February 25, 2008

Melman on Assassination as a Tactic

Israel’s experience shows that assassination – or what Israel terms "targeted killing" – is a double-edged sword. The policy only pays off in a few special cases. When a state deals with a terrorist group that is basically a "one-man show," chopping off the snake’s head by killing the leader can neutralize the group – so that can be justified in cost-effectiveness terms. But when a country encounters a highly motivated, solidified and structured terrorist group, killing its senior members proves to be counter-productive. The dead are soon replaced by members who are sometimes more skillful and more determined.