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article imageOp-Ed: Whom do we murder next? Why not Gaddafi?

By Alexander Baron     May 17, 2011 in Politics
A review of a recent publication by a senior researcher for the House of Commons which suggests murdering Colonel Gaddafi would be lawful.
The extra-judicial execution of Osama Bin Laden was met with a mixed reaction; on the one hand there was jubilation that the fanatic who had taunted the world for a decade had at last been made to pay for his crimes. On the other hand, there was concern in some quarters that Bin Laden had not been arrested and brought to trial, and there was also the very minor objection that the United States had violated the sovereignty of a friendly nation.
Now, a House of Parliament senior researcher has published an official paper in which she uses the execution of Bin Laden as a justification for the proposed murder of Colonel Gadaffi, who presumably has succeeded Bin Laden as the baddest man on the planet. In her own words, House of Commons researcher Arabella Thorp “arrived in the Home Affairs Section of the Library in 1997, fresh out of music college” and was “very pleased to have found a job that I actually did want to do” because “there is a wide variety of people working here, they are all friendly and open and extremely helpful.”
Obviously though some are more friendly than others because according to Thorp in Killing Osama bin Laden: has justice been done?, “Some of the arguments used to present bin Laden’s killing as lawful could also be applied if coalition forces kill Colonel Gaddafi. General Sir David Richards, the UK’s Chief of Defence Staff, has reportedly said that the killing of Osama bin Laden should serve as a warning to Gaddafi”, and “a wider implication is that the killing may be seen as a precedent for targeted killings of individuals by any state, across international boundaries, at least where terrorism is involved.”
Great, so the United States, no, any state, can kill people it designates as terrorists, including across international borders, but according to the Terrorism Act 2000, terrorism in the UK is defined in the following italicised text as
the use or threat of action where—
(a) the action falls within subsection (2),
(b) the use or threat is designed to influence the government [F1or an international governmental organisation] or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, and
(c) the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious [F2, racial] or ideological cause.
(2) Action falls within this subsection if it—
(a) involves serious violence against a person,
(b) involves serious damage to property,
(c) endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action,
(d) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or
(e) is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.
(3) The use or threat of action falling within subsection (2) which involves the use of firearms or explosives is terrorism whether or not subsection (1)(b) is satisfied.
(4) In this section—
(a) “action” includes action outside the United Kingdom,
(b) a reference to any person or to property is a reference to any person, or to property, wherever situated,
(c ) a reference to the public includes a reference to the public of a country other than the United Kingdom, and
(d) “the government” means the government of the United Kingdom, of a Part of the United Kingdom or of a country other than the United Kingdom.
(5) In this Act a reference to action taken for the purposes of terrorism includes a reference to action taken for the benefit of a proscribed organisation.
Did you get all that? The definition of terrorism includes both "serious damage to property" and "seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system."
What does serious damage to property mean? Smashing up the office furniture? Trashing a car? Throwing a brick through a neighbour’s window?
And what does “designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system” mean? Stealing a laptop? Jumping on your ex-girlfriend’s mobile phone?
The execution of Osama Bin Laden has not only set a precedent but paved the way for the next such action, at least according to our budding Modesty Blaise, and after Qaddafi, and as many senior Al-Qaeda as Uncle Sam can manage, if she has her way there will be an abundant supply of legitimate targets for Navy Seals, SAS men and sundry other special operations task forces to take out, both at home and abroad. It’s lucky for the rest of the world we’re the good guys, ain’t it?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Osama bin Laden, Colonel Gaddafi, Libya, extrajudicial executions, Sept 11
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