Per info in Washington Post reporting, the drone strike on Ayman al-Zawahiri violates law of war criteria for a legal target. (Though the certainly doesn't draw this conclusion.) 1/5

The UN and US intelligence publicly concluded that al Qaeda in Afghanistan "is not viewed as posing an immediate international threat … lacks an external operational capability" (UN) and "will focus on maintaining its safe haven" rather than organizing strikes (US ODNI). 2/5

Both the US and the UN therefore clearly and publicly assessed al-Zawahiri's activities, and these were not "directly participating in hostilities" in the sense required by International Humanitarian Law for a lawful strike. 3/5


Even less do they match the requirements nominally mandated by the Obama administration for drone killings: a target constituted a “continuing imminent threat to U.S. persons.”

Instead this was a punitive execution of a retired terrorist. 4/5

Needless to say, reciprocally permitting attacks on retired war criminals in their residences would have shocking consequences for Western cities and suburbs. 5/5

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