Malian government lawyers defend targeted killings

TIMBUKTU (Rooters agency) – A secret legal opinion prepared for the Malian Islamic Revolutionary Government (IRG), seen by Rooters, claims that there is legal and moral justification for its program of targeted killings of alleged terrorists in Europe and North America.

Headed “The Right to Defend Sovereignty, Religion, and Civilization Against Terrorism,” the document argues that Christian and secular terrorists have been using “safe havens” in Europe, the United States, and Canada to attack the Malian homeland and defenders of Malian values in other countries.

Most controversial in the opinion is the defense of the killing in other countries of Malian citizens suspected of planning terrorist attacks against Mali. While the specific incidents are not mentioned in the document, it is clearly intended to justify last November’s drone attack in McLean, Virginia, USA, that killed the Malian-born US businessman who led the “Mali Liberation Front” and the December attack on a wedding party in Paris that failed to take out the MLF’s second in command when the bomb exploded while still 10 or 15 meters above the target. (After the latter incident, the IRG issued an apology to the families of the unintended victims.)

According to the IRG’s legal experts, “The right of self-defense recognizes no national boundaries. Malian citizens who use bases in other countries to attack the Malian homeland must not be allowed to think that they have impunity from justice.”

The experts added that of course there was no question in international law of the Malian government’s right to kill foreigners whose words or behavior betrayed an intention to attack Malians.

Reports of the existence of the secret legal opinion have led to demands by members of the Malian Shura that it be turned over to the Shura so that they can consider whether the government’s policy provides sufficient guarantees of due process for Malians whose names might appear on the IRG’s “dispatch list.”

“Mistakes can occur,” said one Shura deputy, who asked that his name not be printed. “Last week alone, I had three phone calls from people in the government who thought I was someone else. Lucky for me they only wanted to talk to whoever it was instead of killing him.”

The deputy, who is part of the Shura’s liberal wing, continued, “Of course we have to protect ourselves. It’s a very dangerous and hostile world out there. If our drones kill innocent French or US citizens, then that’s unfortunate, but it’s the fault of their own government, which allows terrorists to operate in their country.”

The liberal deputy acknowledged that Mali’s Suppression of Terrorism Act, passed by the Shura last year, gave the IRG the authority to kill Malians who are allied with foreign enemies. “But if the government is going to kill Malians, then it had better be sure that they are really a threat, and that it hasn’t killed someone because of mistaken identity.”

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