back to article British killer robot takes out two Britons in Syria strike

Two British citizens fighting for terrorist group ISIS in Syria were killed in an RAF drone strike on 21 August. The Register understands it is the first time British nationals have been targeted and killed in a strike by an RAF Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle. The deceased British passport holders were revealed to be Cardiff- …

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  1. Graham Marsden

    "police and security services...

    "...had stopped at least six terrorist attacks against Britain within the last 12 months"

    [citation needed]

    (Or, indeed *any* sort of evidence other than his claim which should be taken with a *large* pinch of salt)

    PS Before anyone starts making Straw Man arguments about my wanting to weaken national security or give secrets away to the enemy or compromise pending trials or make the country less safe for us or any other such nonsense, I am not saying anything of the sort, merely that past evidence has shown that such claims may not be credible (see the "Ricin Terror Plot" for example).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "police and security services...

      Totally agree - although the Simpsons had this covered:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnBMwPcRbVE

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "police and security services...

      > at least six terrorist attacks

      And at most? You would think they could give a precise count given the modest scale of magnitude.

      If I were their PR man I would have gone for seven exactly. I like prime numbers, and they look good on press releases. I might have gone for eleven instead, had I not had a bad experience with voice operated lifts in the past.

    3. Tom 13

      Re: "police and security services...

      It's not a strawman argument if it is true. All the previous disclosures of how we tracked what the terrorists were doing resulted in them modifying what they were doing so we could no longer use those means to track them.

      You may not LIKE the fact that your strawman argument weakens your government's ability to protect you, but that does not affect its truthfulness. Yes, your demands are traitorous no matter how reasonable you believe they are.

  2. alain williams Silver badge

    How would they have hurt anyone in the UK ?

    It appears that they were 'coordinating' other people in the UK to do the dirty deeds. In that case: should not those in the UK have been picked up ? It seems that they had intercepted communications or something.

    From where I am sitting it appears that David Cameron has incited some army type to commit murder. He has joined Tony Blair in my estimation.

    1. Smooth Newt Silver badge

      Re: How would they have hurt anyone in the UK ?

      I don't understand why the UK is constantly fighting these wars. Hasn't anyone noticed that there isn't an Empire to be defended from the Johnny Foreigners anymore.

      I understand the history - the UK was on the winning side in World War 2 so is "blessed" with a permanent seat on the Security Council, but by now Japan and Germany - who both have bigger populations and GDPs than the UK - are probably pretty glad they missed out on the big poisoned chalice. For one thing, it gives UK politicians the idea that if the Americans are in a war then the UK ought to join in. God knows how we missed out on Vietnam.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How would they have hurt anyone in the UK ?

        Sure, the last IRAQ war was a mistake, the mistake was then handled badly....

        But ISIS is a threat to us all, and must be dealt with, air strikes are not enough, ground forces should be used.

        1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: How would they have hurt anyone in the UK ?

          ISIS are just another case of reaping what you sow. We've spent over a hundred years (if not 2) dicking around in the Middle East acting shamefully (if occasionally) with good intentions, but usually just bloody handed empire building. The only way to stop it is to stay the hell away from there.

          The chances of ISIS doing much more than senind the odd terrorist our way is slim to none, and if GCHQ and the security services can't drfend out shores their management should be fired until someone credible takes charge.

          The mere fact that we took a conscious decision to blow up 2 citizens which regardless of how you chop the legalities is was probably dodgy. Bear in mind the Govt took "legal advice"over the Iraq war too,

          Thought for the day : just how well have ISIS been penetrated if we knew they were British in advance - and given that depth of intelligence - how likely is it that they were a clear and present danger to the UK?

          They probably deserved it and I ain't gonna weep for them but I suspect the act was both immoral and illegal and given its apparent success how long it will be before we'll be blowing up innoncents like the Yanks are always doing. Oh I forgot "tanned" civilians don't count.

          1. Schlimnitz

            Re: How would they have hurt anyone in the UK ?

            You should read this for a different perspective. http://gatesofvienna.net/2015/08/in-the-middle-east-there-are-only-lose-lose-options

            Strikes me that both Libya and Iran financed and supported the IRA. But nobody I know blames them for the Troubles.

            1. Nigel 11

              Re: How would they have hurt anyone in the UK ?

              Strikes me that both Libya and Iran financed and supported the IRA. But nobody I know blames them for the Troubles.

              If ISIL were not an expansionary movement desiring world domination and/or bringing about an apocalypse -- if ISIL were "merely" a genocidal horror like the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia - then ignoring them as "somebody else's problem" might make sense. Sometimes the only choices are "terrible" and "even worse".

              But ISIL is an expansionary movement, so if it's not dealt with now, it will have to be dealt with later, and the cost will be far greater. Neither is any compromise possible with a movement that glorifies rape, slavery, torture and genocide.

              As for the IRA: It was possible to negotiate (some would say compromise) with people that shared its aims but not its methods. Irish Republicanism is not morally repugnant if pursued via civilised political debate. Also it was the USA that was the worst culprit when it came to funding the IRA. (People living in the USA, not the USA government, except to the extent that it was at that time unwilling to interfere with their ability and rights to legally send money to the IRA. 9/11 changed that in an instant. One of history's ironies: it was Al Quaeda that broke the IRA )

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How would they have hurt anyone in the UK ?

          > the last IRAQ war was a mistake

          Just the last?

          > But ISIS is a threat to us all

          Pardon?

          > ground forces should be used.

          So have you reached the recruitment office yet? Need directions?

          1. Nigel 11

            Re: How would they have hurt anyone in the UK ?

            > But ISIS is a threat to us all

            Pardon?

            It is a threat in the same way that Hitler's nazism was a threat. It's an expansionary movement that promotes (amongst other ghastly things) rape, slavery, torture, and genocide, which nevertheless somehow has the ability to attract converts to its cause. I fear that there is more to its hideousness than "psycopaths of the world unite, you can do whatever you want with the rest of those sheep".

            History records that there were many people who thought that it was appropriate to negotiate with the nazis. The consquence was that nazis took over and militarised a major economic power, unopposed. Instead of a small war that Germany would have lost quickly(*), we got world war II and genocide. Also, history records that we very narrowly escaped defeat and subjugation by the thousand-year reich. We had to do deals with the devil (Stalin) to escape: his empire was almost as evil, but less ruthlessly expansionary.

            ISIL converts in the UK are protected by the rule of the law that they despise. When they remove themselves to a place not governed by any accepted law, they become outlaws. They have chosen to forsake the protection of law, and the Geneva conventions are quite clear that outlaws are excluded from its provisions.

            (*) hopefully followed by reconciliation, but I don't have any privilieged access to that alternate reality.

        3. Smooth Newt Silver badge

          Re: How would they have hurt anyone in the UK ?

          The fear - blown out of all proportion - is that some of these poorly trained and undisciplined thugs will return to the UK and carry out a few random murders.

          Well they might, but this isn't the IRA. These people don't enjoy any support in the UK communities where they are based and which was so critical to the IRA's campaigns, despite the best efforts of parts of the gutter press to tacitly paint Muslims as the new Commies.

          1. x 7

            Re: How would they have hurt anyone in the UK ?

            "These people don't enjoy any support in the UK communities where they are based"

            If you'd been in the office I used to work in and saw the mainly Pakistani-origin staff cheering as the World Trade Centre collapsed, then you'd think otherwise.

            "These people" enjoy enormous support in SOME of the UK Asian ghettos

          2. LucreLout Silver badge

            Re: How would they have hurt anyone in the UK ?

            These people don't enjoy any support in the UK communities where they are based

            It'd be wonderful were that true, but it's not.

            Pretty well any survey of attitudes I can find with google shows nearly 45% thinking 9/11 was a setup by the USA, with circa 16% thinking suicide bombing in Israel is just peachy. Now no mulsim I know voices such ridiculous notions, but then they can't speak for their community any more than I can speak for mine.

            Trying to gloss over this issue is making the problem worse not better, and its time to tackle it head on and out in the open, however many Guardian readers that may upset.

          3. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge

            Re: How would they have hurt anyone in the UK ?

            These people don't enjoy any support in the UK communities where they are based and which was so critical to the IRA's campaigns, despite the best efforts of parts of the gutter press to tacitly paint Muslims as the new Commies.

            Rubbish - as polls on issues such as 911 and Charlie Hebdo will demonstrate. There is a substantial, but not overwhelming support for these characters in 'communities' and mosques within the UK. Outside of Ireland, 'community' support for the IRA was minimal. It was there, but with a large Irish immigrant population (if you call yourself an immigrant 3-4-5 generations later) there would always be some people who might support their objectives and even their methods.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How would they have hurt anyone in the UK ?

        "God knows how we missed out on Vietnam."

        Harold Wilson, for all his faults, wasn't stupid.

        1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge

          Re: How would they have hurt anyone in the UK ?

          Harold Wilson, for all his faults, wasn't stupid.

          The Open University is a testament to that.

    2. GitMeMyShootinIrons

      Re: How would they have hurt anyone in the UK ?

      In the case of this strike, it could be argued as "tidying up some of our mess".

      After all, the pair came from the UK to take part in rape, murder and destruction - the RAF has prevented further participation, without a boot on the ground. Problem solved, no tears to shed.

  3. Naughtyhorse

    Oh dear,

    How sad,

    Nevermind

  4. James O'Shea

    so?

    they volunteered for military service in a cause they _knew_ was directly contrary to HMG's policy. They _knew_ that HMG was active on the other side. Indeed, this knowledge was (allegedly) a major motivation for them to join up. Take the consequences of their actions.

    And, oh... during the Second Word War, there were a few dozen Britons and white Commonwealth citizens in the Britisches Freikorps of the Waffen SS. (Indians, despite being more Aryan than Teutons, were in Frei Hind; there weren't many of them, either.) If they'd faced Empire and Commonwealth forces, it's unlikely that they'd have been taken prisoner. Mostly they were operating against the Soviets. After the war there was a lot of noise about the less than 60 total BFK SS-men. France, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway all provided substantially more troops for the Waffen SS. The last defenders of the Hitler's bunker in Berlin were from Charlemagne, the French SS unit. Some Charlemagne men had engaged Free French troops in France in 1944; several prisoners were brought before LeClerc, who asked them why they were betraying France by wearing German uniforms. They sassed him back by asking him why he was betraying France by wearing American uniform. He had them shot. Further back, there is the example of the Batallón de San Patricio, mostly Irish deserters from the US Army during the Mexican American War. (That didn't end well for them, either.) I'm sure that readers can think up a multitude of other examples.

    I expect that the RAF would have bombed the BFK if it had been larger and thereby worth paying attention to. I _know_ that Free French and Free Dutch and Free Norwegians flying RAF aircraft bombed and torpedoed ships run by French, Dutch, and Norwegian seaman under German command. This 'news' item is not new, is not unexpected, is not unusual, and is not news.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: so?

      Wrong example.

      During WW2 the more prominent collaborators were tried in abstentia for grand treason. The less prominent also had that offense quite clearly tagged onto them and it carried an automatic death sentence.

      Today we neither have grand treason as an offense, nor the death penalty so drawing parallels with WW2 is a bit disingenuous until we have reinstated both. Frankly, the case deserves it too.

      1. Tom 64

        Re: so?

        'Frankly, the case deserves it too.'

        I'm sorry, what? The only 'evidence' you have to go on is the official government line, which you probably just read on these esteemed pages.

        If the UK gov. have such evidence against these chaps, surely they can release it for scrutiny, can't they? What's that, its a 'National Security' secret? How convenient.

      2. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
        Stop

        WWII historical treason @ Voland's RH

        There are a few mistakes there which seem to me to indicate that you're making stuff up. Firstly in absentia is the right term (one t), so you probably weren't directly quoting a source, were you?

        Secondly, England (and after 1702 the United Kingdom) never had an offence [sic] of "grand treason". Treason was either high treason, or petty treason. High treason is still (partially) governed by the Treason Act of 1351 which explicitly states that adherence to or giving comfort to the King's enemies is treasonable. [1]

        Finally, The Encyclopaedia that Anyone Can Edit has a list of people tried for treason, and there is no entry for anyone tried during or after WWII in absentia. If you have an example, please let us know what it is.

        [1] http://www.legislation.gov.uk/aep/Edw3Stat5/25/2/section/II

        1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge

          Re: WWII historical treason @ Voland's RH

          Tut tut tut tut - bringing evidence into the fight - you should be ashamed of yourself :-)

  5. Arachnoid

    So......

    Good work on killing any ISIS little fuclktards be they male or female and abroad or at home.My main concern is the UKs ability to actually obtain and accurately verify the right information regarding potential enemy's without the help of third party's with their own hidden agenda,

    1. Aitor 1

      Re: So......

      Good job, yes, murder, yes.

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: So......

        Good job, yes, murder, yes.

        Murder, no. Murder is an offense as defined by the rule of law (AFAIK by every nation state on the planet). ISIL are outlaws, explicitly rejecting both the law of the UK and the law of the nations in which they are to be found. Outlaw: OUTside of the LAW. Most of us grew up in a world where there was no outside, but today the rule of law has been removed from some territories.

        What ISIL does to its captives is what should be called murder, rather than "execution" (shame on our media). Execution is a judicially sanctioned killing. ISIL has no such sanction.

        1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge

          Re: So......

          I agree. This use of the word 'execution' is frequently abused. But then the meeedja will have us understand that words change there meanings all the time.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Martyrs not wanted

    In Northern Ireland the terrorists depended for support on a steady diet of martyrs. Locking terrorists up eventually paid off because Sinn Fein had to deliver prisoners back to their communities. When the agreement was faltering it was the prisoners' families that applied pressure on SF to keep their relatives out of gaol that kept the Republicans at the table.

    In Syria the same probably applies to UK based sympathisers. Your average teenager has fantasies about going down in a blaze of Glory, I doubt many would feel the same about twenty years in Belmarsh.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Martyrs not wanted

      The difference is the places involved, be it the UK or Eire, had stable, co-operative governments. Good luck going to Syria and hoping you can arrest them.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is all about pre-war justification.

    You build up public opinion to either bomb or go in on the ground, 6 months ago going in on the ground would be impossible, now it's looking more likely, either that or they will arm and train the friendly kurds at least till they become unfriendly or disagree with what the west wants in the middle east then bomb the shit out of them.

    I also wonder why if they intercepted comms (as presumably that is how they knew exactly where they were) why they didn't use them for intelligence gathering or maybe this is just one of those unverifiable stories that we just have to accept the government is telling the truth.

    It seems to me that history keeps repeating.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The issue with arming with the Kurds has long been known, just as the Turks.

  8. elDog

    And it's convenient that those villains won't be able to present their case

    Or ask for evidence against themselves.

    It's just so much neater to "take out" enemy combatants rather than scoop them up for some proper questioning. However with all the secrecy laws in effect, perhaps the outcome would be determined and the process just as murky.

    1. SkippyBing

      Re: And it's convenient that those villains won't be able to present their case

      Well if you're volunteering to go to Syria and 'scoop them up for some proper questioning' you crack on.

  9. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    You take the high ground and I'll take the low

    I really would like to know what the legal advice was to allow this assassination, the passing of a death sentence on two British nationals by the British government. We aren't in a state of war, we don't allow death sentences, no court of law was involved, no evidence has been offered, and no defence allowed.

    1. Naughtyhorse

      Re: no court of law was involved, no evidence has been offered, and no defence allowed.

      yup

      fuck em

      I think you'll find the concepts of 'law','evidence','and defence' don't mean much where they live

      1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

        Re: no court of law was involved, no evidence has been offered, and no defence allowed.

        I think you'll find the concepts of 'law','evidence','and defence' don't mean much where they live

        And don't seem to mean much in this country either. That's the problem I see.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: You take the high ground and I'll take the low

      Uh.. they're ISIS. They don't play by anyone's rules. So why should they get the same treatment? Act like a rabid dog, you should be treated like one.

      1. Zolko

        where is the proof ?

        they're ISIS

        yeah, exactly here lies the problem: what is the proof for that ?

        1. Diogenes

          Re: where is the proof ?

          The UK is providing military assistance to a recognised foreign government at the request of that government. These chaps were in a warzone - at worst its a "s**t happens".

          I must hasten to note I have no great love of the RAF or USAF - my mother as a 6yo girl was in Hamburg when Gommorah took place.

          1. mark 177

            Re: where is the proof ?

            You mean the Syrian government? Since when was the UK working with them?

            1. SkippyBing

              Re: where is the proof ?

              'You mean the Syrian government?'

              No he means the Iraqi government, maybe read a newspaper or something it's been going on for months.

        2. LucreLout Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: where is the proof ?

          @Zolko

          yeah, exactly here lies the problem: what is the proof for that ?

          Well, it could be they video they made holding the ISIS flag, while claiming to be members of ISIS, and all the messages they released stating they had joined ISIS, or the fact they were openly recruiting for ISIS. Seriously, there's less evidence they were human than there is for their being ISIS. FFS.

      2. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

        Re: You take the high ground and I'll take the low

        @Mark 85 - We have the rules that apply to everyone because of what we are; what you or some politician says they are is not relevant in deciding who the rules apply to.

      3. QuiteEvilGraham

        Re: You take the high ground and I'll take the low

        Because, at the risk of getting immediately downvoted, that's precisely the fuck what stops us being like them. Does this really have to be spelled out for you keyboard warriors?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You take the high ground and I'll take the low

      > I really would like to know what the legal advice was to allow this assassination

      Well, it won't be released¹. So much for "democracy".

      > the passing of a death sentence on two British nationals by the British government

      If we take a wildly unscientific approach and judge by the number of ↓ votes to your comment, compared to the corresponding ↑ votes, I think you will find your position is in a minority. Quite how the majority can, however, reach its conclusions in the absence of sufficient, accessible information (see above), is well beyond me. So much for "democracy" again.

      ¹ Besides, "legal advice" means a report typed up by some poor sod with a law degree trying to ingratiate himself with the politico du jour, cf. the "Oh yes, torture for sure is alright" legal advice waved around by the Septics a couple years back. Quite different from a legal sentence, which is the proper way of doing things in the civilised world, plus France.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    British? My arse.

  11. Arachnoid

    War..........

    Its a convenient method to label anybody an enemy without trial or defence when they are an embarrassment or may speak out against you

    1. Naughtyhorse

      Re: War..........

      Equally convenient when a batshit cult of fuckwit godbotheres is intent on setting off bombs in the rush hour

      you say potato...

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