have been
conducted by the
Islamic Republic of Iran
Islamic Republic of Iran and previously by the
Pahlavi regime. It includes attempts on notable persons who were
reported to have been specifically targeted by the various Iranian
security and intelligence forces, most notably against Kurdish
dissidents of the
Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran
Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran in the 1980s and
1990s. Prior to the establishment of the Islamic State in 1979,
the Organization of Intelligence and National Security also allegedly
performed a number of political motivated assassinations against
dissidents and opposition leaders.
Use by Israel
Main article: Israeli targeted killings
First Intifada Palestinian uprising, the Palestinian
Al Haq condemned Israeli soldiers for what they
described as "deliberate, cold-blooded... targeted" killings of
Palestinians in the
West Bank and Gaza Strip.The human rights
group, Middle East Watch, alleged in 1993 that interviewed Israeli
soldiers had targeted often unarmed Palestinians, some under the age
of 16, for "premeditated assassinations" or targeted killing, a charge
denied by Israeli officials. The allegations included the
execution of Palestinians in custody.
Controversy over targeted killings continued during the Second
Intifada. Palestinians charged that individuals belonging to the group
Hamas and shot in targeted killings were being assassinated; Israeli
stated that those killed were responsible for attacks against
Israelis. Israeli officials initially accepted responsibility for
only some of the killings, and Israeli media termed the practice a
"liquidations policy", whereas Palestinians called it "state
terrorism". In January 2001 Israeli officials confirmed "the
practice of targeted assassinations". Conflict in Israeli over the
legality of the practice centered on the case of Dr. Thabet Thabet,
assassinated as he left his home on New Year's Eve. Dr. Thabet was
alleged by the Israeli military to be a senior local leader of Fatah
and plotting attacks against Israelis in the West Bank. A dentist, Dr.
Thabet was also a friend of many Israeli peace activists and
considered one himself. Israeli activists called the killing "a
crime", "Mafia-style", and "immoral". Ephraim Sneh, then Israeli
Deputy Prime Minister, described the policy as "effective, precise and
Washington Post commented that Israeli policy of targeted killing
Second Intifada expanded upon previous policies, targeting
not only terrorists but also those thought to direct or coordinate
them. Another controversial killing, which occurred following the
Bush Administration's condemnation of the practice, was that of
Mahmoud Madani, a leader of
Hamas shot while leaving a mosque in the
Balata refugee camp. The Israeli military suspected Madani of plotting
bombings in Israel.
At that time, spokesman for the U.S. State Department Richard Boucher
condemned both violence by Palestinians and targeted killings by
Israelis during a State Department news briefing. U.S. Secretary
Colin Powell registered his opposition to "a policy of
targeted killings" and the U.S. State Department urged Israel to stop
Then Democratic Party senator
Joseph Biden criticized the George W.
Bush Administration for condemning the targeted killings; the
administration continued to oppose them.
Some of the known operations include the following.[verification
Operation Wrath of God against Black September and Palestinian
Liberation Organisation personnel alleged to have been directly or
indirectly involved in the 1972 Munich massacre, led to the
Operation Spring of Youth against top Palestine Liberation
Organisation leaders in Beirut, 1973: Muhammad Najjar, Kamal Adwan,
and Kamal Nasser.
PFLP-EO leader who was responsible for the Entebbe
Mossad is suspected of killing him in 1978 by poisoning his
Khalil al-Wazir known by his nom de guerre Abu Jihad. One of the
founders and Military Head of Fatah, killed in Tunis, 1988
Abbas al-Musawi, Secretary General of Hezbollah, killed when Israeli
Apache helicopters fired missiles at his motorcade in southern Lebanon
on 16 February 1992. His wife, his five-year-old son, and four others
were also killed.
Hamas commander, killed by Israeli soldiers in disguise
near a house in Shuja'iyya, 1993.
Fathi Shaqaqi, Secretary-General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad,
killed by a
Mossad team in front of a Maltese hotel on 26 October
Yahya Ayyash (
Hamas bombmaker, "the Engineer") in Beit Lahya, Gaza,
1996. Ayyash was killed by a cell phone allegedly containing “50
grams of high-grade explosives.”
Khaled Mashal (Hamas) in Jordan, 1997 (failed)
Abu Ali Mustafa, secretary-general of the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine, killed by an Israeli helicopter missile
strike at his office in the
West Bank town of
Ramallah on 27 August
Salah Mustafa Muhammad Shehade killed by a one-ton bomb during July
2002 in Gaza. Also killed were 11 civilians, including Shehadeh's wife
and three sons, and four other children.
Ahmed Ismail Yassin killed along with 7 other bystanders on Friday
morning, 22 March 2004, when an
AH-64 Apache helicopter fired Hellfire
missiles as he exited a mosque in the al-Sabra neighborhood of
Naif Abu-Sharah, local commander of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in
Nablus, killed with other two senior militants during an Israeli raid
West Bank on 27 June 2004.
Jamal Abu Samhadana killed with three other militants on 8 June 2006,
when an Israeli Apache helicopter fired four missiles at a PRC camp in
Possible targeted killing: Imad Mugniyah, a senior Hezbollah
commander, was killed in February 2008 in a car bomb. The Israeli
Mossad is alleged to have been behind the killing.
Nizar Rayan killed by an Israeli airstrike on 1 January 2009 with 15
relatives when a 2,000-pound bomb was dropped on his house.
Possible targeted killing: Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a senior Hamas
commander and one of the founders of the al-Qassam Brigades, was
killed in January 2010 by being electrocuted and/or drugged with
succinylcholine, a quick-acting paralytic, and then suffocated in his
room in a five-star
Dubai hotel; the
Dubai police said that the
Mossad was behind the killing.
Zuhir al-Qaisi, secretary-general of the Popular Resistance
Committees, killed with another senior militant in a missile strike by
IDF aircraft on 9 March 2012 while he was driving his vehicle in
western Gaza city.
Ahmed Jabari killed by an Israeli drone strike on 14 November 2012
while he was traveling with his bodyguard along
Omar Mukhtar Street in
Raed al Atar
Raed al Atar killed with two other top
Hamas commanders by an Israeli
Rafah on 21 August 2014.
Jihad Mughniyah killed on 18 January 2015 by an Israeli airstrike in
the Syrian-controlled Golan Heights along with five other prominent
Hezbollah and six
IRGC commanders, including a
Samir Kuntar killed with other seven Syrian nationals on 20 December
2015 by an Israeli airstrike in Jaramana, Syria.
Mohamed Zouari, designer of drones for Hamas, shot to death in Sfax,
Tunisia, on December 15, 2016.
Mossad is suspected.
Use of targeted killings by Israeli conventional military forces
became commonplace after the Second Intifada, when Israeli security
forces used the tactic to kill Palestinian militants.
The practice has been adopted by the
Philippines President Rodrigo
Duterte. Since his assumption of the presidency in 2016, police and
vigilantes have targeted over 7,000 people, with many cases, some
involving children, thought to be the result of police extrajudicial
executions. According to Human Rights Watch, Duterte while
serving as mayor of
Davao City had a long history of supporting the
targeted killing of criminal suspects.
During a 2016 visit to Damascus, British statesman David Davis was
shown by Syria's
Bashar al-Assad a spreadsheet outlining the
identities of 783 whose targeted killing he had approved. 
In Bosnia and Serbia
Referring to human rights abuses during the Bosnian War, the U.S.
State Department noted politically or ethnically motivated "targeted
killings" in Bosnia in Section 1a., "Political and Other Extrajudicial
Killing", of its 1993 report on human rights practices in Bosnia and
Herzegovina.[verification needed] Targeted killings were also
reported by Serbian and Albanian forces during the Kosovo War.
Both wars involved large scale targeted killings of journalists.
Use by the Russian government
First Chechen War
First Chechen War Chechen President
Dzhokhar Dudaev was
killed on 21 April 1996, by two laser-guided missiles when he was
using a satellite phone, after his location was detected by a Russian
reconnaissance aircraft, which intercepted his phone
call.[not in citation given]
On 20 March 2002
Ibn al-Khattab who during the First and Second
Chechen War participated in leading his militia against Russian forces
in Chechnya, setting up many effective ambushes against Russian
forces, as well as managing the influx of foreign fighters and money
was killed when a Dagestani messenger hired by the Russian FSB gave
Khattab a poisoned letter. Chechen sources said that the letter was
coated with "a fast-acting nerve agent, possibly sarin or a
On 13 February 2004
Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev who served as acting
president of the breakaway
Chechen Republic of Ichkeria
Chechen Republic of Ichkeria between 1996
and 1997, was killed when a bomb ripped through his SUV in the Qatari
capital, Doha. Yandarbiyev was seriously wounded and died in hospital.
His 13-year-old son Daud was seriously injured. The day after the
attack, Qatari authorities arrested three Russians in a Russian
embassy villa. One of them, the first secretary of the Russian Embassy
in Qatar, Aleksandr Fetisov, was released in March due to his
diplomatic status and the remaining two, the GRU agents Anatoly
Yablochkov (also known as Belashkov) and Vasily Pugachyov (sometimes
misspelled as Bogachyov), were charged with the assassination of
Yandarbiyev, an assassination attempt of his son Daud Yandarbiyev, and
smuggling weapons into Qatar. There were some speculations that
Fetisov had been released in exchange for Qatari wrestlers detained in
Moscow. On 30 June 2004, both Russians were sentenced to life
imprisonment; passing the sentence, the judge stated that they had
acted on orders from the Russian leadership. But on 23
Qatar agreed to extradite the prisoners to Russia,
where they would serve out their life sentences. The agents however
received a heroes' welcome on returning to Moscow in January 2005 but
disappeared from public view shortly afterwards. The Russian prison
authorities admitted in February 2005 that they were not in jail, but
said that a sentence handed down in
Qatar was "irrelevant" in
On 10 July 2006 Shamil Basayev, a Chechen militant leader, who was
alleged to be responsible for numerous guerrilla attacks on security
forces in and around Chechnya and the 2002 Moscow
theater hostage crisis and described by
ABC News as "one of the
most-wanted terrorists in the world". was killed by an explosion
near the border of
North Ossetia in the village of Ali-Yurt,
Ingushetia, a republic bordering Chechnya. According to the official
version of Basayev's death, the FSB, following him with a drone,
spotted his car approach a truck laden with explosives that the FSB
had prepared, and by remote control triggered a detonator that the FSB
had hidden in the explosives.
Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned with polonium, which a public
inquiry in the UK concluded was carried out by FSB agents.
US and UK intelligence agents reportedly say they believe Russian
assassins and possibly the Russian government could have been behind
at least fourteen targeted killings on British soil, which were
dismissed as non-suspicious by UK police.
Ukrainian authorities have blamed Russian security services for
multiple killings in Ukraine.
The Russian government is alleged by the British government of being
behind a failed assassination attempt on
Sergei Skripal and his
daughter using a Novichok agent.
Legal justifications for targeted killing
The U.S. Army's Law of Land Warfare (Field Manual 27-10) states:
Assassination and Outlawry
It is especially forbidden * * * to kill or wound treacherously
individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army. [Article 23(b) of
the 1907 Hague Regulations]
This article is construed as prohibiting assassination, proscription,
or outlawry of an enemy, or putting a price upon an enemy's head, as
well as offering a reward for an enemy "dead or alive". It does not,
however, preclude attacks on individual soldiers or officers of the
enemy whether in the zone of hostilities, occupied territory, or
Daniel Reisner, who headed the International Legal Division of the
Israeli Military Advocate General's Office from 1994 to 2005, has
stated that although targeted killing is illegal under previous
understanding of international law, "If you do something for long
enough, the world will accept it. The whole of international law is
now based on the notion that an act that is forbidden today becomes
permissible if executed by enough countries." Reisner continues,
International law progresses through violations. We invented the
targeted assassination thesis and we had to push it. At first there
were protrusions that made it hard to insert easily into the legal
moulds. Eight years later it is in the center of the bounds of
legitimacy." This view is disputed by George Bisharat of the
University of California's Hastings College of the Law, who contends
that assassination is not widely regarded as legal.
Georgetown Law Professor and former U.S. Marine, Gary Solis, has
argued that under certain conditions, "Assassinations and targeted
killings are very different acts." For Solis, these conditions
require that there is an ongoing military conflict, the targeted
individual (civilian or military) has taken up arms, that there is no
reasonable possibility of arrest, and that the decision to kill is
made by senior political leaders.
Abraham Sofaer, a former legal advisor to the U.S. State Department
and fellow at the conservative
Hoover Institution think tank, has
written that targeted killing is "sometimes necessary, because leaders
are obliged to defend their citizens". After the killing of Hamas
founder and quadriplegic
Ahmed Yassin by Israeli helicopter gunships,
Sofaer argued that targeted killing is not prohibited by American
Executive Order 11905
Executive Order 11905 banning assassination: "killings in self-defense
are no more 'assassinations' in international affairs than they are
murders when undertaken by our police forces against domestic
Sofaer had previously argued during the
First Gulf War
First Gulf War that targeted
killing was ethical but impractical: "
Targeted killing will also
invite revenge against the leaders who order it as well as their
citizens and property. Given the legal, political and moral
constraints that limit such activities in democratic regimes, the
United States has a substantial interest in discouraging acceptance of
the killing of political leaders as a routine measure, even in
Author and former
U.S. Army Captain Matthew J. Morgan has argued,
"there is a major difference between assassination and targeted
killing.... targeted killing [is] not synonymous with assassination.
Assassination ... constitutes an illegal killing." Amos
Guiora, formerly an
Israel Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces Lt. Colonol and commander of
the IDF school of military law, now Professor of law at the University
of Utah, has written, "targeted killing is ... not an assassination".
Steve David, Johns Hopkins Associate Dean & Professor of
International Relations, 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
Targeted killing ... is not 'assassination'", and associate
professor Eric Patterson and Teresa Casale write: "Perhaps most
important is the legal distinction between targeted killing and
American defense department analyst and professor Thomas Hunter has
defined targeted killing as the "premeditated, preemptive, and
intentional killing of an individual or individuals known or believed
to represent a present or future threat to the safety and security of
a state through the affiliation with terrorist groups or
individuals. Hunter writes that the target is a person who is
allegedly taking part in an armed conflict or terrorism, whether by
bearing arms or otherwise, who has allegedly lost the immunity from
being targeted that he would otherwise have under the Third Geneva
Convention. Hunter distinguishes between "targeted killing" and
"targeted violence" as used by specialists who study violence.
In response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the Authorization for
Use of Military Force (AUMF) stated on 14 September 2001, "That the
President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force
against those nations, organizations or persons he determines planned,
authorized, harbored, committed, or aided in the planning or
commission of the attacks against the United States that occurred on
11 September 2001, and to deter and pre-empt any future acts of
terrorism or aggression against the United States". This
authorization is still in effect today. There are no restrictions
regarding the physical location of where this law is applied. It only
states that the President has the "authority to use all necessary and
appropriate force" this could be interpreted to mean that the
President can attack al-Qaeda anywhere in the world.
During the 1998 bombing of Iraq,
The Scotsman reported, "US law
prohibits the targeted killing of foreign leaders... Administration
officials have been careful to say they will not expressly aim to kill
Frank Sauer and Niklas Schoernig have described targeted killing as a
violation of international law and a contravention of domestic
laws, and maintain that the term itself is merely a legitimized
euphemism for assassination.
American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union states in 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
In 2001, Ibrahim Nafie criticized the U.S. for agreeing with "the
Israeli spin that calls ... its official policy of assassinating
Palestinian leaders 'targeted killing'."
United Nations Special Rapporteur
United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter
terrorism, Ben Emmerson, stated that U.S. drone strikes may have
violated international humanitarian law.
For drone strikes to be effective, the United States must obtain
consent from the host country they are operating in. The growing
chorus of objections from host countries, most notably emanating from
Pakistan, seriously inhibits drones’ effectiveness. "Host
states have grown frustrated with U.S. drone policy, while opposition
by non-host partners could impose additional restrictions on the use
of drones. Reforming U.S. drone strike policies can do much to allay
concerns internationally by ensuring that targeted killings are
defensible under international legal regimes that the United States
itself helped establish and by allowing U.S. officials to openly
address concerns and counter misinformation."
Micah Zenko at the
Council on Foreign Relations
Council on Foreign Relations believes the United States should "end
so-called signature strikes, which target unidentified militants based
on their behavior patterns and personal networks, and limit targeted
killings to a small number of specific terrorists with transnational
ambitions. He wants more congressional oversight of drone strikes
and stricter regulation on armed drone sales. Finally, he recommends
the United States work with international partners to establish rules
and norms governing the use of drones. Zenko believes the U.S.
government has not been transparent regarding how non-battlefield
drone strikes are reconciled with broader foreign policy objectives,
the scope of legitimate targets, and their legal framework. While
drones may be a critical counterterrorism tool that advances U.S.
interests, their "lack of transparency threatens to limit U.S. freedom
of action and risks proliferation of armed drone technology without
the requisite normative framework." Zenko thinks current drone
policy might share the same fate of the Bush-era enhanced
interrogation techniques and warrantless wiretapping, both of which
were unpopular, illegal and ultimately ended.
Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School Professors Gabriella Blum and Philip Heymann cite
six potential hazards of targeted killings: First, the so-called Hydra
effect, or the rise of more—and more resolute—leaders to replace
those who were recently "decapitated." Second, drones can drive
terrorist leaders into hiding, making the monitoring of their
movements, and subsequent intelligence gathering, extremely
difficult. Third, "the political message flowing from the use of
targeted killings may be harmful to the attacking country’s
interest, as it emphasizes the disparity in power between the parties
and reinforces popular support for the terrorists, who are seen as a
David fighting Goliath." Fourth, when conducted in a foreign
country, drone strikes run the risk of heightening tensions between
the targeting government and the government in whose territory the
operation is conducted. Fifth, targeted killings threaten
criticism from local domestic constituencies against the government
allowing strikes within their country. Finally, there is a danger
of over-using targeted killings, both within and outside the war of
Daniel Byman, security studies professor at Georgetown University,
argues that Washington must clarify its policies behind extrajudicial
and extraterritorial killings, lest a nefarious precedent in
international law is set. Additionally, Byman argues that
Washington must "remain mindful of the built-in limits of low-cost,
unmanned interventions, since the very convenience of drone warfare
risks dragging the United States into conflicts it could otherwise
avoid." Though Byman recognizes the problems inherent in using
armed UAVs, he believes that they are very effective. "U.S. drones
have killed an estimated 3,000 al Qaeda, Taliban, and other jihadist
Pakistan and Yemen. That number includes over 50 senior
leaders of al Qaeda and the Taliban--top figures who are not easily
replaced." Drones have also undercut terrorists' ability to
effectively communicate with its target audiences, ultimately
straining their recruitment pools. To avoid attracting drones, al
Qaeda operates have avoided gathering in large numbers and mitigated
use of electronic devices. Byman argues that al Qaeda leaders
"cannot give orders when they are incommunicado, and training on a
large scale is nearly impossible when a drone strike could wipe out an
entire coupe of new recruits. Drones have turned al Qaeda's command
and training structures into a liability, forcing the group to choose
between having no leaders and risking dead leaders."
Audrey Kurth Cronin of
George Mason University
George Mason University argues that while
drones are tactically savvy, they have failed to advance the strategic
goals of U.S. counter-terrorism policy. Terrorism itself is a
tactic, Cronin notes, but it succeeds on a strategic plane when a
shocking event is successfully leveraged for political gain. "To
be effective, counter-terrorism must itself respond with a coherent
strategy. The problem for Washington today is that its drone program
has taken on a life of its own, to the point where tactics are driving
strategy rather than the other way around." Cronin agrees with
Daniel Byman of
Georgetown University insofar that drones have
inflicted real damage upon al Qaeda. However, "Washington now finds
itself in a permanent battle with amorphous and geographically
dispersed foe, one with an increasingly marginal connection to the
original 9/11 plotters. In this endless contest, the United States
risks multiplying its enemies and heightening their incentives to
attack the country."
Targeted Killing in International Law
Targeted Killings: Law and Morality in an Asymmetrical World
Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter
CIA transnational anti-terrorism activities
Drone (2014 film)
Executive actions of the CIA
Licence to kill (concept)
List of military strikes against presumed terrorist targets
Manhunt (law enforcement)
Executive Order 12333
Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions
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Dubai, a History of Targeted Killing". ABC News. Retrieved 20 May
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Independent. 14 November 2012.
^ "Israeli air strike kills three
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^ Philippines: Abusive ‘Drug War’ Targets Children 2 New Summary
Killings Heighten Urgency of UN Inquiry,Human Rightd Watch 9 September
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Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch April 2009.
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“War on Drugs”,' 2 March, 2017 :’“If by chance that God
will place me there, watch out because the 1,000 [people allegedly
executed while Duterte was mayor of Davao City] will become 100,000.
You will see the fish in Manila Bay getting fat. That is where I will
dump you.”(b).’ Since taking office, Duterte has repeatedly vowed
to kill drug dealers and users in the midst of skyrocketing reports of
extrajudicial executions by the police and so-called vigilantes. On
August 6, he warned drug dealers: “My order is shoot to kill you. I
don’t care about human rights, you better believe me.” He praised
the soaring body count of victims of police killings as proof of the
“success” of his “war on drugs.”
^ Philippines: "If you are poor, you are killed": Extrajudicial
Killings in the Philippines' "War on Drugs"
Amnesty International 31
^ Rishi Iyengar, The Killing Time: Inside Philippine President Rodrigo
Duterte's War on Drugs
Time Magazine 25 August 2016: 'one of the first
of nearly 2,000 Filipinos killed so far in Duterte’s brutal war on
drugs. The carnage is exactly what Duterte promised. “All of you who
are into drugs, you sons of bitches, I will really kill you,” he
said before his election, in April. A month later, when he was
President-elect, Duterte offered medals and cash rewards for citizens
that shot dealers dead. “Do your duty, and if in the process you
kill 1,000 persons because you were doing your duty, I will protect
you,” he told police officers on July 1, the day after his
inauguration. He was speaking at a ceremony installing dela Rosa, his
loyal henchman, as the nation’s top cop. “If you know of any
addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself as getting their parents to
do it would be too painful,” he was quoted as saying to another
crowd that day.’
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Find more aboutTargeted killingat's sister projects
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Texts from Wikisource
This list is in chronological order broken down by publication areas
Anna Goppel (2013): Killing Terrorists. A Moral and Legal Analysis. De
Jeremy Scahill and The Staff of
The Intercept (2016). The
Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare
Program. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9781501144134
Jan Arno Hessbruegge, Human Rights and Personal Self-Defense in
International Law, Oxford University Press (2017), Ch. 4 & 5 Human
Rights and Self-Defense
Banks, William C.; Raven-Hansen, Peter (March 2002). "Targeted Killing
and Assassination: The U.S. Legal Framework" (PDF). University of
Richmond Law Review. 37: 667. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10
Guiora, Amos (2004). "Targeted Killing as active self-defense". Case
Western Reserve Journal of International Law. 36:
319. [verification needed]
Statman, Daniel (2004). "Targeted Killing" (PDF). Theoretical
Inquiries in Law. 5: 1. doi:10.2202/1565-3404.1090. [dead link]
Byman, Daniel (March–April 2006). "Do targeted killings work?"
(PDF). Foreign Affairs. Council on Foreign Relations.
Hafez, Mohammed; Hatfield, Joseph (September 2006). "Do Targeted
Assassinations Work? A Multivariate Analysis of Israel's Controversial
Tactic during Al-Aqsa Uprising". Studies in Conflict & Terrorism.
Taylor & Francis. doi:10.1080/10576100600641972.
Vlasic, Mark V. (2012). "
Assassination & Targeted Killing—A
Historical and Post-Bin Laden Legal Analysis". Georgetown Journal of
International Law. 43 (2): 259–333. ISSN 1550-5200.
Dear, Keith (2013). "Beheading the Hydra? Does Killing Terrorist or
Insurgent Leaders Work?". Defence Studies Journal. 13 (3): 293–337.
Schlager, Scott A. & Govern, Kevin H. (2013). "'Guns for Hire,
Death on Demand': The Permissibility of U.S. Outsourcing of Drone
Attacks to Civilian Surrogates of the Armed Forces and Challenges to
Traditional Just War Theory". Florida Journal of International Law.
XXV (2): 147–206. SSRN 2341756 .
Sofaer, Abraham (26 March 2004). "Responses to Terrorism/Targeted
killing is a necessary option". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from
the original on 29 August 2011.
Kaplan, Eben (25 January 2006). "Q&A: Targeted Killings". The New
Blumenfield, Laura (27 August 2006). "In Israel, leaders struggle with
targeted killings; Moral, legal quandaries mark decision to use select
weapon against terror". The Washington Post. Archived from the
original on 11 May 2008.
Barghouti, Mustafa (8 June 2007). "
Targeted killing won't bring
peace". The New York Times.
Dromi, Uri (24 March 2010). "A targeted killing: How else is Israel
meant to deal with terror?". The New York Times.
Bowcott, Owen (21 June 2012). "Drone strikes threaten 50 years of
international law, says UN rapporteur: US policy of using drone
strikes to carry out targeted killings 'may encourage other states to
flout international law'". The Guardian. London.
Scahill, Jeremy (15 October 2015). "The Drone Papers: Secret military
documents expose the inner workings of Obama's drone wars". The
"Convenient Killing: Armed Drones and the 'Playstation' Mentality"
(PDF). Fellowship of Reconciliation. September 2010.
Government and UN reports
Alston, Philip (28 May 2010). "Report of the
Special Rapporteur on
extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions: Addendum Study on
targeted killings (A/HRC/14/24/Add.6)" (PDF). Human Rights Council,
Fourteenth session Agenda item 3 Promotion and protection of all human
rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights,
including the right to development. Third party briefing papers
on the report:
McClure, Kevin (3 June 2010). "UN official says 'targeted killings'
fall into 'accountability vacuum' (Blog by Government Documents
Librarian for the Downtown Campus Library at the Chicago-Kent College
of Law)". govdocsblog.kentlaw.edu. Archived from the original on 17
Raja, Kanaga (May 2010). "UN expert criticises targeted killings, US
drone attacks". Third World Resurgence (23