American Civilians In Fallujah As Revenge For Yassin
Of Terrorist "Retaliations"
3 April 2004
By Louis Rene Beres
A previously unknown Islamic terror group
has claimed the murder and mutilation of four American civilian
contractors in western Iraq as revenge for Israel's prior assassination
of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. "This is a gift from the
people of Fallujah to the people of
and the family of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was assassinated by the
criminal Zionists," read the statement from the Brigades of Martyr
Leaving aside the authenticity of this claim, it is vital to understand
that there can never be any legal or moral equivalence between
permissible acts of anticipatory self-defense against a leading
terrorist and the dismemberment, celebration, burning and hanging of
noncombatants carrying food supplies.
The fact that various Arab/Islamic terror groups see no difference
between such expressions of force - indeed, that they openly subordinate
the most evident civilizational limits of humanitarian
international law to the primal pleasures of random slaughter – only
reveals just how dangerous and dastardly these groups have now become.
By definition, terrorists are criminal under international law. They do
not have any rights of "retaliation." When a police officer
shoots a fleeing murderer to protect human life, that action is not
comparable to the murderer's prior criminality.
The latter is an obvious instance of law- violation, one that must be
circumscribed and punished. The former is an obvious example of
law-enforcement, one that is indispensable to providing
public order and security. The fact that both instances involve the use
of force does not make them the same. They are not merely different
actions from the standpoint of legality; they are diametric opposites.
The leaders of Hamas and its sister terrorist groups, which may now
include the Brigades of Martyr Ahmed Yassin, always urge
"retaliation" for Israel's indispensable self-defense policy
of targeted killings - a policy now obviously followed and codified by
the United States as well.
With such misuse of language, the terrorists and their sympathizers
acknowledge no legal difference between the essential use of force by
states to protect against terrorism and the steadily escalating
terror-violence that inevitably elicits such force. Recently the
frenzied Hamas cries for Jewish and "Crusader" blood have been
formalized in a widely-circulated deck of cards containing the pictures
's democratically-elected leaders. In a grotesque parody of the current
American program to identify most-wanted Iraqi war criminals (criminals
who are enormously popular heroes to Hamas and to other Palestinian
terror organizations), these cards seek nothing less than to equate
law-breaking with law-enforcement.
Normally assassination is a crime under international law, by whomever
it is committed. There are occasions, however, where assassination may
actually be permissible. One such case is counter-terrorism, so long as
the state-run assassination is directed only at the target terrorist and
not at surrounding innocents.
By definition, on the other hand, assassination BY terrorists of a state
official is always murder. It is true that in certain extremely rare
circumstances assassination of a public official by insurgent forces
could be construed as law-enforcing - circumstances that are called
"tyrannicide" in political philosophy and jurisprudence - but
surely not in the circumstances of Hamas vs. Israel and the
Here, Palestinian forces have repeatedly declined diplomatic methods of
conflict resolution while simultaneously murdering the most fragile
noncombatants with intentionality and cruelty.
To better understand this point, let us consider an eye-opening and
altogether plausible scenario. In addition to Operation Iraqi Freedom
and its associated plan to kill or capture leading Iraqi war criminals,
is now also conducting various other military operations in reprisal for
the acts of terror of September 11th.
An explicit major objective in these operations is the killing of Bin
Laden himself. If these operations succeed, and Bin Laden is
"removed," al Qaeda agents might then be expected to plan the
murder of an American high official, say Secretary of State Colin
Powell. If, following such a murder, the United States were to respond
with purposeful targeted assassinations, would any civilized person see
"equivalence" in these reciprocal killings?
Rather, wouldn't it be perfectly clear that the violence by al Qaeda was
entirely criminal while violence by the
was entirely law-enforcing?
has been conducting necessary operations for many long and painful years
against Palestinian terrorists. A major objective in these operations
has been the "targeted killing" of criminals who plan attacks
on Israeli women and children in buses, nursery schools, and family
Whenever Israel, in the most controlled and precise manner possible,
targets the perpetrators of these heinous crimes, Hamas and its fellow
"freedom fighters" initiate yet another spasm of utterly
indiscriminate murders. There is a "cycle of violence," to be
sure, yet there is anything but equivalence.
Impatient with all civilized limits, Hamas and its terrorist group
associates now seek not only to reinvent language, but also to transform
violation into punishment. This transformation, which unhesitatingly
replaces law with vengeance, threatens to sacrifice ever-larger numbers
of defenseless Israelis and Americans in the relentlessly desperate
"martyr's" search for immortality.
Only a vast collective Jewish and American agony defines the Hamas idea
of justice, an idea that handily masks genocide as
"retaliation," but no amount of linguistic manipulations can
turn crime into law.
No cause on this green earth can ever justify the jubilant maiming,
disembowelment, charring and murder of children on an Israeli schoolbus
or adult American civilian contractors delivering food in Iraq, and no
terrorist public relations campaign - no matter how slick and
well-funded from Saudi Arabia or even parts of Europe - can ever succeed
in portraying monstrous defilement as sacred goodness.
LOUIS RENE BERES was educated at
(Ph.D., 1971), and is the author of many books and articles on