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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

U.S. Foreign Relations in Violence: extralegal judge, jury, killer

Remote, missile-strike killings: Who, When, Where, Why, If covered up
Excerpt, editing by
Carolyn Bennett 

From Harvey Thompson’s reporting in today’s WSWS posting, “Afghan launches legal challenge over UK role in Washington kill list”

Targeted assassinations are a central part of the U.S./NATO strategy in Afghanistan, involving the participation of both British and Afghan Special Forces; and are part of a wider U.S.-led targeted killing program in Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen [Somalia], and elsewhere.

These killings are routinely carried out by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or ‘drones.’

A vast escalation of the deployment of such drones has taken place under the Obama administration. A recent ACLU finding estimates that, since 2002, as many as 4,000 people have died in U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

A significant number of the victims are civilians.

Kabul Massacre seeking redress, accounting under law 

Habib Rahman is a bank worker in Kabul. Rahman lost two brothers, two uncles and his father-in-law on September 2, 2010, when a U.S. missile strike hit their cars.  

In the run-up to Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections, Rahman’s family members were helping another member who was campaigning in the Rustaq district of Takhar province in northern Afghanistan. Ten Afghans were killed and several others were injured in the missile attack.  
Rahman says most of the dead were election workers: Civilians. 

Now Habib Rahman has begun legal proceedings against the Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) to find out whether Britain had a role in supplying information to a U.S. military joint integrated prioritized target list (JIPTL) in Afghanistan.

Execution list 

Rahman’s lawyers expect this legal challenge to force officials to open up about─
Britain’s contribution to the killings in the 2010 Kabul incident and

[t]he ‘compilation, review, and execution of the [kill] list and what form it takes’ 
“Legal correspondence sent to the MoD and SOCA says that possible UK involvement in the decisions at issue ‘may give rise to criminal offenses and thus be unlawful.’”


NATO's International Security and Assistance Force lauded the killings, stating that the target had been a man in the convoy called Muhammad Amin, accused by the US military of being a Taliban commander and that the people travelling with him were insurgents. 

A detailed study of the [Kabul] incident by the Afghanistan Analysts Network, a research group, contradicted the official [U.S./NATO] account that claimed a man in a convoy whose name was Muhammad Amin had been traveling with “insurgents” and he was, according to the U.S. military, a “Taliban commander.” The author of the study said Muhammad Amin was tracked down after the incident and proven to be still alive. 

Solicitors’ letters to the MoD and the Serious Organized Crime Agency suggest that Britain’s contribution raises several concerns ─ particularly in cases where international humanitarian laws protecting civilians and non-combatants may have been broken. In a Guardian interview, Rosa Curling of the solicitors Leigh Day and Co said ─ 

‘We need to know whether the rule of law is being followed and that safeguards are in place to prevent what could be clear breaches of international law.’ 

Letters to SOCA director general Trevor Pearce and Defense Secretary Philip Hammond cite Geneva conventions noting that persons taking no active part in hostilities  

─ are protected from ‘violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds.’

War Crimes 

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Christof Heyns, at a June ACLU conference in Geneva said, “[U.S. President Barack] Obama’s attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere, carried out by the CIA, would encourage other states to flout decades-long established human rights norms.” Christof Heyns went on to say that ─ 

These killings present a major challenge to the system of international law established following World War II. 

Some of the U.S. drone attacks may constitute war crimes.

Sources and notes

“Afghan launches legal challenge over UK role in Washington kill list” (Harvey Thompson), August 14, 2012, http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/aug2012/afgh-a14.shtml

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, The State We're In - Extrajudicial killings: a case history, rnw.nl
Post Noon, http://postnoon.com/2012/04/01/rapped-for-extrajudicial-killings/40968
Press TV 'Civilians make up over 90% of casualties in US drone strikes in Pakistan', July 18, 2011, http://presstv.com/usdetail/189661.html


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