Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Tom LoBianco / CNN & Gregory Krieg / CNN – 2017-05-29 23:35:27
Is Trump Intentionally Killing ISIS Family Members?
(December 2, 2015) — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump asserted on Wednesday that the only way to defeat ISIS was to kill their families.
Is Trump Deliberately Having ISIS Relatives Killed?
Soaring Toll Among Relatives Raises Questions About US Policy
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(May 29, 2017) — Over the course of the past week, US warplanes have repeatedly targeted the town of Mayadeen, in the ISIS-held part of Syria. The casualties have been overwhelmingly civilian in nature, and many reports suggest those civilians were mostly relatives of ISIS fighters.
This would just be another round of US warplanes killing a hundred-plus civilians in their air war, except that during the presidential campaign, President Trump very publicly advocated adopting a US military strategy of deliberately killing civilian relatives of ISIS members, insisting that was the only way to deter ISIS.
Put these two facts together and you’ve got a recipe for a potentially explosive question: is President Trump implementing this policy within the Pentagon, and is that the reason the death toll among civilian family members of ISIS fighters has soared in recent days?
Officials have been unusually mum about the Mayadeen strikes, with only a single statement confirming they carried out the attacks, but insisting they were still not sure what casualties might’ve resulted from it. In having not admitted to the deaths yet, they likewise aren’t yet at the point where they have to address the question of why they killed them.
It was pointed out during the 2016 campaign, but bears repeating, particularly now, that a family member of a combatant is not themselves a combatant, and deliberately targeting civilians is necessarily a war-crime, irrespective of who they are related to.
When that was pointed out during the debate, President Trump attacked the Geneva Conventions, insisting “everyone believes in the Geneva Conventions until they start losing.” The administration has not, however, admitted this has become formal policy.
Donald Trump on Terrorists: ‘Take Out Their Families’
Tom LoBianco / CNN
WASHINGTON (December 3, 2015) — Donald Trump said Wednesday that he would kill the families of terrorists in order to win the fight against ISIS.
The billionaire businessman was asked by the hosts of Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” how to fight ISIS but also minimize civilian causalities when terrorists often use human shields.
“The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don’t kid yourself. When they say they don’t care about their lives, you have to take out their families,” Trump said.
Trump said he would “knock the hell out of” ISIS, and criticized the U.S. for “fighting a very politically correct war.”
Israeli Expert: Trump’s Call
To Kill Terrorists’ Families Immoral, Ineffective
Gregory Krieg / CNN
(December 3, 2015) — A leading Israeli counter-terrorism expert says Donald Trump’s call to “take out” the families of terrorists would run afoul of international law and degrade the moral standing of the US.
“Any deliberate attacks aimed against civilians is a war crime, regardless if they are family members of terrorists or presidents or presidential candidates,” said Boaz Ganor, a former consultant to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Adopting this policy is immoral and against the common liberal democratic values,” added Ganor, the founder and executive director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Israel.
“Deliberate attacks against the terrorist families is blurring the moral differences between the terrorist organizations and the state which is fighting terrorism. This by itself might benefit the terrorists which are trying to claim that they are fighting a moral war against relentless and immoral entity.”
On Wednesday, Trump responded to a question on Fox News about minimizing civilian casualties in the fight against ISIS by saying the U.S. should hit the kin of enemy fighters.
“You have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families,” Trump said. “When they say they don’t care about their lives, you have to take out their families.”
Ganor, who worked as part of an international anti-terror advisory group to the NYPD after 9/11 and has written extensively about terrorism, told CNN that killing the family members of terrorists also would have little benefit in the effort to stop attacks.
“They might just spend more time and resources” on protecting family members, he said. “Nevertheless, I don’t think that the threat to kill their families will deter terrorist leaders form being engaged in terrorist activities.”
Ganor argued that the real danger would be in squandering “one of the most important pillars of counterterrorism: the differences of morality.”
“The American-led campaign in Syria and Iran is too little and too late, and it will not lead as such to a military decisive victory on ISIS,” he said. “This does not mean by any way that the U.S. should adopt savage policy, illegal or immoral military activity. There is a lot that still can be done and improve without adopting such policies.”
Asked about Israel’s anti-terror efforts, which at times have caused civilian casualties in the West Bank and Gaza and resulted in the country being accused by critics such as Amnesty International of war crimes and human rights violations against Palestinian civilians, Ganor said that family members were not the targets.
“Israel activities were always calculated and limited to the immediate goals of thwarting terrorism and the measures that Israel was using in its counter terrorism campaigns where never random nor aimed against civilians even they had family ties with terrorists and their leaders,” he said.
“The families were not targeted nor even being arrested unless they took part in the terrorist activity, then they would brought to court and be accused in terrorism assistance.”
The Trump campaign did not respond to a CNN request for comment.
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