back to article British killer robot takes out two Britons in Syria strike

Two British citizens fighting for terrorist group ISIS in Syria were killed in an RAF drone strike on 21 August. The Register understands it is the first time British nationals have been targeted and killed in a strike by an RAF Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle. The deceased British passport holders were revealed to be Cardiff- …

Page:

  1. dancecat

    Victims?

    Wrong word.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Victims?

      I agree.

      It is worrying however. We just reinstated the death penalty and we executed two men without trial.

      If we are going to do stuff like that we might as well do it properly - reinstate the death penalty for grand treason and try the "victims" (quotes intended) in abstentia in open court. If convicted, execute by whatever means necessary.

      1. Bumpy Cat

        Re: Victims?

        Killing someone in war is not execution. It does not require a trial.

        If a British citizen chooses to join a group or nation that is actively fighting the UK, they are not a common criminal. For the same reason, we do not arrest and try enemy soldiers in battle*, and we do not use drone strikes on muggers in the UK.

        * In recent fluid situations like Afghanistan and Iraq, the distinction between soldier and (civilian) criminal was not always clear - often by the choice of the enemy. There was a strong reason to arrest militants and hand them over to local justice, but this produced ... uneven results.

        1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Victims?

          And we made a formal declaration of war on ISIS when exactly? Ah they are not a nation how convenient for us.

          This could have been done legally and above board instead we have our politicians playing real life Call of Duty.

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: Victims?

            A formal declaration of war can only be enacted on recognized countries. ISIS/daesh are not recognized. Where's their capitol? Where's their government officials so that a formal declaration can be handed to them? They are, however, basically a large, well-armed, gang who's sole purpose is to kill, rape, and destroy everything in sight in accordance with their view of their sky-fairy.

            Would you rather they be contained where they are and hopefully destroyed? Or would you rather deal with them, presumably in a civilized manner when they march down your street?

          2. Bumpy Cat

            Re: Victims?

            @Gordon 10

            We are actually assisting the Iraqi government in dealing with ISIS, alongside a wide coalition of other countries. Parliament has approved this course of action.

            I am also concerned with the legality of the situation. Unlike you, though, I don't have the conclusion "The UK is always in the wrong!" already in mind.

            1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

              Re: Victims?

              I don't believe the UK is always in the wrong, but when it kills its own citizens without due process and without a clear imminent threat to the UK then it should be challenged robustly.

          3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Victims?

            "And we made a formal declaration of war on ISIS when exactly?"

            Maybe not legally a war but they were certainly in a battle-zone. As far as one can tell they were there of their own volition and it was a battle-zone created by themselves and their fellows. And in a battle-zone people get killed.

            1. x 7 Silver badge

              Re: Victims?

              "And we made a formal declaration of war on ISIS when exactly?"

              no need.

              they've made enough aniti-British statements both in act and word to ensure any action against them would be justifiable self-defence

              don't forget we never declared war on Argentina. To be honest "declaring war" is a rather quaint old-fashioned concept

          4. Jimmy2Cows

            Re: Victims?

            Re: Victims?

            And we made a formal declaration of war on ISIS when exactly? Ah they are not a nation how convenient for us.

            Nation state or not, ISIS are a (somewhat) organised military force with a stated goal of eradicating our way of life.

            Pretty sure we effectively declared war with them some time ago, this is just a continuance of military operations. Had it been two non-Britons killed by drone strike, I doubt there would be anything like the fuss this has generated.

            We don't have boots on the ground because we are not at war with the sovereign states ISIS is attempting occupy, control and turn back into a Caliphate.

            This could have been done legally and above board instead we have our politicians playing real life Call of Duty.

            How, exactly? Send local plod round with an arrest warrant?

            You need to grow up. These aren't criminals, they are traitors who decided to become enemy combatants in an ongoing military operation that was entirely started by ISIS / IS / ISIL / whatever the fuck they're calling themselves today.

            I for one will lose no sleep over the death in combat of two treasonous scumbags.

            1. Martin Milan

              Re: Victims?

              I on the other hand will continue to be rather concerned with this development...

              Parliament explicitly voted against the use of our forces in Syria, and it's happened anyway (let's not forget we've also had RAF crews flying sorties on secondment to other powers).

              Few people, myself included, will cry for the loss of a couple of Jihad obsessed idiots, but the fact remains that the government might well have acted illegally. We urgently need a statement from the Attorney General stating on what legal basis this mission relied...

          5. Robert Grant

            Re: Victims?

            And we made a formal declaration of war on ISIS when exactly? Ah they are not a nation how convenient for us.

            No, how convenient for ISIS. If they move into the murky middleground of declaring war without being a nation, then they gain an advantage, as they can do things nations don't, for fear of economic and military reprisal. That then drags their opponent into that murky middleground, as the alternative is just letting them do whatever they want.

          6. Brent Beach

            Re: Victims?

            "playing real life Call of Duty"

            Wait ... Call of Duty is not REAL LIFE?

          7. Tom 13

            Re: And we made a formal declaration of war on ISIS when exactly?

            While I concur that it would clarify things greatly if the cowardly politicians were to formally declare war, it is not necessary for either the UK or the US to declare war for it to be war. It is quite sufficient for ISIS to have declared it, which they have, repeatedly.

            I'm not exactly buy the "only way" line either. I am willing to believe it was the most efficient and that is sufficient for me.

        2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: Victims?

          Killing someone in war is not execution. It does not require a trial.

          It requires a declaration of war and authorization of use of military power by the parliament.

          We have not acknowledged formally the existence of ISIS to declare a war against it. We have not had the parliament declare war and authorize use of military power against any of the factions participating in the Syrian civil war. In fact, it voted explicitly against that.

          To make things even more interesting, war means complying to Geneva conventions on prisoners of war. It means that enemy combatants which just fight your military targets without engaging in violations of the relevant conventions like attacking civilians, hospitals, etc should be treated appropriately and not subjected to a trial for murder and sentenced because they are attacking you. If we are in a state of war, then we are violating the relevant conventions across the board on that one.

          While the grand posturing regarding "War on Terror" is all great for PR, it has absolutely zero value in terms of international law and domestic law for that matter. We either have to make it so, or we have to find an alternative justification for lethal police action. IMHO, the latter is a better idea as it will not give ISIS and Co the legitimacy they are getting from us declaring war on them.

          1. James 100

            Re: Victims?

            "It means that enemy combatants which just fight your military targets without engaging in violations of the relevant conventions like attacking civilians, hospitals, etc should be treated appropriately and not subjected to a trial for murder and sentenced because they are attacking you."

            There are various other requirements for them to qualify, such as wearing a uniform and having a proper chain of command which has been announced publicly, not hiding in hospitals or other protected places...

            Moreover, nothing in the Conventions prohibits killing the enemy - it just means they have to be treated properly if and when they surrender or are otherwise rendered unable to fight.

            Nothing in the Conventions, AFAICS, prohibits trying and executing your own citizens for treason when they take up arms against you, either.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Victims?

              '..Nothing in the Conventions, AFAICS, prohibits trying and executing your own citizens for treason when they take up arms against you, either.'

              Ah, so there was due process in this case then?

              Getting legal advice from person X isn't due process by any stretch. (even if they could prove treason via due process, just in case you've not been keeping up, the death penalty for treasonable offences went out years ago (1998) in both UK civil and military law).

              Rule of Law, got to love it (unless it's inconvenient..)

              I'm not going to shed any tears about the demise of these characters, but I'm not happy about the legality of the incident. This was a targeted assassination of two UK citizens by the UK Government in a foreign country for allegedly planning criminal terrorist acts in the UK, bear in mind, we do not have the death penalty as a legitimate legal sanction in the UK

              If the government is allowed to get away with this action without any sort of scrutiny, then it creates a very dangerous legal precedent.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Victims?

                Just remember we never declared war on Argentina over the Falklands, but still attacked their military targets.

              2. Tom 13

                Re: Ah, so there was due process

                Given their activities, no due process is required. Whether or not the UK has declared war, THEY are engaged in acts of war against the UK, and acts of the most heinous sort. They are therefore legitimate targets for the military to take out. When the Norks bump a fighter jet in international airspace, that fighter jet is allowed to shoot it down. Usually the politicians go yellow and don't do what they should, which only encourages more such activity until you finally do have a real war.

            2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

              Re: Victims?

              There are various other requirements for them to qualify, such as wearing a uniform

              That requirement is not in the conventions anywhere. It was invented by Muller (Gestapo boss) on personal Hitler orders in the directive which he issued as a justification for shooting SAS infiltrators in France on the spot in WW2.

              having a proper chain of command which has been announced publicly I do not recall that one in any of the conventions either.

              Moreover, nothing in the Conventions prohibits killing the enemy - it just means they have to be treated properly if and when they surrender or are otherwise rendered unable to fight.

              My exact point.

              1. Blanket torture via waterboarding does not fit that.

              2. We presently subject any of the captives to a trial for killing or trying to kill one or more of "our guys". If we are at war, them doing so is a case of "A la guerre comme a la guerre". They are entitled to do it same as we are. If we are in a police action we should stop calling it a war and get the relevant justification for spot-on executions in a police action.

          2. Brent Beach

            Re: Write the Law

            "we have to find a justification for lethal police action"

            It has been 14 years since 9/11, over 12 years since the invasion of Iraq, and still we do not have any laws that explain what we are doing there.

            All the war machines and all the death and disruption and still we have not passed the laws that make our actions legal.

            All the war and the area is in much worse shape that it was 14 years ago. The people are much worse off, with hundreds of thousands dead and millions dislocated. The enemy holds more land and governs more people. The ideology is spreading to neighbouring countries.

            Killing these two people is not solving any problem. It could even convince 3 Britons to join IS. Are we any farther ahead?

            This action is probably not effective and probably not legal.

            Why are so many so happy it was done?

          3. Tom 13

            Re: It requires a declaration of war and authorization of use of military power

            This is a lie and you are a fool to believe it.

            It was a nicety in the days of horses and swords and lasted through the use of muskets and even early rifles. It was mortally wounded with the Japanese strike on Pearl Harbor in WW2 and a stake was driven through its heart with the arrival of the nuclear ICBM.

            Also there would have been no violations of the Geneva convention even if there were a formal declaration of war. The first requirement of the convention is that to be a soldier you must wear a recognized uniform. No one in ISIS does. They are therefore not soldiers and those protections do not apply. They also do NOT limit their attacks to only military targets. In fact their publicly released strategies explicitly prefer non-military targets over military ones. They are therefore spies, and as such can be executed at will under rule .303.

        3. Charles Manning

          It isn't war, it is anti-terrorist action

          It is not war and they are not enemy. This is anti-terrorist action against terrorists.

          There is some overlap in how they are treated, but there are differences too.

          While they present an aggressive threat, both terrorists and enemy are fair game.

          However, if detained, enemy are treated as POWs, terrorists are treated as criminals.

          1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

            Re: It isn't war, it is anti-terrorist action

            Criminals usually get a trial.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Victims?

          International law is simply not equipped to handle this kind of situation. IS is -last time I looked- not a recognised state. They can therefor not have a 'regular' army. Things like the Geneva or The Hague conventions can not be applied to it. These people ar either 'regular combattants' nor 'civilians' of the IS state.

          Since they can not be tried as soldiers, it would mean that -in this case- they would have to be tried as British civilians. This would require issuing an international arrest warrant for them to be detained, followed by an extradition warrant for them to be brought back to the UK (that is IF they hold UK passports, and don't have some sort of dual nationality, which complicates matter somewhat).

          But WHO would execute the arrest warrant in the IS overrun territories ? Who would you appeal to for an extradition request ? Not to put to fine a point on it, these people operate with inpunity as long as they are within IS held territory. There is simply no way to effectively bring them to justice and stop them misbehaving withing the existing legal frameworks.

          That said, why do we insist offering these criminals the protection of the law when they themselves formally denounce the laws of the country from which they carry a passport and insist only their own law is valid and to be obeyed ? They made their bed. Lat them sleep in it. Preferably forever;

          1. knightred

            Re: Victims?

            I'm entirely confused by this idea that a British or American citizen has the right to a trial while fighting for ISIL or Al Queda. Your country's constitution and laws do not follow you outside of your country. An American isn't entitled to a jury trial or a lawyer in the UK because of the US Constitution (although you do get something similar because of UK law). Why then is a fighter in Syria/Iraq entitled to a jury trial in country of origin?

            I understand the anger/confusion, it seems so many Americans and British assume that the government will decide to have you whacked by a drone the second you arrive for your vacation in Calais. If it was political dissenters getting executed on holiday, I could see an outrage. However, it's people who joined up to go to play war and then they get killed actively participating, I can't even see the "slippery slope" arguement in killing active combatants. I can see the "slippery slope" in the statement "if we don't kill them over there now, they'll kill us here tomorrow". But it seems so many politicians in every country have used that "ooooohhh the terrorist's will get ya" line so much I can't understand who they think they are kidding.

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Victims?

        I don't think this is a "death penalty without a trial".. it's war. If you want to fiddle with words than every soldier/militia on the Continental Army was executed without a trial by the British Army. They were citizens who took up arms against the British government.

        These two "gentleman" have joined the daesh and are taking up arms against all of humanity.

        1. mark 177
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Victims?

          You might remember that the British parliament voted explicitly against military action in Syria. So it looks like the government is defying parliament, if this is a war, as many here claim.

      3. Richard Altmann

        Re: Victims?

        @ Voland's right hand: I agree with you. The IS like Al Quaida made out the western worlds constitutions and procedures and values as their weakness which this camel f***ers are exploiting. The United Shitheads of Armswielders where their first opponent and the radicals brought home total victory. The US constitution is no longer worth the paper it was written on, procedures are no longer respected and values have been flushed down with waterboarding. This is a time to take the gloves off but at the end of the day we should not come back from the battlefield and find that all that we fought for is no longer there. As a Passport holder of a country that did not fall for the WMD swindle in Iraq i think there is still some reason left in the western world so that we might overcome this maleé bruised but not broken. The UK must be careful not to go the way the US did. The western world is under attack, no doubt, but we have to make sure that we are not loosing what we are fighting for while we battle. And now go and wipe this fuckers off the fucking planet.

      4. LucreLout Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Victims?

        @Voland's right hand

        We just reinstated the death penalty and we executed two men without trial.

        You've got this very wrong.

        They chose to go out there and join an army, for that is what they are and how they view themselves, that rapes, tortures, and murders its way across the middle east, destroying everything in its path. Over absolutely nothing.

        They were actively involved in encouraging fellow emptyheads to target British citizens on the mainland. They made it a simple proposition - if they were not killed they would eventually coax an emptyhead into killing some of us. That was not our choice, it was theirs. A targetted drone attack is a civilised way to prevent their planned attoricities. Lets face it, there probably aren't many innocent civillians left in Raqqa, only the terrorists and their supporters and financiers, so we could just have dropped a bloody great bomb.

        reinstate the death penalty for grand treason and try the "victims" (quotes intended) in abstentia in open court. If convicted, execute by whatever means necessary.

        These two were terrorist scum. Nothing more. While you're busy gathering evidence, they're busy gathering support. While you're busy planning a trial, they're busy planning an attrocity. And while you're busy executing a show trial with an empty dock, they're busy executing British civilians. No thanks. They had it coming.

        Icon seems appropriate.....

    2. Salts

      Re: Victims?

      Sometimes it is hard to label a group as terrorist, in the case of ISIS I would venture they qualify, just by the observation of tens of thousands running away from them terrified(or the odd beheading, rape, religious intolerance, etc). Terrorists are by definition enemies of the state, their nationality does not entitle them to any special treatment, terrorists are stateless, IMHO.

      To be clear I hate the past and current governments use of terrorist activity to impinge on freedoms of citizens of the UK.

    3. Jimmy2Cows

      Re: Victims?

      Victims?

      Wrong word.

      Completely agree. Traitors. Nothing more, nothing less.

      Join an enemy military force, official nation or not, you're fair game for military engagement.

    4. Nigel 11

      Re: Victims?

      We aren't at war with ISIL. We are dealing with self-proclaimed outlaws who threaten our people and our rule of law. By going where they have gone and practising what they preach, they have placed themselves outside the law (both ours and the law of the land - Syria - where they were located).

      BTW the Geneva conventions confer internationally recognised legal potection on soldiers, and on civilians. Bandits, outlaws, and mercenaries are explicitly excluded from their scope. Summary execution is accepted.

      If they don't like it they have the option of placing themselves under the protection of law (which will almost certainly want to charge them with crimes, may well convict and sentence them). Not necessarily our law. The law of any other country recognised by the UN or uk.gov will do.

    5. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Victims?

      I respect the law, I don't like some of it but I understand why we have to have it.

      But if I am faced with a choice of breaking the law or dying then I break the fucking law.

      Then, as our community are human beings and not machines, people understand why the law had to be broken and there is no legal consequence.

      Those who would faff about with quixotic idealism when there is an opportunity to avert the killing of our innocent families, you can all go fuck yourselves.

  2. Tom 7 Silver badge

    So they knew what he was planning

    so presumably he would have been good to keep an eye on for a while to root out connections at this end where the action was going to be?

    1. Tom 13

      Re: So they knew what he was planning

      Not necessarily. The action might have been taken on the basis that they had rooted those people out and were now following them, so he was no longer necessary to not kill them. Or it could have been another large scale assault on multiple civilian targets was imminent and the only way to stop it was to kill them quickly before they could get the plan in action.

      Since the intelligence reports haven't been released you can't make any solid assumptions, only lots of flights of fancy. The only thing we know for sure is two evil guys are dead.

  3. Steve 114

    Britons?

    Wrong word.

    1. Dr_N Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Britons?

      Quite right. A Scot and a Welshman. No need to tar everyone in the UK ...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Britons?

      > Wrong word.

      Pray tell us what the "right word" would be, my dear fellow.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Britons?

        Immigrants.

        Given chances in life here that back in shitholeistan they would never have and STILL they want to kill us.

        1. Dr_N Silver badge

          Re: Britons?

          "Immigrants.

          Given chances in life here that back in shitholeistan they would never have and STILL they want to kill us."

          Tw@s.

          Let them post comments on the internet and they just come across as tw@s.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Britons?

        When asked about his Irish nationality, the Duke if Wellington is supposed to have said that 'A puppy born in a stable isn't a horse', because he considered himself to be English despite being born in Ireland.

        This pair were the same, born in the UK but actually members of the Ummah, a global community that does not recognise nation states because it is all God's creation.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Britons?

          @Moultoneer

          Used by a certain Mr Bernard Manning as well to describe some of our "from overseas" visitors whom were under the impression that living in an adoptive country means every has to fall in line with your belief values, not the ones already enshrined in the culture.

          1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge

            Re: Britons?

            I was always under the impression that this was a rider of exceedingly fine, and eye wateringly expensive bicycles?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Britons?

              They are indeed very fine bicycles, of which I own two. The most recent that I purchased was pricey and always causes me a bit of embarrassment when I say what I paid for it. But what price excellence?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Britons?

        the "right word" ? "colonizers" ? not immigrants, not Britons. Years ago, European settlers born in Kenya called themselves "Kenyans", but obviously were not.

      4. Nigel 11

        Right word?

        "Outlaws" as far as that goes.

        We don't have a translation for what the more civilised parts of the Islamic world call them. It translates as "heretics" but that English word lacks both the force and the context.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Right word?

          I believe the correct word is "crusaders"

        2. Rob

          Re: Right word?

          I venture one further and say instead of outlaws they are barbarians.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Britons?

        "Pray tell us what the "right word" would be, my dear fellow."

        Dead.

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019