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. Commswonk

    But what if...

    Although there have been some persuasive comments in support of the "rule of law" come what may, I am currently of the view that justice of a sort _has_ been done. Those who stray on to the battlefield simply have to take their chances.

    Another way of looking at the "termination with extreme prejudice" is as follows: what if the same two people had been killed either by action on the part of the Syrian government (which we don't like) or by Kurdish forces whose aims are more akin to our own? Would we expect our government to protest to whichever was responsible that two innocent British lives had been lost? I certainly wouldn't. The two concerned had taken up arms to fight for a cause; the fact that we may regard that cause as thoroughly appalling is almost neither here nor there. Given that their cause sees nothing wrong in beheading anyone who is not to their taste I cannot shed any tears about their demise.

    I worry about saying this but our strict adherence to legal process - in particular to the HRA - could well be our collective downfall; before anyone tells me I am fully concious of the fact that saying that opens up a Pandora's Box of potentially unimaginable horrors. Which is the least worst option?

    And in any case "shit happens".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But what if...

      Ah, the old "ends justifies the means" argument. Always given by the people who are nowhere near the receiving "ends". Slippery slope or what?

      'And in any case "shit happens".' Sounds like something any one of a number of murderous scum from Hitler to Genghis Khan would have said. But I'm sure you're better than them - moral high ground and all that stuff...

  2. x 7

    the only mistake made here is the announcement by the politicians that it happened.

    They should have simply blown the scum up and said nothing. As it stands, the opposition now know the two are dead, how it happened, and can have a pretty good guess as how they were tracked. Better if nothing had been said, and ISHIT had been kept in the dark.

    Operational Security - least said about any op, the better. Let the opposition wonder and worry

  3. Bloodbeastterror

    Cock...

    As soon as these people decided to fight for their Man In The Sky they ceased to be citizens of the UK. If they chose to put themselves in harm's way then I'm sure that they will be the first to accept their fate.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good, keep it up.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cameron's "I feared for my safety"

    Before we had cops using the "I feared for my safety" line to justify whatever action they took. Now we have Cameron with a similar one: "I am not prepared to stand here in the aftermath of a terrorist attack on our streets and have to explain to the House why I did not take the chance to prevent it when I could have done."

    Well, well, well, It's coming to that time where we round up all those mooslims and execute them. After all it's all a mater of prevention, how can we afford to let those dangerous 1% escape? Surely you would not be defending doing nothing when faced with the aftermath of a terrorist attack on our streets?

    Spineless.

    1. x 7

      Re: Cameron's "I feared for my safety"

      "Well, well, well, It's coming to that time where we round up all those mooslims and execute them. After all it's all a mater of prevention, how can we afford to let those dangerous 1% escape? "

      Why not? |ts a tradition of British history. Æthelred did it with the Danes. What was good enough for him should be good enough for us.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cameron's "I feared for my safety"

        "What was good enough for him should be good enough for us."

        And Alfred defeated the Danes at Ethandun and converted many of them to Christianity, after which they evolved a reasonable successful coexistence. Autres temps, autres mores.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cameron's "I feared for my safety"

      "...round up all those mooslims and execute them."

      Hitler tried the same with the Jews.

      In a sane world, people would find this totally evil and unacceptable.

      The Register forums appear to be nothing more than mob rule at the Coliseum.

      1. x 7

        Re: Cameron's "I feared for my safety"

        "In a sane world, people would find this totally evil and unacceptable"

        In a sane world there wouldn't be any loony muslim terrorists who need shooting. But the world isn't sane, there ARE loony evil bastards at loose, so we have to shoot them. Not nice, but necessary.

  6. Van

    Good shot

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    But why the announcement? Maybe it was intended as a deterrent for others but it doesn't work that way. Will politicians never learn?

  8. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    So, how do you improve a situation by making yourself as bad as your opponent?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      WG asked "So, how do you improve a situation by making yourself as bad as your opponent?"

      By having better weapons.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That "secret" legal advice

    Surely will come to light anyway when this gets to the courts? What's the point of not releasing it?

  10. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Up close and personal provides a truer perspective on collateral damage issues

    Has that lethal action ..... 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. ..... which be quietly endorsed and supported by the non vote of the members of Parliament and apparent full acquiescence of the Cabinet of government ministers, made legitimate terrorist targets of all those fleeting persons of interest for precision removal from the war games stage and Harry Limelight and media footlights?

    Methinks it surely logically must have, as the RAF only follow their orders, which I must agree, doesn't put the RAF in a pleasant light either.

    One just can't get the proper staff these days for top gun jobs, and by jove, it certainly shows.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shit!

    Does travel insurance even cover drone-strike?

  12. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Well...

    Well.. it is a little troubling when you have all these battles being fought (US, UK, etc.) without any sort of declaration of war. This could raise legal questions.

    But, ISIS controls a definite area, with a de facto capitol, there's a line where they don't control territory past it, and there's heated territorial battles along the border as it's expands out or is pushed back. De facto, this is a war. Anyone fighting in a war zone cannot really expect to be exempt from harm because of their nationality.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The bravery of being out of range

    Sir turn up the TV sound

    The war has started on the ground

    Just love those laser guided bombs

    They're really great

    For righting wrongs

    You hit the target

    And win the game

    From bars 3,000 miles away

    3,000 miles away

    We play the game

    With the bravery of being out of range

    We zap and maim

    With the bravery of being out of range

    We strafe the train

    With the bravery of being out of range

    We gained terrain

    With the bravery of being out of range

    With the bravery of being out of range

    We play the game

    With the bravery of being out of range

    - Roger waters

    1. SkippyBing

      Re: The bravery of being out of range

      Versus the stupidity of being in range.

      Or to put it another way, 'Never get in a fair fight, there's a 50/50 chance you'll lose'

  14. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    OK, mixed feelings about this...

    Clearly, the simple reason for this operation is to show other half-wits with British passports that going to that dusty shithole and making a video about yourself killing infidels will eventually get you killed too.

    There is a question of legality of that strike in absence of a war declaration - that's bad. But, that place has no recognised government and therefore no law. Anyone can be killed there without it being illegal. And Geneva convention doesn't apply either. So, killing a holder of a British passport in a place where it's not illegal to kill holders of British passports, according to local law - is that a crime back here?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: OK, mixed feelings about this...

      "Clearly, the simple reason for this operation is to show other half-wits with British passports that going to that dusty shithole and making a video about yourself killing infidels will eventually get you killed too."

      It tends not to work that way. They see that fate as glorious martyrdom, as glamorous. Yes, we may view that attitude as irrational but that doesn't stop people thinking irrationally.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: OK, mixed feelings about this...

        "They see that fate as glorious martyrdom, as glamorous. Yes, we may view that attitude as irrational but that doesn't stop people thinking irrationally."

        We don't view it as irrational when it's us. During WW2 young men signed up with enthusiasm to fly aircraft, crew tanks and submarines. My father, who has been a pacifist for years, tried to get into the Fleet Air Arm. All were tantamount to suicide given the odds. My father and his friends brought their loads of men and tanks into beaches defended by machine guns and mines. Most of them didn't survive. They did it because they wanted above all to defeat Nazi Germany.

        Unfortunately our politicians and tabloid journalists cannot imagine that the other side thinks just as we do but precisely the other way around.

        Ideally I think we need to kill these idiots but without publicity. Leave their fate unknown and uncertain. If you must say anything, leak reports to the tabloids that they died of an outbreak of typhoid or something like that.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: OK, mixed feelings about this...

          Unfortunately, you seem to be advocating the "what they don't know can't hurt them" philosophy.

          In the West, we generally believe we have the right to make decisions about our future based on the truth.

          However, (cheer)leaders like Cameron, Obama and Blair use every dirty trick in the book to ensure the "truth" remains as opaque as possible. Despicable behaviour in any democracy.

          If people want to live in a totalitarian dictatorship where these lies are spun to deceive the electorate, maybe they should move to Russia or China or North Korea or Iran.

          1. x 7

            Re: OK, mixed feelings about this...

            "In the West, we generally believe we have the right to make decisions about our future based on the truth."

            The problem is, Muslims have a different version of the truth from most people who live in Western democracies, and many of them believe in ramming THEIR "truth" down OUR throats through violence.

            1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

              Re: OK, mixed feelings about this...

              Just a slight correction - under Muslims you mean adepts of satanist cults mascarading as Muslims.

              1. x 7

                Re: OK, mixed feelings about this...

                "Just a slight correction - under Muslims you mean adepts of satanist cults mascarading as Muslims."

                No, I mean Muslims. Satanist cults tend to be a bit harmless in comparison. Russians are worse

                1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

                  Re: OK, mixed feelings about this...

                  Oh, dear... How did you manage to get yourself so frightened? The world outside must be a scary place for you, dear boy.

                  1. x 7

                    Re: OK, mixed feelings about this...

                    "The world outside must be a scary place for you, dear boy."

                    with Putin becoming increasingly erratic, and making off-the-wall comments about dropping instant sunshine on the lesser members of NATO, then the world could quite probably be recognised as a scary place. I don't think he's really daft enough to do it yet, but if his insanity gets worse, then who knows?

                    Even most of the ex-pat Russians I know agree......had a long conversation today with an emigree Azerbaijani girl of third generation Russian descent who has come to the west to escape the claws of Putins goons even in Azerbaijan - it seems they were trying to put the hooks into her while living in Azerbaijan - they were trying to blackmail her into working for the Russian state to obtain information

                    As for the muslim raving looney conspirators, yes they create a big enough threat to justify pre-emptive retaliation before they launch more attacks

  15. Anonymous Coward
    1. Huw D
      Coat

      Are you trying to tell me that Last of The Summer Wine was an ISIS enclave?

  16. The Vociferous Time Waster

    Oh well

    bomb them until the sand turns to glass

  17. Flakey

    In A Word....

    ...Good

  18. SolidSquid

    The thing that worries me here is the precedent this sets. We're essentially setting off a bomb in a civilian area to kill people suspected of being members of ISIS, and we know that there have been civilian casualties at least for some of the American ones. How is this any different to ISIS setting off a bomb in London to kill off-duty British soldiers? Or bombing the parliament who authorised this? Are those legitimate military actions on the part of ISIS, or are they terrorist attacks which should be outright condemned? If the latter, how do they differ to us setting explosives off in Raqqa?

    Yes, we are essentially assisting Iraq in a civil war against ISIS, but killing people without trial outside of the battle field raises a *lot* of ethical questions about what point things tip over from military action to terrorism, and make it far easier for ISIS to justify their actions

  19. flearider

    ok stop all this PC crap ... 2 people went over to another country to kill others ..

    they no doubt gave information to the side we are fighting .. they got blown to hell ..

    who's fault is it ? theres simple they made a choice ..

    was it right or wrong .. both ..

    now anyone else want to go .. be a hero to who ever ?? yeah .....thought so .. job done

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Drone wars

    The nationality of those two guys is neither here nor there (in lawyer speak). What we hear about are the clear-cut cases ("ISIS fighters", "Al Quaeda operatives") being targeted. But what really happens is that "The West" (on closer inspection, one and a half nations...) target a large number of people, largely based on "local intelligence" (i.e. denunciations from neighbors who have always had an eye on that farm, not to mention that stolen donkey two generations ago...), with a good proportion of collateral damage. And then we are surprised that the "hearts and minds" thing doesn't work and the enemy is inundated with new recruits abroad and in Europe (particularly Britain). How do you defend against relativism and whataboutery, if you show (almost) as little respect to international laws and conventions as the barbarians you are fighting?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So when can we expect

    The Government to reinstate its 'shoot-to-kill' policy in the UK and this time not just in Northern Ireland? Oh, I forgot, they already did. For the crime of being a Brazilian plumber. Now that drones are in the armoury, better watch out when planning a wedding party. Perhaps get married in a bunker, just to be on the safe side

    1. SkippyBing

      Re: So when can we expect

      Here's a hint, it's very hard to train someone to shoot-to-maim. You teach them to aim at the centre of mass, because it means they're most likely to actually hit the target. It also means they'll probably be dead because that's where the vital organs are.

      Ironically if you could teach troops to shoot-to-maim you would because every injured troop requires another one to carry him off the battlefield. Dead ones can wait.

      1. x 7

        Re: So when can we expect

        "Ironically if you could teach troops to shoot-to-maim you would because every injured troop requires another one to carry him off the battlefield"

        old wives tail. Doesn't work that way against communist terrorists or islamic extremists. They've no way of hospitalising the injured so they just leave the injured to die - or kill the injured themselves if they have any spare bullets. In an extremist society, life is cheap and the survival of the weapons is more important that the people carrying them. Remember, these nutters don't fear death, they welcome it, so leaving your fellows to die isn't a sin.

        also injured people can in many cases, if driven by idealogical beliefs can carry on fighting despite extreme pain - especially if the injury is such to ensure a prolonged death e.g. a gut shot. Indeed one of the historic limitation worries about CNB warfare was that irradiated or infected troops would fight harder because they knew they were going to die anyway

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't remember the announcement of the military pre-crime division being set up?

    Regardless of whether they should or should not have been killed it is wrong that the government can order the military to kill people without offering any evidence or having any proper judicial oversight. Let's face it the attorney general green lighted the war on Iraq where we got all those WMD's from the bad man that used to be our friend when he bought our weapons and sold us oil.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some good arguments for both sides I think (as well as some more extreme left and right wing views).

    I'm not too sure how I feel, but I think it's very difficult to apply British rights and laws to people who are now fighting for an organisation who shares almost none of our rights and laws (can't remember the last time I saw a homosexual being chucked off a tower block).

    I don't think that gives us carte blanche to go 'Team America on their ass' but if the other side of the coin is to just leave them to carry on undertaking whatever nefarious activities they are doing is that any more palatable?

    It is a very difficult conundrum.

  24. thedroog

    Terrorism

    You have to look at the bigger picture here. The UK along with the US were mainly responsible for the creation of ISIS by implementing a prime minister (Nouri Maliki) in Iraq who was no better than Sadam and systematically killed hundreds of Sunnis whilst the west looked the other way. Nothing good can come from violence and we are now reaping the seeds we have sown from our meddling in affairs that do not concern us?

    1. Fonant

      Re: Terrorism

      Agree, killing people of a particular group also tends to make that group angry and more likely to want to kill you back. An eye for an eye, etc.

      The problem is that affairs in the Middle East do concern "us", almost entirely because of the presence of large amounts of oil in the ground there. One argument in favour of developing renewable energy is that we could just say to the Middle East "hey, we don't need your oil any more, sell it to someone else". Lower oil prices would remove much of ISIL's income, too.

      Iraq and surrounding countries are artifical, with borders drawn up by the Allies after the end of WW2. When you have countries consisting of groups of people that mostly hate each other, you have to have a bit of a powerful dictator in charge. Would probably help if the borders were just erased from the map, but history makes things complicated, and keeping distinct countries makes it easier to extract the oil for profit and energy...

      1. x 7

        Re: Terrorism

        " killing people of a particular group also tends to make that group angry and more likely to want to kill you back"

        Simple - kill ALL of them.

        "hey, we don't need your oil any more, sell it to someone else"

        China and India would simply buy the lot - so increasing their rates of technological advance and so threatening our manufacturing industries even more

        " borders drawn up by the Allies after the end of WW2."

        Actually WWI

        Look up "Sykes-Picot agreement"

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Terrorism

        I think a lot of this has to do with some of the countries in that area wanting to move off US currency as the worldwide currency to purchase oil. Religion, the ultimate control mechanism, just makes it easy to stir up the locals and it keeps us from protesting draconian, privacy invading "terrorism" laws locally, as the Fascists continue their takeover of the west.

  25. Drefsab_UK

    Theres a lot to this however on the legality of killing UK citizen's, I think they should revoke the citizenship of any British citzen that leave our shores to join the terrorists. Be that as a fighter or a bride or anything. You want to go and join them fine then your not welcome back.

    If they are actively involved in plots then I don't have any issue with our armed forces blowing them away, that does however depend on them actively being involved in trying to hurt this nation. If they leave the uk and try to lead a life in these other countries without trying to harm us then they should be left alone.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FTFY

    "I think they should revoke the citizenship of any British citzen that leave our shores to join the terrorists and innoculate them with Ebola"

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For all those banging on about IS/daesh not being a state, you are clearly not very well informed on the law in this area. I suggest you read up on lawful v unlawful combatants. Simple version, if you engage in combat activity linked to some outfit that is not a recognised state, you can be deemed an unlawful combatant. The key is the legal basis of being defined as a combatant. Once you have been deemed a 'combatant', lawful (ie in a legally recognised army) or unlawful, you are subject to the rules applying to combatants, which include allowing you to be killed by a drone strike whilst in a vehicle, even if you were not engaged in combat at the time. So you should be asking if these guys had been deemed unlawful combatants or not before talking nonsense about laws you don't understand. Then you can look at the legality of taking them out in foreign territory.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Could they honestly know these guys were planning something? or were they scared they were planning to return to the UK and another Bherlin Gildo situation may occur?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Maybe GCHQ were doing their job for a change.

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