Top terrorist al-Zawahiri in a video from 2006: Death on the balcony
Photo: AL-JAZEERA / AP / dpa
The Berlin human rights lawyer Wolfgang Kaleck considers the killing of the al-Qaeda leader Aiman al-Zawahiri by a US drone attack in Kabul to be illegal.
"Targeted killings of unwanted people, even those who are suspected of serious crimes, are only permissible under international law under strict conditions," he told SPIEGEL.
The armed conflict ended with the withdrawal of western troops from Afghanistan in 2021.
Away from the battlefield, killing could only be legally legitimate to avert danger, "however, there was no specific danger or attack from al-Zawahiri in those days," says Kaleck.
He calls on the federal government to criticize the US for violating international legal principles.
Kaleck is Secretary General of the human rights organization ECCHR.
She represents several Yemenis whose relatives died in a US drone attack.
The Federal Constitutional Court is expected to consider before the end of this year whether Germany has a duty to protect potential victims of such attacks – the US airbase in Ramstein, Rhineland-Palatinate, plays an important role in the global drone war.
US lawyers gave the green light
Al-Zawahiri was one of the closest associates of al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden.
After his death in 2011, the native Egyptian became the new leader of the terrorist organization.
Last Sunday morning, the US killed al-Zawahiri with two Hellfire missiles fired from a remote-controlled drone.
The al-Qaeda chief was on the balcony of a house in the Afghan capital Kabul.
According to research by the BBC, a US government legal team had previously given the green light for the targeted killing of the top terrorist.
Because of "his continued leadership role in al-Qaeda and his involvement in and operational support of al-Qaeda attacks," al-Zawahiri is a legitimate target.
US President Joe Biden reportedly approved the attack on July 25.
"Justice has been served," he announced after the fatal attack.