20 May 2011

Statement on the Killing of Osama bin Laden


Much debate has been witnessed regarding the killing of Osama bin Laden at his hideout in Pakistan. Some have questioned whether such an act was justified, particularly if he was unarmed. Some have also questioned whether or not the invasion of sovereign territory without permission was ethical. These are questions that are worth addressing in terms of Christian morality.

First, the killing of Osama bin Laden was a justified act against a terrorist and mass murderer who has killed and engineering the killing of countless innocent people, all in the name of the Mohammedan religion. While in some ways a trial might have been preferable from a legal standpoint, the matter of his guilt is without question. He was the self-admitted mastermind of Al Qaeda. Furthermore, this was not a legal matter as such. Osama bin Laden was head of a non-governmental organization with members from several nations that waged war on the United States, Great Britain, and other Christian nations around the world to further their agenda of Muslim supremacy. As this was a global war for the survival of the Christian faith and freedom, a military operation to eliminate the direct threat of bin Laden was fully justified by just war theory.

The second matter that has raised concern is whether or not Osama bin Laden was armed when he was killed. If he was not armed, then some suggest that the killing was murder. Whether the killing was justified, however, must be analyzed purely based on whether or not, in the brief time the shooter had to make a decision, said shooter could reasonably assess that there was no threat posed by bin Laden or others. The history of Osama bin Laden is one of extreme violence and trickery. He was known to have been very dangerous. Al Qaeda and other Islamic militants are known for using suicide tactics. Given his history and that of his organization, it is entirely reasonable to assume that bin Laden may have been concealing a weapon or had ready access to a weapon that was otherwise not visible to the American operatives. Under very few and extremely unlikely circumstances would said operatives have been truly safe from potential harm by bin Laden and his associates. Therefore, the operatives were fully justified in the killing based on reasonable assumption of threat due to the history of bin Laden and his organization.

Lastly is the issue of the operation being carried out in Pakistan without the knowledge of the Pakistani government. There are limits to national sovereignty. If a national harbors a known military threat, such as bin Laden, then they lose rights to redress for violation of sovereign territory. Osama bin Laden had been in a town in Pakistan near their military academy for at least five years. Given that the Pakistani government was aware of the possibility of his being somewhere in their nation, and they promised full support against Al Qaeda, it is highly unlikely that the Pakistani government was completely unaware of bin Laden's presence. While they may or may not have been actively supporting his presence, it is highly likely that they were at least turning a blind eye to the extreme likelihood of his presence. Given the actions of the Pakistani government and the very open pro-Islamist and even pro-Al Qaeda attitudes of a large or at least vocal segment of the Pakistani population, the operation was fully justified without informing the Pakistani government.