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Tuesday, 23 October, 2001, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
Can state assassinations be justified?
US President George Bush has told the CIA to find and destroy Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist network.

The president has given the agency the green light to do "whatever is necessary" - which could include an assassination attempt - and has given it 700 million in funding to carry out the mission.

The operation will include the CIA working with commandos and other military units to act immediately on intelligence uncovered by American spies about enemy targets.

Should the CIA have been given the go ahead to assassinate Bin Laden? Can such actions ever be justified?


Bin Laden is a legitimate military target and it would be perfectly legal to kill him

Jeremy, USA
For those who believe that the US would be breaking international law by killing Bin Laden, think again. He is a legitimate military target and it would be perfectly legal to kill him - as legal as it would be to kill any soldier in the course of battle. I also don't believe that Afghanistan was party to the Geneva convention on war crimes but on that I might be mistaken.
Jeremy, USA

What exactly are we defending if we do this? Not that I'm naive enough to really think that this is all about defending freedom and democracy, but still, if we're getting into this sort of quagmire again I hope that we, the public, can be treated like adults and be let in on the real political implications of the situation. Given that voices within the US establishment are quietly withdrawing from the fiction that killing Osama Bin Laden will end terrorism as if by magic, what happens after it's done?

Do we then look the other way while the US, just as it did in the cold war, supplies the CIA with a blank cheque to intervene clumsily and brutally, in anything it is opposed to? We really don't want to create more Pinochets. Let's consider the example of Fidel Castro. The CIA know where he is. He regularly wanders about giving endless speeches, and there's a museum in Havana dedicated to the myriad botched attempts to assassinate him. Osama Bin Laden never appears in public and hides in a cave. You, as the Americans say, do the math.
Matt Bright, UK

War means death. Having presumably carried out the attacks on the USA Bin Laden has also presumably accepted the risk of personal retribution, and as he is living in a war zone he is increasing the odds against him of surviving the current attacks. His personal, religious desire is, presumably, to die defending Islam and reach paradise. However he dies - in war or by assassination - he will be content. On this basis it would be better to capture him and put him on trial. Then if he was handed a life sentence, it would humiliate him by denying him the ultimate penalty. The US armed forces probably have a better record of effectiveness than the CIA. It would be better to leave the special forces and the SAS to carry out the job.
John Mitko, Spain

Murder and extra-judicial killings do not become legal or justified simply because they are issued as executive orders by a US president. Mr Bush cannot claim executive privilege or sovereign immunity just as Mr Nixon could not. Those who carry out such murders or issue such illegal, unlawful orders against the likes of Castro, Gadaffi, Saddam Hussain or Bin Laden should be brought before an international criminal court.
Mohansingh, India

The USA must show the world that Bin Laden is just a man

Jovanky Delossantos, USA
Having Bin Laden killed would just accomplish his goal of becoming a martyr, and his followers will become even more motivated by his leadership. The USA must show the world that Bin Laden is just a man. He can be caught, judged and made to pay for his crimes.
Jovanky Delossantos, USA

The leader of a democratic country should not order state-sponsored assassinations. Only dictators give orders like that. International terrorism is a concern of every country, and if the terrorists are captured the trial should be conducted by the United Nations.
Ratna Sengupta, USA

Yes I believe it can be justified. At risk is our very way of life. We live in peaceful co-existence with each other. How many innocent people have to die before someone realises this man, a cowardly man at that, isn't going to stop terrorising us ? If it takes a 'terrorist' to catch a terrorist, then fair enough. If he has one thought before he hopefully comes to face-to-face with his assassins it's to feel how those poor victims of the WTC disaster felt when they knew they were going to die.
Michael Thomas, London, UK

I don't for one second believe that the US want to capture Bin Laden alive

Andrew Carter, UK
I don't for one second believe that the US want to capture Bin Laden alive, nor should they want to. As a defendant in a trial or as a prisoner, he would be the focus for hijackings and other attempts at releasing him. As a body somewhere in the desert he'll have got what he deserves. I just hope he suffers fear first so he can have some idea of what he inflicted on so many, who unlike him, wanted nothing more than a peaceful life.
Andrew Carter, UK

How can people associate Bin Laden with Nelson Mandela? This is unbelievable. How can he be put on trial? How would that possibly work out? Evil people such as Bin Laden and his associates who have orchestrated such terrible crimes and are prepared to orchestrate more should be terminated as soon as possible. Why waste time with expensive and nonsensical trials? The USA must follow Israel's example and target terrorists without delay. The people who are against this action must be either very ignorant or completely brainwashed. Their "American arrogance" argument is just another means of supporting Bin Laden.
Andrew, London, England

The US killed 100,000 mostly innocent Iraqi troops in the Gulf War, while all along claiming that their only quarrel was with their leader Sadam. Wouldn't it have been more humane to have just killed him?
Chris, UK

If Bin Laden wants war then he should be given one

Phil, UK
If Bin Laden wants war then he should be given one, up close and personal! He orchestrated the massacre of 6,000 innocents and now sits in hiding with his millions while the Afghan people pay the price of his megalomania. If the CIA can't get to him maybe the Afghan people can. Then we can start the aid rolling in, unhindered by Bin Laden and his Taleban thugs who steal it for themselves.
Phil, UK

Can someone explain to me what the difference between the US action in Afghanistan and Israel's actions in the West Bank is? Both are using massive military force and targeted killings against a terrorist state. If Israel can't do it then neither can the US, and if the US can do it, then so can Israel.
Rafi, Israel

Since President Bush wishes to have Osama Bin Laden assassinated, and China and Russia are now standing shoulder to shoulder with the US in its fight against terrorism, who, pray, do Russia and China regard as terrorists? Expatriate Chechens? The Dalai Lama? I have a nasty suspicion that by the time everybody has submitted a list I'm going to be on there somewhere.
Bernard Pack, Wales

In August 1998 the USA bombed a medicine factory in Sudan

M Alamin, Sudan
In August 1998 the USA bombed a medicine factory in Sudan. Is the Sudanese government now entitled to assassinate the American President and his cabinet?
M Alamin, Sudan

If the US is at war with Bin Laden it makes no difference whether he is killed by a bomb or a CIA assassin. However, as assassination would unquestionably make him a martyr in the eyes of many, wouldn't it be better to try to put him in court and show the world proof of his wrongdoing? A further point is whether the US will assassinate people with whom they are not at war. What if they decide they would like a troublesome person out of the way? What if the North Vietnamese had assassinated Kennedy for intensifying the war there? Would America have accepted it? What if Arafat had been assassinated? Or Mandela, Gerry Adams, the leaders of the Zapatistas, or the founders of modern Israel? These people were all labelled terrorists at one point but now opinion has changed. Would the world be more peaceful without them?
Adam, Kuwait

America had been able to convince a select few of Bin Laden's guilt, but having enough evidence to convince Tony Blair, and having enough evidence to convict him in a fair trial are two different things. For that matter how fair is any trial in America going to be? Where in America are you going to find an impartial Jury? If Bin Laden really wants to cause trouble for America he could do worse that agree to stand trial in the USA. Assuming, of course, that he survived to see his day in court. America has a fine tradition of summary justice for national antiheros such as John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald.

Live by the sword, die by the sword

Ian Harriss, UK
The people opposed to the military action seem to always forget one crucial fact. Bin Laden is only the potential target of an assassination attempt because he decided to murder many thousands of innocent civilians to further his own extreme ends. There is an old adage: live by the sword, die by the sword.
Ian Harriss, UK

In reply to Ian Harris. I wonder what people would say if they read, "The people opposed to the terrorist action seem to always forget one crucial fact. America is only the potential target of a terrorist attack because they decided to murder many thousands of innocent civilians to further their own extreme ends. There is an old adage: live by the sword, die by the sword."
Todd Gervais, Canada

Bin Laden has been stripped of his Saudi citizenship and the Taleban government harbouring him is not recognized by the USA. He is not a US citizen so he should not have any of our constitutional rights. He is in essence, a non-person.
Daniel, USA

I find it quite incredible that Daniel, USA can describe Bin Laden as a "non-person" and attribute him no rights because he is not a US citizen. He is most definitely a person, an evil, dangerous person, but a person all the same. I fully expect Bin Laden to be killed during fighting (assuming of course that he is found), but if he is captured he should be accorded the right of a trial, the same as any other person. Any reasonable jury would find him guilty, jail him and throw away the key. It is Bin Laden's belief that US citizens are "non-people" that gave him justification in his eyes for the atrocity of September 11th. Do we really want to end up thinking the same way?
Eileen, UK

Terrorists don't respect international law

Richard H, UK
Terrorists don't respect international law; they have a global network far exceeding the coalition. Only recently the IRA have been linked to Bin Laden's money-laundering operation. And why at a time like this did the IRA build a 130lb bomb and prime it? Long ago the people of Britain supported the suggestion of assassinating top-level IRA operatives, so why not Bin Laden? As for martyrdom, he's too scared to come out of his cave and give the ultimate example to the youngsters he's pushing to kill themselves. If he wants to be a martyr and prove his belief in his cause why doesn't he blow himself up in a suicide bomb? Send in the SAS and kill him off.
Richard H, UK

Why not? Go for it! While the US are about it, why don't they make one clean sweep - go in and assassinate all the other people, leaders and others in countries who dare to dissent with the US? Or perhaps the US should nuclear bomb all dissenting countries out of existence? After that they can sit down and wonder what to do next, since they'll have no more reason to whinge, "Why does everyone hate us so?"
Debbie, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Bush ordering the execution of his enemy in war is just doing the same thing as his enemy is to him. I don't think trying to fly a plane into the White House or Pentagon was just their way of saying hello.
Drew, UK

This shows the Bush administration's lack of confidence

Jackie, Bangladesh
I did have the impression that the US had evidence of Bin Laden's involvement. But now I really doubt that. This assassination suggestion shows the Bush administration's lack of confidence in their ability to try him successfully.
Jackie, Bangladesh

If we know beyond reasonable doubt that Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network were behind the most horrible attack in history on the United States, then the state is fully justified in sponsoring his assassination. But one must be absolutely sure before committing such a crime for the greater good.
Habib Hemani, USA

The US has declared war on al-Qaeda. If it is justified in doing so under recognised conventions, which I understand it is, then Bin Laden is a legitimate target. Only the method is subject to legal debate. In practice, war becomes a bit cloudy and messy and tends to favour the victor. However provided the "who dunnit" issue is resolved, then frankly the sooner we are rid of Bin Laden the better.
Alan K, Singapore

Osama bin Laden is as selfish as all the rest of us, in that we'd sacrifice millions of others to save ourselves. Knowing he set this engine in motion he is fearful of facing the consequences for his actions, and in hiding and dodging his enemies he hopes to develop a Robin Hood image. In all his years in Afghanistan, with all his wealth and international appeal, his followers have given nothing worthwhile to the country. That country was much better off under the old King prior to 1973.
Ed Hayden, United States

He is not afraid to die, so why should we give him what he wants?

Nora Allan, Malaysia
Why should we kill Osama bin Laden without giving him a fair chance of defending himself in court? He is not afraid to die, so why should we give him what he wants? One Bin Laden killed without proper process will create millions more Bin Ladens who will see it as an injustice towards them.
Nora Allan, Malaysia

While I can see the need to bring this man to justice, the crucial question remains: will the death of Osama Bin Laden really mean the first step towards ending world terrorism? I would like to believe that, but the fact is that violence breeds violence. Have things improved with the endless wars fought in the name of truth and justice? I think the world is worse off now than it ever was in terms of atrocities and violation to human rights.
Vinita Byrne, UK

Whatever the US did would never be sufficient to persuade large parts of the Muslim world that the trial was fair

Euan Gray, UK
Given that bin Laden would certainly kill many more innocent American and British citizens given half the chance, I find it hard to support the bleeding hearts' cry for a trial rather than summary execution. What possible benefit is there in the trial of a man who, however loathsome, is wealthy enough to hire the best lawyers available? Such a trial would stir up more antipathy that his "accidental" death during military operations. Whatever the US or UN did in any trial, it would never be sufficient to persuade his supporters or large parts of the Muslim world that the trial was fair.
Euan Gray, UK

Silly me, I thought that when you were at war the whole idea was to kill your enemies. Wonder what gave me that silly notion?
Len Barrett, Australia

Len Barrett, I think we all need to remember that we can be killed as well. America has created the Taleban and Bin Laden, this makes them guilty by association for the 5000 deaths at the WTC. It is time the US people start hanging their own government officials. Then we would have a safer world.
Raza, UK

What will happen if terrorists get the message that they will go unpunished?

Kristie, USA
Everyone keeps using the word 'assassination' when it's not. This is war, and it's a case of defending your freedom. If action is not taken, what will happen to the rest of the world if terrorists get the message that they will go unpunished?
Kristie, USA

In this case it is certainly an option to kill Bin Laden. We are fighting a war; that is what you do in war, kill people. It may be unpleasant but that is the truth. Bin Laden has made claims to killing as many US and UK citizens as possible. I cannot imagine why any UK or US citizen would think that somehow rules should apply in the hunt for this man. He would not for a moment hesitate in killing you, me or any member of your family. For those who somehow doubt this, perhaps they can have a meeting with a Taliban fighter to discuss this point of view. I am sure that you would be treated with the utmost respect and kindness.
John Wilson, U.S.A.

Don't forget that today's terrorist is tomorrow's politician, history of the last 50 years has shown that to be true. Assassination is wrong, and assassination condoned or sanctioned by governments is even worse.
Colly Wilson, UK

What Bush should have done is called the Taliban's bluff

Mick, UK
The natural knee-jerk reaction is to take him out anyway we can. However Bush should consider the wider implications - if the US doesn't stick to international law every Muslim nation in the fragile coalition against Bin Laden will turn against it. We will then have thousands more Bin Ladens on our hands. What Bush should have done is called the Taliban's bluff when they offered to hand him over to a neutral country. If they were good to their word he could have been tried in The Hague (after all, we are told this was a crime against humanity - not just the US). And if the Taliban had not given him up it would have strengthened the alliance against them.
Mick, UK

Yes it's right. How many millions might have lived if we'd managed to kill Hitler before the Holocaust?
Mark Croxton, UK

It is so ironic that we claim our aim is to eliminate all terrorists, but still choose to use their methods to achieve this. Assassinating Bin Laden or bombing Omar's house and killing his child in the process, is just unacceptable! We may believe that what we do is fair and just, but I bet that so do the terrorists. What gives us the right to kill someone without trial and still consider them terrorists for doing the same? We should stick to our values and respect human rights no matter who the opponent is!
Konstantinos, Greece

I would rather see international law broken than see millions die and starve in Afghanistan this winter

Eric Mitton, USA
Sure, assassinate Bin Laden if it will save the lives of thousands of innocent Afghans. I would rather see international law broken than see millions starve in Afghanistan this winter and tens of thousands die because of American air strikes. But previous American presidents and military leaders killed far more than 5,000 innocent civilians through "strategic bombing", are assassinations against them now legal too? Does this make the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr a legitimate form of political protest? Laws work both ways.
Eric Mitton, USA

I actually think this is a moot point. I highly doubt that Bin Laden would ever allow himself to be taken alive, and would either be killed during an attempt or would kill himself, thinking that would make him a martyr.
Roxanne, Los Angeles, USA

I wish the world community would stop cynically putting the word "war" in quotes every time they refer to this conflict, as if to say that only Hollywood-obsessed Americans could believe this is a real war. Call us cowboys, call us naive, call us stupid; at least we are rational enough to recognize a need to defend ourselves. What can you call the massive civilian deaths and the use of bio-weapons against American citizens? Is it a "public relations" exercise? An attempt to "express frustration" towards Americans? Is it a "crime" when 5,000 innocent people are killed for political gain? It's called war, and as such the assassination of our enemies falls under the category of self-defence and is completely justified. No amount of semantic gymnastics is going to change that attitude here, especially when our citizens are being assassinated.
Andrew, USA

Death is an easy escape for Bin Laden. He is just a body with a tortured soul, full of anger and hate who could only get recognition by means of violence. And as misery loves company, there are plenty like him who would be happy to pick up where he left off and bring their own names to fame. He should be tried, locked up and made to listen to round the clock taped prayers from the Koran of being good to other humans. Something he has obviously forgotten.
Haleh, USA

To everyone saying that Bin Laden should be brought before a court and tried for his crimes, I'd really like to know exactly how many soldiers' lives are worth losing to capture him. I'm assuming, rightly I believe, that the number lost would be less when trying to assassinate him. Just a round figure will suffice.

Assassination cannot be justified

Patrick, Acton, UK
Bin Laden must be arrested and put on trial. If he is killed resisting arrest then that is another matter but assassination cannot be justified. Have the Americans not learnt anything from their experiences in Vietnam?
Patrick, Acton, England

The actions of the CIA represent the will of the free world. "Freedom itself has been attacked." Thus freedom is being defended. Likely, those that have a problem with this feel the way they do due to the involvement of the CIA. The CIA has to be involved, though. Only they, or MI6 have the intelligence capable of finding and neutralising Bin Laden and his lieutenants.
Matthew Nowlin, USA

As a matter of self-defence I am willing to go along with the President's decision to assassinate Bin Laden or any other terrorist. Bin Laden has repeatedly stated that he will plan and approve future attacks on the US. We have no alternative but to destroy him and his network.
Jeff Allen, USA

It's a joke. What if Bin Laden, the Taleban or Saddam were to do the same to either Bush or Blair. Where will it end? The west is noisy the attacks happened in the US. But when it happens in Palestine, Iraq, and elsewhere it turns the other cheek. The US should be fair and sincere in its policies. The world will be a better place to live in. If it starts this ball rolling who knows know where it will end.
Adnan, Malaysia

It is morally right to assassinate this man

Dylan, UK
Contrary to many persons here I think it is morally right to assassinate this man. He has warned US and UK citizens directly that he intends to attack them. He knows his time is limited. He wants to inflict maximum damage. Our governments, therefore, must attack him. It is their duty. A trial might have been appropriate had he not killed thousands and subsequently declared that he intends to kill more.
Dylan, UK

This is fair enough, as long as Bush and Blair understand that it also makes them legitimate targets.
Andrew Levens, UK

Andrew Levens of the UK must have thought that Bush was an "illegitimate" target before the CIA was instructed to take off the gloves. We see how much being an illegitimate target persuades people not to take you out. After all, the flight that went down in Pennsylvania was going to deliver greetings and salutations to the White House along with a load of jet fuel and shrapnel.
Thom, USA

If we use the assassination technique, we are no different than the terrorists that hit the New York WTC themselves.
Ardemis, USA

These actions would simply be, by definition, terrorism. Shouldn't we start eliminating terrorism and be careful not to create and support it ourselves?
Mike, USA

Allowing state assassination is inherently a bad policy. Mr Bush should reason rather than acting in a free-wheeling manner. State assassination will open a can of worms and will backfire.
Kein Mills, Finland

Putting someone like Bin Laden on trial will have a much more powerful effect than making a martyr of him.
Kate Delaney, USA

No matter how heinous the crime, a man is entitled to his say in court

Arif Sayed, Dubai, UAE
One of the main differences between democracy and other forms of governance, is an individual's right to a fair trial. No matter how heinous the crime, a man is entitled to his say in court. Furthermore, even the European Union has abolished the death penalty for most crimes and many other nations convert the death sentence to life imprisonment. Therefore, how can we even dare think of official assassination as a solution?
Arif Sayed, Dubai, UAE

The very last thing we should do is turn Bin Laden into a martyr (and give reason to millions to join a jihad). Neither should we abandon reason and enlightenment - Bin Laden needs to be put to trial. That may be galling for those who are bloodthirsty, but we must strive to be honest, decent and fair.
Wendy, UK

Not normally. But when an organisation credibly declares war on the US then the US is perfectly entitled to take them at their word. It's then a military, not a political matter.
Malcolm McMahon, York, UK

While it should only be used in extreme circumstances, like a war, what is the difference between a CIA hit-man killing Bin Laden as opposed to a missile from a plane?
Stuart, USA

No! Who are they to act as judge and jury? The US have not provided any solid evidence of his guilt. Even if evidence exists, How do we know that this is not manufactured by the US? If they are in a position to kill him then they can capture him and let the courts decide. Can someone please explain how this is not a state funded terrorist? Who will punish the US government for all the innocent deaths? And Why double standards when Colin Powell asked India and Pakistan to show caution in response to what is happening in Kashmir?
Surinder Johal, UK

During a declared war, it is perfectly reasonable to target individuals. The Allies would have killed Hitler if they could have located him. However, during peacetime the state must act within the letter of the law even if it hinders the "war" effort. Otherwise, targeted assassinations become routine extra-judiciary killings which turn your police and army into death squads. When a state begins to act illegally the terrorists have won!
Mark, UK

Presumably now that both America and Israel openly support a policy of state-sponsored assassination, they support each other's deplorable activities. So what's new? Is it any wonder that some fundamentalist Muslims despair and resort to violence?
Ron Hughes, UK

Assassination means you're less likely to hit civilians

Andy Bee, UK
Why risk the lives of thousands of troops, when you can send in a couple of assassins? Also, if it's done properly, you're less likely to hit civilians.
Andy Bee, UK

If the US is so keen on free enterprise, why do they give $1bn to their state apparatus yet only offer $1m reward for private assassins?
Matt Smith, UK

Assassination of any kind can not be justified, whether it is state-sponsored or not. The endless cycle of assassinations of political figures between Israel and Palestine, and assassinations of the Kennedy brothers, Martin Luther King, and Ronald Reagan, should have taught us a lesson: assasssination is not a civilized way to solve problems. The leader of a civilized nation should refrain from taking such a dirty action.
Eddie, USA

I find it most ironic that a man who thinks it's wrong to kill a child in the womb is all for assassinating a political leader. The same points made me cringe during the pre-election talks, when he talked of overturning Roe v. Wade, and in the next breath defended his stance on capital punishment. Given his hypocrisy, I'm expecting a draft within the next two months.
Craig Woodward, NY, USA

We all want him dead. No one wants him around stirring up any more trouble. For those who think this is wrong or an infringement of human rights: let's not forget his organisation took over 5000 lives in less than three hours. It's called punishment people. This is war - people die! This is really a stupid question.
Jason Channing, UK

This isn't a Hollywood movie where America saves the world, for goodness sake! I wish Bush would get his head out of the clouds and stop thinking he's Clint Eastwood. If Bin Laden is killed rather than given a "fair trial" he'll be made a martyr by fundamentalists, and this will only result in more people like him taking up arms. If America really wants to break global terrorism, they should start by revising their own policies on funding and arms supply.

Killing Osama bin Laden will only make many more young men determined to take revenge on the US

Jo-Anne, Trinidad
Three weeks into these raids, what has been achieved? Deaths of many innocent Afghans, the uniting of the Arab world, the violent escalation of conflicts between Palestine and Israel, and India and Pakistan, and now the possible martyrdom of Osama bin Laden. Make no mistake about it - killing Osama bin Laden will only make many more young men determined to take revenge on the US, and by extension the UK and rest of the western world. The US may clamp down for a time on terrorism, but that hatred we see in young Arabs and Muslims will only fester.
Jo-Anne, Trinidad

People like Osama Bin Laden are mad with hatred, dealing out death without compunction or mercy, and thus deserve to be treated just like mad dogs are: terminated. Would human rights activists talk differently if one of their own kin was brutally murdered by the al-Qaeda goons on the instructions of Bin Laden? Such barbarous people deserve only "termination'.
L Y Rao, India

Morally, I think it's very wrong. Practically however, I don't see much alternative. If he was captured, put on trial (where and under what law?), found guilty and sentenced we would probably face unlimited hijackings and further terrorist activity demanding his release. More innocent people would die because of one megalomaniac's cause. If the CIA do take him out (and I can't blame them for wanting to) perhaps it will be a lesson to others who feel that directly targeting civilians of another nation (because you don't like their leaders politics) is a justifiable course of action.
Penny, UK

Terrorism is terrorism regardless of who carries it out. This is state sponsored terrorism! Where is this going to stop? George Bush's actions and language since September 11th are indistinguishable from Bin Laden's. Neither of them have any regard for innocent lives.
Paul Packham, UK

Justification lies within the eye of the beholder

Lucius Hamilton, Australia
If the Americans feel it is justified, then they will kill him, regardless of whatever the rest of the world thinks. After all, justification lies within the eye of the beholder.
Lucius Hamilton, Australia

What is the difference between killing him by bombing (let's face it, that's what the bombing is aiming to do) and killing the man by assassination? At least assassination is much less likely to kill innocents.
LBW, Reading, England

I think there are times when such actions are justifiable. Hitler and Stalin come to mind immediately. Both were responsible for monstrous atrocities and murder on a grand scale. Early assassination in their cases would have saved literally millions of lives around the world. The cost of appeasing both is clearly apparent with hindsight. Bin Laden and his followers are clearly another type of murderous fascists. They appear willing to use any means to kill, destroy and maim societies that will not adopt their views. The evidence of their deeds is not in dispute and the hindsight of history shows that eliminating such people early would greatly benefit the rest of the world.
Julian, UK

Mr Bin Laden has no respect for any other people's lives including his own fanatical army. In exceptional cases like this, I think it is fully justified to do whatever it takes to show people like Bin Laden that terrorism like this is not tolerated.
Paul Millar, England

This is state-sponsored terrorism by a so-called civilised country. Osama Bin Laden should be brought to justice like all the others in the past. What makes US take such action? Only the belief that might is right.
M T Naeem, UK

What does it matter what we think? The US will still do whatever they want. International law is a joke - The US only obey the law when they want to. If the law suits their actions, it's used as justification; if not, then the law is blatantly disregarded. Quis custodiet ipsos Custodies?
Martin, England, UK

The sooner the world is rid of him, the better

Andy L, UK
The Americans have had the death penalty for quite some time. If the proof that Bin Laden is involved is good enough for our Prime Minister, then it's good enough for me. The sooner the world is rid of people like him, and others who condone this type of behaviour, the better it will be for our descendants.
Andy L, UK

Government sponsored assassinations shouldn't be allowed. Governments are legalistic creations and must follow the rule of law. The rule of law (that everyone, including the government is subject to the law) is the only profound political difference between the western democracies and the autocracies of the past or the dictatorships of places like China and Saudi Arabia. If the government can just decide to execute someone without prior legal recourse it undermines the whole validity of a modern state.
Daniel, UK

The fact is that the CIA have been carrying out assassinations for decades. The green light given by Dubya is just more WWF-style speak for the American public. I think it is a dangerous precedent to demonise the enemy of the moment and to proclaim that assassination is justified. After all, if the world had listened to Maggie Thatcher's labelling of Nelson Mandela as a terrorist, would it have been OK to send the snipers in after him?
Faz, UK

This is just another aspect of US arrogance

Susan, Trinidad
Of course not. However, this is just another aspect of US arrogance. They created Osama bin Laden and now probably think it would be detrimental to them if he were to survive and be brought to trial. Maybe he would be able to provide information on his funding and even acts he has done on their behalf. Let's face it, the US is responsible for a great deal of atrocities done covertly and openly.
Susan, Trinidad

State assassinations are most definitely justified. If this action had been taken years ago, when we had the chance, Osama Bin Laden would be a footnote in history and not the subject of a worldwide manhunt. Monsters such as he don't deserve to live and should be exterminated when the chance presents itself.
John Miller, NY, USA

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21 Oct 01 | South Asia
Eliminate Bin Laden, CIA told
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