Eliminating “Pernicious Individuals”: Civilian Victims of the Afghan Taliban’s Targeted Killing Program
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This chapter examines the deadly impact of the Afghan Taliban’s targeted killing program on the civilian population in Afghanistan. The first section of the chapter analyzes the criteria used by the Taliban for determining what they believed were legitimate military targets. The section includes a detailed analysis of the reasons provided by the Taliban to legitimize targeting specific categories of civilians (e.g., civilian contractors working for U.S./ISAF forces and the Afghan regime, pro-government religious leaders, judicial officials, teachers at government-run schools). The second section shows how the too-broad criteria for determining targets, which necessarily led to indiscriminate attacks against civilians, ignored the standard definitions of legitimate military targets in non-international armed conflicts, and, consequently, violated the principle of distinction between combatants and civilians.
KeywordsTaliban Afghanistan Targeted killings Civilian victims Indiscriminate attacks International humanitarian law
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