“Today, I can inform the House that in an act of self-defence and after meticulous planning, Reyaad Khan was killed in a precision airstrike carried out on 21 August by an RAF remotely piloted aircraft while he was travelling in a vehicle in the area of Raqqa in Syria,” the Prime Minister announced to a stunned House of Commons yesterday. “In addition to Reyaad Khan, who was the target of the strike, two ISIL associates were also killed, one of whom, Ruhul Amin, has been identified as a UK national. They were ISIL fighters, and I can confirm that there were no civilian casualties,” he added.
And he justified this act because, he said, “there was no alternative”:
In this area, there is no Government we can work with; we have no military on the ground to detain those preparing plots; and there was nothing to suggest that Reyaad Khan would ever leave Syria or desist from his desire to murder us at home, so we had no way of preventing his planned attacks on our country without taking direct action.
We may not read the read the legal advice because the Prime Minister invokes national security. All that we know is that the action was “entirely lawful” because of a “direct threat”, and the Attorney General told him that “there would be a clear legal basis for action in international law”. Since there was “clear evidence” that Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin were not only engaged in jihadist pursuits in Syria but were also “planning and directing armed attacks against the UK”, the Prime Minister insisted that by ordering their killing, he was “exercising the UK’s inherent right to self-defence”: taking them out was “the only feasible means of effectively disrupting the attacks that had been planned and directed”. He concluded:
My first duty as Prime Minister is to keep the British people safe. That is what I will always do. There was a terrorist directing murder on our streets and no other means to stop him. The Government do not for one minute take these decisions lightly, but I am not prepared to stand here in the aftermath of a terrorist attack on our streets and have to explain to the House why I did not take the chance to prevent it when I could have done. That is why I believe our approach is right. I commend this statement to the House.
Cue outrage: “Draconian,” said former Attorney General Dominic Grieve. “This is extra-judicial killing,” said Kate Hudson of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. “A British prime minister now claims the right to kill British citizens when they travel abroad.”
Well, with respect to Ms Hudson, a Briton who declares war on his own nation and directs the murder of his fellow Britons has both ceased to be British and defaulted on his citizenship. If he is not subject to British law, he is not one of us.
The Prime Minister said that this was “the first time in modern times that a British asset has been used to conduct a strike in a country where we’re not involved in a war”.
But we are at war. Not, of course, against Syria: Parliament determined last year that there would be no military intervention against Assad. But we are at war against Jihadism, for the Jihadists not only hate us; they long ago declared war against all that we hold dear – our freedom, justice, democracy, rule of law: our whole culture of liberty based on Judæo-Christian precepts is anathema to the Islamist. Their response is to kill, degrade and destroy: it is to use our liberties against us; to appeal to our generous tolerance to tolerate their intolerance; to invoke our freedom of speech to speak freely against our freedoms.
If British citizens abscond to Syria to direct by Twitter a plot to assassinate Her Majesty the Queen, why must Her Majesty’s Government be expected to pause for due legal process? What may reasonably be swiftly established in an English court of law if the suspects may not be captured to stand trial before executing their target?
Downing Street officials indicated further similar strikes could take place on a “case by case” basis. Well, there are some 700 British Jihadists known to the security services, about half of whom are plotting from their homes next door. If it were justifiable to assassinate British citizens in Syria on the basis of “clear evidence”, it must be justifiable (at least) to round up the rest of these British Jihadists and incarcerate them – pending trial, of course.
The suspension of trial by jury, Habeas Corpus and the presumption of innocence is never acceptable in peacetime. But we are at war, and British Jihadists seek to maim, kill and destroy their British compatriots, because their Mohammedology doesn’t entertain fraternal bonds for anyone but the Ummah, or feelings of loyalty to anything but the Islamic State; the Caliphate. By ordering a military assassination with a justificatory appeal to self-defence, David Cameron has declared war on Jihadism; the nexus of the War on Terror.
Astonishingly, there are those who object to this targeted assassination because it amounts to military force in Syria without parliamentary authorisation. Former head of the British Army, General Lord Dannatt told Sky News that “by the letter of what Parliament has authorised, that may well not be right”.
Whatever happened to the Royal Prerogative? Does General Lord Dannatt really believe that Parliament must debate and vote before the Prime Minister may take urgent, necessary and proportionate action to protect the life of the Queen? Since it’s all televised and broadcast around the world, wouldn’t Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin be ever so slightly appreciative of the advanced warning of a plan to blow them to smithereens? Honestly, how can anyone reasonably demand that every military action abroad must be preceded by a majority vote in the House of Commons?
By all accounts, Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin were barbarous, brutal and evil. They laughed at decapitations and revelled in bloodthirsty ‘executions’, which were nothing but cold-blooded murder.
The Prime Minister announced that six terror attacks on Britain have been foiled this year. Had they been successful, we would be a nation in shock, mourning and perpetual fear.
Dominic Grieve is persuaded that the families of the two Jihadists will now sue the Government for £millions, and be able to present a powerful case in a court of law. Perhaps the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament might fund it on behalf of the grieving parents, whom we must not forget are devastated and distraught at the loss of their sons.
But the most potent testimony they could give to their faith; and the greatest witness they could convey of their staunch opposition to Islamism, radicalisation and religious extremism, would be to tour the TV studios and mosques to publicly proclaim that the Prime Minister was fully justified in ordering their sons’ killing; and that they condemn absolutely the Islamist creed of nihilism and hate which manipulates minds and corrodes hearts – even of young children. For Allah’s sake, Reyaad Khan was actively recruiting other British Muslims and luring them to Syria and Iraq. Ruhul Amin sat in front of ISIS’s black flag and asked: “Are you willing to sacrifice the fat job you’ve got, the big car you’ve got, the family you have? Are you willing to sacrifice this, for the sake of Allah?” These weren’t British citizens: they were traitors.
We have a choice. Either we drone-bomb British Jihadists with 500lb laser-guided Hellfire missiles on the streets of Raqqa, or we wait for one to blow up the Queen or blitz the London Marathon, and then listen as they pathetically plead a defence of jihadi-induced depression.
We are at war. The protagonists are perpetrating crimes against humanity and would slaughter us all, given half a chance. They went out from us and dwell among us. This is not a time to quibble over deontological ethical absolutes: the death of a British citizen at the hands of the British Military by command of the British Prime Minister is disquieting, but if we do not eradicate the units of oppression, they will eventually unite against the British State to contend against Western civilisation. You may call it state terrorism: the unjust law is not law. But when it is directed against British Jihadists, there is no obligation to care.