Many news outlets are covering the story that the recent mass drone strikes in Pakistan have foiled a ‘Mumbai-style’ terror attack on UK, France and Germany. The suggestion that mass drone strikes in Pakistan are justified because of intelligence of a possible terror attack in Europe are simply ludicrous. Let’s set aside for a moment the notorious unreliability of such ‘intellegence’, particularly the kind that is so crucial that it is leaked to the media in a style reminiscent of the now notorious ‘Saddam WMD 45 minutes away’ threat.
More importantly Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, has repeatedly made it clear that targeted attacks on individuals outside armed combat may well be unlawful under international and humanitarian law particularly, as in this case, if the state in which it occurs (Pakistan) objects and, as stated in many of the reports, no plot was in fact imminent.
The idea that armed drones can be let loose to “‘pre-empt possible terror plots” by unaccountable security and intelligence agencies is extremely worrying, as is the way that much of the mainstream media seems happy to acquiesce with this fallacy.