The justification the Prime Minister used in the Commons yesterday has set a high barby Shashank Joshi / September 8, 2015 / Leave a comment
On Monday afternoon, David Cameron made the dramatic announcement that a Hellfire missile fired by RAF drones killed two British nationals in Syria last month, Reyaad Khan from Cardiff and Ruhul Amin from Aberdeen. This is an important moment in British counter-terrorism. Despite 14 years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11, this is possibly the first time British forces have targeted and killed British nationals overseas since Gibraltar in 1988.
In some ways, it is surprising that the UK had not yet confronted this problem. The US killed one of its own citizens in one of its very first drone strikes in the Middle East, in Yemen in November 2002. The most prominent case came many years later, when the US authorized the killing of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in 2010, killing him in September the next year. Obama administration lawyers argued that the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), a broad resolution passed by the US Congress in 2001, allowed them to target Awlaki, a senior figure in al Qaeda’s Yemen branch, legally. Since then, a number of US citizens have died in American drone strikes, many by accident (including hostages) but some deliberately targeted.