Assassination Sanctioned

When Osama Bin Laden was assassinated and disposed off on the high seas, then President Obama declared “justice had been served”. Osama Bin Laden the most reviled and wanted person in the west was wiped off the face of the planet and the crowds chanted “USA! USA!”.

The president basked in his moment of glory and showed he could be tough. The greatest military in the world showed it could get the job done, no matter the cost or the time. It showed its grit was relentless and its reach limitless.

But whether justice was done or not, is another matter.

Ben Ferencz, US prosecutor during the Nuremberg trials openly criticized the manner in which Osama Bin Laden was done away with. Not just because it was an assassination and assassinations are illegal under US law, but also because the US lost credibility. It acted like one of them. Dealing a blow but also making sure that the cycle of violence would continue.

The precedence set by President Obama, was followed through again by Donald Trump, when he declared to the world that the leader of ISIS, the diabolical offspring of the US invasion of Iraq, had died a “whimpering and crying” death.

According to the Pentagon and the White House, he was chased into a dead end tunnel by dogs, where he then detonated a suicide vest killing himself and two of his children he had carried with him as a “human shield”.

I could not stop thinking of the innocent children who were added to the list of casualties of an unending war, between the world’s “greatest” military and the “terrorists”.

The footage that was revealed to the world, was that of a completely flattened compound in a remote part of Syria. It looked like a 1000 pound bomb was dropped on a structure. A pile of gray concrete and rebar was all that remained. It was unclear where the supposed tunnel where the vest was detonated was.

There is no question ISIS was probably the most degenerate and demonic group to walk the earth in a generation. It was certainly not the first in human history.

They decapitated people, raped women, held many as slaves and ruled with outright fear and intimidation, all in the name of an anachronistic and hellish interpretation of Islam. They caught the world’s attention and came into prominence by using a technology created in America, “Youtube”,

They had delusions of grandeur of raising a Caliphate based on their twisted vision which attracted many around to join their ranks. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind other than its followers, that the world is better off without their existence. But the killing of its leader has not diminished the threat of their resurgence, given the chaos that still continues to devour that region.

Disposing of another “bad guy” sure boosted the American president’s ego, but the details that emerged and the way he chose to frame them, did not elevate America’s standing in the world in any meaningful manner.

As Donald Trump went on his fifty minute unhinged gloating session — giving more detail than necessary — his presentation was unpresidential, unsavory and cringeworthy. It was clear he was relishing the death of the “number 1 terrorist of the world” in every way possible.

He imagined the mission as a scene from a hyper Micheal Bay movie. He said “His body was mutilated by the blast, the tunnel had caved in on it in addition, but test results gave certain, immediate and totally positive identification it was him. These savage monsters will not escape their fate — and they will not escape the final judgment of God.”

Much like the terrorists, he invoked “god” to send a message to his base.

A day later, after the president’s nauseating performance, a man in uniform held a news conference and dove into more detail, showing black and white grainy video footage of the compound as it was bombed. It was revealed there were more casualties. Some were women and children. This was the Pentagon’s attempt at being transparent.

As I watched the videos showing the explosions I saw no distinction between them and the chilling beheading videos ISIS became known for. The only difference was, the people dying were faceless.

What does killing with impunity say about a nation and its people? Especially a nation that advertises to the world that it is a democracy where no one is above the law.

Of course we are always told that a chance was given to them to surrender but they chose not to. Or they could never have been caught and tried for their crimes as they would not fall into a jurisdiction where the law would apply. They are “enemy combatants” or “terrorists” and there is no way of delivering justice other than by eliminating them.

When “justice” is delivered by the barrel of the gun it makes those who deliver it complicit in the crime. As the result is just another crime.

We live in times where people are disposed by state sanction without any consequence. It has become the norm. The term “war crime” does not apply to the powerful. They are not investigated or made answerable in any higher court. Organizations that were established to hold the powerful to account, are more or less emaciated. Even the media takes the word of the establishment as the truth and turns the chapter.

One who kills with impunity, is nothing but a murderer.



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Anand Kamalakar

Anand Kamalakar


Anand Kamalakar is a Brooklyn based documentary film director, producer and editor. His latest film SALAM can now be seen on Netflix.