Argument: Assassinations protect publics from terrorism; even while hard to measure

Issue Report: Assassination of a Dictator


Gal Luft. “The Logic of Israel’s Targeted Killing”. Middle East Quarterly. Winter 2003 – “What is less obvious to the critics is the number of attacks that have been thwarted through the masterminds’ removal. “Ticking bomb,” a well-known term in counterterrorism jargon, refers to a terrorist or a group of terrorists in the process of launching an attack. Killing the perpetrator or his dispatcher stops the clock. The Karmi assassination was undertaken to prevent him from carrying out his plans, which included the assassination of a prominent Israeli. ‘Umar Sa‘adah, the head of the Hamas military wing in Bethlehem, killed in July 2001, was planning a major attack at the closing ceremony of the Maccabiah Games, the Jewish olympics. [16] At the time of his assassination, Salah Shihada was in the process of organizing a “mega-attack” of six terror operations that were to take place simultaneously.[17] Nobody will ever know the scope of the bloodbath that was prevented by thwarting these attempts. These acts never made headlines; they constitute the silent terror—the terror that never happened.

[…]Fighting terror is like fighting car accidents: one can count the casualties but not those whose lives were spared by prevention. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Israelis go about their lives without knowing that they are unhurt because their murderers met their fate before they got the chance to carry out their diabolical missions. This silent multitude is the testament to the policy’s success.”