This article explores whether targeted killing of suspected Islamist terrorists comports with international law generally, whether any special rules apply in so-called “failed states,” and whether deploying attack drones poses special risks for the civilian population, for humanitarian and human rights law, and for the struggle against terrorism. Part I of this article discusses the Predator Drone and its upgraded version Predator B, the Reaper, and analyzes their technological capabilities and innovations. Part II discusses international humanitarian law and international human rights law as applied to a state’s targeting and killing an individual inside or outside armed conflict or in the territory of a failed state. Part III analyzes the wisdom of carrying out targeted killing drone attacks, even if otherwise legal, against the Taliban, al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist organizations that have embraced suicide bombing.
Thomas Michael McDonnell, Sow What You Reap? Using Predator and Reaper Drones to Carry Out Assassinations or Targeted Killings of Suspected Islamic Terrorists, 44 Geo. Wash. Int’l L. Rev. 243 (2012).