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POINT OF LAW: LEGAL ASPECTS OF THE BIN LADEN KILL

  • By G.Monty Manibog
Justice finally caught up with the world’s most wanted fugitive terrorist/mass murderer, Osama bin Laden, after 10 years of eluding capture following his devastating attacks on America on September 11, 2001, which killed over 3000 Americans, including the innocent passengers on the US Airliners used as flying bombs that crashed into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington and a Pennsylvania field, the latter likely aimed at Congress or the White house except for the gallant struggle put up by passengers against the terrorist hijackers.
There has been some debate as to the legality of a commando SEAL team’s entering a sovereign country’s territory (Pakistan), storming bin Laden’s hideout compound, killing and burying him at sea, and carting away a treasure trove of material - computers, documents, hard drives, videos, etc., providing a wealth of information on terrorist targets and plots in the making including Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, especially targeting railways, public transportation and other locations where large numbers of people could be killed.
As to the legality of the SEAL operation, the weight of opinion at home and abroad is that the tracking down and killing of Osama bin Laden in a foreign country complied with DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL LAW:  He was the head of al Qaeda which has committed terrorist acts and killed innocents in the U.S., Spain, France, England, Pakistan and other countries, and admitted his involvement.  Much of the world was on the manhunt for him.  Had he been captured by INTERPOL, he would have been placed on trial before the International Criminal Court at the Hague, convicted and executed, just would have happened in the case of President Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia for committing genocide on the Croatian population had he not died while in prison.
The Obama administration cited the Authorization to Use Military Force act of September 18, 2001, authorizing him to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against the 9/11 plotters and participants.  In addition, the action was supported by international law based on treaties and the usual rules of war.  Osama was, indeed, the most wanted man for his horrendous criminal acts and, since he actually declared war on the US and western societies and committed war crimes, the rules of war permitting his hunt, capture and execution clearly applied.  Unfortunately, there will be successors to the late al Qaeda leader but bin Laden’s demise sends a clear, demoralizing message to other terrorists - “We’ll hunt you down and get you no matter how long it takes.”
And a word on the magnificent Navy SEALS: they are the most elite and highly trained military force who very effectively fight on the SEA, AIR and LAND and follow the most rigorous training imaginable.  Only a fraction of the many trainee applicants ever survive the training to become full-fledged SEALS.  Our hats off to the gallant SEALS for making our country a safer place for all of us.

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